By Larry and Mary Sue Eck
Photos by Denis Kubat
The pictures, good as they are, don’t do it justice. You really DO have to be there.
People walk through the doors and gasp. Some burst into tears. Most stand awestruck. Front and center is the Monstrance and it is beautiful. Mary stands on one side and Joseph, holding Baby Jesus, on the other. Beneath them all are carved the words, in gold, “He Lived Between Us!” It takes your breathe away.
St. Monica’s shrine is on the left. She stands as a model and patron for all those who pray for family and friends who have turned away from their Catholic faith. The Sacred Heart shrine is on the right. It reminds us of the incredible love Jesus has for each of us.
This holy place is The Sacred Heart Chapel of Eucharistic Adoration. We parishioners of Holy Trinity Catholic Church in Westmont, Illinois are privileged to call it our own. We prayed for it for years.
The Mary statue and Joseph with Baby Jesus statue stood for years in the small, simple Holy Trinity church, on either side of the main altar. Bridges gave Mary their special bouquets, babies were dedicated to her at Baptism, fathers took their petitions to Joseph, the patron of the family. Years ago, Catholic Churches were open twenty-four hours a day. It is hard to imagine the number of prayers that were offered, through the years, before these two statues.
When the church was to be demolished to make way for a larger structure, we learned that the statues would not be placed there. We asked the parish council if we could give a donation for them and they agreed. Mary stood for years at the bottom of our stairs and Joseph at the top. Every grandchild was lifted to see Blessed Mother, to talk to her. Then up the stairs we’d go for naptime and each one would kiss Baby Jesus and Joseph goodnight. We all loved those statues.
One day Ivan came from Medugorje and spent the night at our home. He had his apparition in front of Mary’s statue. Another time he came to DuPage Marian Center and had his apparition in front of the St. Peregrine Crucifix. Many people shared those occasions with us.
As soon as our current pastor, Father William De Salvo, announced that Holy Trinity would have a perpetual Adoration Chapel, we knew the statues must be returned to their rightful place. We had only been caretakers. It was the same with the St. Peregrine Crucifix. We had rescued it from a parish in downtown Chicago which was the National Shrine of St. Peregrine for years. Now Father De Salvo had a wonderful artist and parishioner, Laurie Alvear, paint St. Peregrine kneeling beneath the crucifix and it is placed in the vestibule of the chapel. Mary and Joseph were given a new coat of paint and they became even more beautiful than before.
The gothic altar with its three “towers” is handmade of oak. It stands before a huge stained glass window of the Holy Spirit, in the form of a dove, which can be seen only from the street outside. On both sides of the chapel are four stained glass windows, three of which we have pictured here. Not pictured are St. Thomas Aquinas, St. Tarsicius, Blessed Imelda Lambertini, St. Juliana Faconieri, and St. Paschal Baylon, all saints of the Eucharist. Pictured are St. Thomas Becket, St. Clare of Assisi, and St. Therese of Lisieux. They, too, had special devotions to the Eucharist.
First class relics of each of these saints are present in a reliquary to the left the altar, as well as the relics of St. Monica and St. Peregrine, plus a relic of Mary’s veil and one of St. Joseph. Contained in the altar itself are the relics of St Joachim and St. Anne, grandparents of Jesus.
Above the door entering the chapel are the words of St. John Baptist De La Salle, “Let us remember that we are in the holy presence of God.” Leaving the chapel, above the door are his words also, “Live Jesus in our hearts … Forever!”
You all have an open invitation to come and pray at Sacred Heart Chapel. Come to Westmont, take Cass Avenue to Richmond Street which is two streets south of the railroad tracks in downtown Westmont, then turn east on Richmond. The chapel is located on block down on the southwest corner.
You’ll never forget it. We’ve seen Adoration Chapels all over America. See if you don’t agree that it may be the most beautiful. Thanks. Father De Salvo!