While Pope Francis was in Fatima, Portugal, to canonize two of the shepherd children who saw Mary there, the Diocese of Charleston held tributes of its own to honor the Blessed Mother and the new saints, and to remember the 100th anniversary of her first apparition at Fatima.
On May 13, a rosary rally sponsored by America Needs Fatima was held in Summerville. Despite showers punctuated by periodic downpours, a group of almost 40 people came together to spread devotion and remind people of the message of Fatima, said Patricia Bascom, an event organizer.
“As one of 4,000 rallies across the U.S., all at noon, we were part of a much bigger movement,” she said.
After the rally, the group also took a statue of Our Lady of Fatima to the Cathedral of St. John the Baptist in Charleston for veneration, at the request of Msgr. Steven Brovey, rector. Bascom said it will be there every month through October on the 12th, 13th and 14th.
Then, to celebrate the Miracle of the Sun, the final appearance of Mary in Fatima, a rosary rally will be held Oct. 14 at the corner of Dorchester Road and Bacons Bridge Road, in conjunction with approximately 20,000 other rallies worldwide.
In addition to the rally, at least two churches held special Masses on May 13 to commemorate the appearance of Mary to the three shepherd children.
St. Joseph Church in Columbia celebrated Mass in honor of the anniversary, followed by a holy hour dedicated to Mary. Father Bernard Oniwe delivered the homily and spoke on the message of Fatima.
Christie Henkel said she was one of about 250 people at the service, and she praised the rich, uplifting message.
She said Father Bernard exuded joy as he spoke about the significance of Mary and her appearance to children at Fatima. He explained that is a “misconception among non-Catholics and even some Catholics that when we love and honor Mary, this takes away from Jesus. In reality, the more we love and honor Mary, the more we love and honor Jesus, her Son.”
Father Bernard encouraged people to pray the rosary and teach it to their children to keep the devotion alive, and also to “offer up daily sufferings and sacrifices in our lives for the conversion of sinners and salvation of souls,” just as the shepherd children did.
Read more about Mary and Fatima at http://www.ewtn.com/fatima.
Also, Our Lady of Grace in Lancaster held a Mass of thanksgiving attended by about 175 people. During Mass, special recognition was given to Fred Rom, a 104-year-old parishioner who was only 4 when Mary appeared in Fatima.
Father Jeffrey Kirby, administrator, delivered a homily on faith, prayer and freedom, and how Mary proved the power of prayer.
“Religious faith relies on freedom,” Father Kirby said, but not the freedom to do whatever one wants; the freedom to do what’s right and good.
This is what Lucia dos Santos and Francisco and Jacinta Marto did, and it is the reason two of them are now saints, with the third on the way.
The children, beatified by St. John Paul II in 2000, are now the youngest non-martyrs to be declared saints by the Catholic Church.
Top photo, provided: A statue of Our Lady of Fatima is seen at St. Joseph Church in Columbia during their Mass to celebrate the start of the Marian Year and the 100th anniversary of Mary appearing to the three shepherd children.