Our Lady in The Shrine Church of St. Stanislaus Bishop and Martyr - Cleveland

The Shrine Church of St. Stanislaus Bishop and Martyr is located in an area of Cleveland, Ohio known as “Warszawa” or the “Slavic Village”.  This area was settled by Polish and Czech immigrants who immigrated to Cleveland seeking work in the steel factories and woolen mills in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. The church is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.  I have seen many churches in my travels around the country and the world, but this shrine is one of the most beautiful!

A crowd of 1,000 people welcomed the pilgrim icon of Our Lady of Czestochowa to the Shrine on Tuesday night October 22, the officially designated Feast Day of Blessed Pope John Paul II. 

There was a great sense of anticipation before Our Lady arrived. When she entered the church many people were weeping tears of joy!   The Solemn Mass celebrated by Bishop Roger Gries began with the singing of the processional hymn “Totus Tuus” (All Yours).  The words of the hymn are based on the motto of Blessed John Paul II along with the verses from the Litany of Loreto.  The Pope consecrated himself to Jesus through Mary, giving the right to Mary to use him as she wished.  The cantor, Damian Henri, sang a beautiful version of “Ave Maria.”  Damian has a voice like Josh Groban!

Father Eric Orzech is the Pastor of the Shrine and the National President of the Polish American Priests Association.  Father gave a beautiful homily about Blessed Pope John Paul II, devotion to Our Lady of Czestochowa and the sanctity of all human life from the moment of conception to natural death.  The Knights of Columbus escorted Our Lady into the church and provided a ceremonial guard as people came forward to venerate the icon.  Some people stayed with the icon into the night.  Three strong women stayed the entire night to keep Our Lady company.

In the morning, school children gathered to pray the rosary before the icon.  Later, about 200 people attended Mass to bid Our Lady farewell.  The captains of the Central Catholic football team carried the icon on their shoulders to the vehicle outside for the journey to her next destination – Holy Trinity Orthodox Church in State College, PA.

David Krakowski, director of liturgy and music, thanked me for bringing the icon to St. Stanislaus.  He said it was the highlight of their year, and it was also certainly was among the most memorable events along the pilgrimage route so far!  Click here to see a beautiful slideshow of photos of this visit.

Before arriving at the Shrine, we stopped at two local abortion mills in Cleveland to encourage the local pro-lifers who were participating in the 40 Days For Life campaign.  Having just missed one group who just left the Preterm abortion mill, I prayed the Divine Mercy chaplet alone there and was almost run down by a speeding car driven by a worker at the mill as I walked past the driveway, but Our Lady protected me!

At the Cleveland SurgiCenter abortion mill, I prayed the rosary with Fr. Douglas Brown, Pastor of Mary Queen of Peace Church, and some other pro-life men who helped me take the icon in and out of my vehicle.  I gave them some holy cards to pass out to people on the street.  As is so often the case, the mill is in a poor neighborhood where crime is a serious problem. In my travels throughout the country I have witnessed widespread urban decay and can’t help but think that the scourge of abortion has made a bad situation worse. Our Lady of Czestochowa, hear our prayers!  Ask your Divine Son Jesus to send the Holy Spirit down upon this land and renew the face of the earth!

Fr. Peter West
Vice President for Missions
Human Life International

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