.- The founder of National Shrine and Parish of the Cross in the Woods in northern Michigan died July 7. At 91, Msgr. Charles Brophy was the oldest priest in the Diocese of Grand Rapids.
The shrine the priest had founded in 1946 includes a 55-foot-high crucifix in Indian River that has become one of Michigan's best-known tourist and worship sites. Hundreds of thousands of people, including non-Catholics, reportedly come to see its seven-ton bronze Christ each year.
The monument, billed as the world’s largest crucifix, was inspired by Blessed Kateri Tekakwitha, a young Mohawk woman, who would put crosses on trees in the 1600s.
The priest was transferred to Grand Rapids before the cross was completed in 1954, but saw with satisfaction how it touched the people who made the pilgrimage there.
His new assignment included developing St. Jude Parish in Northeast Grand Rapids. During his 36 years there, it grew from a handful of families meeting in a Quonset hut to a thriving community of more than 1,500, with a modern church building.
He retired from parish ministry in 1988 but became active with hospital ministry.
A funeral mass will be celebrated tomorrow at St. Jude church. Retired Bishop Robert Rose will preside.