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Grotto Dedicated in Celebration of May Day

Sion’s newest place of worship was dedicated with the crowning of Mary.

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Senior Erin Quinn crowns the statue of Mary in the front of the grotto.

Senior Erin Quinn crowns the statue of Mary in the front of the grotto.

Meg Schwartz

Meg Schwartz

Senior Erin Quinn crowns the statue of Mary in the front of the grotto.

Meg Schwartz, Layout and Design Editor

After months of construction, the grotto located on the east side of the campus past the softball field was dedicated with a service including the crowning of the statue of Mary on May 1 in celebration of May Day.  

“Traditionally people all over the world crown Mary on May Day,” Mission Director Penny Selle said. “It’s that spirit of new life and birth that Mary brings to all of us being the mother of Jesus.”

Students, faculty, staff, board members and donors were present as Head of School Christina Broderick spoke and Father Jerry Waris blessed the statue with a prayer and holy water. The iron fountain babbled and the wind chimes rang as the community gathered around the worship space.

“It is beneficial to have an outdoor prayer space to gather and since our founders see value in God’s presence in creation it is good to have an outdoor space where we are in touch with nature,” Campus Minister and religion teacher Stephanie Pino-Dressman said.

Accompanied by music director Elizabeth Mulkey on the chimes, senior Maria Arroyo sang “Ave Maria” while senior Erin Quinn crowned the statue of Mary with a flower crown.  This representation of Mary in a grotto is seen all over the world as recognition of Saint Bernadette’s vision of Mary in Lourdes, France.  

“My parents and I have had a deep devotion to Mary ever since I was a little girl and Bernadette has always been my patron saint, so crowning her meant a lot because she is such a beautiful inspiration to look up to and I hope someday to have a greater devotion and share that with my children,” Quinn said.

Future plans for the grotto were announced following the blessing.  Sion parent and community member Patrick Lillis spoke of his inspiration in donating stationary votive candles that will be set around the statue of Mary in honor of his wife, daughters and deceased community member Dick Miller. More additions to the grotto are to come, as Broderick described the future of the grotto as a two-decade process. The crowning of Mary is also intended to become an annual tradition on May Day in the grotto.

“The Lillis family will be adding votive candle holders to either side of the statue of Mary,” Pino-Dressman said.  “There will also be a chance for donors to purchase a rose bush to honor someone to expand the rose garden in the grotto.”

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The online newspaper of Notre Dame de Sion