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Mart Mariam Chaldean Catholic Church building grotto, Aug. 15 unveiling

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Mart Mariam Chaldean Catholic Church building grotto, Aug. 15 unveiling

Plans and design for the grotto at Mart Mariam Chaldean Catholic Church in Northbrook.

In 2011, Mart Mariam Chaldean Catholic Church was re-located to 2700 Willow Road in Northbrook, on the corner of Pfingsten and Willow Roads. The sprawling 10 acre landscape has supported the resplendent parish adding an activity hall, small school, and rectory to a picturesque and easily accessible campus.

In September 2012, Fr. Fawaz Kako,C.Ss.R. and myself, along with fellow parishioner Salem Estefan, discussed building a proper grotto (maghara) for the existing Mother Mary statue residing at the front entrance of the church. I welcomed the responsibility and pursuit of such a significant shrine as a gift from the Hikmat Yacu family to our church and all of its faithful parishioners. 

Additionally, the grotto would honor and celebrate the first Chaldean Bishop in the United States, his Excellency, Mar Ibrahim, as well as recognize Fr. Fawaz for his devotion and passionate dedication to the community. This extraordinary grotto was a long lasting aspiration of mine to commemorate my parents, Aziz and Warina Yacu, devoted and faithful all their lives to the Chaldean Church and its people. It is in remembrance of them that this project was conceived and will stand as an exceptional landmark for our church and the community. 

Building this unique monument proved to be quite difficult and tedious. After identifying a grotto image and developing an engineering sketch, an extensive search was conducted for a qualified builder. As very few grottos exist in the Chicago area, the search was prolonged until a proficient and capable builder was selected to execute the unique design. Along with the builder, a local architect was chosen to assist in the laborious task of designing and engineering the project. With the help of our blessed Mother Mary, after many months of collaboration and obtaining proper permits it was finally time to begin construction.

Unfortunately for our project, Mother Nature had other ideas. The rain and thunderstorms in early June 2013 halted our construction for 12 days until at last, sunshine and clear skies allowed a solid concrete foundation to be laid in mid-June. Shortly thereafter, a beautiful structure began to take shape with the formation of the stone walls and magnificent dome framework. 

From the very conception, this monument was destined to be spectacular and unprecedented. I was honored and delighted when Mart Mariam selected the main entrance of its grounds as the setting for this meaningful Shrine. The position of the grotto will allow unobstructed views to its brilliance and purity all the way from Willow Road around Pfingsten corner. Both Northbrook and Glenview townships bordering Willow Road will have breathtaking views and a beautiful panorama of this one of a kind grotto.

The project is near completion, with a grand opening scheduled for Thursday, August 15.

The grand unveiling date was chosen for its significance as the Feast of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary. This annual celebration commemorates the death of Mary and her bodily assumption into Heaven. The Chaldean Catholics rejoice this day with a Grand Holy Mass followed by a special dinner for all who attend services. 

A very important event in the church, this great feast is typically attended by over 1,000 people and will likely exceed that number this year, with the addition of the grotto dedication. This year will be of even greater magnitude, as our Bishop, his Excellency Mar Ibrahim from the Detroit dioceses, has agreed to bless us with his presence for the grotto ribbon cutting ceremony and prayers, as well as officiate mass the evening of the Feast. 

By Hikmat Yacu
August 06, 2013
glenview.suntimes.com

 

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