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Love Your Neighbor

Though the Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe welcomes many thousands of pilgrims from great distances every year, it also treasures a special bond with and responsibility toward the local community in the area of La Crosse, WI. In the spirit of fostering this closeness with the community, the Shrine hosted a barbecue on the afternoon of Saturday, June 10, extending invitations to a group of neighbors.

The relaxed atmosphere and good food offered the neighbors of the Shrine opportunities to enjoy companionship and bonding with each other and with the Shrine’s team. “Charity begins at home,” comments Executive Director Fr. Paul Check, whose participation in the barbecue included grilling in a tall chef’s hat. “These people that we invited on the Saturday night for the barbecue are our immediate neighbors … and we’re relational beings, not just rational beings, and so we’re made to be in good relationship with people.”

The company even included His Eminence Cardinal Burke, who enjoyed the barbecue wholeheartedly. “As the father of the Shrine, going back now 20 years or more, he would like it to be the case that the Shrine and the community have a good rapport,” says Fr. Check. “I think it was a particular pleasure for him to see people that he’s known for a long time, and maybe doesn’t see that often.”

A Larger Initiation

"A lot of our neighbors are not Catholics,” Fr. Check notes, “so we have a special responsibility to them to show the best of the Catholic Church in the way we live next door to them. That includes inviting them occasionally to be on the campus, talk about what we’re doing, listen to the kinds of things that may be important to them, [or] of mutual interest because we live in the same place, and give them a bratwurst or a glass of something.”

The Shrine hopes to make this neighborhood barbecue an annual tradition, continuing to build its relationship with the surrounding community. In an era when community life is often diminished or missing, a simple endeavor to bring people together can bring about great good, building those deep-rooted bonds of charity that “begin at home.”

Please look at the Events Page for opportunities to connect with the Shrine Community.