CHAMPION, Wis. (CNS) — A Marian Day to celebrate the hope-filled message Mary delivered to three children 100 years ago in the village of Fatima Portugal was being planned in the Diocese of Green Bay.
The event May 18 will include a presentation by Father Francisco Pereira, chaplain at the Shrine of Our Lady of Fatima in Portugal.
The Marian Day is an effort between the Green Bay Diocesan Council for Catholic Women and the National Shrine of Our Lady of Good Help in Champion.
“It’s way more powerful than I could have dreamed or would have expected,” said Paula Freimuth, council president. “I can only imagine what the day is going to be like if I feel this way already.”
Marian Day marks the first time the shrine and the DCCW have partnered for an event. Freimuth said she approached the shrine three years ago to discuss the possibility of hosting Marian Day, and the volunteers welcomed the idea of celebrating Fatima’s centenary.
Father Pereira, who planned to open the world celebration of the anniversary with Pope Francis May 12, first learned about the Wisconsin shrine during an earlier trip to the United States. When comparing Fatima and Champion, Father Pereira said the connection between the shrines is a message of hope.
“The message of Fatima is more actual than ever,” Father Pereira told The Compass, newspaper of the Diocese of Green Bay. “Pray for peace and also offer ourselves, as Christ did on the cross for the conversion of sinners, (for) the union of families and the reconstruction of life in all places.”
Julianne Stanz, director of the diocesan Department of New Evangelization, also will speak at Marian Day. A native of Ireland, Stanz said she will discuss the context for apparitions around the world, with a focus on the apparition that took place in Knock, Ireland, in 1879.
“I think Our Lady keeps calling us back to the messages of her son,” Stanz said. “She always points to him. A quote that I often say to people is, ‘Jesus is the son, but Mary is the dawn announcing his arriving.’ In our lives, we are called to always point toward him.”
Green Bay Bishop David L. Ricken will celebrate Mass with Father Pereira during Marian Day. David Carollo, executive director of the World Apostolate of Fatima, also will speak.
Corrie Campbell, events and communications coordinator for the shrine, said the shrine is planning for over 1,000 attendees.
“Our mother watches over us, because it is still a very peaceful experience, even when we have large groups,” Campbell said. “We are probably going to be one of the big events in the U.S. with Marian Day.”
Father Pereira and Freimuth agree that Catholics can find peace in Mary and her message of hope in a troubled world.
“It’s important to pray for peace in the world,” Father Pereira said. “When we see so many wars raging around the world, we still need to pray for peace for these countries in war, like Ukraine and Syria, but even for peace in all communities so that we can reach out to all humankind and find that we are brothers and sisters and that we cannot divide ourselves.”
Beschta writes for The Compass, newspaper of the Diocese of Green Bay, Wisconsin.