By Celine Klosterman
Visiting Our Lady of Guadalupe Shrine in La Crosse, Wis., offered a taste of heaven, according to Morgan Berry, a freshman at Prince of Peace Catholic School in Clinton.
At the shrine that’s filled with Catholic artwork and nestled in 100 acres of woodlands, “God opened up beauty for the world to see,” she said. “I feel he could have walked out of the trees and toured with me.”
She joined 81 high school classmates, 10 chaperones and a few guests at the shrine Sept. 25 during a daylong pilgrimage organized by Prince of Peace’s campus minister, Gerilyn Jacobs. The travelers visited a memorial to the unborn, reflected on Stations of the Cross, prayed on a rosary walk, and toured a church, votive chapel and areas devoted to saints at the 100-acre shrine.
Religion teacher Jenny Nansel prepared students for the trip by sharing video lessons on Our Lady of Guadalupe, who appeared to St. Juan Diego in what is now Mexico in 1531.
Jacobs said the Year of Faith – which ends Nov. 24 – inspired her to organize a high school trip to the “beautiful and inspirational” shrine that she has visited four times. “It was an opportunity for the students to have some quiet time to reflect, turn their minds to God and develop their relationship with the Lord.”
Father Corey Close, parochial vicar at Prince of Peace Parish, celebrated Mass for the pilgrims at the shrine, which was built from 2001-2008.
God was “bringing everyone together during Mass and the rosary,” freshman Katie Campbell said.
“I could feel him leading me in prayer more than usual when we were in the church,” freshman Will Andresen said.
“The Stations of the Cross made me realize the true pain that Jesus and Mary went through, and I should be more grateful and not complain as much,” freshman Rebecca Divarco said.
In La Crosse, “I felt God reaching out to me even though I’m not Catholic,” she added. “It made me feel loved and happy.”