Andrew Baaki is an eighth-grader at Notre Dame-Bishop Gibbons.
Andrew Baaki is an eighth-grader at Notre Dame-Bishop Gibbons.

A big part of my religious life is the Our Lady of Martyrs Shrine in Auriesville. I’ve been so blessed to know the Shrine and all the wonderful people that work there. My family has always been supportive of the Shrine because it’s important to preserve these holy grounds in North America. Working there has taught me so many lessons about life, and it further deepens my relationship with God. It also deepens my bond with my family, especially my mother. I have many fond memories of those special grounds, and I hope to make many more in the future.

To understand the Shrine’s significance, you first have to dive into the rich history of the many martyrs who evangelized to the Native American tribes. The three significant martyrs are St. Isaac Jogues, St. John Lalande, and St. Rene Goupil. All three were French missionaries, coming to the new world to teach about God. Martyr, by definition, means a person who is killed for his or her faith. All three were martyred by the Native American tribes for teaching young children about God. Though she is not a martyr, another saint was born on the Shrine’s property. That being St. Kateri Tekakwitha, the first Native American saint.

The community of the Shrine has grown so much over the past couple of years because of a lot of amazing people and generous donors. The Shrine has many great qualities that make it a wonderful place such as The Colosseum, the Kateri Shrine, and the Ravine, if I had to name my favorites. The Shrine is just a great place to lose all your worries; it is considered to be one of the holiest grounds in North America. I’ve had the privilege of volunteering there and every day brought a relaxing smile to my face, and the faces of many others.

I hope this article has informed you and convinced you to come visit. There is a regular Mass and activities, so there is never a dull moment. Even when there’s not, the Shrine is a beautiful place just to walk around. I can’t wait to get back up there this spring! I hope you’ll come too and won’t miss out on this majestic property.

Andrew Baaki is an eighth-grader at Notre Dame-Bishop Gibbons.