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Grotto receives blessings from Father, mother
6 Grotto Dedication pic 1
Deacon Ray Panetta, a former classmate of Kevin Sinnott, for whom the grotto is dedicated, presents Sinnotts mother, Kathy, with a plaque commemorating her son. - photo by David Renner Dawson Community News

With the memorial grotto at Christ the Redeemer Catholic Church finished, all that was left was to formally dedicate the site to the memory of its inspiration.

The grotto serves as a memorial to a local tragedy.

Kevin Sinnott, an Irish student at the former Southern Catholic College based in Dawsonville, drowned in a lake near the campus in 2009.

"It was a real tragedy when Kevin died," said Father Brian Higgins, who was a chaplain at the school at the time and is pastor of the church. "He was one of those magnetic personalities and was kind of the nucleus of the whole campus at the time."

After his death, the close-knit college community of 200 students decided to build a grotto at the school in Sinnott's memory.

"There's a funny story about Kevin that I remember that fits here," said Jessica Duron, the co-chair for the grotto and Sinnott's friend, during the memorial service. "I remember once that Kevin had to write a history paper, so he read all of his friends' papers and said he took the best of all of them for the paper and got a good grade. We waited four years to build this grotto, so we took the best of Southern Catholic and took the best of Christ the Redeemer Church and today we have a beautiful grotto."

Sinnott's mother, Kathy, a former politician in the European Parliament, made the trip from Ireland to see the memorial to her son.

"An inspiration is only a seed and a seed has to be planted. Planting a seed comes at a cost, and it's the cost of suffering," the elder Sinnott said. "Unless a seed falls to the ground and perishes, it can't give life. This inspiration ... for this place of ... comforting and healing ... have, in the mystery of Providence, have germinated and grown in the death of my son."

Sinnott said that she takes comfort knowing that something good has come out of the suffering.

"It's in contemplating the wonders that Providence has brought us this far today that I can confidently predict that this grotto in Dawsonville will be a place of miracles," she said. "Bring all of the people that you love and bring yourselves. When you finally have to return home to the daily routine, leave a bit of yourself here. I'm going to leave myself here and entrust my son and all of my family here to God the Father."

The grotto, located behind the church at 991 Kilough Church Road, is open to all in the community.