A Christmas miracle? That's a bit of a reach, but there's no doubt some parishioners will think they've received an early Christmas present when new traffic lights in front of the church are activated Friday.
Efforts to get the three-way signals began more than two years ago, and were accomplished only after the church did its own traffic study, agreed to pay for the installation, and enlisted the support of Plainfield officials and state Rep. Tom Cross (R-Oswego).
It was the Illinois Department of Transportation had agreed to their request. , and it took more than three months just get the lights ordered and delivered, said the Rev. David Medow, St. Mary's pastor.
"We certainly hope and pray (these lights) will mean safety for our parishioners coming in and out of the parish and for the community driving by," Medow said.
St. Mary Immaculate, located at 15629 S. Route 59, is the largest Catholic church and the fourth largest in the country, boasting more than 30,000 registered parishioners. The volume of traffic just for weekend services required the church to hire off-duty police officers to control the traffic.
"We have hundreds and hundreds of people in our buildings every day," Medow said.
The parish school has 600 students, and more than 2,000 attend religious education classes at the church, he said.
The price tag for the traffic signals was expected to be in the neighborhood of $500,000, but that amount also includes a new sign for the church and improvements made to the parking lot.