Shrine Bright: Baraga donates to shrine project

Photo provided by Bishop Baraga Shrine New lighting was a primary project in a recent renovation of the Bishop Baraga Shrine, which is located off of U.S. 41 in L’Anse.

BARAGA — After a months-long period of deliberation, the Village Board agreed to make a $500 donation to the Bishop Baraga Shrine at its February meeting.

Village Manager LeAnn LeClaire discussed the LED lighting installments at the shrine and its bills, saying, “This is the first year that they’ve lit up the shrine. It’s a beautiful sight.”

The village decided to donate the money to contribute to the cost of the new lighting.

LeClaire did not say if the funding would be approved on an ongoing basis.

“It goes year by year,” she said, “depending on if funds are available.”

Nancy Haun, the president of the Bishop Baraga Foundation, said on behalf of the foundation she was “thrilled to death” to receive the donation.

Because the shrine is a nonprofit and separate from the shrine’s gift shop, it doesn’t generate revenue other than candles for sale and plaques that can be bought and placed around the shrine as memorials.

However, the foundation is an attempt to make the site’s operation self-sustaining. The foundation currently pays a $35 monthly electric bill to the gift shop.

“We are trying to get electric on our own property so we can have it in our name,” Haun said, adding, “We have a lot of big plans. It’s not the same shrine it used to be.”

They are working on doing a lot of upgrades. The foundation’s plans include installing six more lights, a handicap-accessible trail and picnic tables to attract more visitors.

This past fall, Haun said, the Knights of Columbus and local knights helped build a new bridge, because the old one had caved in.

The shrine also has an updated viewing platform, will be receiving an updated sign and hope to add a trail through the area in the future.

The lights are lit for a few hours in the evening and early morning.

“I want to make sure that everyone knows they are welcome,” Haun said. “We don’t want people to think it’s a religious shrine. We’ve always been nondenominational.”

At the January meeting, members postponed a decision to collect more information on the shrine’s finances.