PORTLAND, Ore. — When a priest asks a Knight to help build a shrine to Our Lady of Guadalupe, it’s hard to decline.
Father Jack Topper, a priest of the Order of Servants of Mary (or Servites), had a wish to honor Our Lady of Guadalupe at the National Sanctuary of our Sorrowful Mother, known as The Grotto, an outdoor sanctuary run by his religious community. When he mentioned this to Doug Klein — a volunteer at the sanctuary and member of the Knights of Columbus — Klein took the opportunity.
“I couldn’t tell a priest no,” he said.
The Knights of Columbus has a tradition of honoring the Blessed Mother. Every Knight receives a rosary when joining a council, and rosary devotion is one of the Knights of Columbus’ signature programs. Supreme Knight Carl Anderson dedicated his tenure as Supreme Knight to Our Lady of Guadalupe.
Klein, a member of East Multnomah Council 3179 in Gresham, Ore., began working on models of the shrine in December 2014 with his father’s help. To bring the project to fruition, Father Topper suggested Klein reach out to his brother Knights of Columbus from neighboring councils.
In Beaverton, he met Jeff and Scott Peterson, who had a love for the Blessed Mother and were stone workers. In total, he enlisted the help of 15 Knights as a core group for the project. In September of 2015, they broke ground at The Grotto.
The Knights completely built and funded the shrine. As a result, Klein said they not only saved $60,000 in costs, but they helped strengthen their fraternity. The Grotto became a hub for both the Knights and the Servites to honor the Blessed Mother as the mother of the Knights and of every civilization.
“If we approach Our Lady of Guadalupe as our mother, then she is not only a mother to us, she is a mother to everyone,” Klein said.
The shrine was dedicated on Oct. 29, 2016, fulfilling Father’s Topper’s dream just three days before his retirement as rector of The Grotto.
Klein said Our Lady of Guadalupe’s importance extends beyond the Americas.
“She is loved and embraced across cultural lines throughout this continent and beyond,” Klein said. “That means that we are all one family, despite our different countries and cultures.”
The Knights remain involved at the shrine. They recently invited Oregon Catholics to the shrine for a day of prayer with Msgr. Eduardo Chávez, who made a bilingual presentation about Mary’s appearances in Guadalupe.
Supreme Knight Carl Anderson wrote the New York Times bestseller “Our Lady of Guadalupe: Mother of the Civilization of Love,” with Msgr. Chávez. Los Angeles Archbishop José Gómez, who was recently elected president of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, wrote the book’s forward.
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