This past weekend I took a much needed mini-vacation to Chicago-land. It was my first trip there in over a year. Not only do I enjoy the hustle and bustle that comes with being in a big city, but I also love the hundreds of beautiful churches that are held within the city walls. I like to look at it as God’s abounding presence in a world full of distractions. God is alive…even in a city full of Bears and Cubs fans…
My trip featured some of the finest churches and shrines that the Chicago-area had to offer. The first landmark that I visited was Marytown-The National Shrine of St. Maximilian Kolbe in Libertyville, IL. A ministry of the Conventual Franciscan Friars of St. Bonaventure Province, Marytown includes a Franciscan Friary, a contemporary Retreat and Conference Center, the Marytown Press- Catholic Books and Gifts, historic Chapels and numerous outdoor shrines and rosary gardens. It is definitely a place that you would want to visit for a highly uplifting spiritual experience.
Right down the road from Marytown is the University of St. Mary of the Lake/Mundelein Seminary. Since opening in the year 1921, it is one of the largest seminaries in the United States and has the most spectacular campus you will ever see. I had a wonderful opportunity to go straight down from the university to the lake below. Secretly I had hoped to bump into the rector, Fr. Robert Barron, but alas, it was not meant to be.
After spending quite a few hours on campus, I made my way to the vigil Mass at Our Lady of Victory Parish which recently celebrated its 100th anniversary. The Mass celebration was extremely beautiful and was presided by the current pastor of four years, Fr. Robert Fedek. Fr. Fedek, a remarkable priest originally from Poland, was invited by Cardinal George to study at Mundelein Seminary for the Archdiocese of Chicago. Needless to say, I believe that Our Lady of Victory was handed a wonderful pastor, whose warm personality and love for the Eucharist is very evident. My only regret is that I didn’t get a picture with him.
Please enjoy some pictures from my weekend trip and let us keep in mind that no matter how busy or noisy our lives may be, God always blocks out the busyness and noise with constant beautiful reminders of His presence in our world.
(Left: Marytown Chapel. Right:Mudelein Gazebo)
(Beautiful worship space at Our Lady of Victory)