5/13/2017 9:15:00 PM WATCH: Oregon Catholics take to streets for Fatima
Ed Langlois/Catholic Sentinel Pilgrims who started at Holy Rosary Parish prepare to cross over Interstate 5 on their way to St. Mary Cathedral. They were one of five groups who processed May 13 in honor of the feast of Our Lady of Fatima. The apparitions occurred 100 years ago.
Ed Langlois/Catholic Sentinel Avery Henley, 6, grabs a drink after making the pilgrimage trek with her parents from Washington Park to St. Mary Cathedral. Avery knows and loves the Fatima story.
ďIf it was relevant in 1917 donít you think itís even more relevant today?Ē
— Archbishop Alexander Sample on the Fatima message
Hundreds of Catholics walked along Portland streets and prayed in broad daylight May 13. Others drove from towns and farms farther afield. The result was a holy convergence on St. Mary Cathedral, where more than 1,000 pilgrims showed their devotion publicly by observing the feast of Our Lady of Fatima.
It was the first Marian procession for Harry Reeves, who became Catholic last month at St. Stephen Parish in Southeast Portland.
“What do I think of Our Lady Fatima? Think about this: Mom. She is Mom,” said Reeves, fingering a rosary strung around his neck. “For my Christianity, this is the missing piece.”
The day marked 100 years since Mary appeared to three child shepherds in Portugal, urging peace, personal conversion and prayer for the conversion of sinners. Mary told the children that people need to stop offending God.
“If it was relevant in 1917 don’t you think it’s even more relevant today?” Archbishop Alexander Sample asked worshipers, who filled every seat in the cathedral and lined the walls. The archbishop cited war, violence, abortion, racism, prejudice, oppression, exploitation, sexual promiscuity and attempts to redefine marriage as signs that humanity has failed to heed Mary’s sober warning. But he cautioned worshippers against pointing fingers.
“Conversion starts with us,” he said, suggesting first Saturday devotions given by Mary at Fatima as a path: go to confession, receive Communion, pray the rosary and mediate on one mystery of the rosary for 15 minutes.
The Fatima message is not about despair, the archbishop explained, but about hope, “because Christ has already conquered all of these things and we need to unite ourselves to him through Our Lady.”
In Portugal only hours earlier, Pope Francis declared the sainthood of Jacinta and Francisco Marto, two of the Fatima visionaries who had to work hard to get people to believe their story. Hundreds of thousands of people eventually witnessed a miracle at the site and church investigations affirmed authenticity.
“Our Lady knows it will the humble hearts, the simple souls, who will be open to the message, who will be open to the reality of her appearance,” Archbishop Sample told the Portland crowd. He added that Mary and Jesus were smiling on the day’s cross-town processions, rosary in five languages, Mass and confessions.
Groups of pilgrims began at the Grotto, Holy Rosary Parish, St. Stephen Parish, Washington Park and St. Michael Parish. The rain held off for walkers, with hail and lighting after everyone was in the church.
Jerry McAfee of St. Henry Parish in Gresham walked with a parish banner. “My idea is ‘To Jesus through Mary,’” he said.
Mary Nordlund of St. Joseph the Worker Parish in Southeast Portland said Fatima calls her to do penance for the conversion of sinners and reparation for offenses against God.
“We want everyone to be saved,” Nordlund said. “I know Oregonians — many of them are far away from Christ.”
Crystal Johnson of Holy Rosary Parish in Portland said Mary invites us to suffer for the lost and for the reparation of sins. “We are here for all the people who don’t want it, but need it,” Johnson said.
Avery Henley, a 6-year-old member of Cathedral Parish, came with parents Josiah and Aimee. Avery knows and likes the Fatima story, especially because one of the visionaries was 6, like her.
Gladys Johnston of St. Matthew Parish in Hillsboro was in Fatima a year ago. She says Mary still urges us to pray for peace and those who suffer. “Whenever I have something special, I always ask the Blessed Mother and I take comfort,” says the native of Nicaragua. “I feel like she is there with me, supporting me through my worries.”
In 1985, Rudy Mendoza and a few other members of Holy Rosary Parish put their lives on hold and traveled to 32 states, visiting parishes with a statue of Our Lady of Fatima and promoting her messages. That same statue was carried two miles in procession May 13 from Holy Rosary to the cathedral.
“Our Lady of Fatima has really been working,” said Mendoza, a retired maintenance man. “We are looking forward to more people following her instructions.”