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Fatima Devotees Venerate Relics at St. Vincent Ferrer
By CHRISTIE L. CHICOINE
MARIA R. BASTONE
The faithful who attended the Oct. 12 Vigil Mass at St. Vincent Ferrer Church in Manhattan in honor of Our Lady of Fatima venerated relics after the liturgy, including a piece of St. Jacinta’s dress, which she wore while being visited by the Blessed Mother, and a section of the sash St. John Paul II wore when an attempt was made on his life. Both relics are part of a permanent collection at St. Vincent Ferrer.

Madeleine Monier, 10, and her brother Charles, 8, venerated a relic of St. Jacinta Marto—the Church’s youngest, non-martyred saint—at St. Vincent Ferrer Church in Manhattan the night before the conclusion of the centennial marking the three shepherd children seers of the Blessed Mother at Fatima, Portugal.

“I felt like they were really there,” Madeleine told CNY, “and that Mary was there and they were embracing me.”

Young Madeleine was referring to 9-year-old Francisco Marto and his 7-year-old sister Jacinta, along with their 10-year-old cousin Lucia dos Santos, who reported seeing the Virgin Mary in 1917.

“They were about my age when Mary appeared to them, so that’s pretty much why they are special to me, and their story is special to me,” added Madeleine, who credits her parents for teaching her about Our Lady of Fatima. The Monier family belongs to St. Vincent Ferrer and St. Catherine of Siena parish.

Charles, 8, said he planned to pray that night “about the children.”

The Marian apparitions began May 13, 1917 and continued once a month until Oct. 13 of that year, and later were declared worthy of belief by the Church.

A Vigil Mass in honor of Our Lady of Fatima was celebrated Oct. 12 at St. Vincent Ferrer by Archbishop Bernardino C. Auza, permanent observer of the Holy See to the United Nations. Msgr. Slawomir Oder, postulator of St. John Paul II’s cause for canonization, delivered the homily.

Relics of Fatima visionary St. Jacinta Marto and St. John Paul II were presented for veneration following the evening liturgy.

“It’s not every day that we have the relics of St. Jacinta and St. John Paul II,” said Veronique Monier, mother of Madeleine and Charles. “The fact that they were children, that Mary spoke to them, it’s easier for (Madeleine and Charles) to connect (to Francisco, Jacinta and Lucia).”

Nearly 450 attended the Mass and venerated the relics, according to Father Thomas More Garrett, O.P., associate executive director of the Dominican Foundation in New York who also is associate director of the St. John Paul II Society.

Father Garrett, along with Father Gabriel Gillen, O.P., director of the St. John Paul II Society, administered the veneration of the relics to the faithful.

“Our Lady supplies a bridge to her Son, who is the link between humanity and divinity. Our hope is that the special liturgies and celebrations that we hosted in honor of the centennial served as something of a bridge to heaven for those who were able to attend,” said Father Garrett, who resides at St. Vincent Ferrer Priory.

The presence of the relic of St. John Paul’s sash worn during the attempt on his life and the portion of the dress worn by St. Jacinta while being visited by Our Lady “establishes in our church a unique link to Fatima,” he added.

The Gospel of Luke, Father Garrett said, “informs us that Mary practices a ministry of visitation, first in visiting her cousin Elizabeth before the birth of Jesus and John the Baptist.”

“It should not surprise us to learn that she visits her spiritual children on earth from time to time. One such visitation was to the visionaries at Fatima a hundred years ago.”

Msgr. Oder, in his homily, addressed the Marian aspect of the spirituality of St. John Paul II. Referring to John Paul II’s beatification process, Msgr. Oder said, “As one witness put it beautifully and eloquently, ‘John Paul II learned to look at the world with the eyes of Mary.’”

In Mary’s eyes, Msgr. Oder said, there is no judgment or condemnation. “She looks at us in the same way as she looks at her Son beneath her heart. The tenderness of Mary’s maternal glance is a prelude to mercy. It invites us to come to her, so that we can experience it ourselves.”

Stephen Parker, 23, a member of St. Patrick’s Cathedral in Manhattan, attended the vigil celebration at St. Vincent Ferrer.

“On the feast of Our Lady of Fatima, especially on the eve of the 100th anniversary, there’s no better place to be than at the Mass, especially with the presentation of the relics of Jacinta and Pope John Paul II—two people who were so close to Mary and also obviously Jesus,” Parker said.

He said he would “try to be as close to Mary and Jesus as they were, and try to walk in their footsteps toward sainthood.”

Anne Feely, 29, a member of St. Joseph’s parish in the Greenwich Village section of Manhattan, also attended. “For me, personally, John Paul II and Our Lady have just had such a positive impact on my own faith journey, so to be able to go to a church where this was the entire intention for the night, and then you have the relics, a very physical presence of these saints…that really does help center me.

“It takes you out of yourself,” she added. “In the city, there’s so much noise, there’s so much going on. It gives you peace of heart.”

Bob Torre, a member of St. Vincent Ferrer and St. Catherine of Siena, said he went to the Oct. 12 vigil Mass and venerated the relics “because our Lady has rescued me many times personally.”

“The closer you get to Mary, the closer you get to Jesus,” he added. “She always points to him. I am probably the most unworthy of all her children, but she loves us all equally.”

Venerating the relics was “like the Wise Men going to the Nativity scene,” concluded Torre. “It’s the equivalent of being privileged to give honor to the glory to God.”

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