Hidden Menlo

Thanks to the generosity of an anonymous donor, Vallombrosa Center in Menlo Park has embarked on a project to renovate its Lourdes grotto and build around it a shrine to Our Lady of Lourdes.

A retreat center visitor in 2018 noticed the grotto, built in the 1950s after the Archdiocese acquired the property, was in urgent need of repair and offered to donate funds and assistance in building a new one. His advocacy spurred the center into starting the renovation of the grotto and then re-envisioning the area surrounding it.

Vallombrosa plans to add new lighting and landscaping to the grotto and build a fountain for St. Bernadette Soubirous, to whom Mary appeared at Lourdes. The area in front of the statue, on a corner of the property next to Church of the Nativity, will be paved and turned into a plaza for outdoor Mass.

“We’re trying to make a welcoming space,” said David Leech, Vallombrosa’s marketing director.

The center will also build a meditative spiritual works of mercy path leading to the shrine, which will complement the corporal works of mercy garden on the southern side of the property.

According to Vallombrosa’s website, the shrine complex will “create a quiet and sacred space for prayer, reflection and devotion.”

Dave Fencl, operations director for Vallombrosa, said the plaza would be named after late chaplain Father Kevin Gaffey. The priest had been “instrumental” in the vocation of a number of priests, he said, and “he was kind of considered the ultimate for a parish priest.”

To partially fund the project, the center is selling bricks that can be etched with personal messages, Fencl said.

“It’s a way to build brick-by-brick, but also to honor people, people you love or who are now with God,” he said.

Fencl said he looks forward to the addition of the meditative shrine to the Vallombrosa grounds.

“The concept is to be able to do the corporal works, do the Stations of the Cross, go to the spiritual works of mercy and then end up at the grotto of Our Lady of Lourdes. Anything to slow people down and help them reflect and contemplate – that’s all part of what we’ve been trying to accomplish here,” he said.

The anonymous donor told Catholic San Francisco “My fondest and most cherished hope is that with the restoration of the grotto, the Blessed Mother will be honored as she should be and has been, and so increase her intercession for the retreat center and all who dwell in it.”

Donations can be made online.

Top Photo by Scott R. Kline (c) 2018 before restoration begun. Second photo is restoration in progress, courtesy of Valombrosa

This originally appeared on Catholic San Francisco and is used with permission.

{ Be the first to comment }

Menlo Park Historical Association hosts walking tour featuring oldest structures on Aug. 3

On Saturday, Aug. 3, the Menlo Park Historical Association is hosting a walk that will cover the oldest structures in Menlo Park: the Railroad Depot built in 1867, the Timothy Hopkins Gatehouse built in 1864 and the Edgar Mills Bright Eagle mansion built in 1869. The mile-and-a-half tour will also include “Religious Row” with the […]

Click to read more →

Saga of early Menlo Park farmer (yes!) and his Stanford Dairy – and why there is a jog in Avy Avenue

John Murray and his wife Mary were both Irish immigrants who came to New York City in 1848 or ’49 and met and married there. Mary was pregnant with their first child when the decision was made for Murray to go to California to seek the family’s fortune, while Mary stayed in New York City […]

Click to read more →

Hidden delights of Vallombrosa Center in Menlo Park

One of the more enjoyable aspects of publishing InMenlo, is getting to dive deep into some of Menlo Park’s more hidden treasures. Such was the case when we toured Vallombrosa Center with Public Events and Marketing Coordinator David Leech accompanied by contributing photographer Scott Kline. Tucked behind a wall on Oak Grove Avenue between the […]

Click to read more →

Remastered 1964 films by Menlo Park filmmaker show origins of SLAC

A pair of 1964 films detailing the construction of Stanford Linear Accelerator Center, later renamed SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory, were recently remastered and are now available for viewing on YouTube thanks to a partnership between the films’ producer, J. Douglas Allen (pictured), and the SLAC Archives, History & Records Office. The films provide a fascinating […]

Click to read more →

When a dairy farm existed in Menlo Park close to where Avy is today

Editor’s note: With the new year, we’ll be looking at some of the historical roots of Menlo Park, Atherton, Woodside and Portola Valley. This post originally ran in 2012. John Murray and his wife Mary were both Irish immigrants who came to New York City in 1848 or ’49 and met and married there. Mary […]

Click to read more →

Bo Crane leads MPHA tour of Holy Cross Cemetery on Saturday, May 19

This year the Menlo Park Historical Association (MPHA) annually sponsored tour of Holy Cross Cemetery will be led by MPHA secretary, Bo Crane, on Saturday, May 19 from 2:00 to 4:00 pm. The Cemetery is at 1100 Santa Cruz Avenue in Menlo Park, located at the street’s bend. Parking for this event is not allowed […]

Click to read more →

Junior League of Palo Alto•Mid Peninsula hosts historic Barron-Latham-Hopkins Gatehouse tours

The Junior League of Palo Alto•Mid Peninsula (JLPA•MP) is opening up the historic Barron-Latham-Hopkins Gatehouse to the public for tours on Saturday, May 13. The Gatehouse is the oldest existing structure in Menlo Park and the last surviving gatehouse in the state of California. The Gatehouse is one of only three buildings in Menlo Park […]

Click to read more →

Taking down a giant: 699 tons of SLAC’s Accelerator removed for upgrade

For the first time in more than 50 years, a door that is opened at the western end of the historic linear accelerator at the Department of Energy’s SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory casts light on four empty walls stretching as far as the eye can see. This end of the linac – a full kilometer […]

Click to read more →

West Bay Model Railroad Association holds its annual open house on Dec. 3 & 4

We stopped by the West Bay Model Railroad Association building in Menlo Park to chat with members about progress over the past year in advance of the group’s annual open house on Saturday, Dec. 3, from 1:00 to 6:00 pm and Sunday, Dec. 4, from 1:00 to 8:30 pm. (Note: Caltrain’s Holiday Train is scheduled to […]

Click to read more →

NanoFarms plants the seed for economic growth and sustainable farming

“My mother loved gardens,” says Father George E. Schultze, S.J., “and so did my father. We normally had lots of flowers and also always tomatoes, sometimes corn. That experience has given me a love for being around a garden.” And today, as a priest at St. Patrick’s Seminary in Menlo Park, Fr. George is doing just […]

Click to read more →