Annual Display of Crosses at York and Madison Streets Grabs Drivers' Attention

Each cross represents an abortion; the display will be up until during October.

Editor's Note: This article first was published in Oct. 2011. The crosses went up again at Visitation Parish on Saturday, Oct. 5, 2013. Do you agree with the church sending its message this way? Do you agree with the message?



It's provocative, it's a conversation starter, it's a 14-year tradition at Visitation Catholic Church. And, many feel it is not only a mission, but an obligation of those in the Catholic faith.

Every October, in honor of Respect Life Month, about 30 parishioners get together on the lawn of Visitation to plant thousands of white crosses. This year, that day was Saturday, Oct. 1.

Each cross represents one of the 4,000 abortions that occur each day, parishioner Paul Esposito said.

"We installed approximately 3,675 crosses this year, and we will have the full 4,000 next year," he said.

This year, to go along with the church's major build-out and remodel, the display consists of new white crosses, made by the parishioners, themselves. And, for the first time, the vast majority of crosses can be seen in one area, on the west side of Visitation Parish along York Road.

"The new addition of a parish center to our church gave us a larger lawn on York Road," Esposito said. "Since York Road is busier than Madison Street, we lengthened the display on York to nearly the full length of the new parish center. We feel the new configuration of the display brings into better focus the staggering number of abortions performed in the U.S. each day and ensures more passersby see it."

Every year, the display elicits reaction on both sides of the abortion issue.

Some people have said they completely avoid driving near the intersection of York and Madison streets while the display is up. One person yelled out, "abortion rocks!" as he drove by on Saturday, Esposito said.

"On the other hand, another person engaged us in a long dialogue and gave us a financial contribution toward the maintenance and upkeep of the crosses," he said.

In addition to the new crosses, parishioners have added a new sign to the display this year. It includes a number for Project Rachel, for women who have had abortions.

"Project Rachel aids those who have been hurt by abortion to obtain healing and forgiveness," Esposito said. "We felt that this aspect of pro-life ministry was missing from our earlier signs and needed to be addressed."

The display will be on the church lawn until Oct. 22.

