Check these off your Catholic bucket list

By Chicago Catholic
August 22, 2016

Check these off your Catholic bucket list

Taize prayer service at Ascension church in Oak Park. (Karen Callaway/Catholic New World)
St. John Cantius Parish. (Karen Callaway/Catholic New World)
March for Life Chicago. (Karen Callaway/Catholic New World)
Marytown in Libertyville. (Catholic New World/Karen Callaway)

The Archdiocese of Chicago abounds with spiritual riches. Within 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 your whole life in the archdiocese and only experience a few of these gems. 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 touched them. Here are some of their suggestions.

From Catholic New World staff

  • Visit or attend Mass at Holy Name Cathedral, 735 N. State St., the mother church of the archdiocese. (see When you go look up at the ceiling. Thousands of hand carved wood pieces cover the 19th-century ceiling in a gingerbread style.

    Also take note of the red hats hanging at the top of the sanctuary. Those are “galeros.” Traditionally, this symbol of a cardinal is raised to the ceiling of his cathedral upon his death. The hat hangs until it turns into dust, a reminder that all earthly glory is passing.

    The center hat belonged to Chicago’s first Cardinal, George Mundelein. From left to right, the galeros represent Chicago’s late Cardinals Meyer, Bernardin, Mundelein, Cody, Stritch and George. With Vatican II, the Pope discontinued the practice of presenting a galero to newly installed cardinals. The tradition continued, however, and hats were made for Chicago’s post-Vatican II Cardinals, Cody, Bernardin and George.
  • Participate in the Polish pilgrimage from Chicago (usually starting at St. Michael Church in South Shore) to Merrillville, Indiana, in honor of Mary, held the second weekend of August (see photos, Page 4). This 32-mile pilgrimage has been held for 23 years and is a local version of a traditional pilgrimage in Poland that takes place around the feast of the Assumption.
  • Visit Our Lady of Guadalupe Chapel at Maryville in Des Plaines (1150 N. River Road) during the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe celebration Dec. 11- 12. If you go the Sunday before the feast day you’ll witness a pilgrimage of riders on horseback. Pilgrims traditionally bring roses for Mary.
  • 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.
  • 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 an 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 parish bulletin for one near you. The annual St. Bruno procession through Chinatown is a must-do.
  • Venerate a saint’s relic. Some parishes will offer veneration of a saint’s relic on a feast day.
  • 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).
  • Take part in the March for Life Chicago. It is held around the time of the national March for Life in Washington, D.C.
  • Eat homemade pizza at St Donatus Festival
  • Visit St. Martha Parish/Shrine of All Saints, Morton Grove. The sanctuary houses relics of more than 1,600 saints and soonto- be saints, from the apostles to Mother Teresa of Calcutta and St. John Paul II. Those who pray there are surrounded by “clouds of witnesses,” according to the pastor, Father Dennis O’Neill, who has taken on the mission of preserving relics from closed churches in Europe.

From readers


  • Mass in the park at St. Joseph, Libertyville, each August. — From Christie Krupka, via website
  • Check out the large, beautiful Nativity Scene on Daley Plaza during Christmas time. The non-profit “God Squad” erects the nativity the Saturday after Thanksgiving and it remains in place until after Christmas. — From Phyllis Schmidt, via website
  • Each New Year’s Day, St. Mary of the Lake Parish, 4200 N. Sheridan Road, holds a luncheon for the people of the Uptown neighborhood. The St. Vincent de Paul Society sponsors the luncheon and extents a special invitation to those who are homeless and especially in need of a healthy  meal. “The event touched my heart and made me feel a part of the parish community and the Uptown community as a whole.” — From Theresa Carson, via website
  • Taize prayer service every month at Ascension church in Oak Park. First Friday of the month at 7:30 p.m. except in January, when it is Jan. 1, the World Day of Prayer for Peace, at 7:30 p.m. — From Paula Kosin via website
  • Living Stations presented by the St. Giles, Oak Park, teen group. Good Friday at 7:30 p.m. “No costumes are used—the teens are dressed in black shirts and slacks.” Inspirational concert and veneration of the cross follows. — From Dorothy Gorss via website
  • Blessing of Easter baskets, held at many parishes in the archdiocese. “Walking into a church that is decorated with spring flowers, the aroma and beauty, adding to that the smell of all the meats, eggs, baked goods, vegetables and wines and cheeses—unbelievable!” — From Carol Hausmann, via email
  • Labyrinth at St. Celestine, 3020 N. 76th Court, Elmwood Park, during Easter. “The gymnasium is transformed into an amazing prayer space that allows you to reflect and contemplate the life, death and resurrection of Jesus! Take a prayer journey that is transcending!” — From Phyllis Schmidt, via website
  • Feast of Our Lady of Mount Carmel in Melrose Park, with novena starting July 8 and ending with feast day July 17. Celebrations during that period typically include procession with banners from parish organizations, rose presentation, memorial service for deceased members of committee, street carnival. — From Jaime Reyes, via website
  • Solemn novena to St. Clare, with benediction, Aug. 2-10, generally 7:30 p.m. at Poor Clare Monastery, 12210 S. Will-Cook Road, Palos Park; feast day Mass Aug. 11 at 8 a.m. Call 708-361-1810 for details.
  • Our Lady of Siluva novena on the 13th of every month at Nativity BVM parish, 2700 W. Lithuanian Plaza Court. — From Joe Kulys, via website
  • Perpetual novena to St. Rita of Cascia on the first Thursday of each month at St. Rita of Cascia Chapel, 7740 S. Western Ave. — From Joe Kulys, via website


