On May 31, a statue of Mary was mounted to the front of a Chicago Fire Department ladder truck and was the star of a six-mile long parade of three trucks — with sirens blaring and lights flashing — from Holy Family Church, 1080 W. Roosevelt Road, to the Mission of Our Lady of the Angels Outreach Center, 3814 W. Iowa St. While the simple, white statue of Mary may not seem like something special, it is the center of a shrine honoring the 95 people — 92 students and three BVM teaching sisters — who died in the fire that rampaged through the second floor of the north wing of the Our Lady of the Angels School near Hamlin and Chicago avenues on Dec. 1, 1958. The tragedy led to reforms in the fire code for schools across the country and dramatic changes in school construction and fire-alarm systems in Chicago. The statue of Mary was moved to Holy Family in 1999, when the Our Lady of the Angels parish school closed. The outreach center is housed on the grounds of the former school building and staffed by the Franciscan Sisters of the Eucharist Chicago and volunteers who run a food pantry and various other efforts in the West Humboldt Park neighborhood. Survivors of the fire raised the idea of returning the statue of Mary to Our Lady of the Angels once they learned that the mission had reacquired the school building. “It was very hard for the survivors that she wasn’t here for a lot of the families, so we know that it’s very important to a lot of the families and survivors that she is coming back here and is going to be here,” said Franciscan of the Eucharist of Chicago Sister Stephanie Baliga. Several dozen firefighters led the statue out of Holy Family Church. Auxiliary Bishop Robert Lombardo, a Franciscan Friar of the Renewal who came to Chicago in 2005 at the request of Cardinal Francis George to minister to the poor on the West Side at the former Our Lady of the Angels Parish, then led a brief prayer service, blessing all the first responders and the emergency vehicles. It was very important that the statue return to Our Lady of the Angels, Bishop Lombardo said after the blessing. “It was donated as a memorial to the people that perished in the fire and those who were injured. And so to be able to bring the statue back home, I think is something that is very important for everybody affiliated with Our Lady of the Angels, as well as the people in the greater Chicagoland area,” he said. Once the procession arrived at Our Lady of the Angels, firefighters carried the statue off the truck and wheeled it into the vestibule of the outreach center, which will be the permanent home of both the statue and its marble base. Cardinal Cupich led a blessing at the outreach center. “We gather today to welcome this statue of Mary back home, and we pray, through her intercession, for the repose of the souls of all those who have died here on Dec. 1, 1958, in the tragic fire,” the cardinal said. “We pray also for those who suffered so much in body, mind and spirit because of this tragedy.” BVM Sister LaDonna Manternach, president of her congregation, noted the statue returned on the feast of the Visitation. “It is a privilege to be with you today on this holy ground. Like Mary, going to visit her cousin Elizabeth … it is like coming home. When I arrived here yesterday afternoon, Sister Stephanie welcomed us back home. It is good to be here,” Sister LaDonna said. BVM Sisters served at the school and parish from 1904 to 1996, she said. “The school fire … was a tragedy that will never be forgotten in this neighborhood, this city, across the country,” she said.