BELLEVILLE, Ill. – Just outside Belleville, Illinois, the National Shrine of Our Lady of the Snows is set to flip the switch for their annual Way of Lights Christmas display.
“This year we’re celebrating the 50th anniversary and we’re excited to continue to tell our story of the light of salvation, Jesus Christ as the light of the world,” said Father David Uribe, shrine director. “So, we do it with putting up over a million lights on the property.”
For Father David Uribe, it’s his first official Way of Lights and the Shrine’s 50th year of what has become a family tradition for many.
“That’s our theme for the 50th year: 'A Family Tradition,'” said Fr. Uribe. “So, whether you’ve been here every year or if it’s been a while since you’ve been here and want to start a new family tradition. We want you to come out for the Way of Lights here in Belleville.”
With Legos on display in the Guild center, and new LED displays, the Shrine has expanded this family tradition from its roots in the region, dating back to 1970.
The 50th year for the Way of Lights will feature camel rides sleigh rides and a petting zoo, as well as nightly choirs and a Christmas tree display in the visitor center.
Some things have changed and some things have stayed the same for this family tradition celebrating its golden anniversary.
“It’s an opportunity for us to create a free opportunity for families to come out and get away from their normal routines to come and be here at the Shrine,” Fr. Uribe said. “The Shrine is a place of renewal, to step out of your normal routine, and have an encounter with God.”
The Way of Lights runs November 22 through December 31, 5 p.m. until 9 p.m.