Since the Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe in Des Plaines is outdoors and is open 24 hours a day, someone is almost always there praying, no matter the hour. One of those people praying from their car called the Des Plaines Police Department at 2:31 a.m. on May 23 reporting that a person acting erratically had just set fire to the outdoor Chapel of the Resurrected Christ. “It was pilgrims themselves who were caring for the shrine,” said Father Esequiel Sanchez, rector of the shrine, of the 911 call. Officials identified the fire as arson right away, he said. After viewing security footage, police were able to identify the person, whom they already were holding as a possible witness to the fire, he said. The chapel, which is located to the left of the icon of Our Lady of Guadalupe and Tepeyac Hill, contained a statue of Jesus resurrected in a small cave setting. Across from the chapel are small benches where people sit and pray. Many people leave candles, pictures of loved ones, flowers and even crutches and baby shoes. It is a special place at the shrine, he said. “It was very painful for everybody. We put a few photos out on social media and reactions were immediate and very strong,” Sanchez said. Police estimated that the fire caused more than $70,000 worth of damage, but Sanchez expects the actual cost to rebuild the chapel will be higher. The shrine launched a GoFundMe campaign to raise funds for the effort. The chapel and the damaged area around it are closed until it can be rebuilt sometime following the shrine’s 10th anniversary celebration on June 10. “I think the biggest thing for us personally has been that people saw this and how their reactions have been just astounding,” Sanchez said. “Everyone is talking about this is a place of peace. This is our home. Generously, many people have called us and asked how they can help. They want to participate in that healing.” “This particular chapel is one of the most revered ones here at the shrine, primarily because it allows people to access it 24/7 and share in it. You share your little miracles. You put your crutches there. You put your cross there,” Sanchez said. “It’s prayer that doesn’t require clergy. And people can just come. People come from everywhere.” They also come from all walks of life. One of the officers who responded to the fire call was visibly upset, and when Sanchez talked to him. he learned that the man and a group of his fellow officers regularly visit the shrine early in the morning before their shift begins to pray for their safety. “Folks come and visit, and we priests are not always aware of who’s coming, what they are thinking, but it’s a place that you don’t need me to open the door. You don’t need me to turn the air conditioner on,” Sanchez said. “All those people have access to all the graces here just by visiting.” “We’ve got to build. If someone is as stubborn as they are to tear something down, we have to be equally as stubborn to build it up again,” he added. Over 2 million people visit the Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe in Des Plaines each year. 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. Last year, the shrine dedicated a new entrance to welcome pilgrims. Each year, it hosts one of the largest gatherings of Catholics, the annual pilgrimage to the shrine on Dec. 11 and 12 for the feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe. The shrine is for all people, not just those of Mexican descent, Sanchez said. “The thing I keep reminding people of is this is not a Hispanic shrine. Everybody is here,” Sanchez said. “There are a lot of folks coming that you wouldn’t necessarily think of, and they use this place. They just come.” To donate to the rebuilding, visit gofundme.com/f/outdoor-chapel-of-the-resurrected-christ-incident.