Archbishop Vigneron consecrates archdiocese to Our Lady of Fatima on 100th anniversary of famed apparitions
Detroit — There’s nothing unusual about pedestrians clogging the streets of Greektown on a Saturday night.
But on Saturday, May 13, restaurant patrons and bystanders were whipping out their phones, asking questions, some even stopping mid-meal to get down on their knees in prayer.
That’s because what was happening down the narrow city streets was anything but ordinary, as Archbishop Allen H. Vigneron led a Marian procession through Greektown to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the Fatima apparitions.
Hundreds of Catholics displayed their faith that Saturday night, taking to the streets with a statue of Our Lady of Fatima, singing her praises and asking for intercession for the city of Detroit, newly consecrated to Our Lady.
“This is a strong showing of our Catholic faith, giving her this beautiful honor,” said Mike Szamigala of St. Stephen Parish in New Boston, who participated in the procession. “What I think is powerful about public displays of faith is Jesus didn’t send us out alone. This is a way to show our faith, to show support to someone who might be struggling with the Catholic faith.”
In a historic moment before the procession, Archbishop Vigneron consecrated the city and the Archdiocese of Detroit to Our Lady of Fatima, asking for her intercession as the Church in southeast Michigan strives to “unleash the Gospel.”
“We entrust and consecrate to you those individuals and nations which particularly need to be entrusted and consecrated,” Archbishop Vigneron said, kneeling before the altar at Old St. Mary’s Parish in Greektown. “In particular we entrust and consecrate to you the clergy, religious and faithful of the Church in the Archdiocese of Detroit. Likewise, we are mindful of all our neighbors, and so we entrust and consecrate to you the city of Detroit, this metropolitan area and all the six counties of southeast Michigan.”
The full text of the prayer can be found at www.aod.org.
Archbishop Vigneron then led the congregation in a prayer to the Immaculate Heart of Mary, asking for her intercession against famine and war, nuclear war, and sins against human life, from violence and hatred to the demeaning of the dignity of the children of God.
As the procession left St. Mary’s, making a circuit around Greektown Casino using St. Antoine, East Lafayette and Beaubien streets and Monroe Avenue, many bystanders made the sign of the cross, said a quick prayer or asked someone in the procession why they were marching down Greektown with a statue of Our Lady.
“I was thinking about all the people seeing this, wondering about our witness, our love for God,” said Margie Lademan, a consecrated woman of Regnum Christi from Oxford. “Hopefully it made them think of God for a moment. It’s a witness of faith you can’t see by looking at someone, but when you see them praying, it’s a sign of faith. I think people are looking for mercy this day and age, and she (Mary) has an amazing message to bring to people.”
The Mass at St. Mary’s was in conjunction with Pope Francis canonizing Jacinta and Francisco Marto on the 100th anniversary of the Virgin Mary appearing to the two shepherd children and their cousin, Lucia Santos, in Fatima, Portugal.
Fr. Chris Alar, MIC, of the National Shrine of the Divine Mercy in Stockbridge, Mass., gave the homily, connecting the message of Fatima with the message of Divine Mercy as told by St. Faustina and later revealed to St. John Paul II after he was shot on May 13, 1981.
“The year 1917 was a crazy time, with World War I, the Bolshevik Revolution in Russia, Margaret Sanger opening a birth control clinic, so many negative things,” said Fr. Alar, a Monroe native. “But Benedict XV, doing a novena to stop the carnage of war, had his prayers answered when Mary appeared May 13, 1917, to three shepherd children in Fatima.
“Mary’s message of Fatima and Divine Mercy go hand-in-hand; they are the two spiritual weapons of our time. Mary talked about mercy. Mary came in on the Feast of Our Lady of the Eucharist, asking for prayer and penance to never offend God again, that mankind must abandon to God, the source of love and mercy, to pray the rosary to obtain peace and end the war, and that she will come back every month on the 13th.”
Fr. Alar, a leading expert of the Fatima revelations, educated the congregation on the history of the Fatima devotions and their meaning, and how the Church can fulfill what Mary asked 100 years ago.
“St. John Paul II began to see the connection from Fatima to Divine Mercy,” Fr. Alar said. “St. John Paul II found hope in love more powerful than evil that no sin in the world can overcome. Consecration of the Immaculate Heart, which Archbishop Vigneron is doing today, as Pope John Paul II said, consecration of the Immaculate Heart is returning the world to the cross. Mary, bringing the world to the savior.”
Ignited with the meaning behind the Fatima message, Archbishop Vigneron proclaimed the archdiocese as concentrated to Our Lady of Fatima in perpetuity.
“Let there be revealed, once more in the history of the world the infinite power of merciful love,” Archbishop Vigneron proclaimed. “May it put a stop to evil. May it transform consciences. May your Immaculate Heart reveal for all the light of hope and the universal kingship of your Incarnate Son, Lord for ever and ever.”
For Old St. Mary’s parishioner Kevin Erskine, to have the archbishop commemorate the 100th anniversary of Fatima at Old St. Mary’s was a great honor.
“Old St. Mary’s has been here in the neighborhood for a long time,” Erskine said. “To have the archbishop here is fantastic. I think this is what we’re called to do. Just by being here, a lot of people were wondering what we were doing, which is just fine. We want more people to stop and think about who we are and what we’re about.”