Rebecca Wilks

Rebecca Wilks; Photographer, Teacher, Yarnellian, Do-Gooder

Monday, December 30, 2013

Chicken Soup From Yarnell #2

Welcome to a periodic series inspired by the  six-month anniversary of the Yarnell Hill Fire.  My husband and I have a second home in Yarnell, and are moved by the cohesiveness of Yarnell and Peeples Valley and the small miracles we witness repeatedly as we rebuild.

St Joseph with the Holy Child
This story is about a local landmark. 

Maria Louisa Wasson is worried.  The Shrine of St. Joseph of the Mountains was badly damaged in the June 30, 2013 Yarnell Hill Fire.  Maria Louisa has been chair of the board of the multi-denominational site for 18 years and has been involved in one way or another for 45.  She's just not sure that the site, depicting the Stations of the Cross, and the associated retreat center can be rebuilt.  You see, the Shrine is not supported by any religious institution.  Even more concerning, insurance benefits cover only the depreciated value of the seven lost buildings which are up to 75 years old.  Revenue for the Shrine and Retreat Center has always come from visitors.

The Yarnell landmark began as a simple backyard shrine in 1939 and expanded over the years to become a natural outdoor chapel and a classroom for small groups to study accompanying text posted on plaques at each station.  Statues and plaques represent the Stations of the Cross.

The Crucifixion Statue Before Restoration (Photo courtesy of Vicki Velasquez)
There has been some progress, though.  Last week, a crew lead by Pete Incardona replaced the massive wooden cross which supports the crucifixion statue.  Much has been made of the fact that the top half of the cross burned, while the statue of Jesus remained intact and suspended by the original supports, free of soot.  Moved by the importance of the Shrine to the Yarnell community, Pete donated his time and an anonymous donor paid for the materials and crew.

Pete (Lower Left) and Crew Repairing the Cross
This cement statue, weighing approximately 500 pounds, was crafted in 1947 by Felix Lucero.  It was remarkably well-made, surviving 66 years with little more than a periodic coat of paint.
Pete and Crew
 For more information about supporting the Shrine's rebuilding;

                P.O. Box 267, Yarnell, AZ 85362.

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