Shrine honors Catholic nuns

Last modified: 9/10/2013 9:37:37 AM
NEW IPSWICH — When he was a child, Nicholas Brouillette spent a lot of time at the Our Lady of Hope House of Prayer in New Ipswich. He went there for home-school activities, and grew up with the handful of Catholic nuns that run the prayer house. So when Brouillette, a Boy Scout with Troop 122 in Greenville, sat down to come up with a Eagle Scout project, he decided to dedicate his efforts to giving the House of Prayer a gift: a shrine to the Virgin Mary.

Eagle is the highest attainable rank in the Boy Scouts of America. In addition to gathering at least 21 merit badges, the scout must also design and manage an extensive service project to qualify. Brouillette, 18, of Greenville initially had more than one idea for his project, he said in an interview at the shrine’s dedication ceremony on Saturday. He first thought to enclose a porch at the House of Prayer, but ultimately determined that project wouldn’t be feasible. Then he hit on the idea of building a Marian Shrine, which are traditionally used to mark a site of devotion, or a site of an apparition or miracle ascribed to the Virgin Mary.

“I really wanted to do something for the sisters,” Brouillette said. “[Our Lady of Hope House of Prayer] has been there my whole life, and the sisters have been part of my life since I was young.”

On Saturday shortly before a Boy Scout Honor Court, a small crowd gathered in the backyard grotto at Our Lady of Hope House of Prayer, where the wood-and-stone shrine has been built in dedication to all of the sisters who have served there. Originally, Brouillette had planned to build the shrine solely from stone, but it turned out to be prohibitively difficult, he said. So partway through construction, Brouillette changed his plans. The shrine still sits on a stone base built by Brouillette and his troop, but the walls are made of wooden latticework holding up a wooden roof. Made of concrete, Mary — donated by Mr. and Mrs. Leighford Rines of New Ipswich — sits nestled inside.

“I think it turned out for the best,” said Brouillette of his renovated design, “because I think it looks beautiful as it is now.”

The Rev. Theodore Laperle of Fitchburg, Mass., dedicated and blessed the shrine in a dedication ceremony. Laperle pointed out that a Boy Scout promises in his oath to do his duty to God, and swears to be reverent, among other virtues. With his contribution to the House of Prayer, Brouillette fulfilled those promises, said Laperle.

Later that evening, a Boy Scout Honor Court reviewed the project and then awarded him the rank of Eagle Scout. It was an overwhelming experience to receive the honor after serving in the scouts for almost eight years, Brouillette said in a phone interview Saturday night. “It’s kind of overwhelming,” he said. “It’s just come so fast. I think scouting is a great program, and it’s really helped to shape me and who I am today.”

Ashley Saari can be reached at 924-7172 ext. 244 or She’s on Twitter at @AshleySaari.


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