PROVIDENCE — As the Church prepares to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the apparitions at Fatima and the canonization of Jacinta and Francisco Marto by Pope Francis on May 13, local Catholics will have the opportunity to honor Our Lady of Fatima and mark the historic event in the life of the Church during a series of celebrations taking place around the Diocese of Providence from May until October.
Parishes throughout the diocese will host Masses commemorating the apparitions at Fatima beginning on Saturday, May 13, at the Cathedral of Saints Peter and Paul, where Bishop Thomas J. Tobin will preside at a noon Mass that will include the consecration of the diocese to the Immaculate Heart of Mary. The celebration, which will begin at 11 a.m. in Cathedral Square, will also include an outdoor procession and a recitation of the rosary in five languages.
“The Fatima centenary invites us to hear and heed with renewed attention the message of our Blessed Mother at Fatima – the call to conversion and repentance for sins, the invitation to intense prayer, especially the Holy Rosary, and devotion to her Immaculate Heart,” Bishop Tobin wrote in last week’s “Without a Doubt” column. “You don’t think that our world, our nation and our Church needs to hear that message again today?”
Later that evening, Our Lady of Fatima Church, Cumberland, will host a solemn candlelight procession with the statue of Our Lady of Fatima at 7:30 p.m. The procession is an annual tradition for the parish, which not only bears the namesake of the apparition but also participates in the popular Portuguese devotions to Our Lady of Fatima.
The Masses will continue on the 13 of each month at rotating parishes around the diocese, following in the tradition of Our Lady of Fatima, who appeared on the 13 of each month from May to October (with the exception of August, when she appeared on the 19). In August, a group of parishioners from the Diocese of Providence, including Bishop Tobin, will embark on a pilgrimage to Fatima and other Portuguese sites led by Father Jeremy Rodrigues, director of the Office for Divine Worship.
The celebrations will conclude on Friday, October 13, at Our Lady of the Rosary Church, Providence, where Pastor Father Joseph Escobar will celebrate Mass followed by a candlelight procession through the neighborhood. The date marks the 100th anniversary of Mary’s final appearance to the three children (she later appeared to Lucia Santos, the oldest, alone) and the famous Miracle of the Sun, during which thousands of observers reported watching the sun move in the sky.
“The Marian devotion is strong in the Portuguese community,” said Father Escobar, who added that many of his parishioners trace their heritage to the Azores and observe regular devotions to Our Lady of Fatima as well as Santo Christo, the Suffering Christ. “We also feel a special closeness because she used the title of Our Lady of the Rosary to reveal her identity.”
While the events at Fatima bear special significance for Catholics of Portuguese descent, Father Escobar also emphasized the message of peace and repentance of Our Lady of Fatima was intended for all Catholics and can be celebrated by all during this centennial year. He expects the commemorative Mass at Our Lady of the Rosary to be well attended and looks forward to welcoming participants from beyond the Portuguese community.
“It’s a very important devotion in the Portuguese community, but the Fatima message is one of the best-known Marian apparitions so we think there will be a lot of interest,” he said. “It’s such a well-known apparition that you don’t have to be Portuguese to appreciate it.
Monthly Centennial Celebrations
Saturday, May 13, at 12 noon at Cathedral of Saints Peter and Paul, preceded by procession and rosary at 11 a.m.
Saturday, May 13, at 7:30 p.m. candlelight procession at Our Lady of Fatima Church, Cumberland
Tuesday, June 13, at 7 p.m. at St. Anthony Church, Pawtucket
Thursday, July 13, at 7 p.m. at St. Elizabeth Church, Bristol
Sunday, August 13, at 7 p.m. at St. Anthony Church, West Warwick
Wednesday, September 13 at 7 p.m. at St. Thomas Church, Warren
Friday, October 13, at 7 p.m. at Our Lady of the Rosary Church, Providence, followed by candlelight procession