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Our Lady of Grace finds a new Waukegan home

Maureen Kennedy Sivi(left) Gurnee her sister Kaye Brisbois Antioch Our Lady Grace Prayer Garden located St. AnastasiChurch Waukegan. The statue

Maureen Kennedy Sivia (left) of Gurnee and and her sister, Kaye Brisbois of Antioch at Our Lady of Grace Prayer Garden located at St. Anastasia Church in Waukegan. The statue was from Holy Child High School and has been with St. Anastasia since 1976. Sivia is the Assistant Principal and Brisbois is a Junior High Social Studies teacher at St. Anastasia School. | Thomas Delany Jr.~Sun-Times Media

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For more information on Mary’s garden, call St. Anastasia Church at (847) 623-2875 or e-mail

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Updated: December 20, 2011 1:15AM

The Rev. Aloysius Funtila sits at a desk by an upstairs window inside the St. Anastasia Parish rectory. From that spot, he can see the barefooted Our Lady of Grace who, for the last 35 years, has serenely crushed the head of a snake atop her pedestal next to the church.

A native of the Philippines and a former missionary of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, Funtila likes to watch the lady’s friends come and go. Early in the morning, late in the evening, even on cold winter days, they arrive to implore her help and seek her intercession.

Police squads pull over and park for a few minutes. A dad and his young children come to pray the Rosary. People passing on the sidewalk pause and draw closer.

Funtila arrived home one day last summer to find a bicycle laying on his lawn. It belonged to a boy who was kneeling in front of the virgin. The priest watched as the boy made the sign of the cross, stood up, ran back to his bike and took off.

“It’s a beautiful experience to see people pray,” Funtila said.

More people are coming to visit Our Lady since she was cleaned-up, restored, re-painted and given a new home. She now stands in the church’s leafy, grotto-like Garden of Reflection and Prayer.

She stands surrounded by a walkway of paver stones engraved with the names of St. Anastasia families and friends, past and present: Clyne, Dutcher, Durkin, Drew, Ambrogio, Suarez, Keller, Rosing, May, O’Meara.

“Luv U Pops,” reads one stone. “God Bless Us All,” says another.

The statue was a gift to St. “Annie’s” from the Sisters of the Holy Child Jesus, who were among the parish school’s first teachers. The nuns taught for more than 50 years at the all-girl Holy Child High School in Waukegan. When it closed in 1976, the lady found a new but familiar home.

Holy Child alum Virginia Lyons Mullery of Gurnee recalled marching in the May Crowning processions from the school to the statue.

“A lot of nostalgic memories go with it,” Mullery mused. “I think it’s a lovely idea. I’m really happy they’re doing it”

The cost of Our Lady’s makeover, the landscape design and the new plants was paid for through sale of the pavers. New proceeds will go to maintain the garden and to help fund the school.

Spring is the best time to visit Mary in her new home, according to Cathy Brolley of Waukegan, who said the garden has “a special presence.”

“That’s when the serviceberries bloom,” Brolley said. “She’s framed by the trees. She has a cloud around her. A white cloud.”

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