But planning a large procession through the busy streets of Chicago is no small task, and shutting down four lanes of traffic on a busy street on a Friday night is a big ask.
“We knew it would only succeed if it were (Mary’s) plans and how she wanted it to go and how she wanted it to be,” Eisenberg said.
When Fr. Joshua applied for the permit, a city official saw the title of the event, “Hope for the Broken,” and said: “Oh, I really hope so Father, because we could really use some hope around here in this city,” Eisenberg recalled. Two days later, the permit came through.
The procession was the result of a combined effort of multiple police units and fire departments, Eisenberg said, as well as collaboration with Relevant Radio, Shalom T.V., the World Apostolate of Fatima, and other city officials.
“It was a combined effort by everyone to take our faith to the streets, and it was important to everyone to be a visible sign to people that hey, there’s hope, and it comes from our Lord, and our Lady will always bring us closer to him,” Eisenberg said.
On the day of the event, more than 2,000 people filled St. John Cantius Church and spilled out into the streets during a talk on Mary and the rosary by Kevin Matthews. Afterwards, an estimated 3,200 people joined in the procession.
“We marched from St. John Cantius to the city, and the closer we got to the old water tower, more and more people were stopping on either side of Chicago Ave, to stop what they were doing, open their iPhones and take pictures and notice,” Matthews said.
“It was a very peaceful prayer walk that we were doing,” he added. “We recited four rosaries, sang Ave Maria. It was a beautiful prayer, you could feel Mary’s grace, and people...they took notice, and for the first time the city kind of just stopped for a moment and said a prayer for itself.”
Eisenberg said that she thinks ‘Broken Mary’ appeals to so many people because brokenness is something to which nearly everyone can relate.
“I think that people really resonate with brokenness, there isn’t anyone who can say, ‘Oh well, I’ve reached perfection, I’m not broken, this doesn’t apply to me’,” she said.
It also makes holiness seem “attainable,” she added.
(Story continues below)
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“I think when people look at saints, they look at a beautiful picture and think, ‘Wow, this person must have lived a holy life all along...I could never do that.’ But something that’s holy, that’s broken? It’s like oh, I could be called to that, I’m broken, maybe this is for me too.”
Throughout his ministry, Matthews said he has witnessed many people come back to their faith through ‘Broken Mary.’
“It’s just a concrete statue, but where that statue is, Mary is, and where Mary is there’s Christ, and where there’s Christ, there’s God,” Matthews said, “and I’ve seen a lot of people literally cry and empty themselves in front of Mary.”
“She loves us so much that she will immediately embrace us in her Immaculate Heart. Mary, she’s our mother, and people just go to her,” he said.
“If you haven’t been in church for a while or you feel ashamed, just go to Mary. And try to go to Mary through the rosary. Just hold that rosary and just say any prayer you’d like. Hold that rosary, be dedicated to that rosary,” he added.
The statue of ‘Broken Mary’ will be at St. John Cantius Church through June 9, where people can pray before the statue. Those unable to visit in person can also submit prayer intentions online, which are printed out every day and set at the feet of ‘Broken Mary.’