For more than 50 years, the life-size Stations of the Cross at Mater Dolorosa have graced the hillside of the Sierra Madre retreat house operated by the Passionists Fathers — and now a new renovation project will make sure that these beautiful sculptures will continue to inspire retreatants for the next 50 years.

Work is slated to begin after the first of the year with a rededication ceremony scheduled for October 2015.

“These stations are used by every retreat group that comes to the center,” says Jeanne Warlick, Developtment Director for the center who added that about 3,500 worshippers annually walk the stations on Good Friday.

While some of the 12 Mater Dolorosa stations require some repair, the host of the renovation is focused on walkway improvements.  The ongoing deterioration of the pavement between stations has limited the trek only for the sure-footed; it is completely inaccessible to the handicapped and disabled persons.

The path through the stations covers the same distance as Christ’s last walk in Jerusalem, almost a quarter of a mile.

The renovation will also add benches and other places to rest, pray, reflect and enjoy the natural surroundings. New lighting will allow guests the chance to visit the stations in the evening hours when on overnight retreats.

A new Garden of Gethsemane area will be developed among a grove of 90-year-old olive trees which will serve as the starting point for the meditation experience. Noted sculptor Christopher Slatoff has been commissioned to create a bronze sculpture of Jesus and his “Agony in the Garden,” along with sculptures of Peter, James and John for this area.

Finally, the nearby Passionist Cemetery will also be a part of the renovation project.

To date, more than half of the funds needed for the project have been raised; an ongoing campaign to cover costs of the renovation is still active.