Pilgrim Icon Visits Hillsboro in Ohio

On Thursday, May 8th, we drove through the beautiful bluegrass country of Kentucky into rural Southern Ohio listening to the timeless music that was born in the area.  The two states, separated by the Ohio River, share much of the same rural culture, including its rich, traditional Christian values.

When we arrived at St. Mary’s Church in Hillsboro, Ohio, the Knights of Columbus greeted the Black Madonna in full regalia.  Parishioners gathered in the church hall as Fr. West led a welcoming ceremony before processing into the church as the Knights carried the Black Madonna ahead of them.   A young woman placed flowers before Our Lady as she was placed in the sanctuary.

Fr. West offered mass and gave a homily about Our Lady of Czestochowa and how she calls us to defend the lives of the innocent and build a culture where life is protected at every stage of development. During this time the pastor, Father Michael Paraniuk, heard confessions.

After the Mass, many stayed to venerate the icon and for the home-style meal prepared by parishioners in the church hall. We are grateful to Michelle Sallyer, the coordinator for religious education at St. Mary’s, and her team for all they did to welcome Our Lady of Czestochowa and those who came to venerate her Icon.

On Friday, we were joined at Holy Mass by the twenty-two children of St. Mary Catholic School, the smallest school in the Archdiocese of Cincinnati. After Mass, the first- to fourth-graders venerated the Black Madonna and posed for a school picture with Fr. West to remember the visit.

After leaving Hillsboro, we drove about an hour to Cincinnati.  The Black Madonna made a special visit to Dr. John Willke, M.D. at the offices of the Life Issues Institute.  As a young man, Dr. Willke was happy being a family doctor and intended to remain one, but Father Paul Marx, O.S.B., the founder of Human Life International , and others challenged Dr. Willke to put his talents at the service of the pro-life movement.

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