By Jeanette Oleskowicz
For The Catholic Messenger
It was a special day of fellowship and pilgrimage for 15 Catholics from the Iowa City-Cedar Rapids corridor. Despite the rain, we journeyed July 10 to the peaceful grounds of Trinity Heights Queen of Peace Shrine in Sioux City, Iowa. Pilgrims included members of St. Thomas More Parish-Coralville, Holy Family Parish of St. Mary Church-Riverside, St. Mary Parish-Iowa City and Immaculate Conception Parish-Cedar Rapids, Iowa.
Trinity Heights opened in 1992 and sits on the former grounds of Trinity High School and college (which served as a seminary until the mid-1960s.) The shrine runs solely on donations.
After receiving a warm welcome upon our arrival and watching a short orientation video, we marveled at the life-sized woodcarving of the Last Supper inspired by the work of Leonardo da Vinci. The carving, made by Jerry Traufler, took seven years to complete;he used local people from the community as models.
Pilgrims strolled the sacred grounds to view the scenery and to pray beneath the famous stainless steel 33-foot-tall statue of the Sacred Heart of Jesus and across the complex, the 30-foot-tall statue of our Blessed Mother. We were awed standing beneath them, especially when we noticed that Mary’s right hand points to her son at the other end of the complex as if leading the world to him. It was truly amazing!
While strolling the grounds, we beheld other treasures including the Trinity Gardens/Circle of Life Memorial to the unborn, the Outdoor Cathedral and additional memorials devoted to the Blessed Mother including Our Lady of Guadalupe, Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal and Our Lady of Mount Carmel.
A special treat for us was seeing the Way of the Saints, which honors more than 60 saints. Many of the pilgrims are members of an online rosary prayer group. Organizer Meliza Wise said the group studied many of these saints prior to the pilgrimage.
The shrine includes a Lourdes grotto, a veterans’ memorial and a Divine Mercy chapel inside the St. Joseph Center at Trinity Heights. After walking these peaceful, serene grounds with their winding paths, flowers and fountains, we were invited to receive the sacrament of confession at St. Michael the Archangel Church in Sioux City before heading home. Everyone agreed that our special time at Trinity Heights and with each other brought us closer to God and deepened our faith.
(Jeanette Oleskowicz is a member of St. Thomas More Parish in Coralville.)