Fatima statue returning to New Bedford parish
Faithful invited to pray for priests, Church

By Kenneth J. Souza
Anchor Staff

NEW BEDFORD, Mass. — The United Nations International Pilgrim Statue of Our Lady of Fatima will be returning to the Fall River Diocese on the weekend of September 29-30 with a stop at St. Anthony of Padua Church in New Bedford.

The traveling image of our Our Lady of the Rosary was previously at St. Anthony of Padua Parish in April 2017 along with first-class relics of the Church’s newest saints — St. Jacinta Marto and St. Francisco Marto, the shepherd children to whom Our Lady appeared in 1917 — as part of last year’s centennial celebration of the Fatima apparitions.

And while the 100th anniversary of Our Lady of Fatima has come and gone, the need for our Blessed Mother’s intercession has never been greater, according to Edwin Aldarondo, a parishioner of St. Anthony of Padua Parish and one of the event organizers.

“The importance of continuing the devotion to Our Lady of Fatima is as important today or more so than when Our Lady first introduced the devotion,” Aldarondo told The Anchor. “There was a series of occurrences that led Heaven to come down to warn us of the gravity of the sin of humanity.

“After celebrating (last year) the 100th anniversary of the apparitions in Fatima and as we reflect on our history since 1917, it is clear we have not learned much from it and we have been committing the same errors of the past. The biggest mistake for us in general is to see the Fatima event as something in the past with no ramifications in today’s world. We must all do our part to adhere to Our Lady’s message.” 

As one of the official Pilgrim Virgin statues, the image of Our Lady of Fatima that will arrive here later this month is the property of the Fatima Sanctuary of Portugal. The wood statue was carved in the first half of the 20th century and appears to be the work of a Portuguese artist named Jose Ferreira Thedim (1892-1971).

Prior to its first pilgrimage of May 13, 1947, Pope Pius XII blessed this statue. A pilgrimage was made at that time to celebrate and commemorate the 30th anniversary of the apparitions of our Blessed Mother.

On Oct. 13, 1952, the bishop of Fatima, Portugal blessed the image for its mission to the United Nations.

On Dec. 8, 1952, having been brought to America from Fatima, the statue was taken into the Meditation Room of the United Nations by Msgr. Harold Colgan, founder of the Blue Army — now known as the World Apostolate of Fatima. It was at the United Nations that Msgr. Colgan led the recitation of the Rosary. Since that time, the U.N. Pilgrim Statue has been part of the World Apostolate of Fatima and its dicastery. This treasured replica of Our Lady of Fatima has since traveled around the globe.

As a pilgrim statue, its ministry promotes Our Lady’s intercession through prayer. This representative pilgrim statue provides an inspiration to young and old equally to answer God’s call.

Among the events planned for the weekend of September 29-30 in New Bedford, according to Aldarondo, is a 24-hour Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament to “offer our prayers as reparations for the offenses, sacrileges, indifferences and sins committed against Our Lord in the Most Holy Sacrament of the Altar and those committed against Our Lady,” he said.

Special prayers will be offered for our priests, bishops, cardinals, and all religious Brothers and Sisters in light of this most difficult time.

“As in Fatima, the messages given to us were a clear warning but, most of all, they provided a solution,” Aldarondo said. “If we abide and do as Our Lady asked of us, we will be able to change course. As Our Lord once said, ‘These kind of spirits can only be cast out with prayer and fasting’ (Mk 9, 29).

“In trying to be part of a solution, rather than be part of the problem, St. Anthony of Padua in New Bedford has joined the efforts of many others in the Fall River Diocese to pray for the purification of our Church, the sanctification of all our priests, and we are praying for conversion for our nation and for a Culture of Life over the culture of death.”

Aldarondo said it is important for Catholics to remain united in prayer so as to counter the secular media’s recent attacks on the Church.

“My main concern about the evil that has begun to surface is that many of the good bishops, cardinals, priests and other members of the Church hierarchy who, through no fault of their own, will have to suffer and endure much pain because of a media that does not always tell the truth and many misinformed laity who act impulsively and tend to push an agenda against the Church,” he said. “That is why it is so important we use prudence and, as my boss will say to us, ‘a little common sense and good judgment will take us a long way.’”

As a follow-up to the September 29-30 weekend, Aldarondo said the parish will be joining faithful from across the nation for the Rosary Coast to Coast Rally event on October 7.

“Our intention and hope is to follow what took place in Poland a couple of years ago, and since our bishop has consecrated our diocese to Our Lady of Fatima, we hope to have a re-consecration along with Rosary and Chaplet of Divine Mercy,” he said. “The 54-day Novena of the Rosary Coast to Coast Rally is being prayed every day after the morning Mass with the Blessed Sacrament exposed, and also on weekends including Sunday from 2:30 to 3:30 p.m., along with the Chaplet of Divine Mercy with the intention of making reparations for our sins.”

According to Aldarondo, we need to keep in mind Our Lady’s words: “In the end, my Immaculate Heart will triumph!”

For information on any of the Fatima-related events taking place at St. Anthony of Padua Parish in New Bedford, please contact Father Brendan O’Rourke, I.V.E., parochial vicar, at 508-993-1691, or email brendanorourke@ive.org.

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