At the parish of St. Ladislaus

The parish of St. Ladislaus awaited the arrival of the Mother of God in Her Icon of Czestochowa on Sunday evening, May 11th.  The church was full.  For the first time, the new Life Mobile, made by Chicago's own Polish-American carpenter and sculptor – Jan Slodyczka – rode with Our Lady's Icon through the streets of Chicago and stopped gracefully before the entrance to the church.  The Jesuit Fathers greeted the Blessed Virgin Mary Icon with their pastor, Father Mark Janowski, SJ, at the forefront. The parish teenage group of singers and dancers, called "Polonia," drew attention with their beautiful and extremely colorful traditional folk and nobility costumes.

The parish was founded in 1914, and it is currently celebrating its hundredth anniversary.  It was mainly established to give pastoral care to the Polish-speaking community of Chicago.  Four Masses are celebrated here every Sunday with about four thousand people attending.  The patron of the parish, St. Ladislaus, was the king of Hungary and the son-in-law of the Polish prince, Mieszko II.  He was famous for defending the faith.  St. Ladislaus was chosen to lead the First Crusade; however, he could not, because he died too soon.

The Icon of Our Lady of Czestochowa was carried into the church in a very solemn procession and placed in the sanctuary on a white pedestal, surrounded by white flowers.  The solemn and exultant Mass was celebrated by Father Marian Kozina, SJ.  During the homily, he spoke about how the Polish Stefan Cardinal Wyszynski, the Primate of the Millennium, had started the peregrination of the Czestochowa Icon through Poland, thus saving the faith of thousands during the most difficult times of the Communist regime.  He also spoke about the prophecy of the Christian orthodox hermit of the nineteenth century, Father Seraphim Sarovski, who insisted that people pray to Our Lady of Czestochowa for Russia's return to faith.

The singing of the children’s choir, "Tiny Rays of God," enhanced the Mass. After the celebration of the Eucharist, the Most Holy Sacrament was exposed and prayers, such as the Litany of Loreto and the "Act of Entrustment of the Protection of the Civilization of Life and Love to the Mother of God," were recited. While the gathered faithful prayed the Holy Rosary, people started to walk up for a personal moment with Mary.  After singing the "Apel Jasnogorski," Father Peter West explained the HLI initiative and the effects of Our Lady’s Pilgrimage in Defense of Life. 


He mentioned, among other things, that at least eight unborn babies were saved from abortion during his travels with the Icon across the United States, but we will never know exactly how many more were saved.  Afterwards, Mrs. Ewa Kowalewska told the gathered about the future of this peregrination to other countries.

 The evening adoration lasted until midnight, since many people needed to go to work the next day.  They were all leaving with great regret that they could not stay longer with Our Lady.  The following morning, the continuation of the program began with the 7:00 AM Mass in Polish.  At 8:15 AM, Fr. Peter West celebrated the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass in English.  The day's program included active involvement of various parish groups, including; The Nazarene Families, The Rosary Roses, and the youth from the Companions of Christian Life, based on the spirituality of St. Ignatius Loyola.  This youth also participates in a pro-life prayer in front of an abortion clinic once a year.  About one hundred children from the St. Ladislaus parish school gathered before the Icon and prayed one decade of the Holy Rosary.  They were very awed at the opportunity to walk up and touch the Icon of Our Lady. They took home the holy cards with the image of the Black Madonna and the prayer of St. John Paul II from his encyclical "Evangelium Vitae" on the back.  At 4:00 PM, the Polish Club, cultivating Polish traditions, culture and church support, led the adoration prayers.  Our Lady in Her Icon left at 6:00 PM, after a solemn farewell ceremony.  The Pastor, Reverend Janowski, together with his parishioners, entrusted his entire parish to the Blessed Mother's care.  Afterwards, they sang the "Te Deum" and recessed the Icon out in a formal procession.  After placing Her in the Life Mobile, Our Lady of Czestochowa left for the Jesuit Millennium Center.

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