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I’ve had lots of memorable experiences during the peregrination of the pilgrim icon of Our Lady of Czestochowa, but one of the most unusual was the motorcycle escort we received from St. Joseph’s Church in Middletown, New York to an abortion facility in Hackensack, New Jersey by the Husaria Polish Motorcycle Club.   Husaria is named after the Polish Hussars who fought to relieve the City of Vienna from attack by the Ottoman Turks at the Battle of Vienna on September 12, 1683.

The Turks saw Vienna as the key to conquest of all of Europe.  Blessed Pope Innocent XI credited King Jan Sobieski III and the Polish Hussars for saving Christian Europe. 

Members of Husaria met me after the 1:00 P.M. Spanish Mass on Sunday, October 13.  Several bikes rode ahead of us and about 20 bikes rode behind us for the 75-minute trip to show their devotion to Our Lady of Czestochowa, Queen of Poland.

028When I arrived at the abortion facility there were about 75 people praying as part of 40 Days for Life.  40 Days for Life is a pro-life campaign of prayer, fasting, and peaceful vigil to end abortion that has saved thousands of lives, led to the closing of many abortion facilities, and seen the conversion of several workers in the abortion industry.  The prayer vigil in Hackensack was organized by Margaret Scully.  As happens sometimes at these peaceful events, someone called the police, who came and asked us to make sure that the sidewalk was clear for pedestrians.027 The police asked us to move a table on which the icon had been placed which we did.  It had obstructed no one, but we complied with the request.

After the vigil, some of the Husaria bikers escorted the icon to St. Joseph’s Church in Hackensack, NJ.  The Mass in Polish was very well attended.  The church was full. I spoke at the end of Mass about the history of the icon and the purpose of the From Ocean to Ocean Pilgrimage in Defense of Life. The joy among the people was palpable, as was their gratitude that Our Lady had come to visit them. Father Wiesław P. Strządała, the pastor, heard that my birthday was coming up and led the congregation in singing Sto lat, which means “100 years”.  Sto lat is a traditional Polish song expressing good wishes, long life and good health to a person. 

The icon was processed reverently out of the church as people sang hymns such as Czarna Madonna. My father, who lives only 25 minutes away, also attended the Mass. Fr. Wiesław invited me, my Dad and a few friends into the rectory to share some delicious pastries before I returned to the rectory in Middletown, New York to prepare for my trip the next day to Newburgh.

Fr. Peter West
Vice President For Missions
Human Life International
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