Shrine welcomes caretakers

Posted On 2023-04-29 In Covenant Life

Shrine welcomes caretakers

USA, Southern Nebraska Register •

All are invited to a Mass at the Cor Mariae Shrine near Crete May 7 to welcome the facility’s new missionary caretakers, Matt and Sara Graeve. —

CaretakersThe event will include Mass at 2 p.m. at the shrine, 340 State Highway 103, Crete, followed by a May crowning celebration and dinner at 4:30 p.m.

The Graeves’ main responsibility will be to care for the Cor Mariae Shrine and Schoenstatt Center, and ensure that it can remain open for visitors. They will live in the house on the property and oversee the maintenance of the grounds and buildings.

The 92-acre property includes three buildings: Father Kentenich Hall, the house, and Cor Mariae Shrine. The Father Kentenich Hall is used for retreats, activities and social gatherings. The second building is the private home where the Graeve family will live, but the basement of the house, which has a separate entrance, is open to the public. It has a gathering space for meetings, a small kitchen, bathrooms, and a bookstore with Schoenstatt books, pictures and gifts.

The third and most important building of the Nebraska Schoenstatt Center is the shrine. The shrine, built and dedicated in 2007, is named Cor Mariae, “Heart of Mary.”

There are more than 207 Schoenstatt Shrines in 31 countries around the world. Each shrine, referred to as a daughter shrine, is a replica of the original in Schoenstatt, Germany, where the movement began in 1914.

The shrine is a place of grace and pilgrimage where visitors are invited to spend time in prayer and adoration. Cor Mariae is open daily from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m.

The Schoenstatt Sisters leave – the Shrine stays

The Schoenstatt Sisters who had been living at Cor Mariae received new assignments in August. Sister Ellen Marie Barenek and Sister Iraida Guerra were asked to serve in Madison, Wisc., where they now care for the Founder Shrine and the guests who come to visit.

Sister Marie Day, who travels from Minnesota to Nebraska each month to lead the monthly Schoenstatt group meetings, worked with Nebraska Schoenstatt leaders to solve the dilemma relating to care for the shrine.

“The first step was to pray a novena,” explained member Ruth O’Gara, “asking the Blessed Mother, under the Schoenstatt title of Mother Thrice Admirable, to send us a caretaker so that the shrine could remain open.”

“Within the first week of our novena, two young couples asked to be considered for the missionary opportunity to care for the shrine and Schoenstatt Center.”

The Schoenstatt Sisters of Mary from the North American province, located in Waukesha, Wisc., interviewed both couples and spent time getting to know them.

“While we were waiting for the new caretakers to be named,” O’Gara continued, “Schoenstatt members made it possible for the shrine to remain open for guests by volunteering as hosts.” Members opened the shrine, greeted guests and helped with cleaning and lawn care.

In December, Matt and Sara Graeve accepted the responsibility to be the new caretakers.

A new mission

“We couldn’t believe there was a chance to live and care for such a beautiful place,” Sara (Waddle) Graeve said. “The opportunity to be missionaries at the shrine that has been so meaningful to both of us was a dream we didn’t know we had until it was before us.”

Sara’s family have been involved with Schoenstatt for many years. Sara said she had many happy memories of attending camps and other family activities at Cor Mariae. Her family attended the groundbreaking for Cor Mariae Shrine and the dedication when it was finished in 2007. Sara said she remembers writing letters to the Blessed Mother at a summer camp, and placing them in the foundation of the shrine as the concrete was being poured.

“It’s amazing to me that I am able to be back at Cor Mariae with my kids and husband to make new memories,” she said.

Matt visited the shrine with Sara when they were dating. He said he thought it was a beautiful, peaceful place, and both feel that having Jesus and the Blessed Mother at the center of their family life is very important. It made Cor Mariae the perfect spot for Matt to propose marriage to Sara.

The Graeve family moved onto the property in late March and have begun to unpack and settle into their new home. They are the second couple to live on the property. When the center first opened in 2001, Mark and Mary Hardesty lived in the house and cared for the grounds and buildings until 2005, when the first group of Schoenstatt Sisters were assigned to live in Nebraska.

Having Matt and Sara on the property as fulltime missionaries will allow the shrine to be open daily for visitors. Many volunteers will assist with gardening, mowing, snow removal, special projects and movement activities.

Schoenstatt Shrine Crete, Nebraska

Source: Southern Nebraska Register, with kind permission by Cathy Bender, Editor. Photos courtesy of Cor Mariae Shrine

Shrine welcomes caretakers

Schoenstatt Nebraska

Article: Blessing of the Shrine

Editor`s comment

As I read the article in the Southern Nebraska Register, I remember not only the story of the longing for the Shrine and its construction years ago, but also the scene of a Shrine in southern Brazil that was robbed of its bell tower, door, windows, and every element inside and around it that did not have to be removed or destroyed by bulldozers.
Here, too, the Schoenstatt Sisters moved out.
Again, the Schoenstatt Movement was ready and willing to keep the Shrine open. But the Sisters in Santa Cruz do Sul decided that there should not be a Shrine where they are not… and took what they could to use for another Shrine in a place they liked better.
Crete shows that there are other options.
Thank you, Sister Marie, and thank you, Schoenstatt laity of Nebraska.

Maria Fischer


Graeve family in front of the Cor Mariae Shrine in Crete,

Graeve family in front of the Cor Mariae Shrine in Crete, Nebraska

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