Thursday, May 11, 2017

The Church in Hawai'i Celebrates Our Lady of Fatima

On May 13, 1917 Mary our Mother appeared to three children named Lucia, Francisco and Jacinta in the small town of Fatima in Portugal. She appeared to them five more times, on the 13th of every month from May until October of that year. On the last month of her appearance she revealed herself as the “Lady of the Rosary.” She was described as a beautiful lady whose central message is prayer and sacrifice for peace and conversion.

In 1922, Bishop José Alves Correia da Silva, Ordinary of the diocese in which Fatima is located, declared the authenticity of the Marian visions and messages in a pastoral letter. "The visions of the children in the Cova da Iria are worthy of belief," Bishop Correia declared.

What does this mean for us? In an approved apparition like Our Lady of Fatima, no Catholic must believe in the message reported by the visionaries, but all are invited to. By virtue of faith, we have the joy and privilege of sharing with others the basics of the Fatima message.

The Message of Fatima: prayer and sacrifice, for peace and conversion

Our Lady spoke of many things to the three children, but most especially about the importance of prayer and sacrifice—for peace and conversion. These are the basics of the Fatima message. The message of Our Lady of Fatima continues to resonate throughout the years, turning into decades, and in our lifetime reaching its centennial anniversary this year 2017.

The author at prayer before the
International Pilgrim Virgin Statue

What is the importance of prayer and sacrifice? Do they bring conversion of souls, and do they bring peace? Looking back to the first appearance of the Lady of the Rosary, many educated and well-known people in Fatima were troubled by the unusual appearances and visions of the children. God performed miracles through Mary, bringing to many an increase of faith that led to fervent prayer and conversion of countless souls. Prayer always brings us to conversion and to a deeper intimacy with God. Sacrifice--particularly the patient endurance of the suffering that God permits in our lives-- effects three qualities: 1) it purges the repentant soul (purgative), 2) it redeems the soul from sins (redemptive), and 3) it unites it with Jesus and his body (unitive). This configuring of the person to Christ who suffered, died and resurrected helps us persevere "until Christ be formed in us" as both St. Paul and Blessed James Alberione instruct.

St. Paul experienced the immense forgiveness and love of God, and then in turn preached conversion of soul. Just as he went through many sacrifices in bringing the good news to many, we too have to accept the reality that sacrifice is part of the calling. The three shepherd children of Fatima were fearful and troubled by the visions until Our Lady told them kindly that their sacrifices and prayers would help bring about the conversion of many souls. We too look to the resurrected Christ and ask how we might be creative in bringing the message of prayer and sacrifice--for peace and conversion-- to the people of today. We know full well that grace is sufficient (2 Corinthians 12:9), so even though we suffer as we proclaim the message, suffering will never be futile when all of it is offered for the conversion of souls.

The International Pilgrim Virgin Statue Comes to Hawai'i

On the plane with the Virgin Statue!
Patrick Sabat, Custodian of the statue

The World Apostolate of Fatima does an excellent job of continuously spreading the message of Our Lady of Fatima throughout the world. In celebration of the centennial apparitions to the three Fatima children, it has been on a mission of bringing the International Pilgrim Virgin Statue of Our Lady of Fatima to 100 dioceses here in the United States. Early this year, from January 29 to February 6, through the Office of Worship of the Diocese of Honolulu where I work, I had the privilege of coordinating the visit of the Pilgrim Statue to Hawai'i. I travelled to all the parishes with the custodian Patrick Sabat and his assistant Michael Whitcraft.

The "Living Rosary",St. Joseph Church
 in Hilo, East Hawai'i

The statue went to nine parishes on four islands, making a 9-day Fatima pilgrimage.  Holy Mass was celebrated at the parishes and exposition of the Holy Eucharist commenced with more prayers and music. Three of these parishes had a 24-hour continuous prayer of the Holy Rosary, reflections, and other Marian devotions. Cathedral Basilica of Our Lady of Peace had a 24-hour adoration of Our Lord and veneration of Our Lady. Countless people came with their petitions; bus loads of people from different parishes occupied the parking spaces of St. Benedict Parish on the Big lsland. St. Joseph Church on East Hawai'i prayed the “living rosary” where each individual prayed the bead within the formation of a rosary.

The Vietnamese Community processes during Mass
 at the 
Co-Cathedral of St. Theresa of the Child Jesus

The Pauline Family, lay and consecrated.
The Pauline Cooperators in Hawai'i Monica Cobb-Adams, Preston Medeiros, David Suzuki and myself with Sr. Joane Caritas and Sr. Diane Kraus took the 11-12:00 midnight hour of adoration and veneration at the Cathedral Basilica of Our Lady of Peace. It was late, but the Pauline spirit filled the church as prayers were said.

There is much to ponder for me as I look back on the visit of the International Pilgrim Virgin Statue of Our Lady of Fatima here in Hawai'i. The devotion of the people, their willingness to come at the late hours of the night to visit and pray, the sacrifices made by those who bring the statue to God’s people, all of these and many more renew my faith. Mary brings me to her 100-year-old message of prayer and sacrifice, that having experienced her “presence” in Hawai'i in a more out-of-the-ordinary experience of event, I now pass on her message not just through this writing, but by internalizing her message and incorporating it with the gospel message of Christ’s love that St. Paul so tirelessly proclaimed.

I stopped wearing the brown scapular of Our Lady of Mount Carmel years ago, but just as the custodian of the pilgrim statue of Our Lady of Fatima was putting the statue back to its case at the very end of the visit, he called me and said as he was placing in my hand a scapular, “Mary wants you to have the scapular she wore at the nine parishes she visited here in Hawai'i.”

Crew of the Hawai'i Fatima Visit: Michael Whitcraft, Patrick Sabat, Valerie Elefante and Easter Almuena

“The Story of Fatima.” World Apostolate of Fatima, Accessed 1 May 2017.

Gefroh, Eshter. “World Apostolate of Fatima bringing pilgrim statue to Hawaii.” Hawaii Catholic Herald, Accessed 1 May 2017.

Pizzalato, Brian. “St. Paul explains the meaning of suffering.” Catholic News Agency, Accessed 3 May 2017.


Easter Almuena has been tagged as a Pauline Cooperator for ten years now, but she formally she took her promise last year along three other individuals who also live in Hawai’i. She holds a master’s in pastoral theology through the cohort program of Chaminade University and the Diocese of Honolulu under its diaconate formation. An author and publisher, what she takes pride in is being a wife to Joe and a home school mom to five.

1 comment:

Maryann Toth said...

Easter, Thank you for sharing this beautiful story of the celebration of Our Lady of Fatima and for the reminder of the Fatima message. How blessed you are to be wearing our Lady's scapular!