Every May 13 marks a milestone anniversary in the Month of Mary, because it celebrates the first apparition of our Blessed Mother at Fatima in 1917.
The day is especially significant this year because Pope Francis will consecrate his pontificate to Our Lady of Fatima in Portugal on May 13.
Still, many do not know of Mary’s urgent requests for souls and for the world pertaining to Fatima.
To help change that, there is a wonderful apostolate called "A Day With Mary."
One of the goals is to help fulfill Our Lady’s request in June 1917: "Jesus wishes you to make me known and loved on earth. He wishes also for you to establish devotion in the world to my Immaculate Heart."
That’s the main goal "A Day With Mary" fulfills. The Franciscans of the Immaculate and their associated Mission of the Immaculate Mediatrix, an approved public association of the faithful, bring this special day to parishes.
The day begins with a short account of the story of Fatima told via DVD, then moves on to prayers and devotions, consisting of the Rosary, Mass, two talks on the Eucharist and Our Lady, Eucharistic adoration, Divine Mercy Chaplet and Eucharistic Benediction. Confession is available all day.
The day also includes a procession and crowning of the Blessed Virgin Mary, an Act of Consecration to the Immaculate Heart, enrollment in the Brown Scapular and reception of the Miraculous Medal.
An added benefit: The Holy See has granted a plenary indulgence to the faithful who participate in "A Day With Mary" under the usual requirements.
"In my opinion, it’s been a real significant factor in sustaining the faith in London," observes Father Ignatius Manfredonia, a Franciscan of the Immaculate stationed in Griswold, Conn. Every year, "A Day With Mary" fills Westminster Cathedral, the Catholic mother church for England and Wales, in London, with more than 1,000 faithful. Every Saturday, parishes in London and around England host the day.
Before being offered in the United States, the Marian day began in England in 1986; then it was offered in Italy at the Shrine of Our Lady of Loreto in 1993.
It was not originally associated with these Franciscans, but when one of the friars visited a local English parish, he discovered that the event fits perfectly with the Franciscans of the Immaculate’s Marian charism.
Through these Franciscans, "A Day With Mary" made the trans-Atlantic journey. From their friaries in Griswold, Conn., Maine, N.Y., and New Bedford, Mass., the Franciscans offer parishes in the Northeast a much-needed message.
Father Ignatius explains, "Our Lady’s peace plan at Fatima is even more necessary today, taking a look at the landscape of what’s going on in the world. You really need devotion to her Immaculate Heart, the daily Rosary, sacrifice, conversion. That is Our Lady’s plan to bring people to the Lord."
At the day, everyone is encouraged to embrace that message and put it into practice in their daily lives.
"Heaven offers to us a very easy solution to our daily difficulties," Father Ignatius says. "Fatima is not only a Marian message, but it is also a Eucharistic message. These are the two pillars of our Christian life — Jesus and Mary; the Eucharist and the Rosary."
When people consecrate themselves to the Immaculate Heart of Mary, as this day includes, "we become the hands and feet and voice of Our Lady, and, wherever we go, she is living (the message of) Jesus in us," says David Ethier, the coordinator for the western Connecticut-Rhode Island team of laity who help the Franciscans facilitate the program. "‘A Day With Mary’ helps us put it into practice."
Once a parish consecrates itself to Our Lady, she starts transforming it, adds Ethier.
Indeed, St. Joseph Church in Central Falls, R.I., will be hosting another "Day With Mary" — it has done so for six years.
Father Dariusz Jonczyk, the pastor who is also administrator of St. Stanislaus Church nearby, says Marian devotion is important for his parishioners.
"I strongly believe that they should entrust their lives and families and everyday experiences to the care of the Blessed Virgin Mary," says Father Jonczyk, who was born and raised in Poland near Jasa Gora, where the Our Lady of Czestochowa icon is housed, and he grew up having a strong Marian devotion.
The event, like other special Marian devotions, rejuvenates the spirit of the parishes and encourages parishioners to share their faith, adds Father Jonczyk: "When we talk about the New Evangelization, we have to focus on Jesus, but we have to also focus on Mary, the Mother of Jesus. She is also the Mother of the New Evangelization in our Church."
No matter where the day is held, there are always moments of grace, notes Father Ignatius.
He knows from experience that there will always be someone who comes into the confessional after decades away: "It is amazing," he explains.
Adds Father Ignatius: "I haven’t been to ‘A Day With Mary’ without some big grace."
Such graces are now occurring in Australia on at least a monthly basis, as well as in Singapore.
As Ethier observes, "We give the people the opportunity to give themselves completely to Our Lady."
Joseph Pronechen is the
Register’s staff writer.
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