After some two years of planning and construction, the long-awaited interactive exhibit, “Arctic Wings and the Shrine” opened with a special gathering and ceremony. Among the guests attending the opening were: U.S. Provincial, Louis Studer, OMI, Bishop Michael McGovern of the Diocese of Belleville, Mayor Patty Gregory of Belleville, and Bishop Anthony Krótki, OMI, of the Diocese of Churchill-Hudson Bay, Manitoba, Canada. The event was hosted by the Shrine’s Co-directors, Oblate Fathers David Uribe and Salvador Gonzalez.
The exhibit, which is dedicated to the Oblate Missionaries and indigenous people who lived in the Arctic regions of Canada, is spread over several rooms in the Shrine Visitor’s Center. It features many interactive displays for adults and children, multimedia presentations, along with historic photos and artifacts from the region. The stories of Fr. Paul Schulte, known as the “Flying Priest Over the Arctic” and Fr. Edwin Guild, Founder of the Shrine are prominently featured as well. It was Fr. Schulte who championed the devotion to Our Lady of the Snows in Belleville, which influenced Fr. Guild’s determination to build a Shrine in her honor.
The exhibit honors the work of Oblate Missionaries in the present day as well as the past, and in all parts of the world, not just the far north. As Fr. Studer said in his welcoming remarks, “This beautiful exhibit describes the dream of Schulte and Guild, but it’s also a testimony to the missionary work of the Oblates in Canada today, and in some 70 countries around the world.”
After the opening remarks the gathering walked through the exhibit rooms, trying out the interactive features and viewing the various films, photos and items of interest before enjoying a celebratory luncheon.
“Arctic Wings and the Shrine” will be open every day to visitors from 10-5 PM in the Visitors Center of the National Shrine of Our Lady of the Snows in Belleville, Il. Admission is free.