ST. JOHN, Ind. — Standing in the damp foundation of his latest development, Frank Schilling paused for a thought.
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"It's going to change men's hearts," he said, overlooking the construction site.
It's not a subdivision or a strip mall. Schilling is leading the way on a religious undertaking called the Shrine of Christ's Passion.
The shrine - which is to include a visitor's center, life-size bronze statues depicting the Stations of the Cross and four other religious scenes - is about a year from completion, those involved with the project say.
The shrine will be set off U.S. 41, just east of the new St. John the Evangelist Church, which is under construction. It is expected to draw people from throughout the country.
"The concept is for people to come here and have spiritual renewal," said the Rev. Sammie Maletta, of St. John the Evangelist Church.
The shrine is for people of all faiths, not only Catholics, Maletta said.
The site was designed with rolling hills and foliage so that one station isn't visible from other stations, Schilling said.
Slideshow: Easter’s global reach "You'll be in the moment and not distracted with other things," Maletta said.
It is designed to reflect Jesus' time, with beige stone and arid landscaping. Even the benches and garbage cans are stone to give the shrine a more authentic feel, Schilling said.
The first station will be Pilate's court, named for biblical figure Pontius Pilate.
The building has engraved in Latin, "Innocent of the blood of this just man," words Pilate is said to have spoken when Jesus was judged.
People are encouraged to interact with the statues, running their fingers along the tear-stained faces.
More than a dozen bronze statues sit in storage waiting to be installed.
People have choked back tears when they've gotten sneak peaks of the bronze statues, amazed by how lifelike they are, Schilling said.
Although most people will walk the trail of 14 stations, electric golf carts that can carry between six and nine people will be on site for disabled visitors, Maletta said.
Music will play, and each station will have a devotion that people can hear with the press of a button.
A scene depicting Jesus' resurrection and a scene showing his ascension into heaven are planned for the end of the trail, Schilling said.
Schilling's deceased brother, Jim Schilling, contributed to the project.
Trees Jim Schilling planted as seedlings are now mature and have been planted at the shrine.
The Marian Wayside Foundation, a group that includes parishioners but is separate from the church, is paying for the project. No church money is being spent on the shrine, Maletta said.
Donations have been pouring in from people of all faiths, Schilling said.
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