The oldest Polish parish in Montreal dedicated to Our Lady of Czestochowa prepared itself for the welcoming of the pilgrim "From Ocean to Ocean" Czestochowa Icon with perpetual rosary - Jericho. Prayer, lasting seven days and nights, began on March 10. Posters ware prepared and information in English, French and Polish, because to this church people of different nationalities come.
The afternoon of March 17 was sunny and beautiful, though it was still cold. The Polish Franciscans who run the parish were waiting to greet Our Lady with a welcoming ceremony at 6 PM, led by the parish rector, Father Waclaw Sokolowski. Religious sisters who work with the Polish community attended, along with representatives from various ecclesial movements, parish groups and organizations and scouts. Many were also touched to be joined by local Missionaries of Charity, the sisters of Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta.
The icon was placed on the right side of the altar on a specially decorated platform surrounded by beautiful, fresh flowers, which continued to arrive because everyone wanted to offer a bouquet. During the welcoming ceremony, Father Waclaw said that Mary is at home here in a parish named for her, among the Poles who always turn to her and ask for help in need. Also present was Father Peter West, vice president of Human Life International, who brought the icon of Our Lady to Montreal at the request of local pro-life leaders, the Franciscans and the faithful.
Edward Śliz, a representative of the Polish Congress delivered a welcome message as well, addressing the sisters and leaders of parish organizations. During his homily at Holy Mass, Father West talked about his experience of meeting with Our Lady of Czestochowa. The joy he experienced being present in Czestochowa at the dedication ceremony of the icon for the peregrination through the world in defense of life. He presented the beautiful idea of a wandering mother who calls her children and reminds them to defend life. Fr. West also passed out prayer cards created by Human Life International, which had on one side an image of Our Lady of Czestochowa, and on the other, a prayer in defense of life. He urged that after Mass people approach and venerate the icon and, per tradition, touching the prayer card to the icon in order to bring it home and display.
After the solemn Mass people remained to pray and venerate the icon; some kneeling and touching the prayer card to the icon.
The period of prayer lasted until 9PM, although some were still coming even at this late hour, representing not only the Polish faithful, but other nationalities as well.
According to the program vigil and prayer were to finish at 11 PM, but at the requests of many of the faithful, the church remained open all night. Many people remained with the Mother of God until the next morning. Day started with singing Matins in honor of the Virgin Mary. Then with tears of emotion people said farewell to the Mother of God on her way to the capital city of Canada, Ottawa.
Still in Montreal the icon joined local pro-lifers for a prayer vigil in front of an abortion mill. The prayer group was excited to pray with Our Lady and they received much encouragement from her visit.
From Montreal Our Lady was brought for Mass and veneration to St. Patrick's Cathedral in Ottawa, Canada. The principal celebrant was the Archbishop of Ottawa, Terrence Prendergast, SJ. Archbishop Prendergast thanked Fr. West for bringing the Black Madonna to the cathedral before leading a beautiful procession with all the faithful attending this special celebration. Ottawa is the seat of government for Canada and Archbishop Prendergast challenged everyone to give witness to life and mentioned that the March for Life in Ottawa will be happening again this year during the month of May 2014. After the Mass, Archbishop Prendergast asked Fr. West to speak about Our Lady of Czestochowa. Fr. West gave an edifying 10 minute talk with special examples how the Madonna has helped change the mind of abortion-minded women. It was a wonderful start to the 26th country that the Icon of Our Lady of Czestochowa has visited.