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Port Chester is a village in the town of Rye, New York.  The first settlers of European descent came to Port Chester from the neighboring colony of Connecticut in 1660.  For nearly 100 years Rye was a disputed territory between New York and Connecticut until 1788 when the New York Legislature officially established the Town of Rye’s boundaries.

When Port Chester was first incorporated in 1868, it was considered to be a major seaport.  The Life Savers Candy Company operated a factory in Port Chester from 1920 to 1984. 

The Church of Our Lady of the Rosary was founded in 1904 to serve the Catholic immigrants who came from Italy, Germany, Poland and Ireland to settle in the area.  And the area is still welcoming immigrants: according to the 2010 Census, 59.4% of the population of Port Chester is Hispanic or Latino.  The Church of Our Lady of the Rosary offers Masses in English, Spanish and Portuguese, and is staffed by the Society of St. Francis de Sales, also known as the Salesians of Don Bosco.  Founded as a religious orderin the 19th century in Italy to care for poor children, the Salesians of Our Lady of the Rosary run a soup kitchen in the parish to care for the poor with the help of many parishioners and volunteers.  The parish also helps women going through challenging pregnancies to choose life. 

261When I arrived at the church around noon on Wednesday October 9th, a group of parishioners was there to welcome the pilgrim icon of Our Lady of Czestochowa, including some of the Sisters of Life who had come to so many of the events in the New York Metropolitan area.  During the day many Polish people from the surrounding area came to venerate Our Lady.  At 3:00 P.M., Our Lady was honored during Divine Mercy Devotions.  I preached in the evening during the Spanish Mass, explaining the nature and purpose of the From Ocean to Ocean Pilgrimage in Defense of Life.  Before the Mass, I participated in a bilingual rosary.

After the Mass, the icon was moved to the Salesians rectory where a Farewell Mass was offered at 6:30 A.M. the next morning before Our Lady moved north to Middletown, NY. Father Timothy Zak, S.D.B., the pastor of Our Lady of the Rosary, has a great love for the poor and is deeply committed to the cause of the protection of all life from conception to natural death. We enjoyed a laugh over the connection between his life saving ministry and the town’s reputation as the “the home of Life Savers.” Human Life International and I look forward to working with him in the future to continue saving lives and serving immigrants and the poor.

Fr. Peter West
Vice President for Missions
Human Life International
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