Rosemarie October 05, 2011 at 01:01 AM
When I was helping women in crisis pregnancies, they said they felt unloved, rejected, were kicked out or abondoned by their boyfriend and sometimes even spouse. People close to them pushed them towards abortion, what they called a woman's choice. Darkness set in and the pro choice soon felt like No Choice. It's not a solution, it's a trap. A trap that haunts, torments and physically harms them. Where do you think that comes from?????? But, there were people willing to stand in front of the trap offering support, help and hope. Many chose life for their children because they saw another choice and they could do it with help. For those that didn't, there is still hope. There's always hope... and there are many people willing to help after the trap to bring healing. The crosses are what they are. So, are you someone who pushes into the trap or stands in front of it? If you push, step aside, we have work to do. Choose life!
marikay freedman October 05, 2011 at 01:59 AM
Marikay It is true the Catholic Church has among her members sinners. It is also true that the Catholic Church had among her members one Judas Iscariot, who betrayed our Lord. Pedophile priests, who are in the great minority of Catholics, do not make the Church. We are all sinners and only Jesus saves any one of us. We cannot save ourselves from God's wrath and we cannot obtain God's mercy by our own merits. All is GRACE and any sinner who believes in the Son of God, repents of their sin and does HIS WILL shall LIVE. CHOOSE LIFE!
Paul Nemeth October 05, 2011 at 02:35 AM
I stand with all those who see the crosses as a reminder of life destroyed. The effect on me has been a call to acttion. Why the outrage?
dudovi October 05, 2011 at 03:01 AM
May everyone's hearts be opened upon viewing this beautiful video of when life begins... http://www.bing.com/videos/search?q=life+begins+at+conception&mid=B72E3C5C8A5618F3E230B72E3C5C8A5618F3E230&view=detail&FORM=VIRE4 And, please know that God is a merciful God and He loves ALL of us, even though we are all sinners -- He's just waiting for us to open our hearts to Him :) Come, find PEACE and HEALING in His love...
Darlene Heslop October 05, 2011 at 04:16 AM
there was a young couple i attended college with - when they ended up pregnant, they both agreed, after much soul-searching, to give the child up for adoption. they thought this was the best at the time. he stayed with her throughout the pregnancy and delivery. they remained a couple even afterward, very much in love. however, despite all the support in the world, after giving up that child, life for neither one was ever the same. she ended up dropping out of school and later committed suicide. ever since then, i was never the same either. i can't see this as the only "choice" is to have a child and give it up for adoption.
M. Anne Shane October 05, 2011 at 04:53 AM
It's 1943. A German officer has a gun pointed at you. He wants you to get into a bulldozer and drive it forward. In front of the bulldozer is a pit in which there are 300 Jews who have just been shot. Some of them are still alive. He wants you to bury them alive! If you don't do what he says, he is going to kill you and do it himself. Would you drive it forward? This question comes from a new video called, "180". http://www.180movie.com/ Please watch it? It just breaks my heart seeing all of you who are offended by the church, the crosses, etc. I visited a Nazi concentration camp site in Germany ... it needs to be there so we will remember killing was legal and carried through very efficiently in a highly advanced western country... and look at ours! These crosses at Vis. will be up for a few weeks and then forgotten about until next year. The killing will still continue day after miserable day. If only we didn't need all these crosses! I am a member of Visitation and my family helped erect the crosses. Inspired by my faith, I have manned homeless shelters overnight numerous times before having children. I befriended a homeless women at a laundry mat and took her out to dinner/Walgreens. It's all about serving the least among us and loving God (Matthew 25:40). If you are angry at the Catholic church, please try listening to Relevant Radio a.m. 950/930 for a few weeks. Please come back to Our Lord and Our Lady! They really love you! I wish I could help you!
M. Anne Shane October 05, 2011 at 05:14 AM
No, I have never had the life experience of ever considering an abortion. But I have experienced the death of my only brother at the age of 19. I have watched my mother grieving the death of her only son (leaving just me). Car accident, he was in the back seat. Life is so, so precious Mrs. Heslop- we are so lucky and blessed to have our lives, aren't we??! My brother helped me see that after he died. That is part of why we've had five children- a sibling is the best gift I can give my children. I am speaking from my heart. I am very sorry about your friend who committed suicide, by the way!!! I'm sure her biological son/daughter would also be upset that they'll never get a chance to meet her. Yes, you're never the same after the loss of someone close to you.
M. Anne Shane October 05, 2011 at 05:21 AM
I really appreciate your post and how you describe the abortion as a seductive trap that haunts and torments mothers. Thank you your work in helping women in crisis pregnancies.
M. Anne Shane October 05, 2011 at 05:26 AM
It was a very nice video, thank you!
Mark Heisler October 05, 2011 at 05:47 AM
I abhor this display and the message it represents. It is a political statement, not spiritual. I wonder whether this type of political message puts the tax-exempt status of the church in jeopardy...
