CHARLESTON—Officially, the Year of Mary was brought to a close on the feast of the Immaculate Conception Dec. 8, with Mass at St. Mary of the Annunciation.
Celebrating the actual conception of Mary was a fitting honor to close out the Marian Year and pay tribute to a holy woman who spent her life saying yes to God, said Bishop Robert E. Guglielmone, who celebrated Mass and delivered the homily.
He said that Mary was conceived and born without sin because God was looking out for her even then. He knew what her answer was going to be; He knew who she was going to be.
Mary was able to say yes and follow God into a frightening, unknown situation “because her relationship with God was so strong, so powerful, that she was able to trust that whatever happened … one way or another … the Lord would be present with her and take care of her,” Bishop Guglielmone said.
“We in turn are called to bring forth the Word of God, the presence of Jesus Christ, to a world that waits,” he continued.
The Year of Mary was about emphasizing how the world should look at the Mother of all humanity as a model of living life in relationship with God.
In the Diocese of Charleston, the year was bracketed by two of Mary’s feast day celebrations. It began May 14 with the celebration of Our Lady of La Vang, and although it officially ended on Dec. 8, the year also included the feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe Dec. 12-14.
Other tributes in the diocese featured Masses, lectures, receptions and conferences in honor of Mary. Parishes and schools also hosted special events, including living rosaries.
The Office of Faith Formation created a video series on Marian devotion, and The Catholic Miscellany published “Marian Mondays” weekly on Facebook, featuring each diocesan church named for Mary. Visit Facebook to read more.
Another event highlighting the Year of Mary was an international rosary held July 13, which commemorated an appearance Mary made to three shepherd children in Fatima, Portugal, 100 years ago when she asked them to pray the rosary.
The 100th anniversary of the Fatima apparitions was a focal point of much of the year, and culminated with the canonization of Francisco and Jacinta Marto by Pope Francis. Lucia dos Santos was the third Fatima visionary, and went on to join the Carmelite Sisters of Coimbra. Sister Lucia died in 2005 at the age of 97 and is in the process for beautification.
Mary is said to have appeared to the shepherd children six times between May 13 and Oct. 13, 1917, and revealed to them many secrets and prophecies. Since then, millions have visited and prayed at the Shrine of Our Lady of Fatima.
In his homily, Bishop Guglielmone noted that, in addition to Fatima, Mary has made appearances many times throughout history to bring hope for peace, fulfillment, joy, harmony and an end to injustice.
“The hearts of people must become like the heart of Mary,” he said. People must say yes to God and live life as He wants.
Bishop Guglielmone pointed out that in every apparition of Mary, her message is always the same: “Listen to my son. Do what He asks of you.”
Top photo: Bishop Robert E. Guglielmone celebrates Mass to close out the Year of Mary in the diocese at St. Mary of the Annunciation Church in Charleston.