International Children’s Holy Hour Inspires Hope

Join kids in prayer for peace in the world

On Oct. 3, thousands of children around the world were to gather before the Blessed Sacrament for the 12th annual Worldwide Children’s Eucharistic Holy Hour (10am live and 3:30pm Eastern; see EWTN.com/YouTube). EWTN was to broadcast this two-hour special presentation live from the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington and the Shrine of Our Lady of Fatima in Fatima, Portugal.

Children of the Eucharist, Young Missionaries of the Immaculate Heart of Mary — at ChildrenoftheEucharist.org — is a program for youth and children that is sponsored by the International World Apostolate of Fatima.

Connie Schneider, president of Children of the Eucharist and international director of the Holy Hour, recently shared with the Register about how the Children’s Eucharistic Holy Hour began and what has inspired her to keep building it up for the last 12 years.

Tell us about the Children of the Eucharist and the worldwide Eucharistic Holy Hour. When and how did it start? How did you get involved with this?
I had an inspiration to gather the children of the world before Jesus to pray for the families of the world. That inspiration came from the message of Our Lady of Fatima, to fulfill her request, and St. John Paul II and his “Christmas Letter to Children” at the end of the international Year of the Family [1994]. He wrote a four-and-a-half page letter to the children of the world.

In one part of that letter, near the closing, he said, “Dear young friends, it is to your prayers that I want to entrust the problems of your own families and of all the families in the world.” For me, that was very important, because we’re all called to be childlike.

So I went to a friend of mine, who was the president of our local Apostolate of Fatima in the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis. He then contacted Drew Mariani. We talked about how we could accomplish this. We came to the conclusion that we would go to Archbishop [Harry] Flynn, who was the archbishop at that time, and ask him if we could have a celebration for the Year of the Rosary [2002] for families and children. He told us to work with the Marriage and Family Life Office, so we met with them. The director looked at me and said, “What exactly do you want?” I replied, “I want a letter to go to all of the schools inviting all the teachers and families to bring their children to this cathedral on Oct. 7, the feast of Our Lady of the Rosary.”

You could have heard a pin drop in the room. I think they thought I was crazy. I thought I was crazy, too, because you don’t get every school in the archdiocese to come to the cathedral on a school day. But we did. We promoted it as a pilgrimage, a holy field trip. The buses wrapped around that cathedral, and 3,300 children filled it.

For me, it was confirmed that it wasn’t me: It was something that our Blessed Mother wanted done. We continued to work together. Over time, it became established as a First Friday event, and it grew. For three years, it remained in the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis, and it’s still there now.

At that time, I joined the national board of the World Apostolate of Fatima. Then, nearly right away, the apostolate was elevated to a public association of the faithful. We went to Rome, and it became the International Body of the World Apostolate of Fatima, and I became the director.

I went to the graves of Francisco and Jacinta [two of the children Mary appeared to at Fatima, who are now “Blessed”], looking for a name for this program. I came back to my room, and it became clear that “Children of the Eucharist” explained what we were trying to accomplish: bringing children to the Eucharist. The subtitle is “Young Missionaries of the Immaculate Heart of Mary,” because the children of the world have a mission, too, and their mission is to evangelize and help our Blessed Mother to become the heart of families.

That was 2006, and we were also accepted into the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, D.C. [to hold the Holy Hour]. This year, 2014, it’s also being celebrated at the official Shrine of Our Lady of Fatima in Fatima, Portugal. All of the dioceses of Poland are participating. It’s literally around the world. It has continued for 12 years on the first Friday of October.

Why do you feel it’s so important for children to spend this Holy Hour with Christ at this specific time?
The specific time is a first Friday [of a month], which recalls Jesus appearing to St. Margaret Mary asking for reparation on the first Friday for his Sacred Heart. … It’s the Sacred Heart of Jesus [we honor] on the First Friday, and it was the request of Our Lady of Fatima to make reparation to Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament. We put those two together. The children are our hope. They are the greatest intercessors.

We’re living in a time when children don’t have much value. In the womb, they don’t. The world doesn’t respect their presence, their lives. In the world, little money is even spent on school lunches. They just aren’t treated with the respect and love that Jesus wants them to have.

This Holy Hour raises these children up to who they are: They’re children of God, most beloved by him, and we are a signpost to help the child understand that this is where you go, wherever that red light is in the church or chapel [pointing to the tabernacle]. … Get them to know Jesus as their friend and Savior.


Sarah Reinhard blogs at
NCRegister.com.