Hundreds gather to celebrate centennial anniversary of Fatima

A formal procession and crowning of a statue of Our Lady of Fatima, Marian hymns, Scripture readings and hundreds of colorful flowers.

These were among highlights of a ceremony with Archbishop George J. Lucas at St. Cecilia Cathedral in Omaha May 13 celebrating the 100th anniversary of the apparitions of the Blessed Mother at Fatima, Portugal.

About 800 people joined the archbishop to celebrate Mary’s message of repentance and peace. A Knights of Columbus honor guard carried the statue in procession to the bottom of the sanctuary steps, where the archbishop later placed a gold crown on the statue and members of the congregation offered long-stem flowers.

"It was a little like being at Fatima, where I was four years ago," said Shirley Andrews of Mary Our Queen Parish in Omaha.

"The singing, the number of people, and the enthusiasm just made me feel like I was there. It’s ironic that it’s Mother’s Day weekend too – anyway, it was glorious," she said of the event, sponsored by the Legion of Mary’s curia for the archdiocese.

The Blessed Mother’s apparitions to three shepherd children, two of whom were canonized by Pope Francis the same day in Fatima, stressed the need for repentance and praying the rosary for peace.

In his homily, the archbishop said Mary’s message at Fatima was, in a particular way, a plan for peace.

"If we value Mary’s appearing there, we will want to heed her encouragement to be open to God’s plan, and follow it as well as we can. It’s a strong reminder to submit ourselves to the plan of God for each of our own lives and the world," he said.

"She invites us day-by-day to believe that God has a life-giving plan for each of us. And once we say, ‘OK, I’ll follow Jesus, I’ll be his disciple,’ we don’t just live happily ever after – that gift of peace is not ours perfectly. Like Mary, we experience joys, sorrows and challenges. But following his plan, it is important to let Mary into that experience," the archbishop said.

After leading the congregation in the rosary, Archbishop Lucas led a consecration prayer – the same prayer used by Pope Francis in 2013 to consecrate the world to the Immaculate Heart of Mary.

Ben Wischnowski, a member of St. Margaret Mary Parish in Omaha who attended with his wife, Emily and children, Adeline and Leo, said, "It was great to see this many people turn out for the celebration."

"And to see that 100 years later, Mary’s message is still resonating. It’s a constant call to conversion and a reminder every day," he said.

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