‘Little umbrella’ priest’s gift
of thanksgiving to basilica

The ombrellino is a gift to the Basilica of St. Mary of the Immaculate Conception from Msgr. Timothy Keeney who was ordained a priest there, and who served at the parish as a deacon and priest. (Photo/Vy Barto)

What kind of gift does someone give to a basilica that is being dedicated?

For Msgr. Timothy Keeney, who served the parish as a deacon, was ordained a priest there and then was assigned as its parochial vicar after ordination, it was something unique to the basilica — an ombrellino (Italian for “little umbrella”).

“I gave it as a gift to them in thanksgiving,” he said.

An ombrellino is made of red and yellow silk and is displayed partially open in the sanctuary. The one at the basilica includes the coats of arms of the basilica, the Diocese of Richmond, St. Pope John Paul II, who designated St. Mary’s a basilica in 2001, and Pope Francis. Basilica member Shari Evans, who designed the diocese’s bicentennial logo, designed the basilica’s coat of arms.

Msgr. Keeney said that when he served at the basilica he researched ombrellinos and learned that they cost $10,000. That was 25 years ago. Today, the price is around $15,000.

Over the years, Adam Miller, a representative of A.T. Merhaut and Company, a religious goods company in Allison Park, Pennsylvania, would be at the diocesan priests’ convocation. In discussions with Msgr. Keeney about the priest’s proposed gift, Miller suggested that an ombrellino could be made for the basilica at a much lower cost.

With the help of his mother, Barb, who did the sewing, and his father, Arch, who constructed it, Adam Miller was able to provide Msgr. Keeney with his gift for the basilica for a cost of around $5,000.


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