A prayer vigil and novena are among the steps a small community in Illinois is taking to prevent the opening of a multi-million dollar strip club next door to a convent in a residential area.
On July 2, over 130 children, parents and young adults came together for a prayer vigil and Eucharistic Adoration at the Missionary Sisters of St. Charles Borromeo convent in Melrose Park.
“Today is a testament to the spiritual courage of this community who came together for what is important to their families and this community,” Sister Noemia Silva said in a statement Monday.
In addition to the vigil, the convent is opening its doors to host a novena from July 3-9. The prayerful events come after a crowd of over 500 people silently marched through the town in March as a sign of protest.
Sister Silva called the club “unacceptable,” adding that community members “are appalled that this strip club was built not only next to our convent, but also right next to the residential homes where children live.”
The club, “Get It,” was scheduled to open in April during Holy Week, but road construction in front of building and internal issues have significantly delayed the grand opening.
With a population of less than 5,000, Stone Park – which borders Melrose Park where the convent is located – is already home to five adult entertainment venues.
Thirteen-year-old resident, Dayana Moreno, who lives behind one of the strip clubs, said she is often woken up in the middle of the night by fights breaking out in the parking lot and loud music from inside the club.
“What we want are after-school programs, parks (and) a public library where we can study and be safe,” she said. “I don't want my little brother growing up seeing these places as I did.”
Attorney Peter Breen, who serves as executive director of the Thomas More Society, has offered free legal support to those who oppose the club and said locals are “ready to go to court if necessary” to prevent it from opening.
“The community has really rallied behind the sisters and those residents who are immediately behind this facility,” Breen said, “but we still hope that the village of Stone Park will do the right thing.”
Resident and mother Ana Garay said that she worries about what kind of message such an establishment would promote locally.
“At home, we teach our children values and respect for others through our faith,” she said, “yet around them they have these types of places which not only bring sin, but also create an unsafe environment.”