OAK HARBOR – Faith and patriotism will mesh on July 4 when an estimated 100 Whidbey Island Catholics march — and pray — in the community’s annual Independence Day parade.
Members of St. Augustine Parish in Oak Harbor and St. Mary Mission in Coupeville will push a cart carrying a 3-foot-tall statue of Our Lady of Fatima and say the rosary as they walk down Pioneer Way.
Prayer is the “best way to address darkness in the church and the persecution of Christians throughout the world,” said St. Augustine parishioner Mimi Abadesco. “The rosary is the strongest weapon.”
Parade-goers react positively and often become quiet when they see the parishioners praying, Abadesco said. “It’s very moving.” Last year, she said, a woman in the crowd walked up to the parish’s banner of Our Lady of Guadalupe and made the sign of the cross.
Abadesco and her husband, Navy Cmdr. Rene Abadesco (who is stationed at nearby Naval Air Station Whidbey Island) are organizing the St. Augustine/St. Mary entry. Abadesco said she wanted to get her parish involved after seeing other religious groups march in the parade.
Five religious organizations are participating this year, Oak Harbor Chamber of Commerce events coordinator Vicki Graham said in an email.
Parishioners from St. Augustine Parish in Oak Harbor and St. Mary Mission in Coupeville will march and pray the rosary in Oak Harbor’s annual Fourth of July Parade. A statue of Our Lady of Fatima, seen in this 2017 photo, will be pushed along the parade in a cart. Photo: Courtesy Mimi Abadesco
This is the third year that members of St. Augustine and its mission have marched in the parade, Abadesco said. In 2017, parishioners honored Our Lady of Fatima to mark the 100th anniversary of her apparitions in Portugal. Last year, they honored Our Lady of Guadalupe, patroness of the Americas, to highlight the migrant crisis and its controversial family separations, Abadesco explained.
This year, parishioners will process with the statue honoring Our Lady of Fatima, Queen of Peace, and carry flags of the U.S., Washington state and the Vatican. Parishioners who are active-duty or retired military members are invited to wear their dress uniforms. For parishioners who can’t walk the parade route, they can ride in a 20-passenger bus behind the walkers, Abadesco said.
She expects the parishioners will have time to pray at least one rosary during the parade; in between each mystery, parishioners will sing “Immaculate Mary” or “Hail Holy Queen.”
Also participating in the parade are members of Knights of Columbus John E. O’Brien Council 3361, based in Oak Harbor. They will carry an image of the Divine Mercy that, according to the St. Augustine website, has been in the parade for eight years through the efforts of the Knights and the parish’s Oblates of Divine Mercy.
The parade, with more than 100 entries, begins at 11 a.m. July 4; other festivities include a street fair and fireworks. Learn more.