EAST PROVIDENCE — As Christians around the world pause on Aug. 15 to venerate the Assumption of Mary into heaven, increasing numbers of people are availing themselves of opportunities year round to gather in spiritual renewal and dedication to Mary.
Several dozen gathered at St. Martha Church in East Providence recently at one such session to celebrate “The Everlasting Message of Fatima,” a day of individual and parish consecration to the Immaculate Heart of Mary.
Brother Leo Mary’s tremendous love for the Blessed Mother has led him to work year round with a similarly dedicated group of lay faithful in organizing “The Everlasting Message of Fatima” to help bring Mary’s message of love and peace to parishes around the diocese and beyond.
The events, which begin with a procession of a statue of Our Lady of Fatima and a crowning ceremony near the altars of various churches where the days are held, feature praying of the rosary, Holy Mass and consecration of the host parish to Our Lady, a showing of the video “Fatima, the Great Sign,” and enrollment in the Brown Scapular and Miraculous Medals for all present. A Fatima Q & A session and confessions are also available throughout the event, which ends around 12:30 p.m.
Father Matthias Mary Sasko, F.I., concelebrated the day’s Mass along with St. Martha Pastor Father David E. Green.
In an interview with Rhode Island Catholic, Father Matthias spoke of why it is so important that the faithful maintain a strong devotion to the Blessed Mother.
“In Fatima it was revealed that it is God himself who wants to establish a devotion in the world to the Immaculate Heart of his mother,” Father Matthias said.
“This Immaculate Heart is an assurance to us of the fidelity to the Son of God as well.”
Going further, putting the necessity of maintaining this devotion into the context of the current crisis facing the Church today, Father Matthias noted that the crisis is not one of structures of administrations, rather, it is a structure of morality.
“It’s a structure of the presence of sin in the Church and fidelity to the law of God,” he said.
“It’s a real contribution to the reform of the Church, because whatever belongs to Our Lady and is consecrated to her is safe from sin. It becomes protected by her. It’s immaculate like she is. It’s a real response to the Church crisis today because we’ll come out of crisis in proportion to how many members of the Church really consecrate themselves to Our Lady. It’s just a simple formula.”
Lori Bullock, a parishioner from Coventry who attended and assisted at the recent event, said the purpose of “The Everlasting Message of Fatima” is to bring the gentleness of Mary to the forefront of a world that she describes as “anti-Mary.”
“We come to Mary because she’s so forgotten, she’s so ignored. She’s so blasphemed,” she said.
Brother Leo, formerly known as Raymond Piccirilli, a strong pro-life advocate in the diocese who is now a tertiary in the Franciscans of the Immaculate in Griswold, Connecticut, is now head of the largest Marian Cenacle in the U.S.
In 2015, the U.S delegation in Griswold needed a new president and Brother Leo was the best candidate to fulfill the mission.
He served a three-year term and now in his second term. He will serve as president until January 2022.
“I’m retired now, so everything I do is for the Church,” said Brother Leo.
A bargain with God that he made while his mother was ailing and approaching death led him closer to the Church than he ever thought he would be.
He began with Eucharistic adoration and his faith developed new bounds with each passing day.
“I lived up to my end of the bargain,” Brother Leo smiles. “God used my mother’s health as a tool of my conversion. I didn’t want her to go, but I was glad for her in the end. I belong to God now. My life is complete today.”
He serves on the Diocese of Providence Human Life Guild board and as the pro-life representative for Deanery 4. He is also chairman of the Pro-Life Committee at SS. John and Paul Church in Coventry, and serves as the pro-life liaison for Magnificat.
Additionally, Brother Leo is president of St. Paul Street Evangelization and also leads the Mother of God Nursing Home Ministry. In each ministry, Brother Leo and others give to the people they encounter scapulars, rosary beads and miraculous medals.
At the nursing homes they will play some music for the residents on a cd player and end with consecration to the Blessed Mother.
“It’s very rewarding and the people love it,” he says.
“I’ll always answer Our Lady’s call.”
To learn more about “The Everlasting Message of Fatima,” or to inquire about hosting an event in your parish, contact Brother Leo, FTI at 401-644-3699.