  • St. Andrew the Apostle in Calumet City. “One of the Polish cathedrals of Chicagoland,” according to Steve Howard, via Facebook
  • St. Christopher Parish, 4130 W. 147th St., in the midst of yearlong “Mercy For The Soul” mission with monthly speaker, Liturgy of The Word, Divine Mercy Chaplet and Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament; Aug, 21, 3 p.m. session features Deacon Pablo Perez of Kolbe House Prison Ministry
  • St. Columba Parish, 3340 E. 134th St., Mary’s Garden shrine is celebrating 25th anniversary this year. — Suggested by Clara Gadzinski, via mail
  • St. Edmund Church, 188 S. Oak Park Ave., Oak Park, designed by architect Henry Schlacks, with cornerstone memorial to the Mulveil family. Mary Mulveil, a widow, donated $50,000 toward the construction of the church in 1910, wanting the cornerstone to be a memorial to her husband her daughter, also named Mary Mulveil, who was murdered in 1905 on her way home after playing the organ for vespers at St. James Parish (Wabash Avenue). She died during the construction of the church. The stained glass windows by F.X. Zettler are especially notable. — From Don Giannetti, St. Edmund Parish historian, via mail.
  • Holy Cross  Church, 720 Elder Lane, Deerfield, especially the large, beautifully carved crucifix in the sanctuary. — From J. Medina, via mail
  • St. Ita Church, 5500 N. Broadway St. opened in 1923, the last of Henry Schlacks’ 12 churches in Chicago. Its stained glass windows are especially notable. — From Charles Feit, via mail.
  • St. Irenaeus Parish, 78 Cherry St., Park Forest. “The Mary Garden at St. Irenaeus in Park Forest is a nice place to say your rosary.” — From Karen, via website.
  • St. James the Greater, 22400 S. Torrence Ave., Sauk Village, the southern-most parish in the archdiocese, maintains an active schedule with bingo (and a full kitchen offering a changing menu) every Thursday, Mardi Gras celebration, Lenten fish frys, a food pantry, a shawl ministry and lap robe ministry and an annual playhouse. — Via mail from St. James
  • St. John Cantius, 825 N. Carpenter St., Latin High Mass, recently won Internet vote as most beautiful church in United States. See for schedule. — From James Hernon, via website
  • St. Michael, Old Town. “The magnificent church was built opened in 1869. The history of the church is long and colorful, most important being the survival of three exterior walls from the Chicago Fire in 1871 and the survival of the Icon of Our Mother of Perpetual Help in that fire!” — From Toni Dunning, via email
  • St. Peter’s in the Loop, 110 W. Madison St., a “mini-retreat in the busyness of the Loop,” frequent Masses throughout the day, sacrament of reconciliation available Monday-Saturday, staffed by Franciscan friars. — From J. Medina, via mail
  • St. Pius V, 1919 S. Ashland Ave., attend Spanish-language Mass and “hold hands with fellow worshipers during the singing of a beautiful echo Our Father.” — From Carol Woertner, via email
  • St. Therese Chinese Catholic Church (formerly Santa Maria Incoronata), 218 W. Alexander St. The annual Chinese New Year is celebrated in February .“Mixing Chinese tradition while reverently celebrating the Mass, it is a visual and spiritual experience that stays with you long after the festivities are over.” — From Pam Spano, via website


