A Time of Special Grace: the Black Madonna Visits Rock Island

We arrived at Sacred Heart Church in Rock Island, Illinois on April 8th, just in time for noon Mass.  Upon entering the church, Father West met Father Deogratias, who is from Tanzania.  They discovered that they have a common friend in Fr. Deusdedit Byabato who is also from Tanzania and serves as a priest in the Diocese of Peoria.  He was also familiar with the work of Emil Hagamu, Human Life International’s Tanzania-based director of English-Speaking Africa. This is one of the pleasant “coincidences” that often occur when one travels with Human Life International, affording the opportunity to collaborate with members of the Catholic Church in Africa and all over the world.  Fr. Deogratias invited Fr. West to address the congregation on the icon of Our Lady of Czestochowa.

After Mass we were kindly welcomed by Father Jerry Logan, Administrator of Sacred Heart Church and St. Mary's Church in Rock Island.   He made sure that we had everything we needed to make Our Lady’s visit a success, and the events were well-attended at both churches.  Fr. Logan attributed the large crowds to the visit of the Black Madonna, mentioning that his parishioners usually do not attend any services outside of Sunday Mass, so he saw the large turnout as a special grace.  Fr. Logan spent a long time praying in front of the icon of the Black Madonna and took with him a supply of holy cards to promote Our Lady of Czestochowa to his parishioners in order to extend the time of grace his parishes had received.

We visited a pregnancy resource center called Women's Choice Center that is located in Bettendorf.  As a pro-life strategy these lifesaving centers are located as close as possible to Planned Parenthood and other abortuaries in order to outreach to women in distress and offer an alternative to abortion.  In this case, Women's Choice Center is located directly across the street from Planned Parenthood.

Fr. West met with the staff and board of directors at Women's Choice Center, including Dr. Karla Polaschek, M.D., a board member of Human Life International, who made this visit possible with her gracious hospitality.  Fr. West led a discussion about the Black Madonna and HLI’s mission after the staff watched Fr. West’s recent appearance on Church Militant TV. 

The next morning the Black Madonna visited St. Mary's Church, where Fr. West celebrated Mass and gave the homily.  After Mass, Fr. Logan and a group of about 20 people accompanied us to a Planned Parenthood clinic, where we prayed for its closing and for the many victims of abortion.  A special thanks to Fr. Logan and to all who showed up for the prayer vigil for your welcome to Rock Island and your witness to life.

After the prayer vigil, we departed for St. Patrick’s Church in Cedar Rapids, Iowa.

Chris Morales

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