Renovation to begin for St. Mary's of the Barren

A thoughtful, purposeful path can lead to fulfillment.

The restoration project and building campaign at St. Mary's of the Barren in Perryville, Missouri, appears to have that at its core as the historic grounds receive a renovation in anticipation of the 100-year anniversary celebration of the Vincentian priests founding of the Association of the Miraculous Medal in 1918. The AMM, a not-for-profit organization on site at St. Mary's, is handling the project, which looks to enhance the spiritual journey with a meditative one-mile rosary walk and other additions, including a welcoming plaza on the grounds. A life-size bronze statue of Mary, dedicated to the 95-year ministry of the Daughters of Charity, also will be among the new attractions, acknowledging more than 200 nuns of the order who have served the Perryville community over the years. St. Catherine Laboure, a Daughter of Charity, had an apparition of Mary in Paris in 1830 and vowed to share it with the world.

The renovation, expected to be completed in May of 2018, is the latest chapter in the 190-year history of the church, founded in 1827 by Vincentian priests and which continues to attract more than 8,000 visitors a year.

In addition to likeness of Mary, two shrines depicting apparitions of Mary are planned along the rosary walk along with a meditation garden. Beads on the one-mile walk on the scenic grounds will be in the form of large concrete pads, with the path traversing much of the property, starting at the crucifix plaza and concluding at an updated grotto area.

The grounds also house a museum and residence for retired Vincentian priests and brothers, among other structures.

According to the AMM, the center receives an average of 150 phone calls a day, which translates to over 40,000 annually. In light of that interest, the upgrades to the property surely will make it even more of a destination. The new additions promise to be both welcoming and serene.

There is little doubt the mission of St. Catherine Laboure continues to be embraced through this renovation.