By JOANNE FOX
The Stations of the Cross are commonly used as a mini-pilgrimage – as the individual moves from station to station, recalling and meditating on a specific event from Christ’s last day.
A set of stations from a church – closed last year as a result of recommendations made by Ministry 2025, pastoral planning for the Diocese of Sioux City – has made its own 44-mile pilgrimage across Woodbury County.
Trinity Heights Queen of Peace has acquired and installed the Stations of the Cross in its chapel, which were originally in the former St. Mary Church, Oto.
Terry Hegarty, executive director of Trinity Heights Queen of Peace, explained the new St. Joseph Center Manager and Tour Director, Margie Lancaster of Anthon, was aware of the closing of the rural parish.
“Margie asked me to stop at the St. Joseph Center one morning to meet a couple of St. Mary parishioners who had stopped by,” he said. “Upon visiting with them, they informed us that they had just taken a number of items from St. Mary Church to be stored. Margie wondered if it might be possible for us to inquire as to possibly placing them in our chapel.”
Hegarty thought the stations would be a “wonderful addition” to the Divine Mercy Chapel.
“The stations we had in place were very small and difficult to see the images on,” he said.
In making inquiries about the stations, Hegarty discovered Mercy Sister Esther Mary Nickel of the Office of Worship was the person to contact about the stations.
“Sister Esther Mary asked us to contact our rector, Father David Hemann, and discuss this possibility with him,” he said. “Father David thought it would be a wonderful addition to our chapel and made the formal application to the diocese.”
It was not long after this appeal, on Sept. 26, that Hegarty received a call from Sister Esther Mary, who announced she would transport the stations to the shrine.
“Sister brought them to our office – wrapped in protective bubble wrap,” he said. “We began to unwrap them and immediately saw the tremendous beauty these stations had and would bring to our Divine Mercy Chapel.
Hegarty saw the Holy Spirit at work in this mini-pilgrimage for the stations.
“When we saw them for the first time, it was as if we had actually planned and ordered them,” he marveled. “They were the correct size, a beautiful ivory color and with a small oak wooden cross that matched our chapel perfectly.”
God continued to provide graces as Lancaster and Hegarty began the installation process.
“We placed them on the current border we have surrounding the chapel, lined them up accordingly with the bottom edge and spaced them evenly, and yes – you guessed it – they were a perfect fit,” he said.
Hegarty clarified there are no plans for communal recitation of the Stations of the Cross at Trinity Heights Queen of Peace.
“We know the stations are prayed at Holy Cross, St. Michael Center and other worship sites,” he said. “We encourage all who wish to join in this prayer time to attend those places.”
Hegarty acknowledged the history behind these stations should “cause us to pause, remember and thank the parishioners of St. Mary Church in Oto.”
“As we all know with the shortage of priests, it has been an unfortunate occurrence that some churches have closed,” he said. “We all need to come together and pray for new vocations. This is our prayer when we come to the Divine Mercy Chapel.”