Loading
Devastated by fire, Arizona shrine is being restored
By Bern Zovistoski

.- It was a Tuesday – June 14 – when a raging wildfire ate its way over a ridge in the Huachuca Mountains and took aim at Our Lady of the Sierras Shrine, situated on a hillside overlooking the San Pedro Valley near Hereford, Ariz.

At the same time, a crew of about 80 firefighters was assembling just above the shrine, intending to set a back-burn in hopes of saving the site.

Suddenly, apparently on a signal from a spotter plane, the firefighters “threw their shovels away and ran for their lives” as the wind-whipped flames roared down the hillside and enveloped the site.

The fire was hot enough to “melt metal and melt glass” and quickly consumed several structures and blew through tall oak doors on the stone chapel, gutting it, said Nannette M. Chouinard, the shrine site manager.

Though damaged, the ciboria and Tabernacle were salvaged.

Now all of the debris has been cleared and efforts to restore the shine are under way, with the hope that the work can be finished by Easter.

Last month The New Vision paid a visit to the shrine off state Rte. 92 between Sierra Vista and Bisbee, just four miles north of the border with Mexico.

The 75-foot cross beckoned during the drive up the unpaved Twin Oaks Road toward the shrine and the devastation was still clearly evident in the many oak trees and shrubs that stood blackened by the flames virtually everywhere within sight.

Nannette Chouinard escorted us to the chapel, where electricians Victor N. Silva and Luis A. Silva, brothers, were rewiring the structure.

The plan, Nannette said, is to restore the chapel first, then rebuild the prayer house situated nearby on “Mary’s Knoll.”

The fire destroyed the home of Nannette’s parents, Jerry and Pat Chouinard, forcing them to flee with just an overnight bag of belongings, Nannette said. “They lost everything except their vehicles,” she said, including their pets, three parrots and a cat.

The Chouinards moved in with her, Nannette said, and don’t plan to rebuild the custom retirement home they lived in for more than 15 years since moving to Arizona from Illinois.

Also lost in the fire was St. Joseph’s Home, which was used by priests and other clergy as a retreat. It’s boarded up, awaiting resolution of an insurance claim, Nannette said.

Further down the road from the base of the hillside is the foundation where stood a two-story guest house called “Mary’s Farm.” Youth retreats were held there, Nannette said, but the structure “probably will not be rebuilt.”

In addition to the Celtic cross, a 31-foot statue of Our Lady of the Sierras and two marble statues – the Angel of Revelation and the Angel Guardian of Children – survived the fire.

While the goal is to have the chapel open for Easter, Nannette said in the meantime visitors can come to the shrine to pray the Stations of the Cross.

Printed with permission from The New Vision, newspaper for the Diocese of Tucson, Ariz.


Ads by AdsLiveMedia(What's this?)

* The number of messages that can be online is limited. CNA reserves the right to edit messages for content and tone. Comments and opinions expressed by users do not necessarily reflect the opinions or beliefs of CNA. CNA will not publish comments with abusive language, insults or links to other pages

RESOURCES »

Ads by Google (What's this?)
Ads by Google (What's this?)

Featured Videos

Pope Francis celebrates the closing Mass and announces site of next World Youth Day
Pope Francis celebrates the closing Mass and announces site of next World Youth Day
Pope Francis visits poor neighborhood and meets with young people from Argentina
Pope Francis celebrates Mass at the National Shrine of Our Lady of Aparecida
Denver rally draws hundreds in support of religious freedom
Pope Francis prays over a sick man in St Peter's Square
Denver women's clinic will offer natural, Catholic care
Interview Clips: Barbara Nicolosi speaks to CNA
US Cardinals press conference at North American College
Pope Benedict to retire to monastery inside Vatican City
Pope cites waning strength as reason for resignation
Hundreds convene in Denver to urge respect for life
New Orange bishop encourages Catholic unity in diversity
Chinese pro-life activist calls for reform, international attention
At Lincoln installation, Bishop Conley says holiness is success
Mother Cabrini shrine reopens in Chicago after a decade
Ordination of 33 deacons fills St. Peter's with joy
Cardinal says "Charity is the mother of all the virtues"
Augustine Institute expands evangelization effort with new campus
Bishops recall 'Way of St. James' as chance to trust in God
Los Angeles cathedral's newest chapel houses Guadalupe relic
Apr
23

Liturgical Calendar

April 23, 2014

Wednesday within the Octa ve of Easter

All readings:
Today »
This year »

Catholic Daily

Gospel of the Day

Mt 28:8-15

Gospel
Date
04/22/14
04/21/14
04/20/14

Daily Readings


First Reading:: Acts 3:1-10
Gospel:: Lk 24:13-35

Saint of the Day

St. Adalbert of Prague »

Saint
Date
04/21/14
04/20/14

Homily of the Day

Mt 28:8-15

Homily
Date
04/22/14
04/21/14
04/20/14

Ads by AdsLiveMedia.com

Ads by AdsLiveMedia.com
     HTML
Text only
Headlines
  

Follow us: