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October 24, 2010

Catholic Bucket List

The Archdiocese of Chicago abounds with riches of the spiritual variety. Within our borders of Cook and Lake counties, we have shrines, chapels, basilicas and grottos. We have unique devotions to various saints along with outdoor processions in honor of Jesus and his mother.

You could live all your life in the archdiocese and only experience a few of these gems. So we asked readers and staff to help us create a Catholic bucket list of places or events they have visited or attended in the archdiocese that really touched their spiritual heart. Here are some of the suggestions. (We didn’t have room to publish all of the suggestions so will publish more at a later date.)

If you have any more suggestions please e-mail us at or write us at Catholic New World, 3525 S. Lake Park Ave., Chicago, IL 60653.

From Catholic New World staff:

Visit or attend Mass at Holy Name Cathedral, 735 N. State St., the mother church of the archdiocese. (see

Attend Mass or a talk with Cardinal George. His upcoming schedule is posted on Page 3 of each issue of the Catholic New World and published at

Participate in the Polish pilgrimage from Chicago (usually starting at St. Michael Church in South Shore) to Merrillville, Ind., in honor of Mary, held the second weekend of August. This 32-mile pilgrimage has been going on for 23 years and is a local version of a traditional pilgrimage in Poland held around the feast of the Assumption.

Visit Our Lady of Guadalupe Chapel at Maryville in Des Plaines (1150 N. River Road) during Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe celebration Dec. 11- 12 (see

Pray a decade of the rosary by the Our Lady of the New Millennium statue (for locations see

Attend an outdoor Via Crucis (Way of the Cross) on Good Friday. Check your parish for one near you. One of the largest processions takes place in Pilsen every year. The Catholic New World will have an announcement when it is coming up.

Attend an ordination Mass

Have your pet blessed for the Feast of St. Francis, Oct. 4.

Visit all three basilicas in the archdiocese: St. Hyacinth, 3636 W. Wolfram St.; Our Lady of Sorrows, 3111 W. Jackson Blvd.; Queen of All Saints, 6280 N. Sauganash Ave.

Participate in some sort of outdoor religious procession. Many parishes have them around feast days of saints to whom their parish has a particular devotion. They are also popular around the eucharistic feast of Corpus Christi. Check your local bulletin or parish for one near you.

Venerate a saint’s relic. Some parishes will offer veneration of a saint’s relic on a feast day. Other relics tour the country on special trips like the St. John Bosco relic (see

Participate in a Simbang Gabi novena during Advent. This annual Filipino novena to Our Lady begins Dec. 16.

Serve a dinner at Catholic Charities weekly suppers for the homeless (see or call (312) 655-7322).

From readers and archdiocesan staff:

Attend a Tridentine Mass at St. John Cantius, 825 N. Carpenter St. Even if Tridentine is not a good fit for you (and it’s not for the writer), it’s worthwhile experiencing it every once in a while. It’s a good reminder of what is going on at “regular” Mass and in our lives. You have to put forth more effort to follow what is happening and even when you follow a good amount of what is happening, you probably won’t understand all of it. The first time I didn’t have a missal so I was mostly lost. The second time, I did, but I was still not following as much as I wanted to follow. Aha! Therein I discovered the beauty of Mass as mystery and life as mystery. It’s OK that I didn’t understand it all. What was happening before my eyes, even if it were a regular English Mass, is more than my mind can comprehend anyway.

— Anonymous

One of my favorite places to pray is at St. Mary of Perpetual Help Parish, 1039 W. 32nd St., in Bridgeport. I sometimes go to Mass there and when I do I go early to pray there. The whole environment leads one to prayer. I feel that I am surrounded by “a cloud of witnesses” with paintings of the saints so wonderfully restored. The large dome seems to be opening up to the heavens as the prayers of the people rise up to the Lord. I usually sit near one of the big pillars and simply focus on Christ present in the tabernacle. This place is truly a place of prayer.

— Sister Madge Karecki, director of the Office for Mission and Animation

Novena to the Immaculate Conception at St. Mary of the Angels Church, in Bucktown. A reverent Mass, great homilies about drawing the examples Mary has shown into our lives, a beautiful choir. It is a great way to bring in the true meaning of the Christmas season.

