A statue of Mary is seen May 12 at the Marian shrine of Fatima in central Portugal. Thousands of pilgrims arrived at the shrine to attend the 104th anniversary of the first apparition of Mary to three shepherd children May 13. CNS photo/Pedro Nunes, Reuters

Catholic youth keep Fatima message alive

By  Angelica Vecchiato, Youth Speak News
  • October 13, 2021

A crowd of 100,000 pilgrims gathered in the Cova Da Iria Oct. 17, 1913, straining their eyes up to the sky over Fatima, Portugal, expecting a miracle. Suddenly, the sun burst forth from the rain clouds and danced in the heavens, emitting brilliant rays of light, as the masses, frightened, watched on.

For 104 years, the extraordinary Miracle of the Sun has captured the attention of audiences around the world.

To commemorate the Fatima anniversary, Canadian Catholic youth were to join others from 150 countries in a world youth day of prayer Oct. 13. The event is spearheaded by Children of the Eucharist, an educational and evangelistic program whose mission is to promote the messages of Our Lady of Fatima.

This year’s call to prayer is not unlike the call in the days leading to the Fatima apparitions to the three shepherd children, Lucia Santos and Francisco and Jacinta Marto.

“In 1916, Pope Benedict asked the children of the world to pray,” said 16-year-old Benedict Claridad, programmer of the Children of the Eucharist website.

A year later, Our Lady appeared at Fatima, telling the children to recite the rosary as often as possible. She wanted to do this to end world wars.

This Oct. 13 event was about praying worldwide, specifically for the intentions of peace, life, vocations, the end of COVID-19 and the triumph of Mary.

“With youth being the best prayer warriors, we are looking for solutions to this pandemic, and the only thing that ever worked was people uniting in prayer. Only this will help crush the evil plaguing our world,” said Angela Carboni, director of the Canadian chapter of Children of the Eucharist.

For youth who weren’t able to make the global Marian holy hour, Carboni said they can continue to participate and encourages them to do “whatever they can.”

“Light a candle, offer three Hail Marys or recite a decade of the rosary for peace in the world. Then, continue past Oct. 13. Even two Hail Marys a day can make a really big difference.”

Claridad’s motivation to participate revolves around not just prayers, but a desire to do good for others. 

“I’m participating because I want to do good through praying. It’s not particularly because I have a devotion to a saint or Our Lady, it’s just that I want to make a difference,” Claridad  said.

“The redundancy and repetition of the rosary is something we all struggle with,” said 27-year-old world youth day of prayer participant Ida Miccho. “However, as (Archbishop) Fulton Sheen once explained to a young woman, we repeat the prayers so much, because we say how much we love Our Lady — many, many times.”

To enhance her rosary recitation, Miccho tries to imagine the mystery as if she herself were really there.

“Spiritually take yourself to the wedding feast at Cana, for instance, and speak personally to Our Lady, Our Lord and the apostles,” said the graduate student hopeful.

Claridad insists that consistency and endurance are the keys to a successful Oct. 13 and a good prayer life.

“Prayers aren’t always answered within the course of a day — be patient, and keep fighting for them. Try to see Mother Mary in different people you meet in your life, and know that one day she will help you.”

For more information, see childrenoftheeucharist.ca.

(Vecchiato, 17, is a Grade 12 student at Loretto Abbey Loretto Abbey Catholic Secondary School.)

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