Rev. Esequiel Sanchez, the new rector for the Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe in Des Plaines, predicts anxiety about national issues, particularly frustrations about immigration policy, will underscore a large pilgrimage to the shrine this weekend.
The annual feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe, which last year drew an estimated 300,000 people, easily a record attendance, could attract similar crowds for Masses, music and folkloric dances Sunday and Monday, organizers said.
"I think people may be looking for a place to feel supported and solace," Sanchez said.
Sanchez, named rector of the shrine in March, expects people offering prayers and satisfying their mandas, or promises made to the Virgin Mary, also may bring concerns about finding jobs, sustaining families and losing housing.
"People have learned to be angry at immigrants," Sanchez said. "It's sad but that's part of the fabric of what our society is going through."
Pilgrims are known to walk from Chicago to visit the outdoor shrine on the campus of Maryville Academy, 1170 N. River Road in Des Plaines. The shrine is the only place n the world outside the Basilica in Mexico City where believers can satisfy their mandas, according to the church. A 12-foot replica statue of Our Lady of Guadalupe that came from Mexico City sits in the shrine.
The religious pilgrimage is second is size in North America only to the Basilica in Mexico City, Sanchez said.
"You see these extraordinary expressions of piety," Sanchez said.
Masses will be about every two hours in the gym and outdoor grotto during the event. Masses are scheduled on Sunday at 9 a.m., 11 a.m., 1 p.m., 4 p.m., 6 p.m., 8 p.m. and 10 p.m., and on Monday at 12:30 a.m., 3 a.m., 5 a.m., 9 a.m., 12 p.m., 3 p.m., 5 p.m., and 7 p.m.
While there are earlier Masses because it is a Sunday, the opening Mass for the celebration is 6 p.m. Chicago Archbishop Blase Cupich will lead the Mass at 5 a.m. Monday.
Torches carried by hundreds of people representing Hispanic parishes in the Chicago will be blessed for the annual Guadalupe Torch Run starting 10 p.m. Sunday. The runners carry their torches for many miles on the return to their home parishes.