Call it the little chapel on the prairie. Most people driving along Interstate 80 west of exit 432 likely wonder why there is a church atop a hill as they make their way east or west through Nebraska. The Holy Family Shrine near Gretna welcomes visitors who want to connect religiously or maybe just want to take a break and visit an attraction. Whatever the reason, everyone is welcome at the shrine.
The shrine opened in 2002. It attracts about 20,000 visitors annually.
The chapel is 49 feet tall with glass walls. Arching wood resembles waves of grain. Etched on the southern window is a portrait of the holy family – Joseph, Mary and baby Jesus. The chapel’s altar is located under the art work.
The chapel has a beautiful interior. Visitors will spend time sitting in pews reflecting, meditating or praying. When you visit, please remember to be respectful of others in the chapel.
The chapel doesn’t have regularly scheduled masses. It’s not intended to meet “Sunday requirements” for Catholics. It restricts the types of services that can be held there, because the chapel serves a special mission.
The Holy Family Shrine is more than just the chapel. The visitors center offers a history of the shrine, as well as other religious displays. A statue of Jesus Christ praying in the Garden of Gethsemane is on display. It will be part of the Way of Cross exhibit.
A stainless steel crucifix overlooks the interstate. Standing at about 40 feet tall, it professes the shrine’s Catholic identity.
The shrine features beautiful landscaping. A small stream flows between the visitors center and the chapel. Flowers, plants and prairie grass surround the shrine.
The Holy Family Shrine is a special place to visit, regardless of religious views. The unique architectural design makes it an attraction for that reason alone. The religious focus can attract people of all faiths. We recommend visiting the Holy Family Shrine near Gretna.
For additional information about the Holy Family Shrine, please visit www.holyfamilyshrineproject.com.