Our Lady of Guadalupe Shrine prepares for pilgrims

By Chicago Catholic
Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Pilgrims make their way to the image of Our Lady of Guadalupe at the shrine in Des Plaines carrying roses and candles in this 2015 file photo. (Karen Callaway/Catholic New World)

The Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe in Des Plaines is preparing to welcome about 300,000 pilgrims from across the Midwest for their feast-day devotions Dec. 11 and 12, according to Father Esequiel Sanchez, the shrine’s rector.

Most of the people will come to make requests of Our Lady of Guadalupe or offer thanks, Sanchez said.

“Everyone comes with their stories,” Sanchez said at a Dec. 6 press conference to share logistics for the celebration. “The shrine is there to receive their stories.”

There is much concern this year about the situation of young people who have Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals status (commonly referred to as DACA), Sanchez said. That status protected people who were brought to the United States without documentation when they were children. It was created by executive order in 2012.

This year, President Donald Trump said it would not be renewed, leaving nearly 800,000 people vulnerable to deportation as their status expires over the next two years. The president has asked Congress to take action on the issue by March 6 but news reports say that could be extended. 

The shrine’s festivities will begin with an opening Mass at 6 p.m. Dec. 11, which will feature a reenactment of the apparitions of Our Lady of Guadalupe to St. Juan Diego by catechism students. There will be a “Las Mañanitas” serenade and torch-lighting ceremony at 10 p.m., at which time pilgrims from several Chicago-area parishes will begin running with torches back to their own churches.

The first Mass of the feast day will be at midnight, and the closing Mass of the Roses will begin at 7 p.m. Dec. 12. For a complete schedule, click here.

Sanchez reminded pilgrims that Central Road will be closed between River Road and Wolf Road, and pilgrims who arrive by vehicle should plan to park in one of four remote lots: Palwaukee Plaza, 644 Milwaukee Ave., Prospect Heights; Oakton Community College – Lot D, at Central Road and Circle Drive in Des Plaines; St. Emily Parish, 1400 E. Central Road, Mount Prospect; and St. Chong Ha Sang Korean Catholic Mission, 675 Dursey Lane, Des Plaines.
Twelve shuttle buses will circulate between the parking lots and the shrine, Sanchez said.

Pilgrims will notice some changes this year, including that all Masses will be held in a large tent. The gymnasium that housed indoor Masses in previous years is unavailable as the Shrine is building a permanent indoor chapel.

Sanchez advised pilgrims to dress warmly and to make sure children are bundled up against the cold. He also warned that this year, pilgrims will not be allowed to bring food and drinks to share with others, a common practice on pilgrimages, because the shrine cannot vouch for the safety of the food.

He asked all pilgrims to respect the sacred nature of the pilgrimage and the shrine, and behave with reverence and respect.

Des Plaines Police Chief William Kushner advised pilgrims to expect traffic delays in the areas around the shrine, especially Monday evening, when there will likely be groups of pilgrims walking in the roadway in areas that abut cemeteries and forest preserves and have no sidewalks.

“Please be patient,” Kushner said. “Maybe say a prayer.”

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