Archbishop Michael Miller of Vancouver. Register file photo.

Canada and U.S. to be consecrated to Mary in response to pandemic

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  • April 23, 2020

The bishops of Canada and the U.S. will consecrate their nations to the Blessed Virgin Mary May 1 in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops Thursday invited Canadian bishops, in solidarity with a number of bishops conferences around the world, consecrate their individual dioceses and eparchies to Mary, Mother of the Church, on Friday, May 1, seeking her maternal protection during the coronavirus pandemic.

Archbishop Gomez, president of the U.S. Catholic bishops’ conference, is inviting all U.S. bishops to join him in reconsecrating the U.S., timed to coincide with the bishops of Canada consecrating their own country to Mary at the same time.

Archbishop Gomez said in a letter sent to all American bishops April 22 that the Marian reconsecration would be done under the title of “Mary, Mother of the Church.” He invited all the bishops of the country to join him in prayer on May 1 at 12 p.m. PDT, or 3 p.m. EDT.

May is traditionally a month dedicated to devotion to Mary.

“Every year, the Church seeks the special intercession of the Mother of God during the month of May. This year, we seek the assistance of Our Lady all the more earnestly as we face together the effects of the global pandemic,” he said in his letter.

The announcement follows similar plans made by the bishops of Canada, who will consecrate the nation to Mary under the same title on the same day.

Canada was last consecrated to Mary on July 2, 2017, the 150th anniversary of Confederation. In Vancouver, hundreds of Catholics gathered at Holy Rosary Cathedral as Archbishop J. Michael Miller joined bishops across the country in consecrating Canada to the Immaculate Heart of Mary. 

A statue of Our Lady of Fatima, blessed by Pope Francis, arrived in B.C. in time for the consecration and made appearances at several area parishes for Masses, Marian processions, and exposition of the Blessed Sacrament. The Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops consecrated Canada to Mary at their annual plenary meeting that fall.

“Based on discussion with the leadership of the Canadian Catholic Conference of Bishops, the Executive Committee of the USCCB met and affirmed the fitness of May 1, 2020, as an opportunity for the bishops of the United States to reconsecrate our nation to Our Lady and to do so under the title, Mary, Mother of the Church,” Archbishop Gomez said, adding that they would be doing so “on the same day that our brother bishops to the north consecrate Canada under the same title.”

The two conferences planned to send out resources for the consecration to individual dioceses.

For the 2017 Canadian consecration, the CCCB developed a resource that can be found here and which the bishops suggested could be useful in developing materials for this year’s event.

The bishops of Italy said on April 20 that they would consecrate their own country to Mary after receiving more than 300 letters requesting the consecration.

The title “Mary, Mother of the Church” was given to the Blessed Mother by Pope St. Paul VI at the Second Vatican Council, and a memorial under the title was added to the Church’s liturgical calendar in 2018.

Pope Francis declared that the Monday after Pentecost should be celebrated as the memorial of “Mary, Mother of the Church.” Cardinal Robert Sarah, head of the Vatican’s Congregation for Divine Worship, said that the addition of the memorial aimed to encourage growth in “genuine Marian piety.”

Celebrating the memorial in 2018, Archbishop Gomez said that “when Jesus rose from the dead and ascended into heaven, Mary became the maternal heart of his Church.”

Archbishop Gomez also said the May 1 reconsecration will be timely in asking for the intercession of Mary during the pandemic. There are more than 2.6 million confirmed COVID-19 cases in the world and almost 185,000 deaths due to the virus, according to Johns Hopkins University’s Coronavirus Resource Center on Thursday morning.

“This will give the Church the occasion to pray for Our Lady’s continued protection of the vulnerable, healing of the unwell, and wisdom for those who work to cure this terrible virus,” Gomez said.

“In this Easter season we continue to journey with our Risen Lord that among the graces of this time may be healing and strength, especially for all who are burdened by the many effects of the COVID pandemic,” he said in his letter to bishops.

Catholics across the nation were “imploring our Lady’s intercession for, and maternal guidance upon, our country, so richly blessed by also struggling to remain faithful to its highest values which are grounded in the Gospel and the moral conscience of humankind,” said Archbishop Miller.

“By consecrating ourselves and our nation to Our Lady, we pray that a fresh enthusiasm and a deeper faith will be born in the hearts of believers, which will bear fruit and abundant graces for all Canadians.”

Canada was first consecrated to Mary at a National Marian Congress in Ottawa in 1947, then again in 1954 at the National Shrine of Our Lady of the Cape near Trois-Rivieres.

A statue of Our Lady of Fatima, blessed by Pope Francis, arrived in B.C. in time for the consecration and was to appear around July 1 at several area parishes for events including Masses, Marian processions, and exposition of the Blessed Sacrament.

Canada was first consecrated to Mary at a National Marian Congress in Ottawa in 1947, then again in 1954 at the National Shrine of Our Lady of the Cape near Trois-Rivieres, Que.

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