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July 22, 2017

Group from diocese visits Fatima and heads to Spain on Marian pilgrimage

REGIONAL
Staff report

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Fifty-eight pilgrims embarked on a Marian pilgrimage to Fatima and Lourdes. The group left Monday, July 17 and will return Friday, July 28. Springfield Bishop Mitchell T. Rozanski and Father Gary M. Dailey are leading the group.

SPRINGFIELD – Pilgrims from the Diocese of Springfield are making their way across Spain, Portugal and France on a Marian pilgrimage sponsored by Catholic Communications.

Springfield Bishop Mitchell T. Rozanski is leading the pilgrimage to Fatima and Lourdes this week, along with Father Gary M. Dailey, the director of the Newman Catholic Center at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. The group of 58 pilgrims left Monday, July 17 and will return Friday, July 28.

“We started off in Lisbon the first two days and then went to Fatima for two days,” said Father Dailey, who is also the director of vocations for the Diocese of Springfield.

“Fatima was just amazing. Thursday evening we were there for the Eucharistic procession. Our bishop was the celebrant. He carried the Blessed Sacrament all the way through the square in Fatima. It was amazing. All the pilgrims were thrilled to see him,” he said.

The pilgrimage was planned to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the apparitions in Fatima, Portugal. From May to October 1917, the Blessed Mother appeared to three shepherd children: Lucia dos Santos, 10, and her two cousins, Jacinta, 7, and Francisco Marto, 9.

The Blessed Mother told the children to pray the rosary daily for peace and to offer up their suffering for the conversion of souls.

The local pilgrims were able to visit the homes of the children and saw the oak tree that is near where the apparitions occurred.

“Our Lady asked the children for prayer and of course to pray the rosary for the conversion of Russia, but also for the salvation of souls,” said Father Dailey. Back in May, Pope Francis canonized Sts. Jacinta and Francisco and spoke of the how the message of Fatima is still relevant today.

“He (the pope) said the message of Fatima points directly to God’s mercy. Our need for repentance and need for conversion, we experience that through God’s mercy,” Father Dailey explained.

Bishop Rozanski has been posting regular updates on his Facebook page.

“Friday we began with Mass in the Chapel of the Angel of Peace at the Shrine of Fatima. Our guide Nelson, then took us on a walking tour of the shrine, telling us the stories of the apparition of the Angel of Peace to the three shepherd children in 1916, as well as narrating the visits of Our Lady, that began on May 13, 1917,” Bishop Rozanski wrote in his Facebook post.

“We continue to remember the intentions of the Catholic community in western Massachusetts throughout this spiritual journey,” he wrote.

The group arrived in Santiago de Compostela, Spain on Saturday, July 22, where the shrine to the apostle St. James the Greater is located. The group began the trip in Lisbon, Portugal, the birthplace of St. Anthony of Padua.

“For the group, it’s been truly amazing. People really have enjoyed all the stops so far,” said Father Dailey, who said the trip has brought people closer to Christ.

“For some, it’s been a long time since they’ve been to confession and they took an opportunity to go to confession. For some people not familiar with Fatima, they’re moved by it and looking forward to taking this knowledge back to their parishes,” Father Dailey said.

The pilgrims will visit Lourdes in France where the Blessed Mother appeared to St. Bernadette in 1858. They will return to Springfield on Friday, July 28.