Fort Scott parish honors its namesake with a grotto

Fr. Yancy Burgess, left, blessed a grotto at Mary Queen of Angels Parish in Fort Scott Jun 10. Workers used a lift to position the 700 lb. statue. (Courtesy photo)

Eddy Keating helped leave a legacy for Mary Queen of Angels Parish in Fort Scott.

Parishioner Joe Barr said last week that Eddy, his wife Rita’s cousin, had a strong devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary and because he was dying of a lung infection wanted to honor her by donating $5,000 in seed money for a Marian grotto on parish grounds.

He passed away on New Year’s Day, Barr said, although he was remembered by the parish at a memorial Mass before the grotto’s dedication on Friday, June 10.
A pad had been poured for the grotto in the summer of 2021 but the project was stalled until the Barrs reached out to Fr. Yancey Burgess for permission to assist with its completion. The Barrs did so with the help of family members and the Knights of Columbus.

The grotto’s design called for rebar, stone, wiring for lighting, a structural support during stone laying – and a lot of labor.

Long drive for stone mason

The stone mason, who greatly reduced his fee for the parish, had to drive from Springfield, Missouri, and was only able to work on Fridays and Saturdays. His assistant worked for the Bandara Stone Company in Redfield, Missouri, which donated the stone.

Joe not only helped build the support system and help with clean up, he also evangelized. One of those involved is a fallen-away Catholic who asked if he could have a couple of rosaries he saw in the church.

“‘Would it be all right if I took those?” Joe recalled him saying. “I told him it depends on what he wanted to do with them. He said he used to be Catholic. I told him once you’re baptized a Catholic you’re always a Catholic!”

The man told Joe he wanted to explain the rosary to his wife. “I was just tickled to death about that,” he said.

Joe also said he would discuss scripture with the stone mason as he worked on the grotto. “We had a nice conversation about the Bible almost every day,” he said.

The parish, the Barr family, the Knights, and others had a part in finishing the 10 1/2 foot tall, 8 1/2 foot wide grotto. The statue of Mary weighs 700 pounds and was installed using a lift from a local heating and air-conditioning company.

A large concrete pad with a stained Celtic cross in the concrete was poured by Gerry Rogers and his son Michael, the owner of a concrete business.

Six benches for the grotto were scheduled to have been installed by the end of this week.