ST. JOHN | One thousand chairs will be set up in preparation for a religious ceremony Sunday at St. John the Evangelist Catholic Church.
Cardinal Francis George, archbishop of Chicago, and Bishop Dale Melczek of the Gary Diocese, will join the Rev. Sammie Maletta, pastor of St. John the Evangelist, for an hourlong consecration and benediction ceremony in the presence of the Our Lady of the New Millennium statue.
The nearly 33-foot-tall metal statue of Mary recently arrived from the Chicago suburbs and will remain at St. John until a foundation at the nearby Shrine of Christ's Passion is built.
A concert is scheduled for 2 p.m. inside the church, 10701 Olcott Ave. Maletta said the concert should last until about 3:30. The ceremony will start at 5.
Because of the expected crowd, the church arranged for off-site parking and shuttle buses. Parking on the streets adjoining the church will be restricted, so buses can travel smoothly.
Shuttles will run every 10 to 15 minutes from 3 to 8 p.m. at St. John the Evangelist Day Chapel, 11301 W. 93rd Ave., in St. John; at St. John the Evangelist School, 9400 Wicker Ave., in St. John; Lincoln School, 12245 W. 109th Ave., in Cedar Lake; and at Midwest Training & Ice Center, 10600 White Oak Ave., in St. John. There will be some parking available at the church.
Maletta said nearly 500 people visit the statue every day. He hopes a crowd will gather Sunday, because there's an energy created when so many people are together in one place.
"The more the merrier," he said.