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On August 29, the pilgrim icon of Our Lady of Czestochowa visited Holy Trinity Church in Gainesville, Virginia.   The pastor, Fr. Thomas Vander Woude, recently posted an appeal on Facebook for someone to adopt a baby with Down Syndrome and received 900 responses. 

In 2008, Fr. Vander Woude's father died heroically rescuing his son Joseph, who has Down SyndromeVander, from drowning when Joseph stepped on a metal plate over a septic tank and fell in.  His father jumped in the septic tank to save him and pushed him up from the bottom.  Joseph was saved, but tragically his father died in the effort.

Our Lady was welcomed at Holy Trinity Church with a ceremony led by a Knights of Columbus Honor Guard.  During my homily I explained how I have come to love icons in general and icon of Our Lady of Czestochowa in particular. Gainesville2 I compared Our Lady to the Ark of the Covenant.  I told people about all the good she has done so far in rekindling people's faith, saving lives and drawing sinners to herself and to her Divine Son.  I encouraged the people to pray to her for the defense of life and the family.  After the Mass, I exposed the Blessed Sacrament and we prayed the rosary as about 350 people came up to venerate the icon.

Dr. Hank and Donnita Whittier were present. Their daughter Sister Maria Stella is a Sister in Jesus the Lord.  The Sisters in Jesus the Lord serve the poor in Vladivostok, Russia where the From Ocean to Ocean Pilgrimage in Defense of Life officially began on June 14, 2012. 

Fr. Thomas Yehl, who heard confessions while we prayed the rosary, said there were some people who came to confession who had not gone to confession in many years.  Our Lady is saving lives and saving souls!

Fr. Peter West
Vice President For Missions
Human Life International
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