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SIOUX CITY | Trinity Heights is Catholic in theology, but ecumenical in intent and appeal.
More than 100,000 people from around the world flock each year to the inspirational destination that blends art, nature and the teachings of Christianity.
The Rev. Harold Cooper dreamed of creating a place where visitors could experience the peace that Jesus Christ gives.
In the mid-1980s, Cooper, then pastor of St. Joseph Church in Sioux City, and the non-profit corporation, Queen of Peace Inc., set out to purchase the 80-acre property perched atop a hill at 33rd Street and Outer Drive on Sioux City's north side.
Today, pine trees, a pond, a stream and two dozen shrines dot the landscape, along with a chapel, gift shop and apartment housing for seniors.
Visitors can sit on benches and admire the 30-foot steel statues of Jesus and his mother, Mary, light a candle in the Divine Mercy Adoration Chapel, or view a hand-carved wood sculpture of the Last Supper.
Immaculate Heart of Mary Queen of Peace was dedicated in 1993. Almost immediately, buses began regularly driving up the dirt road so tourists could get a glimpse of the 30-foot tall stainless steel statue created by nationally renowned sculptor Dale Lamphere, of Spearfish, S.D.
On the grounds pillars or bollards accompany shrines depicting the six places where Mary appeared in the world. The 10 Commandments and eight beatitudes delivered by Christ in the Sermon on the Mount are also present.
Jerry Traufler's "Last Supper" -- a life-size rendition of the Last Supper -- is another popular work of art displayed at Trinity Heights. It's housed in the St. Joseph Center and Museum's octagon room. Traufler, a postal employee from Le Mars, Iowa, and a self-taught sculptor, carved each figure out of basswood and pine with a chisel and mallet.