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Our Lady of Guadalupe festival returns to Des Plaines shrine

The celebration that draws hundred of thousands of worshippers was canceled in 2020 because of the pandemic.

The festival, which draws in hundreds of thousands of Catholics to suburban Chicago each year, is back on after being cancelled last year due to COVID.
The festival celebrating Our Lady of Guadalupe was canceled in 2020 because of the pandemic.
Sun-Times file

The annual celebration of the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe in Des Plaines, which draws hundreds of thousands of worshipers, is back on this year after being canceled in 2020 because of the coronavirus.

It’s a pilgrimage for many Hispanics in the Chicago area and beyond to see the shrine.

The event is an opportunity for many to visit a shrine to Mary, Our Lady of Guadalupe, who worshipers believe appeared to St. Juan Diego in Mexico City on Dec. 12, 1531.

People take photos following a procession at the Shrine of Our Lady Guadalupe in Des Plaines on December 10, 2017.
The Very Rev. Esequiel Sanchez encouraged attendees to take precautions and wear masks to prevent the spread of COVID-19 during the pilgrimage
Sun-Times file

This year, masks will be required for all attendees and people will be asked to social distance.

“There’s nothing more strengthening in a difficult time than a community coming together,” said the Very Rev. Esequiel Sanchez, rector of the shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe. “Be careful but not afraid. Fear is the source of much of our pain. We can be careful without being afraid.”

A new multi-arched, colonial-style entrance to the shrine will be dedicated on Saturday, Dec. 4

The celebration will begin at 7 p.m. Dec. 11 and conclude at 6 p.m. Dec. 12. A series of Masses and events leading up to the celebration begins Dec. 3.

Programming will have a special focus on those affected by the pandemic. All Masses will be in English and Spanish.

“An important part of healing is not to be isolated. The isolation is what’s hurting us. All these things remind you of the loss, of the pain you went through,” Sanchez said.

“When we come together as a people, when we come together as prayer, it’s often an incredibly powerful experience to say, ‘There’s a lot of hope in my life.’”

Central Road, between Wolf Road and East River Road, will be closed throughout the weekend, starting at 5 p.m. Dec. 11.

Free parking will be available at Oakton Community College and Palwaukee Plaza; it’s $10 to park at the shrine. Buses from the outer lots to the shrine will be available.

On-site vaccinations will be offered on Dec. 11

“Our community has been really impacted by maybe some not-so-good information,” Sanchez said. “We want to encourage people that the way you protect you and your family, at least at this time, is to be vaccinated.”