The St. Mary and St. Joseph Family Memorial Foundation has purchased the Twin Spires in Downtown St. Joseph with plans to create a national pro-life shrine.

When it opens this spring, the church will become the Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, the first national pro-life shrine in the country. It will serve as a location for prayer to end abortion, and for atonement for the babies and the conversion of their parents, the nonprofit said.

“It was kind of miraculous. We were going to build a shrine,” said Richard Mahoney, president of the foundation. “I got a call from a good friend of mine, and he said the Twin Spires was for sale ... I drove up here that day. I got here and said, ‘This is beautiful.’”

St. Joseph is an appropriate location for the shrine, Mr. Mahoney said.

“Saint Joseph is the foster father of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. He’s our patron, the head of the Holy Family,” Mr. Mahoney said. “... How appropriate that this shrine would be in St. Joseph.”

They are currently doing some remodeling work while retaining the historical elements of the church at 501 S. 10th St. The church was finished in 1910 and was originally named the Church of the Immaculate Conception.

It was used by several groups before it was closed by the Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph in 1992. It was deeded to a nonprofit group and renamed “Twin Spires.”

In 2002, the St. Joseph Museum took over management of the facility before selling it to private investors Ed and Linda Hood the following year. It was used as a wedding chapel and reception hall for more than a decade.

The St. Mary and St. Joseph Family Memorial Foundation also operates the National American Holocaust Memorial in Baton Rouge, La. The memorial, opened in 1994, is in the former Delta Women’s Clinic, where abortions were performed from 1986 to 1994.