400 Catholic Singles Learn about Icons, Eastern Rites and Pray for the Protection of Life at Conference in King of Prussia, Pennsylvania

Mark Pennington heard about the pilgrim icon of Our Lady of Czestochowa through my Facebook posts and invited me to come to the National Catholic Singles Conference in King of Prussia, PA. I was happy to come since it was on my way from Libertytown, Maryland to South River, New Jersey. 

Mark told Anastasia Northrup, the founder of the National Catholic Singles Conference, that the icon was in the area.  Anastasia is an Eastern-Rite Catholic and was thrilled that I could bring the icon to the conference.  Anastasia is the President of the Theology of the Body International Alliance and the author of one of the first study guides on Pope John Paul’s Theology of the Body entitled “The Freedom of the Gift”. She also helps with her family’s apostolate: Our Father’s Will Communications

I arrived on Friday evening with the icon and gave a brief presentation about the icon and the purpose of the From Ocean to Ocean Pilgrimage in Defense of Life to the approximately 400 Catholic singles who were attending the conference. Many of them came up afterwards to venerate the icon, take a holy card and some other pro-life literature.  The icon stayed through the night during perpetual Eucharistic adoration.

Father Thomas Loya, S.T.B., M.A. was speaking at the conference and was also very happy to have the icon visit.  Fr. Loya is a Byzantine Catholic priest and pastor of Annunciation of the Mother of God Byzantine Catholic Parish in Homer Glen, Illinois.  Fr. Loya is a member the Tabor Life Institute which teaches Pope John Paul II’s Theology of the Body and a sacramental—liturgical worldview of the human person and the entire created order.  He is the host of “Light of the East Radio” and the host of the show “Beyond the Veil” at RadioMaria.us.  Fr. Loya is also a classically trained artist and iconographer. Fr. Loya brought the icons into his talks and gave a simple explanation the various rites in the Church as 19 different ways of being Catholic.  He described the Eastern Rites, who are united under the Pope, as a bridge between the Catholics in the West and the Orthodox in the East.   

I stayed overnight at the family home of Theresa Kaminski Burke who lives only blocks away.  Theresa is the Founder and Director of Rachel’s Vineyard Retreats for post-abortion healing and Grief to Grace: Healing the Wounds of Abuse - a psychological and spiritual program for anyone who has suffered degradation or violation through physical, emotional, sexual, or spiritual abuse.  Theresa and her family have a special devotion to Our Lady of Czestochowa.  She saw pilgrim icon when she was in Austria in 2012. Like Theresa Bonapartis of Lumina, Theresa Burke sees Our Lady of Czestochowa as a Patroness of those who have been wounded by past abortions.

In the morning I was on my way to bring the icon to SS. Peter and Paul Russian Orthodox Church in South River, New Jersey.

Fr. Peter West
Vice President For Missions
Human Life International

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