Joseph Pronechen is staff writer with the National Catholic Register since 2005 and before that a regular correspondent for the paper. His articles have appeared in a number of national publications including Columbia magazine, Soul, Faith and Family, Catholic Digest, and Marian Helper. His religion features have also appeared in Fairfield County Catholic and in major newspapers. He is the author of Fruits of Fatima — Century of Signs and Wonders. He holds a graduate degree and formerly taught English and courses in film study that he developed at a Catholic high school in Connecticut. Joseph and his wife Mary reside on the East Coast.
Cheers in heaven are certainly still ringing for the Bishops of Wisconsin. On Oct, 7, the Feast of Our Lady of the Rosary, they entrusted the faithful in all five dioceses to our Blessed Mother as Mary, Mother of Mercy.
This jubilee year made the picture-perfect backdrop for this major act. In fact, the bishops directly said in their proclamation this act is to recognize the Jubilee Year of Mercy and to celebrate the intercession of Mary our Mother through the Most Holy Rosary. It adds, Mary’s “faith and love give us hope in our salvation through God’s Divine Mercy.”
There was another heavenly bonus at the Oct. 7 entrustment. More on that in a moment.
Before the event took place, Bishop David Ricken told his Green Bay diocese that entrustment to Mary, the Mother of Mercy is “a way of increasing awareness of the significant role of the Mother of Jesus as instrumental in his unique role of extending mercy so abundantly to anyone who will receive it.”
Right Way for Wrong Times
Several days before the big event, Archbishop Jerome Listecki told his Milwaukee Archdiocese, “If you take a look at this time, notice the confusion that seems to permeate our society. Where do you look for that beacon of direction?’
He said that hopefully Catholics and Christians look to the church. “In entrustment we are taking our confidence and placing it in Mary and the prayer that we have through her.”
Wisconsin’s other four bishops were fully onboard. “They see the need to run to Mary,” Archbishop Listecki explained. “With the entrustment, we’re going to have a more consistent prayer with Mary. Our community is going to be more prone to see Mary as a focal point of their intercession before God with prayer.”
This was to be the first time that the entire state was entrusted to the Blessed Mother at one time.
Not only were the bishops leading the entrustment in their dioceses, but in the official proclamation they also added, “We ask that all Catholics throughout the state join together in prayer as we commit ourselves to Mary, whose faith and love give us hope in our salvation through God’s Divine Mercy.”
All five bishops reviewed and approved the Entrustment Prayer and signed the proclamation in unison — Archbishop Listecki, Bishop Ricken, Bishop Robert Morlino of Madison, Bishop William Callahan of La Crosse, and Bishop James Powers of Superior.
On Oct. 7, Archbishop Listecki carried out this entrustment at St. Veronica Parish in Milwaukee with over 700 of the faithful joining in the Mass and ceremony. The other bishops commemorated the entrustment at Masses and with the official prayer in their own dioceses. The prayer was on a holy card too.
Exceptional Heavenly Bonus
Heaven added a bonus to the major event and what it meant for Wisconsin and all everywhere — Archbishop Listecki carried the entrustment out directly front of the International Pilgrim Virgin Statue of Fatima.
This is the same miraculous Pilgrim Virgin Statue, one of two carved in Portugal in 1947. This particular one was to travel throughout the West. The other went to the East and is now permanently in Fatima.
This particular pilgrim Virgin statue, known for bringing countless conversions and also many physical healings, has been on the Fatima Centennial U.S. Tour for Peace, scheduled to visit 100 dioceses through Oct. 2017 to honor the 100th anniversary of Fatima. Each Wisconsin diocese is a stop on this tour.
“We placed ourselves into the hands of the Blessed Mother, praying that she would protect life from the moment of conception to natural death, strengthen marriage and family life and grant us protection from the increasing violence plaguing our communities,” wrote Archbishop Listecki in his blog the week after the entrustment.
The archbishop explained that on the Cross Jesus was also “entrusting His mother to us. He knew that we, the children of the Church, would need the example and support of the Blessed Mother.”
Earlier, Bishop Ricken reminded that Oct. 7, the feast of Our Lady of the Rosary, “has an incredible history.” Naturally, he referred to Lepanto. Then he brought the same idea into the present.
“Today, we face radical, hateful terrorism once again, which is developing into a war,” he continued. We also face the decline of a vibrant and faith-filled Catholic Christianity, ground into submission by the powers of secularity. We need the mercy of the Father, the Divine Mercy of the Son, Jesus, and the impetus of the Holy Spirit.”
The solution? “Mary, the Mother of Mercy, is the one who can protect us and defeat our enemies, especially if we turn to her with confidence.”
Now Do This to Succeed
Bishop Ricken put it this way to his flock. “The rosary is a powerful weapon. I ask everyone in the diocese and everyone called by this action of the bishops to make this entrustment, to pray at least one rosary per day.”
Archbishop Listecki brought the same guidance and direction, clearly stating “the prayer which pulls us into the mysteries of her Son is the rosary. The pledge to pray the rosary daily gives us the courage to fight the battles that the world and the devil place before us.”
With all the dioceses of Wisconsin entrusted to the Mother of Our Lord and our mother, the archbishop emphasized, “[W]e pray the rosary to help ourselves, help our Church and help America to LOVE ONE ANOTHER.” (Archbishop’s emphasis)
By the way, he entitled his blog, “A Sense of Peace through Mary.”
Perfect title since at Fatima Mary herself told the children on July 13, 1917 — and therefore us who were to get the message — “Continue to say the Rosary every day in honor of Our Lady of the Rosary, to obtain the peace of the world and the end of the war, because only she can obtain it.”
Meeting Today’s Lepanto Moment
Dick and Terry Boldin of the Rosary Evangelization Apostolate in Wisconsin were asked to organize and coordinate the Oct. 7 celebration.
The Boldins told me of the importance of entrusting “ourselves to Our Lady during this time of escalating spiritual crisis,” also emphasizing we’re now living a “Lepanto” moment in history. “The culture so immersed in secularism is tempting people to lose hope.”
But this entrustment, or consecration, — which we all should do — opens the door to hope.
“Mary, is the door to the Heart of Jesus…the Mother of Mercy,” the Boldins shared. “We need to fly to her seeking her maternal intercession and care amidst the darkness of our age. In our entrustment to her, we will find Jesus, and he will dispel the darkness and bring forth the light so sorely needed.”
The Boldins explained the importance of welcoming Mary into our daily lives, in our families, in our communities, in America and yes throughout the entire world. “The time is now to give all to Jesus through Mary.” It’s the way we’ll have peace and live in true joy.
The Boldins are putting the bishops’ pleas into action. “Our Lady and the Church have pleaded throughout history to turn to Mary and pray the Rosary when severe trials afflict humanity,” they said. Jesus is the Prince of Peace and the “Rosary is all about Jesus…who we need in this time of spiritual crisis. Our Lady pleads with us to join her each day and pray with her through the Rosary to encounter Jesus.” Can we “refuse such a motherly plea?”
The Act of Entrustment contains this plea of Our Mother of Mercy because it says, “Mary, help us to encounter Jesus through the praying of the daily rosary.”
Bishop Ricken accentuated that more than once. Pointing out that Oct. 13, 2017 is the 100th anniversary of the Blessed Mother’s appearance at Fatima, he counseled and urged everyone with these vital words, “Let’s pray the rosary every day this year and commend ourselves, our families, our parishes, our diocese and ministries to Our Lady for new clarity and understanding, courage and perseverance, and confidence that God can defeat any and all of our enemies and help us to bring more people to the kingdom of God.”