.- More than 500 people gathered in prayer and protest in Chicago's suburb of Stone Park on March 22, raising their voices against the plan to open a strip club next to a convent of nuns.
“Having this strip club in our backyard goes against everything we stand for as religious women and it tears at the fabric of our whole community,” said Sister Noemi Silva of the Missionary Sisters of St. Charles Borromeo Scalabrinians.
“We are appalled this strip club was built not only next to our convent, but also right next to the residential homes where children live. This is unacceptable.”
The evening prayer vigil was organized in response to the plan to open the $3 million “Get It” club, Stone Park's sixth “adult entertainment” business, on April 1. The date coincides with the Church's celebration of Palm Sunday, just before the beginning of Holy Week.
Outrage has erupted over the club's presence in the community, particularly because of its location next to the missionary sisters' convent. Proprietors of the club have been accused of breaking state law, which requires a one-mile “buffer zone” between places of worship and such businesses.
On Thursday night, hundreds of community members offered their prayers – and their chants of “Get It, Get Out!”
According to organizers, it was the largest prayer vigil in Stone Park history – drawing more than 500 people in a town with fewer than 5,000 residents.
Community member Rosa Hernandez, who has lived in Stone Park for almost 20 years, said she had “never seen so many people come together for such an important cause. It is powerful to see so many people saying enough to strip clubs!”
As a mother, she is “outraged by the building of another strip club in our community.” The new 18,000 square foot club is surrounded by residential homes.
“We’re worried about the future of our children,” Hernandez said. “We stand against this strip club because it will only bring negative things to our community. It will downgrade Stone Park.”
Dayana Moreno, a 13-year-old resident of the town, agreed that the town's sixth “adult” establishment would bring “shame to our community.”
“My home is behind one already, and I often hear loud noise late at night when fights break out or drunk people leave,” she said.
“These places aren’t good for youth in our community. We’d rather have a library, which we don’t have in Stone Park,” Moreno observed.
Chicago's Thomas More Society has offered free legal aid to the town of Stone Park, if it joins the missionary sisters and community members in opposing the club's opening.