The centennial of the apparitions of Our Lady of Fatima in Portugal was celebrated at Visitation Monastery, Bay Ridge, with a Mass of thanksgiving.
Father Stephen Saffron, a parochial vicar at St. Anselm’s, Bay Ridge, was the main celebrant.
Even though the weather caused the planned procession to be moved inside, that didn’t douse anyone’s enthusiasm.
“When the Virgin appeared in Fatima, Portugal was in a mist of Communism and was anti-church,” said Father Saffron. “On the very day of the apparition, in Moscow a man walked into a classroom and killed many children. There was also an assassination attempt on Eugenio Maria Giuseppe Giovanni Pacelli who would become Pope Pius XII.
“I find it very interesting this all happened on the same day, but it shows then and today we have a crisis of faith, but Mary has always been the one we can turn to. This very week in Moscow a patriarchal divine liturgy was celebrated for the first time in 100 years showing the power of the faith. The message of Fatima is one of a deep faith and we must live that faith. Of course, we are all sinners and make mistakes, but we must live the faith in everything we do through Mary’s teaching.”
Alexandra Cruz Coluccio, who was born in Portugal, held back tears as she explained what Fatima means to her.
“It’s part of the Catholic tradition and part of the Portuguese culture. It is also a very large part of mine and my family’s faith and life,” she said.
“I remember even as a young child seeing my grandparents, aunts, and uncles, and people from all over walking in Portugal with swollen legs and just exhausted, yet they kept going because they had to reach Fatima and their faith was and still is so strong.”
She added,“I have prayed to Our Lady of Fatima my entire life. It is truly a miracle and the children finally becoming saints is so special and it shows their sacrifice.”
Sister Synthia Helena of Visitation added, “We are celebrating 100 years of the Blessed Mother Mary making herself known to the world. She asked for prayer, penance and for us to make peace with each other so I think that means forgiveness of all people.
“We must hold Saint Francisco and Saint Jacinta up as examples to all of our children, and here at Visitation Academy the children are very excited to see children as saints and want to learn how they can live a saintly life.”