Guadalupe shrine building new entrance to welcome pilgrims

By Joyce Duriga | Editor
Wednesday, June 2, 2021

An artist’s rendering shows the future entrance to the Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe in Des Plaines. (Photo provided)

Over 2 million people visit the Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe in Des Plaines each year. This fall, a new entrance will greet them when they arrive.

The shrine has launched the campaign “Raising the Doors of the Guadalupano Heart!” to raise $800,000 for a new entrance designed in a colonial style with archways for pilgrims to walk through. The style symbolizes the mixing of cultures that came together “under the banner of Our Lady of Guadalupe,” said Father Esequiel Sanchez, shrine rector.

Construction of the new entrance reflects the growth and increased popularity of the shrine in the lives of the faithful, Sanchez said.

“This is the next installment of our master plan, which is our hope to really make the shrine bigger and more beautiful than what we have because it has taken on prominence — not just on Dec. 12 [the feast day of Our Lady of Guadalupe] but all year long,” Sanchez said.

Cardinal Francis George formally dedicated the shrine in 2013 on the grounds of Maryville Academy. At that time, he also split what is a little more than 120 acres in half between the two ministries.

In recent years, the shrine has undergone other construction projects. It renovated the plaza in front of the outdoor image of Our Lady of Guadalupe, and in 2018, it remodeled the former Maryville Academy gym into the St. Joseph Chapel, where Masses are celebrated daily.

Shrine leaders hope to build a refectory or restaurant in the future to both feed pilgrims and provide a revenue stream.

While the shrine is highly important to Catholics from Mexico, many non-Mexican Catholics from all over archdiocese and around the country regularly make pilgrimages, Sanchez said. For example, the shrine hosts pilgrimages for Assyrian Catholics, Italians, Filipinos, Indians, Poles and many other parishes and groups.

Most of the official Masses at the shrine are celebrated in Spanish, but groups are invited to bring priests to celebrate Masses in their native languages.

“Our hope is to continue to grow and make this really for everyone,” Sanchez said.

All the work is an effort to bring people to Jesus through Mary.

“There is a great tenderness to her,” Sanchez said. “She has no judgments. She presents the Lord always, never rejects anyone. That’s really what the mission of the shrine is.”

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