  • Marytown, Libertyville
  • Mother of Mothers Shrine at Mater Christi Church in North Riverside, 2431 S. 10th Ave., North Riverside, dedicated on Mother’s Day 1956, The white Carrara marble statue that has drawn devotees from around the globe, was sculpted in Pietrasanta, Italy. “The statue depicts the Blessed Virgin and Christ Child gazing benevolently upon a modern-day mother and infant and beautifully illustrates the special relationship between the Mother of Christ and mothers everywhere.” — From Father Matthew Nemchausky via email
  • National Shrine of St. Francis Xavier Cabrini,, — From Guy Cesario, via website


  • St. Mary of the Lake, Mundelein
  • Docent guided tour of St. James Chapel, 835 N. Rush St., 9-11 a.m. Saturdays, free one-hour classical concerts second Saturdays of the month from September through May at 2 p.m., donations accepted. — From Lori Branda, via website
  • The Healing Garden of the Archdiocese of Chicago, just west of Holy Family Church, 1080 W. Roosevelt Road. “The Healing Garden is a public model of healing and reconciling our church with the clergy abuse crisis. … Any visitor to the garden will enjoy God’s presence in nature, read plaques of apology, prayer, reconciliation and peace, while enjoying the beautiful bronze sculpture of the Holy Family. Visiting the Healing Garden of the Archdiocese of Chicago has helped me to feel better as we move forward from this crisis. I think others may feel better too.” — From Michael Hoffman, via website
  • The Chapel of the Holy Spirit in Techny Towers Conference and Retreat Center near Northbrook. “As a part of the former St. Mary’s Seminary of the Society of the Divine Word, the chapel holds the memories of dozens of ordinations and vow ceremonies, as well as thousands of daily Masses, which continue today.” Mass is celebrated Monday through Thursday at 5 p.m. and on Sunday at 10 a.m. On the last Sunday of each month, Mass is celebrated in Polish at 8:15 a.m. Open seven days a week during daylight hours. — From Theresa Carson, via website
  • The little grotto at Our Lady of Sorrows Benedictine mother house, 5900 W. 147th St., Oak Forest. “We love to pray the rosary there!” — From Jamie, via website
  • Harmony Hope and Healing choir singing at Old St. Patrick’s Church. Harmony, Hope and Healing is a creative music program offering dignity and spiritual healing to the homeless and underserved in Chicago. For details, visit — From Carol, via website
  • The “Wall of Women in the Bible,” on the wall of the white mausoleum at All Saints Cemetery, Des Plaines, in the new section on the terrace level of the structure. “I think it is important for many Catholics to see this magnificent work and also to more fully appreciate women in the Bible and women in the Catholic Church.” — From Passionist Father James Barry, via email
  • Imago Dei mural walk led by Father Tom Boharic of St. Agnes of Bohemia Parish. “These are several murals painted by at-risk youth of faith-filled/religious images scattered all throughout Little Village. The images are inspiring and, most importantly, it’s helping youth who would otherwise be involved in gang activities.” Contact for information. — From Joanna Arellano, via website
  • The weekly email newsletters sent out by the Brennan Center for Evangelization and Parish Renewal containing homilies by the late Father Pat Brennan. A deeply spiritual, brilliant priest, teacher and psychologist. No website, so to receive, send an email to — From Paula Kosin, via website
  • Bellarmine Jesuit Retreat House,  20 W. County Line Road, Barrington. “A great place to feel God’s love, learn about Ignatian spirituality, pray, gather for Mass and prayer in sacred spaces, be silent and listen for God’s messages of grace and mercy, and consider how I can become more hospitable to others (especially those in need).“ — From Kathy Caudill, via website
  • The labyrinth at St. Scholastica Monastery, 7430 N. Ridge Blvd. “Peaceful and awe-inspiring.” — From Donna Dehmert, via website, and the choir stalls there, from Patricia Ballard, via website
  • The entry to Madonna della Strada Chapel on Loyola University’s Lakeshore Campus, with the baptismal font and view of the lake. From Patricia Ballard, via website.
  • Celebrate mass with the tough, loving, smiling Sisters of Charity along with homeless, poor and volunteers at St. Malachi’s (food service center for the poor) in the city. Before serving Thanksgiving meals to the poor, which volunteers and Sisters pull together every year- together, everyone celebrates mass in a humble space that’s transformed into a chapel. — From Phyllis Schmidt, via website


  • pilgrimage
  • holy name cathedral
  • devotion
  • st. john cantius
  • our lady of guadalupe chapel

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