Vincent Russell October 05, 2011 at 11:17 AM
Darlene, right! The mother has the "choice" of asking a doctor to insert a uterine currette which cuts the baby apart, manual vacuum aspiration, a syringe with spinal needle or the ol' forceps. Any old tool will do. As for the baby, he has no choice. Glad you didn't win alderman as I this kind of senseless logic running our town.
Vincent Russell October 05, 2011 at 11:21 AM
Mark, your abhorrence at seeing crosses shows that your are a bigoted anti-Christian. If you think this display is abhorrent, you should see what is left of a dead baby after an abortion. As Patton would say, it's all "blood and guts." Get a life, Mark; then try to save one.
Carole G October 05, 2011 at 12:11 PM
I don't think the crosses are there as judgement, but as a visual memorial to those babies. Maybe a sign should be added among the crosses, directing woman who want healing, to a program that offers it. Is there such a program? I have a friend who is still sad from her abortion 20 years ago.
Marianna October 05, 2011 at 01:29 PM
Anyone who talks to their mom, grandma, and aunt would learn about former eras where purity was mainstream. People much more commonly saved themselves for their marriage partners. It's a beautiful concept and one that protects the dignity of both women and men. Legal abortion kills both babies and women. Botched abortions in poorly regulated "clinics" murder suffering women every year. Sexualizing women is no freedom at all. Only when we start treating all people, born and unborn as the precious, noble, creations they are in God's sight, then will we be living God's plan for us. Those crosses are a reminder that life is precious and to be protected.
Marianna October 05, 2011 at 01:46 PM
Great video! God is so good and yearns over each one of us, born or pre-born! I was born weeks premature and tiny. I'm the youngest of seven children. (My father lost his first wife to a brain embulism and remarried.) Those large families were very common in the old days! I personally loved growing up in a big family. I'm so grateful my parents didn't decide I was an inconvenience or that they had "too many." I'm incredibly grateful for life...Practicing Catholics are not only pro-life, they "walk the talk." I have many friends who have adopted unwanted children (from infant to teen), taken unwed mothers to doctor's appointments, brought them meals, helped them care for their babies after the birth, even taken them into their homes as a safe haven. Most women do NOT want to abort their babies, and would keep them if they had such support. After health crises my Catholic friends cheerfully brought me meals, helped watch my children, etc. The Church has been there for me at the happiest times of my life and in sorrow, at weddings, funerals, baptisms... Thank God for the Church He founded....and for Visitation's bravery in standing openly for life.
KCE October 05, 2011 at 02:13 PM
I'd have to agree with Vincent on this one. If your friend was depressed and suicidal after giving a child up for adoption (what most would see as a "loving"option) I can't imagine that she would have been in a better frame of mind if she chose to have the baby forcibly removed from her body and disposed of. Abortion is the choice of women who feel they have no other choice. Women who have had abortions often do the very things your friend did. That is the reason that the sign at Visitation invites women to contact Project Rachel to come to terms with their earlier abortion decision and thus gain peace.
Kathy Esposito October 05, 2011 at 03:10 PM
Carol, There IS currently a sign on York Rd directing those hurt by abortion to Project Rachel.The phone number is 1-866-994-4483 and the phone is even answered at "non-traditional" hours. Callers are directed to a person who can best deal with their unique experiences.
dudovi October 05, 2011 at 03:35 PM
When a woman decides to place her baby up for adoption because she feels as if she won't be able to take care of him/her properly, she can decide with the new family if she would like to have an 'open adoption'. This means that she can keep in contact with the family and see how her child is growing up, according to what they all agree on. This has helped MANY women to move on with their lives, yet know that their baby is being provided for. Agencies offer wonderful follow-up counseling services for these mothers to deal with their feelings after they place the baby for adoption, so that way they are never alone and always have help. Adoption has come a long way over the years. So, the mom's decision of choosing life for the baby and considering adoption if she feels in her heart that she can't take care of it may be one the most beautiful acts of love and kindness she can give her child :)
cheri c October 05, 2011 at 03:41 PM
If we can allow gay pride parades as a form of freedom of speech, why can't the parishioners of Visitation be given the same right to freedom of speech, especially on their private property? Do they NOT have the same rights as other individuals? If we allow freedom to those on the left, we cannot deny that same right to freedom for those on the right, can we? I am not a member of Visitation Parish, but I do give them accolades for standing up for what they believe in and not succumbing to those who have made a different choice and want to deny them theirs. They have the right to express their beliefs. Crosses are not offensive; they're symbolic. If a cross represents an abortion that occurs each day, then maybe we should be aware, as tax payers, how some of our hard earned tax dollars are being spent. Their message is honest, spiritual, and financial. Let them speak, as they have the right to do! GO VIS!
