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fatima1 apr16 webInternational Pilgrim Virgin Statue of Our Lady of Fatima (Photo provided by World Apostolate of Fatima USA)

HARTFORD – Connecticut is getting a special visitor in April. The International Pilgrim Virgin Statue of Our Lady of Fatima has circled the globe many times, touring more than 100 countries, including stops in Russia and China.

The statue will make its first appearances in a two-year tour of this country at five churches in the Archdiocese of Hartford in April, and the public is invited to visit it for a spiritual encounter.

The statue will stop at Our Lady of Fatima in Waterbury on April 5, Blessed Sacrament in Waterbury on April 6, St. Mary Magdalene in Oakville April 7 and 8, Our Lady of Fatima in Hartford April 10 and 11 and St. Margaret in Madison April 11 and 12.

The statue will make its way to more than 100 dioceses in 50 states during its two-year journey. The Fatima Centennial U.S. Tour for Peace, which will continue until December 2017, commemorates the 100th anniversary of the apparitions of the Angel of Peace (1916) and the Blessed Mother (1917) at Fatima, Portugal.

The tour, sponsored by the World Apostolate of Fatima, USA (The Blue Army), launched from the National Blue Army Shrine of Our Lady of Fatima, in the Diocese of Metuchen, N.J., on March 20-21 to coincide with the start of the centenary celebrations at the Shrine of Our Lady of Fatima in Portugal, where Pope Francis is expected to visit in May 2017.

“The message of Fatima is needed now more than ever, and it is frequently referred to as Our Lady’s Peace Plan,” said Dianne Coyle, who is coordinating the statue’s visit to the Madison church.

The world-famous International Pilgrim Virgin Statue of Fatima was sculpted in 1947 by famous sculptor José Thedim, upon the precise instructions of Sister Lucia, who was 10-year-old Lucia dos Santos when Our Lady appeared to her and two other youngsters each month from May to October 1917.

On Oct. 13, 1947, the statue was blessed by the Bishop of Fatima and commissioned to serve as the Pilgrim Virgin that would carry the blessings of Fatima throughout the world. The bishop prayed that Mary herself accompany the statue wherever it goes.

The statue will travel to parishes, schools, military chapels and other venues, with programming to include Masses, confession, talks on Fatima, holy hours, rosaries and private veneration.

Mrs. Coyle said she first encountered the statue when it visited St. George Parish in Guilford in 1986; two years later, she experienced “a profound pilgrimage” in Fatima, Portugal, where she visited the children’s home and church.

She said the message of Fatima needs to be spread.

“We live in an age of many doubting Thomases. When people come to visit Our Lady through this statue, they can bring her all their problems, concerns, etc. She hears them all, and a great many prayers are answered, but more than that: This particular image of Our Lady gently touches souls and draws them closer to Jesus. That is her main goal. I should know because I am one of those people,” she said.

The following is the itinerary for the International Pilgrim Virgin Statue of Our Lady of Fatima in the Archdiocese of Hartford:

Our Lady of Fatima, 2071 Baldwin St., Waterbury, 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. April 5; Blessed Sacrament, 182 Robbins St., Waterbury, 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. April 6; St. Mary Magdalene, 145 Buckingham St., Oakville, 9 a.m. April 7 until noon April 8; Our Lady of Fatima, One Fatima Sq., Hartford, 8 a.m. April 10 to noon April 11; St. Margaret 24 Academy St., Madison, 7 p.m. April 11 to 11 a.m. April 12.

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.