The Black Madonna Welcomed in the Dakotas

Numerous Indian burial mounds of the Lakota, Dakota and Nakota tribes still rest on the high bluffs above the Big Sioux River, near the picturesque falls that Lewis and Clark came across some 210 years. Bringing Our Lady of Czestochowa to a state that joined the Union in 1889, the From Ocean to Ocean Campaign in Defense of Life was welcomed kindly by local Catholics.

South Dakotans have gained a reputation for defending life in their state laws. In fact, an Appeals Court in 2008 upheld a South Dakota law that requires abortionists to inform women in writing that the abortion procedure "will terminate the life of a whole, separate, unique, living human being."

The Pilgrim Icon of Our Lady of Czestochowa traveled from Lincoln, Nebraska to Sioux Falls, South Dakota on Thursday, June 26th. Arriving at the local Planned Parenthood abortion mill that evening, more than 150 people joined Our Lady  to pray the Rosary for the conversion of the abortionist and staff. Unpredictable weather could not keep us from our pro-life vigil; and by grace, we narrowly missed a deluge of rain.

When we escorted Our Lady to the overflowing St. Katharine Drexel Church for evening Mass, Father West concelebrated with Father Anthony Urban and Monsignor Charles M. Mangan, Director of the Marian Apostolate in the Diocese and member of the Vatican’s Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life. Father West’s homily emphasized the past victories won by Our Lady of Czestochowa, and he assured the faithful that our Blessed Mother’s powerful prayers in support of life and family are always heard.

Along with Monsignor Mangan, we owe a debt of thanks to Kathy Ostrander and Travis J. Benson, Esq., and Co-Director of the Office of Marriage, Family & Respect Life.

After leaving Sioux Falls the next morning, we drove a considerable distance to reach the Cathedral of the Holy Spirit in Bismarck, North Dakota. Near this site over two centuries earlier, Lewis and Clark’s Corps of Discovery encamped with the Mandan Nation, which led to the fateful meeting of a young Shoshone captive, Sacagawea, to whom they owe their success and survival for the arduous trip across the Rocky Mountain wilderness.

A leader in pro-life legislation, North Dakota passed the first Personhood Amendment in the United States (2013), which may be voted upon this November. This state’s legislative success can be attributed to the prayers, awareness and activity of many Christians, but especially to the passionate Catholics in the Diocese of Bismarck. Recently, State Bill 2305 required that abortion mills have admitting privileges to hospitals; however, East Central District Judge Wickham Corwin blocked the bill with a preliminary injunction. SB 2368, the North Dakota Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act, passed banning abortions past 20 weeks.

We are deeply grateful for Rector and Monsignor Thomas J. Richter’s hospitality and for John Berger’s coordination efforts in bringing the From Ocean to Ocean pilgrimage to North Dakota. We pray that the Black Madonna’s visit will sustain the good people of the Dakotas to persevere in their efforts to defend life and family.

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