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As we celebrate the 175th Anniversary of the Archdiocese, we look back… on July 21, 1934 when Father James J. Kane offered Madison's first Mass in Madison's Memorial Town Hall.
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20170214T1114 7945 CNS FATIMA LUCIA CAUSESister Lucia dos Santos, one of the three children who saw Our Lady of Fatima in 1917, is pictured in a 2000 photo. (CNS photo/Paulo Carrico, EPA)

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- The Diocese of Coimbra concluded its phase of the sainthood cause of Carmelite Sister Lucia dos Santos, one of the three children who saw Our Lady of Fatima in 1917.

Bishop Virgilio Antunes of Coimbra formally closed the local phase of investigation into her life and holiness Feb. 13 in the Carmelite convent of St. Teresa in Coimbra, where she resided until her death in 2005 at the age of 97.

The ceremony included the sealing of 50 volumes – 15,000 pages – of evidence and witness testimonies detailing the life of Sister Lucia. The documents sealed at the ceremony were to be shipped to the Congregation for Saints' Causes at the Vatican.

After a thorough review of the materials and a judgment that Sister Lucia heroically lived the Christian virtues, her cause still would require the recognition of two miracles -- one for beatification and another for canonization – attributed to her intercession.

The Marian apparitions at Fatima began on May 13, 1917, when 10-year-old Lucia, along with her cousins Francisco and Jacinta Marto, reported seeing the Virgin Mary.
The apparitions continued once a month until Oct. 13, 1917, and later were declared worthy of belief by the Catholic Church.

Father Romano Gambalunga, postulator of the visionary's cause, said that while "Lucia is already a saint in the eyes" of many people, "the prudent path of the church is that she is proposed to all, not just those who believe."

"Lucia became holy over the years, not because of the apparitions," Father Gambalunga told Agencia Ecclesia, the news agency of the Portuguese bishops' conference. Without providing details, he said she had a "spiritual experience" in the convent.

While many hope her heroic virtues will be recognized by the church soon, it is important "not to do things in a hurry," he said Feb. 13.

The evidence and testimonies gathered for Sister Lucia's cause, he said, provide "a great occasion for spiritual and theological deepening," and the material will help "illuminate the history of the church over the last 100 years."

Pope Francis is scheduled to visit Fatima May 12-13 and many people hope he will use the occasion to canonize Sister Lucia's cousins, Francisco and Jacinta, who were beatified by St. John Paul II in 2000.

Bishop Antonio Marto of Leiria-Fatima told Radio Renascenca, the Portuguese bishops' radio station, that while nothing is certain, he is "deeply hopeful" the canonization will take place this year, the centenary of the apparitions.

"We are waiting and continue to pray to the Lord. But I hope that, during the centenary, we will have the grace and joy to participate in the canonization," he said.

Bishop Marto also admitted that "he is a convert," who, as a priest, was initially skeptical of the Marian apparitions in Fatima.

"I was a skeptic. I didn't care; I did not take an interest nor did I take a position. I understood it as something for children," Bishop Marto said.

The skepticism changed into belief after attending a conference on the apparitions and reading Sister Lucia's memoirs, he told the radio station. "I was deeply impressed, both by the authenticity of the testimony she gave and by the seriousness of the problems she dealt with. I read her memoirs three times to find the historical and ecclesial context" of the apparitions.

alertAt the Spring Assembly of the U.S. bishops, Cardinal Joseph Tobin suggested that a delegation ofbishops go to the border to see for themselves what was happening to newly arrived immigrants, families and children. On July 1 and 2, Cardinal Daniel DiNardo, president of the U.S. bishops conference, and five other bishops conducted a pastoral visit to the diocese of Brownsville, Texas. Stops included Mass at the Shrine of Our Lady of San Juan del Valle with the community, a visit to anHHS/OBR Shelter and Mass for the families there, a visit to the Customs and Border Patrol processing center in McAllen, TX, and a press conference at the end of their visit. Catholic News Service accompanied the bishops on their border trip. 

  1. Backgrounder and analysis of the bishops’ trip to the border: Cardinal DiNardo told CNS, “You cannot look at immigration as an abstraction when you meet” the people behind the issue.
  2. At final press conference, Cardinal Daniel Dinardo said the church was willing to be part of any conversation to find humane solutions because even a policy of detaining families together in facilities caused “concern.”
  3. Bishops serve soup to immigrant families at a center run by Catholic Charities and listen to their stories. Scranton Bishop Joseph Bambera said he found hope in hearing the people in the room talk about what’s ahead. They didn’t speak of making money but of finding safety for their children, he said, driven by “the most basic instinct to protect your family.”
  4. At an opening Mass he Basilica of Our Lady of San Juan del Valle-National Shrine near McAllen, Texas, Bishop Daniel Flores of Brownsville told Massgoers, “The bishops are visiting here so they can stop and look and talk to people and understand, especially the suffering of many who are amongst us,”

A delegation of U.S. bishops goes on a fact-finding mission at the U.S.-Mexican border to learn more about Central American immigration detention.

Following their visit to an immigrant detention center, U.S. bishops said they are even more determined to call on Congress for comprehensive immigration reform.