REPORTS : by HLI Staff
The historic From Ocean to Ocean Pilgrimage in Defense of Life is uniting Christians around the world in prayer for the protection of life from conception until natural death, and for the defense of the family. Public expression of faith is key to transforming the culture. Devotion is what carries faith into the world, and that is what each visit of the pilgrim icon of Our Lady of Czestochowa inspires.
Our Lady of Czestochowa
Parish in Montreal.
Parish in Montreal.
The pilgrimage ventured into Canada this week, first stopping at Our Lady of Czestochowa Parish in Montreal – a parish staffed by conventual Franciscans from Poland. After a fine procession and veneration of the icon, parishioners held an all-night vigil, and many attended the next morning’s Mass on Tuesday.
During the homily, Human Life International’s Father Peter West, custodian of the Black Madonna pilgrim icon, discussed the special connection between the icon and the Polish people, the spirituality of the Eastern Church and some historical challenges to icons successfully addressed by St. John Damascene.
The pastor of the parish, Father Vaclav, affirmed the icon’s importance for the Polish people, and said he realized that it has a special significance for all Catholics evidenced by how many non-Polish people were in attendance and venerating the icon.
The trek into Canada also brought a new pilgrim to travel along with Father West to bring the Black Madonna across North America. HLI is pleased to welcome Chris Morales, who left sunny San Diego, California to join Father West in Montreal, Canada. No stranger to traveling and spreading the Gospel of Life in the United States and Mexico, Chris is looking forward to traveling with the pilgrim icon of Our Lady.
While in Montreal, Father West and Chris brought the pilgrim icon to a local abortion mill where they joined pro-lifers for a prayer vigil. The prayer group was excited to pray with the icon, and they received much encouragement from her visit.
Our Lady of Czestochowa Parish in Montreal,
From Montreal, Our Lady was brought for Mass and veneration to St. Patrick’s Cathedral in Ottawa, Canada. The principal celebrant was the Archbishop of Ottawa, Terrence Prendergast, SJ. Archbishop Prendergast thanked Father West for bringing the Black Madonna to the cathedral before leading a beautiful procession with all the faithful attending this special celebration.
Ottawa is the seat of government for Canada and Archbishop Prendergast challenged everyone to give witness to life and mentioned that the March for Life in Ottawa will be happening again this year during the month of May 2014.
After the Mass, Archbishop Prendergast asked Father West to speak about Our Lady of Czestochowa. Father West gave an edifying 10-minute talk with special examples how the Black Madonna has helped change the mind of abortion-minded women.
It was a wonderful start to the 26th country that the pilgrim icon of Our Lady of Czestochowa has visited!
The next day started with prayers in front of the seat of Canadian government in Ottawa. This was very much in line with what Archbishop Prendergast had suggested the previous day at St. Patrick’s Cathedral – namely, that Catholics should be unafraid to give witness to the faith and the sanctity of life.
The morning was especially cold, even for Canadians. Amidst the freezing weather there gathered a group of around 70 people who all joined together in praying for a change in Canadian law regarding the rights of the preborn and for the protection of marriage.
Sonorous hymns were sung to the Black Madonna, and petitions asking for her intercession were led by Father West. Those assembled processed with the pilgrim icon of Our Lady of Czestochowa around the parliament courtyard in front of the government capitol.
Every year this event is held on the Solemnity of St. Joseph, and a statue of St. Joseph accompanied the procession with the icon.
After the procession, we gathered at the parliament courtyard and continued to a local abortion mill. A group had arrived beforehand and set up speakers and a microphone from which a few people addressed the crowd. Father West prayed for the closing of the abortion facility in downtown Ottawa as he led a Rosary.
Later that day at Notre Dame Cathedral Basilica, Our Lady of Czestochowa was emotionally received and venerated by a crowd who were very keen to be connected with the icon.
As has happened all over America, the local Knights of Columbus joined in to make this a special event. Many people waited in line to touch one of HLI’s holy cards of the Black Madonna to the icon. In attendance were many French Canadians as well as many faithful from the Archdiocese of Ottawa.
Father West was given the opportunity to talk about the history of the icon to all who gathered in the Cathedral Basilica to venerate her.
Returning to St. Patrick’s Basilica, Father West gave a 15-minute presentation before offering a general blessing to everyone in attendance and speaking with several of the faithful about the From Ocean to Ocean Pilgrimage.
We finished the day with an event at St. Hyacinth Parish in Ottawa. The priests staffing this Polish parish where Oblates of Mary Immaculate from Poland. Of course, they gave a very warm welcome to Our Lady. The church was packed mainly with ethnic Poles who were noticeably moved by the visit of the pilgrim icon of Our Lady of Czestochowa.
The pilgrimage will continue across North America until November 2014. Please pray for the safety of Father West and Chris in their travels, and join in prayer with the millions around the world who have been touched by this historic pro-life pilgrimage of Our Lady to pray for an end to abortion!
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