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NASPA welcomes Two New Board Members

The National Association of Shrines and Pilgrimage Apostolate elected two new board members at the annual business meeting this year in September. Grace Arjona Veloz, Director of Our Lady of Charity Shrine in Miami, Florida and Michael Antaya, Director of St. Anne’s Shrine in Fall River, Massachusetts bring their experience and passion for shrines to the NASPA team.

Michael Antaya is the Director of St. Anne’s Shrine in Fall River. He is also a member of the St. Anne Shrine Preservation Society, the lay board that oversees the operation of the shrine. He is responsible for overseeing the daily operation of the shrine, including the planning of liturgical events, talks, and pilgrimages.

In his professional life he holds a bachelor’s degree in Health Science and is a Food Safety Professional in his “day job”. He is also currently studying for a Masters in Theology. Outside of his professional work and shrine work, he likes to cook, travel and spend time with family and friends.

What got you started at St. Anne Shrine?

“St Anne was my home parish. I received all my sacraments there and was very active in the church life before it was closed. St. Anne was originally built as a shrine before it became a parish and our bishop allowed it to remain open as a shrine.”

Do you have a favorite place in the shrine?

“My favorite place might actually be the lower church. It’s the quietest part of the shrine and if you are coming to a place to be quiet it’s the place to be.”

Have you been on any pilgrimages recently and why do you feel pilgrimage is important?

“I visited The National shrine of our Lady of La Salette. They have an outdoor festival of lights at Christmas time. I’ve visited the Divine Mercy Shrine, and most recently I visited the St. Joseph Shrine in Stirling NJ. Pilgrimage is important because It takes us out of our day to day routine. Out of our comfort zone and can take us to the next level of spirituality.”

What local restaurant would you recommend to pilgrims?

“There is a great Portuguese restaurant called T.A. Restaurant. It is walking distance from the Shrine.”

What would you like more people to know about St. Anne’s?

“We are associated with some healings. Nothing that has been officially approved but we have three volumes of documented favors granted that the Dominicans kept. We even have crutches that were left behind by pilgrims.”

Grace Arjona Veloz has been the Director of Our Lady of Charity for two months and was the director of stewardship for the diocese for ?? years.(Grace bio) She is already making waves at the shrine with start of hispanic heritage month, which celebrates a different hispanic country each day?? Monday?? during the 8am Mass.

How was the transition from Diocesan work to Shrine work?

“I prayed about it a lot. Both my mother and mother-in-law have a devotion to Our Lady of Charity. I love coming to work. I thought i was going to slow down after my years working for the diocese but that’s not the case. We are coming up on our Jubilee year so it’s very busy but It’s a delight!”

What are some of your favorite events at Our Lady of Charity?

“The feast day of Our Lady of Charity on September 8th floored me. We had more than 7,000 people come and most of them stood outside. At 8pm it started to rain and instead of trying to find cover or leave they took out their umbrellas. It was truly inspiring.”

What local restaurant would you recommend to pilgrims?

“The Jaguar Restaurant in Coconut Grove.”

What would you like more people to know about the shrine?

“The spirituality of the shrine. The constant prayer that takes place. A decade of the rosary is prayed every half hour now. It’s not just a tourist site. It is a testament to the devotion of the common people. The Bishop did not accept large donations to build the shrine because he wanted ownership of it to come from the common people. It was literally paid for with pennies and to this day pilgrims still bring donations in pennies.”

What do you hope to bring to NASPA?

“I’m hoping to help increase member engagement and reach out to prospective shrines to help increase our membership.”

We are very excited to work with Grace and Michael this year! If you would like to email them with questions or congratulations, you can find their contact information on our About page.

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