Some might consider it just a series of coincidences; however, others believe it to be Divine Providence.
When Father Peter West, Vice President of Human Life International, traveled to Sharonville, Ohio this past May, he didn’t travel alone. The Pilgrim Icon of Our Lady Czestochowa accompanied the priest to the city’s Women’s Center clinic for an intense prayer vigil. As has happened now all over North America, the “Black Madonna” joined the pro-life faithful in their prevailing efforts to end abortion at the facility.
The Black Madonna had arrived at the Church of Our Lady of Czestochowa in Los Angeles, CA in the evening of August 22nd, 2014. Her visit coincided with the parish's 70-year jubilee celebrations, its patronal feast day celebration (our Lady of Czestochowa is celebrated on August 26th), and the reception of the holy relics of St. Pope John Paul II, the Great Apostle of Life.
Reflecting on our historic North American pilgrimage with the Pilgrim Icon of Our Lady of Czestochowa thus far, I am continually awed by the devotion of pro-life faithful to Our Lady. More than 30 devoted and inspired pro-life pilgrims welcomed the Black Madonna upon our arrival at the Planned Parenthood in Olympia, Washington. This was our first stop on July 22 after traveling from Tacoma.
Our return to Washington on July 19 brought many blessings to those engaged in pro-life work and for many was a chance to grow in their devotion to Our Lady. Upon our arrival at St. Brendan Church in Bothell, WA, we were elated to see Human Life International materials in the community room at a table staffed by the local pro-life group. That evening, I preached at the Saturday vigil Mass about Our Lady of Czestochowa and her Ocean to Ocean Pilgrimage in Defense of Human Life.
Our July 12 arrival at St. Casimir Church in Vancouver, British Columbia, marked our first return to Canada since we left Brampton, Ontario in mid-April. It was a welcome sight to see the Polish Mission Church in Vancouver overflowing with pilgrims who came to greet Our Lady of Czestochowa. Father Slawomir Oblak celebrated Mass and Father Wieslaw Narazuk, OMI, preached about the many times the Black Madonna has intervened in Polish history to aid her children.
In Bremerton, a city located on the Kitsap Peninsula near Seattle, a crowd of ardent pro-life supporters greeted the pilgrim icon of Our Lady of Czestochowa at Our Lady Star of the Sea Parish. Father Derek Lappe, pastor, is blessed with parishioners actively engaged in faith formation programs and Eucharistic Adoration. On Saturday, July 5, they warmly welcomed us and gladly shared their enthusiasm for the Black Madonna’s historic pilgrimage.
Montana is the 4th largest State in the United States, and also one of the least densely populated with just over one million residents, almost a quarter of whom identify as Catholic. Nicknamed “Big Sky Country” for its panoramic vistas, Montana became the 41st State in 1889.
Our Lady came to Lewistown, Montana, a small town of about 6,000 people in the geographical center of the state.
Numerous Indian burial mounds of the Lakota, Dakota and Nakota tribes still rest on the high bluffs above the Big Sioux River, near the picturesque falls that Lewis and Clark came across some 210 years. Bringing Our Lady of Czestochowa to a state that joined the Union in 1889, the From Ocean to Ocean Campaign in Defense of Life was welcomed kindly by local Catholics.
South Dakotans have gained a reputation for defending life in their state laws. In fact, an Appeals Court in 2008 upheld a South Dakota law that requires abortionists to inform women in writing that the abortion procedure "will terminate the life of a whole, separate, unique, living human being."
Liveliness best describes the scene of arrival for the pilgrim icon of Our Lady of Czestochowa in Lincoln, Nebraska.
The state derived its name from the Native Otoe words Ñí Brásge, and homesteaders flocked there during the California Gold Rush era. Nebraska’s capital, then known as the Village of Lancaster, changed to Lincoln after the assassination of President Abraham Lincoln in 1865.