Devotion to Mary will be the focus of a special statewide celebration beginning in May.
Bishop Robert E. Guglielmone has officially declared a Marian Year for the Diocese of Charleston, beginning on May 14 and running through mid- December.
The Marian Year is being celebrated in conjunction with the centennial anniversary of the apparition of Our Lady of Fatima. In 1917, Mary is said to have appeared to three shepherd children in Fatima, Portugal, six times between the months of May and October, and revealed to them many secrets and prophecies. Millions have since visited a shrine erected on the site in Fatima.
In a letter officially declaring the Marian Year, Bishop Guglielmone wrote, “It is my hope that we will use this year to spread the devotion of Our Lady and join her in the mission to bring others closer to her Son, Jesus.
“The message of Fatima should hopefully provide a renewed commitment to our call to holiness. In her message at Fatima, Our Lady asked that we seek conversion and amend our lives, pray, make reparation, especially Eucharistic reparation, and offer our days in a spirit of sacrifice and penance.”
Parish events for the Marian Year began as early as March 13, but it will officially start on May 14 with the celebration of Our Lady of La Vang, scheduled for noon to 4 p.m. at Our Lady of La Vang Church in Greer. The event is sponsored by the diocesan Office of Ethnic Ministries.
Other events will take place monthly around the diocese, and parishes and schools are encouraged to schedule their own Marian celebrations, said Kathy Schmugge, director of the Office of Family Life and coordinator for the Marian Year.
“This Marian Year is a way for us to defend our love and devotion to Our Lady and focus on how she leads us back to Jesus,” Schmugge said. “Along with the scheduled events, it is a chance for people to look at personal ways to show their devotion through praying the rosary individually and as a family, reading about Mary and learning about how she is the perfect disciple and follower of Christ.”
Bishop Guglielmone encouraged the faithful to pray at least one decade of the rosary daily, attend Mass on the first Saturday of each month, and pray special consecrations to Mary such as those written by St. Louis Marie deMontfort.
Other scheduled events include an international rosary at 7 p.m. on July 13 at St. Philip Neri Church in Fort Mill; a Mass, lecture and reception in Kingstree on Aug. 13; special events at Catholic schools on Sept. 13; and celebrations in conjunction with the feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe Dec. 12-14.
The Office of Hispanic Ministry is planning special catechesis events focused on Mary, and the Office of Faith Formation is creating a video series on Marian devotion.
“In true Marian spirit, what is done to celebrate this year should be done with humility,” Schmugge said. “Simplicity is her trademark.”
Image: Wikimedia Commons, Giovanni Battista Salvi da Sassoferrato, 17th century