Pope Francis declared 2017 the Year of Fatima to coincide with the 100 Year Anniversary of the Apparitions. The Apparitions are when 3 young children saw Our Lady appear to them 100 years ago in Fatima, Portugal. The Fatima secrets are fascinating and there are many great books written about the children including one by Fr. Andrew Apostoli with a foreward by Raymond Cardinal Burke that I am reading now.
There is a little sequential history behind my personal faith journey that is relevant. My maternal grandmother, Ouida Noelle Bundschuh was baptized as an adult by Archbishop Fulton Sheen at Saint Patrick’s Cathedral in New York before I was ever born. My grandmother carried gold filled rosary beads that day, that later were made into bracelets for her daughters.
In 1966, I was born Kerin Noelle on the feast of Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton.
In 1975, my grandfather bequeathed the Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton modern day bronze sculpture and candle altar designed by Fredrick Shrady (1907-1990) to Saint Patrick’s Cathedral, in New York. It was dedicated to the first American Saint in the United States and consecrated by Terrance Cardinal Cooke.
In 1982, Pope John Paul II commissioned Fredrick Shrady, the first American artist ever to be commissioned by a Pope to design a religious inspired Fatima sacred art sculpture at the Vatican.
In 1984, I received the Sacrament of Confirmation. It was through the power of the Holy Spirit that I choose my grandmothers name, Ouida, as the perfect role model and companion in my life. I was given the gift of my grandmothers gold filled rosary crucifix that she carried on her Baptism day, blessed by Archbishop Fulton Sheen.
In 2016, my husband and I were fortunate enough to receive our 25th Wedding Anniversary blessing on our Anniversary and on the feast of Saint Faustina, by Pope Francis. The day before the audience with Pope Francis, we spent time walking and praying in the Vatican Gardens with fellow pilgrims. It is a spectacular sacred space, magnificent beyond words, breathtaking to say the least. I always wanted to see the Vatican Gardens, especially the sacred art marble sculpture of Fatima created by Fredrick Shrady and commissioned by Saint John Paul II.
It has been said, that Saint John Paul II prayed the rosary daily at this particular Marian modern day Fatima sculpture. In fact, JPII dedicated his entire pontificate to Our blessed Mother, Mary. The apostolic motto of JPII was Totus Tuus a Latin phrase that means “totally thine” taken from the Mariology writing of Saint Louis de Montfort. JPII expressed his Total Consecration to Mary based on the spiritual works of Saint Louis de Montfort. As providence would have it, God choose Saint Louis de Montfort School and parish in Fishers, IN for our family for over 16 years.
The paradox is that while we were in Italy I knew for certain that Our Lady of Fatima was speaking to me from the moment my eyes were affixed to the sculpture. Standing in the footsteps of Saint Pope John Paul II was a mystical experience. I touched the gold crucifix that I was wearing to the Fatima sculpture, the one given to me from my grandmothers rosary beads. I tried to share the prominence of my story with fellow pilgrims. As they continued to walk on the most beautiful paved path, lined with stones and meticuously edged green grass, my feet were unapologetically stuck like glue to the holy ground beneath me, there was no denying it!
I keep going back to that monumental moment in my mind and in my heart. It was a feeling of complete oneness in communion with God. On that day, it was as clear as the sky is blue and the day is long that God was calling me to orchestrate a pilgrimage to Fatima, Portugal.
My hope is that others will go to Fatima to kneel and pray and to allow the Holy Spirit to come into their lives. The real irony is that my beautiful seventy-seven year old mom who was the God-mother to her own Mom and who witnessed her Baptism by Archbishop Fulton Sheen will travel with me to Fatima. My mom was the first pilgrim to register!
So, the story lives on!
Guided by the Holy Spirit, the next Peace Love Pilgrimage is to Fatima, Portugal on June 16-24, 2017. Fatima will be followed by a student pilgrimage/trip to Washington DC that was inspired by the new Saint John Paul II National Shrine.
Many have found that there are special spiritual graces that come only through pilgrimages and coming into contact with holy sites. When we go to these holy sites where the Holy Spirit has worked so powerfully through the faith of people and we open ourselves to God, we can come to a profound encounter with Him that could not have otherwise been realized in another place or another kind of situation.
Our Lady of Fatima, pray for us.
Saint John Paul II, pray for us.
Saint Louis de Montfort, pray for us!