cheri c October 05, 2011 at 03:47 PM
They are only documenting facts. 4000 abortions occur each day in the US. That's a fact. The crosses represent facts. They are not being grotesque and leaving 4000 pictures of aborted fetuses to stir up our disgust. They are just reminding us of what occurs in the US on a daily basis and, is supported in part, by our tax dollars. They are not judging anyone. They are reminding us all of a truth. That's it. I am not a member of Vis, but I think they are educating us all of the significant numbers of abortions that occur each day. They're not judging you. They're not judging me. They're reminding us all....and for the records, I am not a parishioner there. I do applaud their willingness to walk what they talk, rather than turn the other cheek and kowtow to popular opion type folks who want to judge them.
Paul Guerino October 09, 2011 at 12:17 AM
My question is a simple one. When does life begin?
Darlene Heslop October 09, 2011 at 02:14 AM
the adoption was "open" - they chose the parents who would adopt their child and had regular contact, updates, photographs, phone calls, you name it. they thought at the time that adoption was the best thing, and had every good intention imagineable. he was 19, she 20. they both regretted giving the child up, as it was far more difficult than either one imagined it to be, and despite support from every angle, they both had an incredible time afterward. she dropped out of school and less than a week later had taken her own life. she had no history of mental health issues prior to the pregnancy. since that time, when i also was only 20 years old, i can only see this issue as one that is very grey, one that is truly something that unless you personally have experieced this type of event, that of an unintentioned pregnancy, then it isn't for me or anyone else to judge. and contrary to popular belief, unintended pregnancy happens to married people, too, and knowing what women did in order to not have another mouth to feed, what they risked, i have a lot of mixed emotions. it's not black and white for me, but i also know that the good lord understands this, and will still forgive me.
Paul Guerino October 09, 2011 at 02:51 PM
I asked the question, "when does life begin", because I want this discussion to get to the basic morality issue about abortion. The hatred for the Catholic Church expressed in some of these comments shows that bigotry is alive and well in Elmhurst. Catholics aren't the only people that oppose abortion. Other religious groups also oppose abortion. If abortion on demand is OK, then the ethical debate continues with abortion for gender selection of babies, termination of the unborn with handicaps as demonstrated by prenatal testing or if missed in the testing after they are born, mercy killing of the terminally ill, and the list continues. I have spoken to handicapped adults that refer to abortion as the 'slippery slope" that insurance companies would like to push them down.
Karen Chadra (Editor) October 09, 2011 at 03:25 PM
rtrh: comment removed for violating our terms of use. We do not allow content that "promotes racism, bigotry, hatred or physical harm of any kind against any group or individual"
dudovi October 11, 2011 at 07:15 PM
This link was posted earlier in the comments section above. I am reposting it again: http://www.bing.com/videos/search?q=life+begins+at+conception&mid=B72E3C5C8A5618F3E230B72E3C5C8A5618F3E230&view=detail&FORM=VIRE4 I hope this helps answer your question as to "when life begins"....
Jim Court November 28, 2011 at 03:48 AM
While I often agree with your thinking, I could not disagree with you more on this. Look at the development of a fetus and tell me a late term abortion is not the destruction of a human being. If a woman is murdered while pregnant, isn't the killer charged with two murders?
Dmitri November 28, 2011 at 02:26 PM
Dear Sam, You are scientifically correct on the beginning of life at conception. However, if you read the next four discussions of Mr. Russell below, you'll notice that he has had a total change of heart and reasoning. I prefer to treat my opponent charitably and with dignity.
Molly hayes October 13, 2012 at 10:10 PM
Huh? I almost drove off the road. Is abortion a problem in Elmhurst? I don't think abortion is a pertinent issue there, is it? How about something more meaningful to the community, like having local teenagers help/give a helping hand/soup kitchen to other people or communities who are here, on earth? So weird they let somebody sign off on that. What a blip! -Molly Hayes
NancyC October 15, 2012 at 05:14 PM
Yes Molly, abortion is a problem in Elmhurst and for Elmhurst, Just read the local school news about the new push for more students in the STEM subjects. Only God knows for certain how many STEM scholars lives have been snuffed out from the abortion holocaust, and it does not stop at our borders. Abortion is or should be every persons problem, especially every person who says they care about others.
WLA October 09, 2013 at 03:21 PM
It's their property and they can do what they want with it. I do believe the Holy Father warned against the Church focusing to much on abortion, gay marriage and contraception. I think this goes against his statement on those issues. I don't see too many unwed teenage mothers here in Elmhurst, I wonder why.


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