Our Lady in the Heart of New York

St. Peter’s Church is the first Catholic Church in New York City, and one its most historic churches.  It. St. Elizabeth Ann Seton was received into the Church there in 1805. Venerable Pierre Toussaint, a former slave whose cause has been introduced for canonization, liked to pray there.  It was also used as a staging area after the attacks on the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001. The body of Fr. Mychal Judge, Chaplain to the New York City Fire Department, was brought here and laid before the altar after he was killed by flying debris after the collapse of the South Tower of the World Trade Center. 

Just a few blocks away, my ancestors, Jacob and Anna Wuest and their six children, arrived from Germany in 1854. Not far away in Upper New York Bay, my Scottish grandfather on my mother’s side, Patrick Boyle, arrived on Ellis Island in 1923 and settled in West Orange, New Jersey.

I arrived at St. Peter’s on Saturday afternoon for a Mass at 4:00 P.M. on October 5.  Among the hundreds of people in attendance were some of the Sisters of Life and Theresa Bonapartis of Lumina post abortion healing ministry.  Theresa considers Our Lady of Czestochowa the Patroness of post-abortion healing ministry.  In his homily, Father Joseph Tyrell reminded everyone of the history of St. Peter’s Church and gave a beautiful homily on the sanctity of life from conception until natural death.  After Communion I had a chance to explain the history and purpose of the From Ocean to Ocean Pilgrimage in Defense of Life.

After Mass, Our Lady was taken in procession from St. Peter’s down South Broadway through the Financial District of Lower Manhattan and past Ground Zero and the new Freedom Tower.  Then we processed back into Church where we finished the rosary. A religious procession through the streets of the Financial District was certainly an unusual event, but many people greeted us and some even joined in our prayers along the way. The icon was then taken to Our Lady of Good Counsel Church in Midtown Manhattan.

Twelve years after that terrible September day, Our Lady brought her healing presence to a place where so much death and destruction occurred. The moment was especially poignant for Theresa and her fellow New Yorkers:

For me, the most significant moment was when we passed One World Trade Center (the Freedom Tower) and the site where the memorial and museum to those who lost their lives on 9/11 is located.  As we walked past the Tower, I could not help but reflect on the lives lost there and how appropriate it was for us to be bringing Our Lady through those streets.

I thought of our beloved NYC, and its government officials who promote abortion and corrupt our teens in our schools with their free sex app, and their repeated attempts to close our Crisis Pregnancy Centers.

We pray that Our Lady’s visit also turned hearts and minds away from the culture of death and will continue to bring her healing presence to those who have yet to come to terms with the guilt and grief of past abortions.

Fr. Peter West
Vice President for Missions
Human Life International

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