The House of Mary Shrine is located 6 miles west of Yankton, SD, on Highway 52. Three crosses, sentinel reminders of the life and death of Jesus Christ, overlook Lewis and Clark Lake and Campground. The panoramic view includes Gavins Point Dam, sunrise/sunset and the NE chalk rock bluffs.
The Sunrise Service is held each Easter at Sunrise. It begins at the Chapel with Scripture readings and music. A procession to the top of the hill recalls the last day of the life of OUR LORD, before He was crucified. We will follow His path, and at the top of the hill, call to mind His death. Then in GLORIOUS JUBILATION we proceed to the tomb to CELEBRATE HIS VICTORY OVER DEATH! JESUS CHRIST IS RISEN!
The Chapel of St. Joseph, The Living Waters, rosaries, ponds, The Stations of the Cross, a tomb where the angel proclaims that Christ has risen, are reminders to pray and meditate.
The Rosary Pond, was one of the first sites built at the shrine. Each October the Rosary Rally is held and the rosary is said in candlelight around the pond.
St. Michael the Archangel, stands guard over the meditation area, where outdoor services can be celebrated.
The House of Mary, a reminder of the origin of the Shrine, is used as a place of prayer.
The Holy Innocents Garden and Marian Visitor's Center are across the road. Flowers, a gazebo and a beautiful bronze statue of Jesus and the Children grace the area. The Feast of the Holy Innocents is celebrated each December 28th.
The Pieta, found on the hillside, depicts Jesus in the arms of his mother, when he was taken down from the Cross.
Each Monday, from April through September, Mass is celebrated at the Shrine by our retired priests: Father Marbach and Monsignor Herman. The M&M Masses were started because there were no Masses in Yankton on Mondays at the time, and because help was needed in the flower beds. The M&M stand for Martha....to come and work like Martha did, and Mary, to come and pray like her sister Mary.
The Hermitages are small cabins in a secluded area in the woods, for quiet meditation and retreats. Deer, turkey, and other wildlife are reminders of God's creation.
In the fall of 1991, the late Ed English was inspired to develop a series of ponds that cascaded down the hillside that would bring the House of Mary Shrine alive with water. Mr. English died prior to starting the project. In his memory, the Living Waters Memorial was constructed.
The theme of the Living Waters Memorial begins at the cross of Jesus Christ where water which flows from the cross represents the graces that come forth from Christ’s suffering and death. The water then continues down the hillside until it passes through the pond in front of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Mary who is the Mediatrix of All Graces receives them from her son and showers them upon all mankind, which is represented by the fountain in the lower pond. Bishop Carlson blessed the Living Waters.
Willard and Jeanette Schramn were early volunteers to the Shrine. When Willard was asked to help build a Chapel, he said he needed a hog barn more. However the Chapel was built, and the barn came later. Willard was the Shrine’s St. Joseph the carpenter, for many years. The Gazebo was one of Willard’s last donations to the Shrine.
THE HOLY INNOCENTS AND MARIAN VISITOR’S CENTER (MVC)
The Holy Innocents Garden and Marian Visitor's Center are found across the road. The MVC/Gift Shop was formerly the Klimish School. It was donated by Margaret Hunhoff and moved to the Shrine under the guidance of Jeanette Schramn. The refurbishing was paid for by former students. The garden started from a parking lot when grass, flowers and bushes were planted, and then a search for a statue. Thanks to the generosity of the Hames and Moriarty Families, along with other donations, a sculptor, Ed Hlvaka of Spearfish was chosen. His model of the children, and especially Jesus’ extended hand with the unborn child in it could not be denied. A Holy Innocents memorial has been a part of the Shrine since the beginning, originally erected when Arlene Foxhoven lost a baby at birth. They felt the need for closure for a life they missed sharing, as well as the importance of the unborn. .. The Feast of the Holy Innocents is celebrated each December 28th. Bishop Robert Carlson gave his blessing to this endeavor.
