"Salva me!" Parishioners Janice Dooner Lynch and Shane Dinneen of the shuttered Our Lady of Peace carry posters with the profile of the statue of the Blessed Virgin Mary that remains locked inside the church. For parishioners who gathered on the Feast of the Immaculate Conception, the rosary procession was a cry for justice in the Jubilee Year of Mercy. Denied worship in their own church as a "special occasion" on December 8, the Feast of the Immaculate Conception, parishioners developed an alternate plan to celebrate the holy day of obligation. They gathered at the church steps at the usual hour, six in the evening, to light candles and begin the first decade of the rosary. Then they embarked on a one-mile candlelight procession from the shuttered church steps to Saint Jean Baptiste on 72nd Street for a special mass.
Saint Jean Baptiste was the chosen destination because the church offered a special mass to initiate the Year of Mercy at seven in the evening, perfectly timed with the 54-Day Rosary Novena that is offered daily outside Our Lady of Peace. It was estimated that the rosary procession from Our Lady of Peace on 62nd Street to Saint Jean Baptiste on 72nd Street would take approximately an hour. [View the footage of the procession on Channel 5 Fox News here.]
At the corner of Second Avenue and 67th Street, parishioners stopped as Melisande Valdes lead another decade of the rosary.
At the corner of 67th Street and Third Avenue, Cathy Palladino lead Our Lady of Peace parishioners in the 5th Glorious Mystery of the Rosary.
As the group continued on, they stopped to sing "Immaculate Mary," and "Hail, Holy Queen." They also sang the Beatles song, "Let it Be," which was filmed by one of the parishioners: "When I find myself in times of trouble, Mother Mary comes to me, whisper words of wisdom, Let it be!"
Processing up Third Avenue on the way to Saint Jean Baptiste, parishioners recalled the story of John the Baptist - "A voice crying in the wilderness: Prepare the way!" This is an Advent Pilgrimage, crossing United Jerusalem Way.
Parishioners Georgia and Agnes stop to rest for a moment outside the Candle Cafe. They carry votive candles with "Save Our Lady of Peace" bracelets encircling the rim of each glass.
Our Lady of Peace parishioners stop at the steps of St. Jean School to finish the novena. Rosary Captain Jessica Bede lead them in the Spiritual Communion. It felt somehow familiar. "We like congregating on steps!" one parishioner said.
The group arrives at Saint Jean Baptiste for the mass initiating the Jubilee Year of Mercy. The pastor is kind, reaching out to the pilgrims with a special word of welcome to the "people displaced by the church mergers."
[Photos by T.E. McLaughlin]