SEATTLE – On the first Saturday of each month, voices of parishioners weave together as they pray the rosary and attend Mass and Holy Hour at Our Lady of Fatima Church.
“I find it a beautiful moment of talking to the Lord in silence and listening to what he wants to tell us,” said parishioner Carmen Pelayre.
The first Saturdays — along with adoration, special speakers, a parish mission this fall and a new parish lending library — are part of the Seattle parish’s yearlong celebration of the 100th anniversary of the Virgin Mary’s apparitions in Fatima, Portugal. In July, the traveling International Pilgrim Virgin Statue of Our Lady of Fatima tour will come to the parish and visit five other parishes in the archdiocese (see sidebar). The year will conclude with a parish banquet in October, marking Mary’s final appearance in Fatima.
Father Phil Raether, Our Lady of Fatima’s pastor, said he hopes parishioners increase their love of the rosary and devotion to Mary during this year of celebration. “For us, Mary is a model for when you turn your life over to the Lord and how he wants to come into our lives,” Father Raether said.
Parishioner Harry Coveny, who has visited Fatima twice with his wife, Pauline, helped organize the parish events. Coveny said he hoped the events would help fellow parishioners learn more about Mary’s appearances to three shepherd children in Fatima. “Many people didn’t understand the parish statements about the origins of Fatima,” he said.
Mary appeared to the children — Lucia dos Santos, and Jacinta and Francisco Marto — in 1917 as World War I raged throughout Europe, North Africa and the Middle East. “Mary … asked people to pray the rosary for peace and the end of the war,” said Barb Ernster, communications manager for the World Apostolate of Fatima.
As part of the local parish’s anniversary celebrations, the Covenys loaned their Our Lady of Fatima statue and two glow-in-the-dark rosaries to their parish school. Pauline Coveny said she received the statue as a gift 55 years ago and had it blessed at Fatima. It’s encased in a wooden box for safety.
Beginning with the kindergarten class, students in grades K–2 at Our Lady of Fatima School were able to take the statue and rosaries home overnight. (Students in other grades will have the opportunity this fall).
“Hopefully when the kids brought the statue home, it motivated their parents to join them in saying the rosary,” Pauline Coveny said.
Parish families are also invited to borrow the statue of Mary that is present at the parish’s first Saturday gatherings. The events, including a meal after Mass, are hosted by the parish’s Filipino community, which in the past has held similar gatherings at parishioners’ homes.
“We love being in the church because more people can participate,” Pelayre said. “We want more people to have this devotion to the Blessed Mother.”
Fatima statue coming to Seattle, Bremerton, Tacoma
The International Pilgrim Virgin Statue, carved in 1947, will visit five parishes in the Archdiocese of Seattle during July
A traveling statue of Our Lady of Fatima will visit six local parishes beginning July 19.
Sculptor José Thedim crafted the 3 1/2-foot-high International Pilgrim Virgin Statue in 1947, carving it according to precise instructions of Sister Lucia dos Santos, one of the three children who saw Mary at Fatima. Since then, “the statue has been traveling nonstop,” said Barb Ernster, communications manager for the World Apostolate of Fatima.
The tour aims to “bring the graces of Fatima and Our Lady’s message of hope, peace and salvation to those many millions of people who may never have an opportunity to make a pilgrimage to Fatima,” according to the tour website.
The national tour, with stops at 150 parishes (bishops must give permission), began March 20, 2016, in New Jersey and ends Dec. 20 in Texas.
Here is the local schedule (find additional details here):
July 19: 7 p.m. at Our Lady of Fatima Church, 3307 W. Dravus St., Seattle
July 20: 8:40 a.m. at Christ the King Church, 405 N. 117th St., Seattle
July 21-22: 8:30 a.m. at Our Lady Star of the Sea Church, 1513 Sixth St., Bremerton
July 22: 9:00 a.m. at St. Joseph Church, 602 S. 34th St., Tacoma, then procession to Holy Rosary Church
July 22: 3 p.m. at Holy Rosary Church, 424 S. 30th St., Tacoma
July 23: 11:45 a.m., North American Martyrs Parish at St. Alphonsus Church, 5816 15th Ave. N.W., Seattle