Caring for a Sacred Icon
Seminarians work together to restore symbolic "Black Jesus" grotto
Craig Marion, Sacred Heart seminarian
Sister Mary was aware that a few years back funding had fallen through to refurbish the iconic "Black Jesus" grotto. I thought it was possible the seminarians could do the job. Sister and I discussed the situation with our new rector, Msgr. Todd Lajiness, and he granted approval for the seminarians to go to work.
Handy with Tools
We presented a plan to Monsignor, which he and Archbishop Allen Vigneron approved. The slate work was labor intensive and at certain points we had to use a jackhammer to pull certain pieces of slate out. It was also clear as we were hammering that we would need a significant amount of concrete.
Our project leader, Christopher Muer, was able to provide good direction on how to use certain tools and power equipment. Paul Graney, Mark Livingston, John Bettin and Christopher Cullen worked closely with re-laying all of the slate. Patrick Setto was the in charge of the repairing and repainting the statue itself.
"What Are You Doing?"
We quickly discovered that our neighbors identify deeply with the statue, whose hands, feet and face were painted black during the 1967 civil disturbance. Especially while jack hammering, some neighbors expressed concern we may be removing the grotto or drastically changing it. After explaining about the repairs, so many were so pleased.
Most importantly, it gave many seminarians a way to come together as a team caring for something important to Sacred Heart, the surrounding neighborhood and the city of Detroit within which we live.