Written by: Denise Serafini on Thursday, November 16, 2017
We received a special invitation from Trinity Heights Shrine in Sioux City, Iowa to help them provide a special event that would close a series they were doing on the rosary. They were ending with the Sorrowful Mysteries and wanted to have our program as a culminating element for a multi-week prayer initiative that spanned the last weeks of June and early weeks of July.
Because the event was expected to draw a larger crowd than could be managed effectively at the shrine, the organizers decided that we should hold the event at St. Michael’s Church (linked with Holy Cross Parish) which is located just a short distance from the shrine. This church is magnificent in that it sits up on a hill with a long driveway.
Connie Funk, a serving member of the Board of Directors at Trinity Heights, was my main contact and support resource for organizing and managing all the things that have to be aligned for an event. The plan was for me to arrive at the church to get everything set up well ahead of the oppressive heat that was predicted for the day and then tour the shrine.
The first thing she did when we entered the church was lead me to the main entrance of the church to a beautiful replica of the Pieta. We took that opportunity to pray together for all those that would be coming to the event later that day and the long term success of the shrine.
The program was adjusted to accommodate the diocesan preferences for rosary before our event with exposition of the Blessed Sacrament. The pastor, Father David Hemann, presided over the event along with Father Peter Nguyen and two of the parish deacons. We had individuals that were pre-selected to process the relics into the church and hold them for veneration.
In attendance was Rene Webb, a writer for the archdiocesan paper, The Catholic Globe. Renee had a full crew with her that included a photographer and videographer. The visual fruits of their efforts are included in the photo slider along with my snaps. Rene’s published recap of the event follows:
Micaela Hansen of South Sioux City, Neb., attended with family, including several grandchildren. “It was a deeply profound experience – to have these relics ofJesus’Passion is amazing and so powerful,” she said. “It’s a once-in-a-lifetime experience and the grandchildren are very touched.”
When Bruce Pfeffer, a parishioner from St. Joseph Parish in Wesley, saw the preview story about the relics tour in The Catholic Globe’s June 30 edition, he knew he wanted to attend. The only problem was: he drives truck and is at the mercy of an unpredictable schedule and route. “I was visiting with Mother Mary and told her I really wanted to go. I asked her to intercede on my behalf,” he recalled. “I knew this was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity that I could only dream to have the privilege to attend.” At 6 a.m. the very morning of the presentation, he called the dispatch with Munson and Sons of Britt, Iowa, to ask about his next load. There was a strong possibility Pfeffer was to go to Marshalltown but there was a load in Ottumwa that was to go Sergeant Bluff. “I knew that was in the area, but sometimes loads aren’t ready – so I didn’t get my hopes up. I get down there and the load was ready,” the truck driver noted, then once in the area he connected with his former pastor Father Peter Nguyen to get the address of the church. “I thought, ‘Wow, Mary, you are throwing me a home run. It was meant to be,’” he added.
Pfeffer gave high marks to the presentation. What stood out for him was that despite the fact he had never been to this particular church, Pfeffer said he felt completely at home there. “Whatever church you are in, Christ is there,” said Pfeffer, who added the presentation not only recapped a lot of church history, but the relics of Christ’s Passion helped show the Lord’s path of love.
Deacon Dan Goebel was one of nine people who processed in with the relics. He was assigned to carry the relic of the Holy Table and later held it as people venerated it. “It was phenomenal – what a beautiful way to share in Christ’s Passion. It was a great way to remember all the details and help us appreciate the great sacrifice he made for us,” he said. As a deacon whose ministry encompasses assisting at the altar, Deacon Goebel found it a fitting connection and most likely was “divine providence” that he was assigned to that particular relic.
As you can see in the testimonies of the individuals Rene interviewed, this was an event that Jesus arranged so that He might touch the hearts of His children.
I’d like to use this opportunity to extend my heartfelt thanks to Terry Hegarty, Executive Director at Trinity Heights Shrine, Connie Funk, Rene Webb, Father Hemann and all those that joined us to help the faithful of Sioux City spend time accompanying Jesus and His Mother on the walk to Calvary.