Shrine Staff Updates

Pictured from left to right: Emily Grace Conway, Edward “Ed” Zwibel, and Grant Withrow

Emily Grace Conway (left) and Edward “Ed” Zwibel (center) join the Shrine’s two-and-a-half year development officer, Grant Withrow (right) as our new Development Team. Please join us in welcoming them and praying for them!

Ed Zwibel joins the Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe’s development team as a Major Gifts Officer. He and his wife Jennifer have been married for twenty-one years and are expecting their eleventh child this fall. Ed served as a San Diego police officer for almost twenty-five years, a career that he says was a unique opportunity to serve on the spiritual battlefield. It was on an anniversary pilgrimage to the Shrine that Ed and his wife felt called to continue their service to the Lord in a new way. He says, “The opportunity to help the Shrine family bring souls to Our Lord and Blessed Mother is a distinct honor, and a continuation of service at the highest level.”

Emily Grace Conway also joins the development team as a Major Gifts Officer. Born and raised in Albany, New York, she comes from a close-knit family. She’s worked in the energy industry for the past several years, working to enhance the rules for New York’s electricity markets. Emily Grace shares that she has a strong devotion to Our Lady of Guadalupe that began on mission trips she took to Mexico City. She is passionate about the work of the Shrine: “I am eager for more people to know Our Blessed Mother under her title of Our Lady of Guadalupe and receive her graces through pilgriming to the Shrine.”

Discerning the Carmelites

Sofia Nikula

Sofia Nikula has been involved in the work of the Shrine since September 2020 and has worked here, both in the gardens and the gift shop, since May 2021. As a convert from Protestantism, Sofia says that the Shrine was instrumental in her relationship with the Blessed Mother. “I came to the Shrine intellectually holding to the Marian dogmas of the Catholic faith, but I leave the Shrine with a personal devotion to Our Lady. She has protected and nurtured my vocation during my time at her Shrine.” Now Sofia leaves the Shrine to discern a call to religious life in the Carmelite order. She says that she will miss the staff and pilgrims of the Shrine, but that she looks forward to the total gift of self that the cloistered life of Carmel provides, which she believes God desires for her. Please join us in praying for her continued discernment.

A Wedding at the Shrine on the Solemnity of Saint Joseph

Zach and Felicia Lang

Join us in congratulating Felicia née Bauer on her marriage to Zach Lang. Felicia and Zach met while attending college in 2018. They had their first date on the feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe, December 12th, 2020. And they were married this year on March 19, the Feast of Saint Joseph.

About her husband, Felicia says, “I cherish Zachary’s qualities of resilience and selflessness. I cherish his resilience because no matter what life throws at him, he is able to overcome a challenge and still live with purpose. This is not to say that he doesn’t experience suffering but he lives fearlessly according to the plan God has set out for him, and now for us in our marriage. I cherish his selflessness because this quality is the cornerstone to true love, and to the basic foundation that will be needed when we raise a family, God-willing. Growing up, my mom and dad were selfless in all ways to me and my four siblings, and I knew that what I saw modeled to me as a young child was what I desired in a husband—and I found just that.”

Felicia began working in the Shrine’s gardens in the summer of 2019. Today she serves as the Shrine’s Volunteer Coordinator. She says, “The best part of working for the Shrine is to be surrounded by a community who live in truth and who live in such a richness of faith, humility, and service to one another. Every day at the Shrine seems to be filled with brotherly kindness, people who set their affections on things of heaven, and a standard that is both holy and of one mind with God—true gems that are not found in most workplaces.”