At the Parish of Our Lady of Częstochowa with the Redemptorist Fathers in Chicago

The faithful at the Holy Trinity Polish Mission were sad to say good-bye to Our Lady.  The Redemptorist Fathers, Fr. Waldemar Wieladek, the pastor of Our Lady of Częstochowa parish in Cicero, together with Fr. Zbigniew Piękos from the Chicago branch of Radio Maria and Fr. Marian Furca came to the Holy Trinity parish to attend the farewell ceremony there, and to escort Our Lady on Her way to their church.  They accompanied Our Blessed Mother in Her journey across the city in Her Life Mobile.  Our Lady was escorted through the city by five cars decorated with colorful flags.  As usual, they attracted much attention and the distance was quite long this time.  The drivers used their horns and many passers-by greeted Our Lady by waving their hands.

The delegations of various parish groups were waiting in front of the beautiful, neo-gothic church of Our Lady of Częstochowa.  A largest statue of Christ the King in all of the archdiocese stands near the church entrance of this parish.  It was built to mark the beginning of the third Millennium of Christianity.  The pastor, Reverend Waldemar Wielądek CSsR, welcomed Our Lady in three languages – Polish, Spanish, and English – because the parish serves a trilingual community.  Many Spanish speaking parishioners participated in the Icon’s visit.

The parish of Our Lady of Częstochowa in Cicero Hawthorne, a district of Chicago, was founded in 1895 by Polish immigrants who came to work here.  At the turn of the 19th century, many Poles lived in this neighborhood and erected here a beautiful neo-gothic church of Our Lady of Częstochowa.  In 1961, a vibrant youth center was created and has been functioning ever since.  Towards the end of the 1990s, the whole district of Cicero had changed.  Many Polish families left the area and many Spanish-speaking Catholics have moved in.  Thus the parish started pastoral work also in the Spanish language.

The Icon was carried into the church in a procession and placed in the sanctuary.  The interior of the Church of Our Lady of Czestochowa makes an impression on all who enter with its calming beauty.  The side chapel contains a large replica of the Częstochowa Icon which was presented to the parish by Cardinal Wyszyński, the Primate of the Millennium. A second copy of the Częstochowa Icon in this church was a gift from the Polish Episcopate on the occasion of the 1000th anniversary of Christianity, and as an expression of gratitude for the donations to the Church in Poland. Beside the Black Madonna, there is an image of Our Lady of Guadalupe.  The Redemptorist Fathers are now providing pastoral care to the parish community of Our Lady of Czestochowa.

The lay parishioners welcomed Our Lady in three languages.  The Holy Sacrifice of the Mass was celebrated in English, but the language of the Liturgy oftentimes combined all three languages.  The sermon was composed of three parts.  The first, in English, was given by Fr. Peter West who talked about the Icon’s peregrination “From Ocean to Ocean” across the world in defense of life.  He also talked about his personal experience of accompanying the Our Lady across 28 States that have already been covered.  The second part of the sermon was in Polish, given by Fr. Piękos from Radio Maria - Chicago.  The third part was in Spanish, given by the pastor of the parish.  After the Liturgy of the Eucharist, Ewa and Lech Kowalewski spoke about the plans for the next stages of the peregrination, including Mexico and various Latin American countries.

After the Mass, the Act of Entrustment of the Protection of the Civilization of Life and Love to the Mother of God was renewed in English, Polish, and Spanish.  The individual veneration followed, and the faithful could approach the Icon and touch the holy cards with the image of Our Lady, and the prayer of St. John Paul II from the encyclical “Evangelium Vitae,” to Our Blessed Mother in the Icon. The Rosary Roses members led the Mysteries of the Rosary in different languages until 10:00 pm.  Many people were moved to tears.

The prayers were continued till 6:30 am.  At 7:30 am, the Eucharist was celebrated in English by Fr. Peter West. The Holy Sacrifice of the Mass was celebrated in Polish at noon.  The veneration continued throughout the day. During the farewell ceremony a procession formed.  The Icon came first, followed by the priests and a crowd of the faithful with lighted candles in their hands, crowding the whole center aisle.  The Life Mobile was already waiting in front of the church to take Our Lady to St. Rosalie’s Church, which is run by the Pauline Fathers.

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