In response to a Pennsylvania grand jury report last month that alleges decades of child sexual abuse by priests, Mundelein Seminary at the University of Saint Mary of the Lake officials announced Friday they will launch a nine-day novena prayer session at churches across the Chicago area, including in Mundelein and Waukegan.
Seminary officials released a statement listing dates between Sept. 7 and 15 for an initiative called the Novena for the Healing of Our Church “to unite Catholics in prayer and healing, justice and hope, in light of the ongoing crisis within the Catholic Church.”
Following the Pennsylvania jury report released in August, Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan said she wants to meet with local Catholic church leaders to ensure “a complete and accurate accounting” of the alleged child sex abuse by at least seven of the 300 Roman Catholic priests named in the report who have local ties to Illinois.
The report stemmed from an 18-month investigation that concluded 1,000 children were found to be sexually abused by priests since the 1940s, and that senior church officials covered up their actions.
Chicago Cardinal Blase Cupich previously issued a three-page response to the Pennsylvania grand jury’s report, promising the Catholic Church would establish new ways of reporting complaints against bishops.
“Now, we have been made to face these scandals first and foremost by the courage of victim-survivors — the men and women who found the strength, even when doing so meant suffering again unimaginable pain, to come forward and seek justice from an institution that grievously failed them,” Cupich wrote.
In a statement, the Chicago Archdiocese said that since 2006, it has posted on its website the names of clergy with substantiated abuse claims against them.
Cupich is scheduled to lead the final mass of the nine-day novena prayer session at Holy Name Cathedral in Chicago on Sept. 15.
A novena is a special prayer in the Catholic Church that is recited for nine consecutive days for a specific intention.
The Rev. John Kartje, rector of Mundelein Seminary, said in a statement that “this prayerful response to the crisis serves as a powerful witness of the hope we find in our faith, even in the darkest times.”
“It also provides our seminarians and the entire seminary community the opportunity to engage with parishioners in their local churches throughout the Archdiocese of Chicago and spend time with them in prayer,” Kartje added.
The public is invited to attend the nine masses held at the parishes. Seminary officials said registration to attend an opening mass on Sept. 7 at 7 p.m. at the Chapel of the Immaculate Conception at Mundelein Seminary is strongly encouraged, as parking is limited.
Both the opening mass in Mundelein and the closing service in Chicago will be live-streamed through the www.usml.edu website.The seven other masses are scheduled at the following dates and locations, with all services starting at 7 p.m.:
- Sept. 8 at St. Columbanus, 331 E. 71st St, in Chicago.
- Sept. 9 at Mary, Seat of Wisdom, 920 Granville Ave., in Park Ridge.
- Sept. 10 at St. James Wabash, 2907 S. Wabash Ave., in Chicago.
- Sept. 11 at St. Julie, 7399 W. 159th St., in Tinley Park.
- Sept. 12 at St. Anastasia, 624 Douglas Ave., in Waukegan.
- Sept. 13 at St. Theresa, 455 N. Benton St., in Palatine.
- Sept. 14 at Our Lady Mother of the Church Polish Mission, 116 Hilton St., in Willow Springs.
People can also participate in the prayers sessions by signing up via email at www.usml.edu/novena to receive the novena prayers, according to seminary officials.
Yadira Sanchez Olson is a freelance reporter for the News-Sun.