Reflecting on our historic North American pilgrimage with the Pilgrim Icon of Our Lady of Czestochowa thus far, I am continually awed by the devotion of pro-life faithful to Our Lady. More than 30 devoted and inspired pro-life pilgrims welcomed the Black Madonna upon our arrival at the Planned Parenthood in Olympia, Washington. This was our first stop on July 22 after traveling from Tacoma.
Our return to Washington on July 19 brought many blessings to those engaged in pro-life work and for many was a chance to grow in their devotion to Our Lady. Upon our arrival at St. Brendan Church in Bothell, WA, we were elated to see Human Life International materials in the community room at a table staffed by the local pro-life group. That evening, I preached at the Saturday vigil Mass about Our Lady of Czestochowa and her Ocean to Ocean Pilgrimage in Defense of Human Life.
Our July 12 arrival at St. Casimir Church in Vancouver, British Columbia, marked our first return to Canada since we left Brampton, Ontario in mid-April. It was a welcome sight to see the Polish Mission Church in Vancouver overflowing with pilgrims who came to greet Our Lady of Czestochowa. Father Slawomir Oblak celebrated Mass and Father Wieslaw Narazuk, OMI, preached about the many times the Black Madonna has intervened in Polish history to aid her children.
In Bremerton, a city located on the Kitsap Peninsula near Seattle, a crowd of ardent pro-life supporters greeted the pilgrim icon of Our Lady of Czestochowa at Our Lady Star of the Sea Parish. Father Derek Lappe, pastor, is blessed with parishioners actively engaged in faith formation programs and Eucharistic Adoration. On Saturday, July 5, they warmly welcomed us and gladly shared their enthusiasm for the Black Madonna’s historic pilgrimage.
Montana is the 4th largest State in the United States, and also one of the least densely populated with just over one million residents, almost a quarter of whom identify as Catholic. Nicknamed “Big Sky Country” for its panoramic vistas, Montana became the 41st State in 1889.
Our Lady came to Lewistown, Montana, a small town of about 6,000 people in the geographical center of the state.
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."
Liveliness best describes the scene of arrival for the pilgrim icon of Our Lady of Czestochowa in Lincoln, Nebraska.
The state derived its name from the Native Otoe words Ñí Brásge, and homesteaders flocked there during the California Gold Rush era. Nebraska’s capital, then known as the Village of Lancaster, changed to Lincoln after the assassination of President Abraham Lincoln in 1865.
In Kansas City, the Wyandotte Pregnancy Clinic provides abortion clinic alternative services and free pregnancy tests for families in need. This proved to be best “first stop” for Father West to bring the Pilgrim Icon of Our Lady of Czestochowa.
The Pilgrim Icon of Our Lady of Czestochowa arrived in the great State of Missouri on Saturday, June 21, which was apt since the Respect Life Office of the Archdiocese of St. Louis has organized Masses for an end to abortion on the third Saturday of every month for years. Karen Nolkemper, the director of the Respect Life Office and Gabe Jones helped coordinate this visit of the icon.