CAREY - In 1912, Bishop Joseph Schrembs, the first bishop of the Diocese of Toledo, invited the Conventual Franciscan Friars of the Province of the Immaculate Conception to minister to the parishioners and pilgrims at the Shrine of Our Lady of Consolation.
The future of the shrine was uncertain at the time and the bishop asked the Franciscans to come for five years and then make a prayerful decision about whether to continue or look for ministry elsewhere. Father Aloys Fish arrived in June 1912 and discovered a tremendous faith in the pilgrims who visited the shrine and many signs of the presence of God and the intercession of Our Lady, consoler of the afflicted.
The shrine had been in existence since the statue of Our Lady of Consolation was brought to Carey from Luxembourg in 1875 under the direction of Father Joseph Peter Gloden. Plans were made to carry the statue of Our Lady of Consolation in a seven-mile solemn procession May 24, 1875, from St. Nicholas, Frenchtown Township, to Carey, where it would be installed in the new church.
As the procession was organizing in Frenchtown, the entire area was hit by a sudden and severe thunderstorm. The driving winds, lightning and huge amounts of rain made many think the procession should be postponed; however, Gloden, urged the people to begin the procession. At once, the clouds above Frenchtown parted and the procession moved ahead.
Though all in the procession could see the drenching rain, wind and thunder on either side of them, not a drop of rain fell on anyone in the procession to Carey or on the statue of Our Lady of Consolation. As the statue was brought into the little white church and those in the procession followed into the church, the storm broke outside with tremendous fury.
To this day, the statue of Our Lady of Consolation has served to inspire devotion to our Blessed Mother for hundreds of thousands of pilgrims. The statue was moved to the large Basilica Church, which was completed in the 1920s. August is particularly busy during the Novena preceding the Feast of the Assumption. The shrine has grown to include a 30-acre park complete with outdoor Stations of the Cross and a large memorial altar. The area around the Basilica includes a cafeteria, gift shop and a retreat house.
Over the years, pilgrims grateful to Our Lady of Consolation have left behind a collection of crutches, canes, braces and other items attesting to the wonderful prayers of Our Lady of Consolation. Many of these items are on display in the lower shrine basilica, which also houses a chapel of the holy relics. So many people come here looking for God's touch in their lives and leave with peace and hope in their hearts. The faithful are invited to come to the shrine in person or to send prayer intentions through the mail of over the Internet.
Pilgrimage devotions are celebrated Sundays throughout the year at 2:30 p.m. These devotions include Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament, a rosary procession carrying the statue of Our Lady of Consolation (from the first Sunday in May to the last Sunday in October) and special prayers for healing with the Friars praying individually with the pilgrims.
Some of the 2012 special events celebrated at the shrine are:
June 10, Indian Heritage Day.
July 14, Filipino Heritage Day.
Aug. 14-15, Feast of the Assumption.
Sept. 16, Latino Heritage Day.
Sept. 30, Family Day.
Oct. 14, Feast of St. Gerard Majella.
Oct. 16, Mass of Hope and Healing.
For more information, call
the shrine at (419) 396-7107 or visit www.olcshrine.com.