— Chris Saletta

Do attend St. Therese Parish in Chinatown for Chinese New Year and hear fireworks set off before Mass, an oriental tradition. You can also check out St. Theresa’s for the annual St. Rocco festival during the summer when a gigantic statue is still carried and processed through the streets up to and around Sox Park and back to Chinatown. Also check out their beautiful restoration and elegant statues, including a beautiful Mary statue that has her clothes and crown changed regularly.

— Kathryn Cunningham

I love the adoration chapel at St. Daniel the Prophet, 6612 W. 54th St., in the many times I gave my problems to Jesus and went home with joy and strengthened by his love. Every year also I look forward to stations of the cross that go from St. Joseph Parish in Summit to St. Camillus. We walk for three hours praying and singing but I don’t feel fatigue. It is so emotional and spiritual.

— Janina Galica

The shrine to Mary at Dominican University (formerly Rosary College). I grew up in River Forest and I have fond memories of bringing little bouquets of flowers to Our Lady and making my first pilgrimage there. It is a beautiful, tranquil spot.

— Mary Barder Leahy

Poor Clares Monastery. Not only do they have an interesting Chicago history, they are the only local order I know of whose only job on earth is to pray for others. (Subsequently I fax them my petitions when I really need prayers). Marytown is wonderful to visit just to be in awe of the great monstrance in the chapel. The numbers of relics along the walls of the chapel. The Kolbe Shrine. The rosary walk outside. The stations of the cross inside. The Mother of Sorrows chapel. The grounds outside are just beautiful. And I always pay a lengthy visit to the Infant of Prague statue on the west side of the grounds.

— Alexandra Klaud, New World Publications

A summertime celebration that comes to mind, and at which Cardinal George and Bishop Kane have celebrated Mass on several occasions, is the Vietnamese Catholic festival that occurs around the Solemnity of the Assumption. Father Dominic at St. Henry Parish can give you details, but it involves Vietnamese music and dances, food and drink, and a liturgy that is often celebrated outdoors in their parking lot to accommodate the crowds.

— Anonymous

Christ the King Jesuit College Preparatory School, 5088 W. Jackson Blvd. The chapel is wonderful for young people to gather. It is a beautiful place. Also, St. Malachy Parish, 2250 W. Washington Blvd. On the third Sunday of the month it’s Jazz Mass, a very moving service, it starts at 9:30 a.m.

— Dexter Watson

Block Masses. What are they? Take the concept of ordinary time and the importance of reaching out to the community especially those Catholics who are not attending Sunday Mass. The parishes have daily Mass on a neighborhood block in the community. There is a host family and neighbors come together and celebrate the liturgy and after the Mass they socialize. Contact St. Agnes of Bohemia in Little Village, and in Pilsen, St. Ann Parish. It is a wonderful way to get to know your neighbors and experience the beauty around you in a very local way. These Masses take place throughout the month of July.

— Marilu Gonzalez

A very spiritual event takes place every June near the feast of the Sacred Heart at a parish in Chicago. This year it was at St. Priscilla. Men carrying banners representing their parish march in procession to the church of the hosting parish. This outward expression of their faith is a witness to the community of the men’s sincerity. The men participate in the liturgy as lectors and readers of the intercessions, which are recited in many languages that represent the many ethnic groups in Chicago. These men are as many as 300 from all over the city and suburbs. The booming male voices are an inspiration to all as they sing the hymns of the Mass. It is memorable, inspiring and many men return every year.

— Deacon Ed Condon, St. Cornelius Parish

Marytown in Mundelein; University of St. Mary of the Lake’s Shrine of the Immaculate Conception.

— Father Francis “Rocky” Hoffman, Relevant Radio

Mundelein Seminary: Main Chapel; Walking in the woods around the lake; deacon chapel; stations of the cross in the woods and in the cemetery; anywhere on campus. Mother Cabrini’s preserved bedroom and the associated chapel near Clark on the North Side.

– Father Joseph T. Noonan, vocation director, Archdiocese of Chicago

I love the chapel of the Immaculate Conception of Mary at University of St. Mary of the Lake in Mundelein, and also the chapel at Marytown. Our own St. James Chapel at Quigley is my favorite place for everyday prayer and Mass.

– Carol Leitch Miller, human resources, Archdiocese of Chicago

St. James Chapel at the Archbishop Quigley Pastoral Center, 835 N. Rush St.