Larry and Irene Hames believe in miracles. Irene suffered a major health concern, and Larry and the family sought Mary’s intercession, especially through the rosary. In thanksgiving for Irene’s recovery, they wanted to honor Mary. The entrance, with a series of 9 pillars, depicting Mary’s life and apparitions, and a statue of Mary was their way of giving thanks to Jesus through Mary.
A statue of St. Joseph was sculpted and erected by Frank Yaggie. It stood, welcoming visitors, and keeping an eye on the chapel for 30 years, and has now been retired to the Little House of Mary. A marble statue of St. Joseph, donated by The Jean English family in 2009, now welcomes visitors and keeps watch over the Shrine. Bishop Swain blessed this statue in July of 2010.
THE LITTLE HOUSE OF MARY
This simple little cabin was built along with several other cabins. It was set away from the others, as if predestined for greater things! And so it was. The land it stood on was set aside for the Lord, with no plan in sight. The Rosary Makers decided to use the cabin to meet in and make rosaries and PRAY. And there the Shrine got its start. Through ideas and prayer, the Shrine took shape, starting with the 3 Crosses, and continuing to this day.
A beautiful stained glass window is found here. The window is of Mary surrounded by the rosary. It is hand beveled crystal done by Nick Brogenrief. This was a State CDA project with a variety of donors from across the state.
THREE LARGE CROSSES
Three large Crosses were placed high on a hill overlooking Lewis and Clark Lake. As each cross was erected, a ring of light formed around the sun. This was taken as confirmation that the volunteers were on the right track. A picture of the ring around the sun can be viewed in the Chapel, as well as a stained glass window depicting the event. A reporter from the Denver Register was present, and critical of the digger from the Gavin’s point dam being used to dig the holes. He experienced the rings around the sun, and changed his story.
Below the crosses, the path leads to the tomb with a place where the body could rest. As you enter, a voice is heard saying, “We know you seek Jesus, He is not here, He has risen.” The stone cavern, was crafted by Ed English and Ed Kremges.
THE RISEN CHRIST
Just to the side of the tomb is a statue of the Risen Christ, sculpted by Frank Yaggie,
A light illumines it at night for observation from far below.
The Meditation Area is a sort of resting point between the lower level, and the crosses at the hilltop. A marble altar for outdoor Masses can be found here. It is home to Moses, an angry statue (with good reason). The statue depicts Moses as he came down the mountain to find his people worshipping a golden calf. An iron creation of St. Michael (both images sculpted by John Day) depicts his victory over Satan.
THE WAY OF THE CROSS
People built the individual crosses and when the time came, they each carried their cross to its spot. Fr. Augustine witnessed this. He was from Canon City, Colorado and was a Benedictine Monk. He was 75 years old with a PhD in Theology. He seemed very holy, and very wise. When asked if we were on the right track, with a little deliberation he said. l. This is a good idea. 2. The area will be blessed and those working on it will be blessed. 3. It will NEVER BE EASY. 4. You will be surprised the people God will send you to develop it!!!!
ST. JOSEPH CHAPEL
A priest said a Chapel was needed….so a statue of St. Joseph was buried on the proposed location. When excavation of the basement was underway and the Rosary Makers were praying in the Little House of Mary, they remembered the buried statue. There was St. Joseph on the dirt pile…another confirmation to the mission. Bishop Hoch Blessed the Chapel. A wood furnace was the first heat source, and folding chairs the seating. The cross was designed by Marvin Miller a Baptist neighbor who volunteered a great deal. Fr. Reidelsheimer, the First Spiritual Director donated $600 to start the Chapel. The basement was dug by Delmar Christiansen in exchange for the back soil & the brick laying was donated by Wayne Pascco’s crew.
Three rosaries have been placed at the Shrine. Originally a rosary of roses graced the hillside. Mr. & Mrs Ben Peterka constructed a large 15 decade wooden rosary which winds through the trees. A Rosary Pond in the shape of a heart representing the Sacred Heart of Jesus and the Immaculate Heart of Mary is made of field stone, with rock beads. A candle light rosary is prayed at this site the first Sun. in Oct.