The History of Boonton’s Shrine of Saint Thérèse

The small shrine of St. Thérèse, located in Boonton, NJ, represents the gratitude of the founder, Achille Arci. A promise he made and kept back in the 1920s.

Arci became very ill and was told by physicians bereft of bedside manner that he was incurable. Arci didn’t want to accept that prognosis, so he prayed fervently to St. Thérèse for help. He promised her that if he was cured, he would build a shrine in her honor and visit her home in France to pay his respects. Apparently, St. Thérèse liked that idea, because after a five-year battle with his illness, Arci was suddenly and miraculously cured.

Keeping his promise would require the help of friends. He formed a small society of devout Catholics to build a modest shrine to St. Thérèse. The group solicited donations and volunteered labor to make the small shrine a reality. In 1933, it was erected on what was then Arci’s property.

In October 1952, Arci traveled to Lisieux, France to visit St. Thérèse’s home. When he returned, he continued tending to the shrine until his death in 1957.  This was his second promise to St. Therese.

The shrine property ownership was eventually transferred to Our Lady of Mt. Carmel Church in Boonton. Arci’s family continues to maintain the grounds in loving memory of their father and out of their devotion to St. Thérèse.

I am a fervent believer in this beautiful saint and visited her Shrine daily.  While being there, I felt strongly in my spirit the question “Why are you here praying alone?”  So I contacted the person in charge of the Shrine at Mount Carmel Parish in Boonton.  I asked if she would have an objection to having a weekly Rosary prayed outside by the cross.  She loved the idea and that’s when our ministry started.  In June of this year, I had 7 people on the first day.  On October 12th of this year, I had 50 people standing and praying on Holy Ground.

The Shrine opens on May 1st and closes on October 30th (for the winter).  Being the ministry was so successful, I asked permission from the Pastor, Reverend Michael Parisi, of St. Catherine of Siena Parish in Mountain Lakes (a mile away from the Shrine), if we could move inside the church for a weekly Rosary.  His answer was a resounding yes !!  We first begin with the Novena to St. Therese, then a prayer for our nation and end with the Rosary.  We meet each and every Tuesday at 1 p.m.  We have a pianist who plays the Yamaha Grand piano in church.

On October 12th, we hired a singer, Dan Yates, who has been blessed with a beautiful voice, and who came to the Shrine and sang outside by the cross.  It was a beautiful day to remember. The weather was perfect and the attendance was abundant.   Our prayer warriors loved him so much that they are asking for his return.  Dan has also appeared on Broadway.  

So on December 21st, at 1:00 p.m., at St. Catherine of Siena Church in Mountain Lakes, Dan will be returning.  We would like to invite you to participate with us.   You will meet some wonderful people who you can have fellowship with.  Come celebrate the birth of our Lord and Savior.

December 21st will be our last meeting for this year.  We will once again resume our ministry at the Shrine in May. 

Any questions, please call Carol Bsarany 973-271-9252.


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