By Lindsay Steele
The Catholic Messenger
LONG GROVE — White doves flapped their wings, swirling around the new granite sculpture in St. Ann Cemetery that features a crucifix, St. John, the Blessed Virgin Mary and St. Mary Magdalene. Dozens of Catholics lifted their voices in a rendition of the hymn “Morning Has Broken.”
The doves released at the Sept. 18 dedication and blessing of the Shrine of the Holy Cross in the Fields represented the souls of the faithfully departed, said Msgr. Drake Shafer, pastor of St. Ann Parish. They also served to enhance the shrine’s simple, yet powerful message: “Let us pray for one another.”
This message was chosen by parishioner Ray Boeding, who has been selling St. Ann Cemetery plots for 17 years. When his wife, Joan, died last year, Boeding wanted to donate a monument in her memory that would serve as a place of reflection for visitors. The Boedings’ four adult children offered their blessings and support to the project.
“It’s not just a statue for my wife, but something for the parish. I hope it will inspire people to come and pray for their loved ones buried here and to say prayers for the people who no longer have anyone to pray for them,” Boeding said.
He sought the assistance of Monuments by Michel from Solon in creating the shrine. The 10,000-pound group of statues was designed and crafted by a team from Italy. After a 40-day journey across the Atlantic Ocean, the monument arrived in Long Grove in mid-September.
The monument graces the northeast corner of the cemetery and is surrounded by flowers. “I’ve known a lot of people who are buried here,” Boeding said.
The cemetery has been part of the parish since the 1850s and is adjacent to the church. Like Boeding, Msgr. Shafer said he hopes the shrine will become a place to pray for all who were buried in the cemetery and loved ones interred elsewhere. “It’s a fulfillment of Ray’s dream that we would always, always pray for one another.”
Jim O’Connor, the dove releaser and a seventh-generation St. Ann parishioner, plans to join his ancestors in the parish cemetery when his time comes. Prior to the dedication, he and his wife, Sherry, offered a silent reflection before the shrine. “It’s fantastic,” he said.