Written by Father John Stowe, OFM Conv.
Dear Friend of the Basilica and National Shrine of Our Lady of Consolation,
The Franciscan friars have celebrated their 100th anniversary of ministry here in Carey. Father Aloys Fish was the first Conventual Franciscan to serve at the shrine at the invitation of Bishop Joseph Schrembs, first bishop of Toledo. Father Aloys was a man of vision who came to the shrine at a time when its future was uncertain. He was moved by what he witnessed: cures of all kinds of ailments and a spiritual renewal. Convinced of the importance of this ministry and amazed by the number of pilgrims who came to Carey, he worked hard to make sure the dream of a magnificent basilica would be realized.
We are the heirs of Father Aloys’ vision and the hard work and sacrifice of parishioners and pilgrims alike. The shrine campus was further enhanced with the 30 acre shrine park, the cafeteria, the gift shop in addition to the basilica, the original shrine church, the pilgrim house (now retreat house). All of these buildings and grounds continue to be used, as well as the former seminary building which is now the friary and TEC hall for youth retreats. All of this adds to the prayerful and reflective experience of pilgrims, retreatants and the parish of Our Lady of Consolation.
Thank you for all that you have done for the Shrine. It is precisely through your gifts and those of the parishioners and pilgrims that the Shrine continues to welcome so many of Our Lady’s beloved pilgrims. Yet, the offerings sent in and given by pilgrims just barely cover the expenses of basic operations at the Shrine of Our Lady of Consolation. Larger projects and even routine maintenance on our buildings have depleted our savings and cash on hand. We have had to repair and replace sidewalks so that they are not hazardous to pedestrians. We are very close to being able to restore the front steps the basilica thanks to the hard work of Father Paul and his amazing crew which provide mouthwatering baked goods for sale. Several areas on the grounds are overdue for re-paving. The dome above the altar at the Shrine Park needs to be repainted and the underside of the ceiling needs work to prevent further damage from the elements. The beautiful marble statues in the shrine park need attention so that small cracks do not destroy them. The Christ the King garden needs structural work and landscaping so that it can be an inviting place of prayer once again. The windows in the retreat house are not energy efficient, but we have not been able to replace them because of other needs that keep surfacing. New trees need to replace dying trees in the Shrine Park. These are just examples of what is needed to maintain the facilities that we have and to keep them in usable condition.
All of these needs are just about preserving what is already in place. A much larger necessity is for an elevator in the basilica and for air-conditioning. These are enormous undertakings, but are essential to the future of the Shrine. Many of those who come to seek Mary’s intercession have physical disabilities and have a difficult time with the stairs and with the heat in the summer. Pilgrims who have come here annually for forty and fifty years, would love to keep coming but find it more difficult to do so. We cannot even begin to work on these major improvements until we address the immediate needs in front of us.
This is why I am appealing to you for your help with tremendous gratitude for all of your support already. I know that you are devoted to Our Lady of Consolation and want her Shrine to continue to be a beautiful place for all to visit. The difficult economy has affected us all. God always rewards our generosity and our sacrifices. Please help in any way that you can.
If you have any questions, particular concerns or would like to talk to me about how you can help, please call our Shrine office or e-mail me here at