Getting ready to travel to Mexico – a stop in Chicago

The Black Madonna arrived in Chicago for the second time. This is a very special, as the peregrination is a chain of meetings and the rule is not to visit any place twice. Some people even joked that Our Lady loved Chicago so much that She decided to return. The reason for it was that the office of Respect Life of the Archdiocese of Chicago got involved in the next leg of the peregrination to Mexico. Nowadays many Latino people, mainly Mexican, are living in Chicago  and they have their church service in Spanish. Present custodian of the Icon, father James Heyd, who is a priest of the archdiocese and works with Latino people, suggested we should prepare for the southern mission in Chicago.

The Icon was brought by father Peter West and on Saturday, November 8th, during the morning Mass at the church of St Constance, he said farewell to Our Lady whom he had escorted for 14 months of the pilgrimage in USA and Canada. You could see he was very tired but also extremely moved. Also Ewa and Lech Kowalewski, representing the International Coalition “From Ocean to Ocean” came to Chicago. They participated in the preparations of the next stage of the journey and in the meetings in Chicago and its surroundings.

The Icon of Our Lady started visiting Chicago churches again. On Sunday, November 9th, She came to the parish of St Stanislaus Kostka. This church, built by the Poles, is now used by the Mexican congregation, and only a small number of Poles remained. All of them greeted the Black Madonna very warmly together.

On the next day, on Monday, November 10th, the Icon was hosted by the parish of ST Constance. This parish has welcomed the Icon for the second time, as it was on the route of the pilgrimage also at the end of April. This was done thanks to a great help and commitment of the pastor, father Tadeusz Dzieszko. Many people, mainly Poles, came to meet our Blessed Mother. At the farewell ceremony the Icon was escorted by motocyclists from the Katyń Race, who took the Icon to the Memorial to the Katyń Massacre Victims next morning, on the 11th of November, the National Day of Independence of Poland.

On the same day Our Lady visited the Seminary of St Joseph of the Chicago Archdiocese, where She was warmly welcomed by the students, candidates for the priesthood. In the evening at the church of St Beda a Mexican congregation met at the Spanish Holy Mass and prayed for the people who had gone missing in Mexico. The situation there is really tragic. Many people, often young students, are disappearing without trace, murdered in mysterious circumstances or kidnapped for ransom. Some of those attending the Mass have lost someone from their families.

The Women`s Centre is the institution that belongs to the archdiocese and protects life as well as gives help to pregnant women in difficult situations. Our Blessed Mother stopped here at a temporary chapel where the Holy Mass was celebrated and the Icon was venerated with the exposition of the Most Blessed Sacrament. According to the request of the pro-lifers the congregation took the Icon to a big abortion clinic in the neighborhood. An icy, bitterly cold wind was blowing. The group with the Icon first stopped at the nearby roundabout, where there is a big image of Divine Mercy and kneeling-chairs, so that people can kneel and recite the Chaplet. Next, reciting the Rosary, they all went to the main entrance of the clinic and prayed for it to be closed and for the conceived children to be killed no longer.

After a visit to St. Mary Church, Riverside, the Black Madonna went to the center of Cardinal Meyer housing the archdiocese offices and Respect Life organization. The noon Holy Mass was attended by the workers of the center and the curia.

On Friday, November 14th, the Black Madonna  was venerated with great love all night at the Chapel of Our Lady of Fatima belonging to the Blue Army of the World Fatima Apostolate.

On Saturday evening, November 14th, the Czestochowa Icon was the guest of honor at a solemn charity banquet supporting the diocese programmer „Chastity Initiative”, set up by Cardinal Francis George, to educate young generations to chastity. The cardinal attended the ceremony in person, and this was one of his last official engagements before retirement. Ewa and Lech Kowalewski presented him with the English version of the album describing the peregrination of the Czestochowa Icon “From Ocean to Ocean” which he received with great interest.

Monday, November 17th, was the day for the restoration of the Icon necessary before the further journey south. The Pauline fathers at the church of St Rosalie made appropriate space available. Taking into account such a long journey the Icon is in generally good shape, although the gold has got some cracks. After putting the new layer of vernix there should not be any trouble despite the sudden change of climate from frosty Chicago to hot Mexico.

During the next few days the Icon visited Latino communities: among others, the church of St  Francis of Assisi, the parish of the Resurrection of Our Lord, the church of St Genevive, Archbishop Quigley`s Centre and the church of St Joseph in Round Lake. Next Saturday and Sunday The Black Madonna was the guest of the parish of the Immaculate Conception of the Virgin Mary, where Spanish is also used in pastoral work.

On Monday, Nov 24, Our Lady went to the parish of St John the Evangelist in Streamwood near Chicago where quite a big number of Poles gathered to greet Her. The Holy Mass in English and Polish was celebrated by father Greg Lorens, who comes from Poland. On the next day the Icon visited the parish of St Norbert in Northbrook, where the evening Holy Mass was in two languages, Polish and English, as many Poles live in this neighborhood.

The Chicago Poles said farewell to Our Lady on Wednesday, November 25, at the church of St Pascal.

In many parishes, which have state Catholic schools, children and young people would come to church to venerated Our Lady and listen to presentations about the Czestochowa Icon. Usually they also touched Her images to the Icon to take home.

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