A century after sending His mother to Fatima, Christ repeats the gesture one-thousand fold

By Dave Jolivet
Anchor Editor

FALL RIVER, Mass. — One-hundred years after Christ sent His Blessed Mother to three Portuguese shepherd children in Fatima, the Good Lord repeated His loving gesture on October 13 to nearly 3,000 diocesan students gathered in the athletic stadium at Bishop Connolly High School in Fall River to share the Eucharist together, and to be reminded of the message of love, repentance, and conversion His mother shared a century ago.

Thanks to the vision, hard work, planning and execution of a massive undertaking by a committee, comprised of Christopher Myron, Connolly principal; Sandra Drummey, assistant superintendent of schools; Marian Desrosiers, diocesan director of the Pro-Life Apostolate; John E. Kearns Jr., diocesan director of Communications; Beth Mahoney and Deacon Alan Thadeu, and a plethora of helpers, every Catholic school in the Diocese of Fall River sent students to the celebration of the centennial of Our Lady of Fatima’s final appearance to Lucia dos Santos and Francisco and Jacinta Marto, 100 years to the day of the last apparition.

Bus-load after bus-load of students entered the beautiful Fall River campus under the glow of warm sunshine and cloudless skies and made their way to the infield and bleachers of the sports stadium to celebrate Mass with Bishop Edgar M. da Cunha, S.D.V., more than a dozen diocesan priests and school chaplains, deacons and school faculties and staffs.

A glowing Bishop da Cunha welcomed the sea of young people during his homily: “What a joy it is for me to be here with you students this morning.”

“Why are we here?” he asked, and answering his own question, he continued, “We are here to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the apparitions of our Blessed Mother to three children in Portugal, children the same age as some of you.

“We are here to say ‘thank you’ to Our Lord for sending His Blessed Mother with a message of peace, love, prayer and a renewal of people to trust in God.

“We are here to honor Our Lady of Fatima and to thank her for her blessings, protection, intercession and her special care and concern for all her children.”

The bishop went on to tell the students that Mary chose to visit three small, simple shepherd children instead of someone famous, wealthy and intelligent.

“Why did she do that?,” he asked. “The Blessed Mother knew they would believe her, accept her message, welcome her words and pass them on to the rest of the world.”

Bishop da Cunha told the throng of students that Mary is asking the same of them today.

“You are all Lucys, Franciscos and Jacintas,” he told them. “Mary is asking us to do the same things: to pray the Rosary, repent, avoid sin and evil, do Penance and sacrifice. One hundred years later, the world still needs these things.”

Referencing the Gospel read at Mass, the Wedding at Cana, Bishop da Cunha continued, “You heard Mary say in the Gospel, ‘Do whatever Jesus tells you.’ Simple but profound words. Mary is telling you and me today to respect one another, love one another, be as good as we can be, use our gifts and talents for good to make a difference in the world.

“Our world needs a lot of good people doing good things.”

The bishop also challenged the students to go back home and “pray as a family. What a wonderful gift that would be for your home, your Church and the Diocese of Fall River.

“Be proud to be a Catholic. Do not be ashamed of being Catholic and saying it out loud. Tell others you are happy and proud.”

He concluded by reminding the students to be the new Lucys, Franciscos and Jacintas. “Show the world the Our Lady of Fatima’s blessing and protection over us.

“Thank all of you here for being so prayerful, so quiet and so peaceful. Thank you, and may God bless you and may Our Lady of Fatima watch over you.”

When the Liturgy ended, the bishop led the students in a procession across the campus, while praying the Sorrowful Mysteries of the Rosary, traditionally said on Fridays, to a statue newly-acquired by Bishop Connolly High School of Our Lady of Fatima, which is to become a permanent fixture on the campus, for a blessing of the statue and to consecrate the diocesan students and all of the Diocese of Fall River to Our Lady of Fatima.

“Dear Our Lady of Fatima, hold our lives in your arms,” said Bishop da Cunha at the conclusion.

“This wonderful event could never have happened if not for the dedication and commitment of the committee,” Stephen A. Perla, diocesan superintendent of schools told The Anchor. “All of the schools were very supportive of sharing the Eucharist and praying for peace in the world through Our Lady of Fatima’s intercession. This was such a beautiful public witness of good people doing good things for others.”

Throughout the planning process students in all the diocesan Catholic schools were given lessons about the Fatima visits and their significance.

“This was Our Lady’s wish that we gather all her children for Mass today,” added Drummey. “Within three months, the committee pulled this off. It was a great committee and this was such a beautiful day.”

Kearns told The Anchor, “Our Lady of Fatima appeared to three children, and today she was spreading the message to a new generation. The Mass with the bishop is a blessing that many of these students will remember for a long time.”

“Seeing the school children from around the diocese gather together for this historical event was a living witness that our faith is alive,” Mahoney told The Anchor. “We need to have visible encounters of our faith that the students can experience so they can sense that their faith has a long history, one that has great meaning in our lives and in the world. When I looked at the crowd and saw the students waving their handkerchiefs as the statue of Our Lady of Fatima was passing by it just brought tears to my eyes.”

“The day was perfect,” said Desrosiers. “The weather could not have been better. It began before sunrise with the placement of 400 white roses at the foot of the Our Lady of Fatima statue located on the site. My life was changed forever.

“The Mass was breathtaking on the football field. Bishop da Cunha gave a powerful homily of hope and courage. What great dignity and respect the students showed throughout the entire morning. It was such a tribute to our diocese and a special gift to Our Lady, Our Mother.

“Our diocese was consecrated by Bishop da Cunha to Mary our Mother that day. What a blessed and joyous occasion. May we all continue to feel the joy, peace and unity that filled our hearts. Our Lady promises us peace, if we pray the Rosary, offer little sacrifices and show kindness to others. Her gift to all of us that day was peace, the peace that only her Son Jesus can give to our families and to our world. Pray, pray, pray that we can continue to spread her message of love and peace.”

The Mass was streamed live on the Cougars Sports Network, and can now be seen below.

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