Strong City parish blesses new Marian grotto

Father Edmond Kline blesses a new grotto at St. Anthony Parish, Strong City, during a beautiful snowfall on the Feast of the Immaculate Conception of the Virgin Mary. The grotto was constructed with heavy involvement of the parish.

Parishioners of St. Anthony, Strong City, recently dedicated a grotto of Our Lady of Lourdes. In the midst of gentle snowfall, the grotto was blessed by Fr. Edmond Kline, pastor, Dec. 8, the Solemnity of Mary’s Immaculate Conception.
The blessing was preceded by a candlelight procession that included the praying of the rosary. When the procession arrived at the grotto, “Immaculate Mary” was sung and yellow roses were placed at the feet of the statue.
The grotto has an image of St. Bernadette kneeling in prayer before Mary. Two limestone benches were built for those who want to come and meditate there. After the blessing, the faithful attended the Mass of the Solemnity of Mary’s Immaculate Conception. After Mass all enjoyed hot cocoa and cookies in the parish hall.
Despite the cold weather, parishioners enjoyed the falling snow because they said it reminded them of the purity of Mary’s soul.
It took over a year to complete the grotto. The cost of about $12,000 was almost entirely financed by individuals. The masonry work was completed by a local builder, but many parishioners were involved in hauling in the rock, which was donated by a local parishioner from the family’s farm. Many helped pour concrete, build a fence, and plant flowers and shrubs. An electrician from the parish installed the lighting. Because of the lighting, the statue of Mary can be seen reflected in the stained glass windows of the church by drivers on U.S. 50 at night.
Fr. Kline said, “How inspiring it is to see so many who wanted to show their love for Our Blessed Mother. They trust that they can come to Her in all their needs and now they have the opportunity of coming to Her. No matter what day of time or night their heavenly Mother is watching over them.”