CAPE GIRARDEAU, MO (KFVS) - PERRYVILLE, MO (KFVS) - Hundreds celebrated the 200th anniversary of the Vincentian ministry in Perryville today. Also celebrated, was the 100th anniversary of the Association of the Miraculous Medal.
"Two centuries in Perry County is an amazing feat for any church," Association of the Miraculous Medal President/CEO Don Fulford said.
The Association of the Miraculous Medal, an organization which overlooks several properties in Perryville, Mo, including a church and the nations first college west of the Mississippi River, a grotto and more.
On Sunday, many came out to join in the celebration with a mass featuring special guests including Archbishop of St. Louis, Missouri Most Reverend Robert J. Carlson, Bishop of Springfield-Cape Girardeau Most Reverened Edward M. Rice and more.
"It's a great tribute to the legacy that they have established," Rice said. "It's very touching to renew this whole place, this campus, because people love to come here just to pray."
The organization was established in 1918 in Perryville in order to spread devotion to Mary as the Lady of the Miraculous Medal.
The grounds that the Saint Mary's of the Barrens Church sits on were settled back on October 2, 1818, by Vincentian Priests.
The church itself is turned 190 years old while the grotto and the organization are celebrating 100 years old this year.
Months ago, in preparation for the anniversary celebration, the organization did some remodeling inside the church and at the grotto.
At the church, they did a major remodel inside with repainting artwork and fixing any areas of concern the structure.
"Repainting, cleaning and just protecting the rich heritage and history that's in this church," Fulford added. "So whether you're Catholic or non-Catholic, this is a treasure trove of wonderful works of art."
"We really believe that now with the restorations, and even before the restorations, this was a spiritual home for people," Decan Tom Schumer said. "It was a destination that people came and now the beautiful restorations. We know that more and more people will be coming here to pray and to grow with God."
The art was hand painted with one inch or less brushes. A team had filled the church with scaffolding to be able to reach every area of the structure at one point.
"I knew at that point this is going to take a little longer than anticipated," Fulford said. "But every detail, every painting has been cleaned and restructured and refurbished. So every avenue of this church has a story to tell."
On the other side of the campus grounds, the grounds around the grotto were remodeled with the additions of sidewalks, benches and memorial tiles.
All of that outside work has been completed and they will celebrated with a rosary walk in May earlier in the year. The sidewalks were detailed with circles in certain areas to mimic a rosary.
"You'll be able to say the rosary and as you walk from bead to bead, between each bead of the rosary, it's timed so that when you finished one Hail Mary, you'll be at the next Hail Mary," Fulford said. " And you can walk all the way around and say the Hail Mary and come back at a beautiful crucifix plaza."
Fulford said it's important they maintain the church when needed to keep it strong for years to come but also to update it when possible to keep the look and designs fresh and welcoming.
"The most powerful part of this is the people and building upon what they built but protecting it as well," Fulford said. "One of the first things we ran into was termites at this church. Had we not decided to do this at this time the termites will still be down below us in the floors doing their work."
After the mass, parishioners were invited to a special dinner to commemorate the 200-year event. They were also welcomed to walk to the grotto and visit other areas on campus as well.