St. Alphonsus Parish, Hopewell, will bless its newly restored grotto immediately following the 5 p.m. Mass Sept. 8, the feast of the Nativity of Mary, at 54 E. Prospect Street. The ceremony will include a candlelight procession, children’s flower offering, Marian Hymns, a blessing by Father Alex Enriquez, pastor of the parish, and a reception, hosted by the St. Alphonsus Parish Council.
The grotto, which features statues of Our Lady of Lourdes and St. Bernadette donated by the Altar-Rosary Society, was constructed by the St. Alphonsus Catholic Men’s Club in 1956. Since that time, the grotto has been a special place for the church community, a fitting backdrop for communion and confirmation photos.
Despite sturdy construction, decades of exposure to the elements caused cracks to form in the grotto and its surrounding patio area, necessitating restoration and re-pointing, a process which replaces decayed mortar between stones. The work took place this spring and was completed in time for this year’s First Holy Communion celebration. In addition to repairs on the grotto itself, a new statue of Our Lady of Lourdes was installed and several original paving stones were retained to form a new walkway behind the grotto. The original 1956 statue has been placed next to the St. Alphonsus rectory. Lola Abbondandolo, president of the Altar-Rosary Society, chaired the restoration project and fundraising efforts.
The newly restored grotto enhances the grounds of this historic church, which is celebrating its 135th anniversary this year.[[In-content Ad]]