An hour north of campus, the Shrine of St. Anne in Isle La Motte, Vermont, has been a place of refuge for pilgrims and tourists for hundreds of years. Two Saint Michael's alumni, the late Rev. Maurice Boucher '44 and Rev. Brian Cummings, SSE '86, have served as directors of the Shrine, which stands on the shore of Lake Champlain on the site of a French fort and chapel built in the 1600s dedicated to St. Anne.
The fort was soon abandoned, but 200 years later the local parish purchased the land and a new chapel and shrine were completed in 1893. For decades, the Shrine received thousands of visitors a summer.
In the past 50 years, the changing demographics and religious practices of Catholics in the Northeast and Canada have posed serious challenges to the Shrine and threatened its viability.
"In order to continue to thrive, the Shrine must enhance its mission and read the signs of the times by reaching out to people and inviting them to be stronger disciples of Christ," says Cummings.
The Shrine is now set to become a more important part of college life. In the spring, the Shrine launched a fundraising effort and began to construct overnight facilities and expand the meeting facilities, making the popular summertime destination accessible year-round. In the academic year, students from Saint Michael's will be able to use the Shrine as a retreat site. Access year round will allow the Shrine to break even financially while allowing year-round access for faith-building.