In the shadow of the Our Lady of Lourdes grotto, and amidst the historic Maternity BVM Church and Cemetery, Viatorians and parishioners gathered to celebrate the parish’s momentous 175th anniversary.
Bishop Ronald Hicks led the celebration, with Viatorians and diocesan priests concelebrating the Mass. They reflected on the parish’s founding in 1847 and 18 years later, at the end of the Civil War, when the first Viatorians arrived from Montreal to serve the parish. Viatorians have remained there ever since.
“In 1865, the seeds of the Viatorian mission were planted in the United States when Fr. Beaudoin and Brothers Bernard and Martell arrived in Bourbonnais,” said Fr. Jason Nesbit, CSV, Pastor.
Months of preparations led up to the outdoor Mass, including a major project to tuckpoint the church and grotto, as well as repairs throughout the church grounds, and even the restoration of St. Bernadette and the Blessed Virgin appearing in the 100-year old grotto.
“It was a beautiful celebration with the people of God of Maternity BVM Parish, the Congregation of Notre Dame, Servants of the Holy Heart of Mary sisters, Viatorians, diocesan clergy and Bishop Hicks,” said Bishop Christopher Glancy, CSV.
Parishioners sat in lawn chairs, as they soaked up all of the beauty of the special Mass, and all set in the outdoor, sacred space.
“It was a beautiful day to celebrate our strong faith community at MBVM,” Phyllis Dwyer said.
Fr. Nesbit and Associate Pastor, Fr. Moses Mesh, CSV, kicked off the yearlong celebration in May, with a “Celebration Concert” that featured all of the choral ensembles in the parish. The activities are meant to honor the past and recommit the parish community to its active mission of living out the faith.
“Maternity of the Blessed Virgin Mary is a special place,” Fr. Nesbit added. “In this 175th anniversary, we not only remember the memories of the past, but we renew our commitment of sharing the Good News of Jesus Christ with the community.
“We invite all to encounter Christ in a very real way,” he added, “through the celebration of the Sacrament and living out our mission of being Missionary Disciples who radiate the light of love of Christ to all.”