Located in the driftless region of Wisconsin, the Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe experiences significant snowfall every winter. To ensure that pilgrims’ experience of the Shrine remains safe and unhindered, a dedicated maintenance team works throughout the season to remove snow from the grounds. Adam Myers, Director of Buildings and Grounds, spoke in a recent interview on the process of this snow removal.
Responding to a common question about whether the Shrine remains open in winter, Myers says, “I’ve only seen it closed one day in the three years that I’ve been here,” outside of regular holidays. The golf cart shuttles also continue to run. Keeping all this possible, however, requires a great deal of strategic planning, scheduling, and logistics.
“We always have to have at least two people here on the weekend for snow removal,” Myers explains. “We need to get the parking lot open before people get here, we need to have the trail cleaned before people go up the hill, and then we also have to have the back drive cleaned before the 8:30 Mass.” Typically, the work takes 4–6 hours for three men; this workload increases with heavier snowfall.
The snow removal crew, comprising one part-time and four full-time employees, faces challenges in maneuvering around the artwork of the Shrine and, especially, in maintaining and repairing equipment. “Once it starts getting below zero, nothing wants to work and everything wants to break,” Myers observes wryly. Older equipment poses a difficulty, as does routine maintenance: “chains getting broken, tires going bald, things like that.” In particular, the crew hopes to acquire a new two-stage, walk-behind snow blower, to replace one grown too old for use.
Despite the obstacles, the team carries on well. Myers emphasizes “how fortunate the Shrine is to have the staff that we do . . . Their dedication and dependability is second to none.”
Pilgrims to the Shrine who see the snow removal crew at work are advised to give them adequate space. On the other hand, if possible, they may also wish to thank them for keeping safe and open the paths to Our Lady’s “little sacred house.”