Our Lady of Guadalupe celebration returning to Des Plaines after COVID-related 2020 cancellation

  • Thousands will gather at a shrine in Des Plaines honoring Our Lady of Guadalupe.

      Thousands will gather at a shrine in Des Plaines honoring Our Lady of Guadalupe. Joe Lewnard | Staff Photographer, 2018

Updated 12/1/2021 5:01 PM

Thousands of pilgrims are expected to flock to Des Plaines next week for a celebration at the Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe that was canceled last year because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Attendees should wear masks to prevent transmitting the potentially deadly virus, a church official said Wednesday.


"We can be careful without being afraid," said the Very Rev. Esequiel Sanchez, the shrine's rector, during a Wednesday news conference.

The gathering is set for Dec. 11 and 12 at the eponymous Catholic shrine at Maryville Academy, 1170 North River Road.

It honors Jesus' mother, Mary, and marks reported visions of her in Mexico City in 1531.

An opening Mass is set for 7 p.m. Dec. 11. Masses will be said through the weekend, culminating with a closing mass at 6 p.m. Dec. 12.

All services will be said in at least two languages. They'll also be livestreamed on the shrine's YouTube and Facebook pages.

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"Las Mañanitas," a traditional serenade to Our Lady of Guadalupe, will begin at 11 p.m. Dec. 11. Additional musical and dance performances are planned.

Representatives of the Illinois Department of Public Health will offer free COVID-19 vaccinations Saturday and possibly Sunday, Sanchez said.

Free parking will be available both days at Palwaukee Plaza, 664 N. Milwaukee Ave., Prospect Heights, as well as at Oakton Community College, 1600 E. Golf Road, Des Plaines, and at St. Emily's Catholic Church, 120 N. Stratton Lane, Mount Prospect.

Free shuttle buses will take people to and from those lots to the shrine.

Parking at the shrine Saturday will cost $10, but it will be free Sunday.

No alcohol or guns are permitted.

"We want to make sure the feast remains a safe, family event," Sanchez said.

He also suggested leaving pets at home.

Drivers should avoid River and Central roads near Maryville during the gathering, Des Plaines police Cmdr. Matthew Bowler said during the news conference.


Central will be closed between Wolf and East River roads during the event.

The police presence in the area will be large to ensure public safety, Bowler said.

Event-related activities actually will begin this Saturday at noon when a new entrance to the shrine will be dedicated.

A nine-day series of prayers called a novena begins at 7 p.m. Saturday.

Other religious activities are planned at the shrine as well.

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