— Kathy Filipiak (Father Joe Noonan and a few others also recommended this chapel)

I would be remiss if I did not send a message including the Filipino Simbang Gabi novena and feast celebrated at Old St. Mary’s (1500 S. Michigan Ave.) on the ninth day prior to Christmas. It is very special and should not be missed.

– Maureen A. Kelly, director of development Old St. Mary’s

A few years ago one of our parishioners at St. Priscilla Parish donated funds and built a beautiful grotto next to our church in honor of Our Lady of Grace. At about 7 p.m. a good number of our Polish parishioners, rain or shine, gather there to say the rosary and prayers in Our Lady’s honor. As you approach the grotto the walk has names carved in each square for the memory of a loved one or a family remembrance. I live five minutes from the church and as I walk through our park I, too, stop by and find solace in kneeling at the shrine since I have my aunt’s name in one of the squares.

— James Miketta

I would highly recommend the Taizé Prayer Service on first Fridays of the month at Ascension Parish in Oak Park. I keep it on my calendar and attend most of the time, even though I work in Vernon Hills and it takes me almost an hour and a half to get there through Friday traffic. It’s totally worth the drive. — Maureen Evers (Tom Gull also wrote in recommending this service)

On the first Thursday of each month, the St. Rita Shrine Chapel hosts the Novena to St. Rita of Cascia at 7 p.m. Located at 7740 S. Western Ave., the novena draws nearly 400 people each month, with the nine-day solemn novena beginning on May 13 and ending on the Feast of St. Rita, May 22. Confessions are also offered each month before the novena Mass, and refreshments are served following. All are invited.

— Mary Rita Insley (Virginia York also wrote in recommending this novena)

I think one of the most meaningful Masses I’ve attended was the June 22 sunrise Mass at Chicago’s North Avenue Beach, hosted by the St Teresa of Avila Parish Men's Spirituality group. At 5:15 a.m., as the sun broke the eastern horizon over Lake Michigan, with the gentle sounds of waves on sand, Father Frank Latzko and 40 parish members and guests partook of the Holy Eucharist. It followed the shortest period of darkness of the year and was a wonderfully meaningful way to start a new season of faith. Of course we will host another Mass next year and all are invited.

— Tom Kinsella

St. Jerome Parish at 2900 S. Princeton has a parade, Mass, lunch and a party in the school hall and for one block in front of the church every Assumption, Aug. 15, honoring Our Lady of Singh Croatia.

– James Cuci

I really like the outdoor shrine of Mary, Mother of Mothers at Mater Christi Parish in North Riverside. You can sit there day or night, sometimes I just go for a late night walk and find myself there and just sit and imagine I am having a private conversation with Mary. It is very special, that it can be visited day or night and no one interferes with you. There is so much peace there.

— Carol Spale

St. James at Sag Bridge in Lemont has a wonderful little grotto built by the parishioners. The church is a little old historic building in the middle of a cemetery. Just wonderful. — Trish Hannon

St. Peter’s Church in Volo, 8 a.m. daily Mass with St. John Cantius priests. 24 hour adoration chapel at Holy Family Parish in Inverness (Palatine), very intimate setting with our Lord.

— Joe Solimini

Perpetual Help novena at St. Robert Bellarmine Parish on Austin Avenue which I have been attending the last 45 years or more. It is a beautiful little service on Tuesday evenings at 7 p.m. and only takes about 20-25 minutes, which really helps in these hectic days of trying to attend a service after supper and before preparing for the next day’s activities.

— Carol Kane

Go on a Holy Thursday pilgrimage. Travel to and practice eucharistic adoration at seven different churches after Mass on Holy Thursday (Ancient tradition dating back to early Rome.). We usually only get to five churches due to time constraints so we say a decade of the rosary at each. We try to hit many of the archdiocese’s architectural and spiritual treasures.

— John Melone

My parish, St. Catherine of Siena-St. Lucy Parish in Oak Park, has a beautiful gospel choir. They lead songs that touch my heart and they encourage the congregation to join in, which is always an uplifting way to be invited into prayer. You can see the love and prayer of the choir members as they lead the congregation. I often am moved to tears. The vibrancy of Catholic gospel music is inspiring. I would love for other Chicago Catholics to join Mass. The gospel choir sings at our Saturday evening (5 p.m.) Mass September- June. Gospel music in the Catholic tradition is a joyful prayer opportunity.

— Andrea Legatzke