GREENVILLE—The Marian Eucharistic Conference celebrated its fifth annual gathering this month, further elevating what has been a months-long celebration of the Blessed Mother, both in the Diocese of Charleston and worldwide.
Around 400 people filled the main conference room at the Hilton Hotel to celebrate Mary, and to hear reassuring and inspiring words from a quintet of speakers.
Earlier this year, Bishop Robert E. Guglielmone declared a Marian Year would run for the diocese from mid- May to mid-December. The celebration is in conjunction with the centennial anniversary of the apparitions of Our Lady of Fatima. Last month, thousands gathered in Fatima and around the world to celebrate that anniversary. In May, Pope Francis canonized Jacinto and Francisco Marto, two of the three children who witnessed the Mary apparitions. The beatification process is also underway for Sister Lucia Santos, who died in 2005.
Father Wade Menezes, assistant general of the Fathers of Mercy based in Auburn, Ky., kicked off the Marian Eucharistic Conference Nov. 4 with a look back at the Fatima apparitions. He noted that the Portugal event and world circumstances of that time “are as relevant today as ever before.”
From May to October of 1917, Mary appeared to the three shepherd children six times, revealing secrets and prophecies. In his opening talk, titled “Our Lady of Fatima, A Message of Faith”, Father Menezes said “the Fatima message is not only about conversion, prayer, penance and reparation for the individual, but also for society as a whole.
“What the Blessed Mother revealed to three shepherd children in 1917, echoes still throughout the decades as a heavenly battle cry to save the world and its people from self-destruction,” Father Menezes said. “The message of Fatima is not so much one of an apocalyptic nature, as it is about conversion, prayer and penance, and reparation and repentance from personal sin.”
Father Menezes noted that the centennial celebration of Our Lady of Fatima took place immediately following the Church’s Jubilee Year of Mercy. He said there would be no need for mercy had there not been original sin, but by his mercy, God is telling us he’s “more interested in our future, than in our past,” Father Menezes said. “He’s more interested in the kind of person we can yet become than in what we used to be.”
While God takes personal sin seriously, “God never takes those sins as the last word because he knows he has made us in his image and likeness. He calls us constantly to a life of his sanctifying grace,” Father Menezes said.
Other speakers at the two-day conference included Father Chris Alar, director of the Association of Marian Helpers at the National Shrine of The Divine Mercy in Stockbridge, Mass.; Father Dwight Longenecker, an author and pastor of Our Lady of the Rosary in Greenville; Al Kresta, radio host and president and CEO of Ave Maria Communications; and Patrick Madrid, an author and host of the Patrick Madrid Show on Relevant Radio.
In his talk titled “Answers to Lies Society Tells You,” Madrid challenged the ideology that there is no God.
“When somebody asserts that God doesn’t exist, start asking questions,” Madrid told the conference. He referenced the big bang theory, the scientific explanation for the birth of the universe. “As theists, we would ask, ‘OK, so what banged? What started the big bang? Where did it come from? Things don’t just happen out of nothing.”
Cherie Minette, a Greenville native who now lives in Charlotte, said she was attending her first Marian Eucharistic Conference. She plans to return for next year’s celebration.
“The Mass was beautiful,” she said during a break following Madrid’s talk. She had just purchased four of his books.
“I love theology and learning more about the reasons behind our faith,” Minette said. “I love our faith.”
Photo, Terry Cregar/Miscellany: Father Wade Menezes talks with people at the Marian Eucharistic Conference held Nov. 4 in Greenville.