Loretta’s ‘moving and beautiful experience’ at Fatima
BY LORETTA WHOLLEY
FAMILIES and groups, tourists and pilgrims, religious and lay, young and old, many languages, one faith.
These would be the best words I could find to describe the people I saw on my recent pilgrimage to Europe to visit major destinations like Fatima, Lourdes, Assisi and Rome and smaller towns like Santarem, Avila, Segovia, Loyola, Avignon, Turin and Padua.
I chose a pilgrimage journey for my Principal’s Renewal Program as a source of spiritual strength, a time of repentance, thanksgiving, prayer and meditation.
Also as an opportunity for me to encounter the love of God, learn about the miracles and works of Our Lady and the Saints and deepen my faith.
I was privileged to be entrusted to take with me prayers for others (family, friends, students, staff and parents of the Merici College Community).
Many seeking peace and healing in our hearts, bodies, minds and in the world.
Fatima was a particularly special place to visit in 2017 given that the Church is celebrating 100 years from the first apparition of our Lady to the Seers (Lucia, Francisco and Jacinta).
It has been receiving thousands of pilgrims with joy. Pilgrims who have made the journey from many parts of the world.
They come to Fatima to discover how the messages of the Seers, given to them by Our Lady influence our lives today: words of repentance, conversion to God and a turning away from sin in order to find peace in our hearts and in the world.
Pilgrims make the journey to immerse themselves in the experience and the story; to walk the same cobbled stone paths, pray the same words at the Stations of the Cross, in the Sacred Mass and through the Divine Rosary and procession every evening.
I also sensed a spirit of hope. Where pilgrims were searching for God, revealed through signs and wonders. Not to affirm their faith, but with a curiosity to see if they may be blessed and fortunate to witness a miracle or be healed themselves.
Personally, I was moved by the company of the pilgrims, though numerous, we were united. United in prayer while praying in different languages, united in song although we were off key, but most importantly we were united in faith. It was a true unity of people of the Catholic faith. Joined in the spirit of communion as a universal Church .
My journey was made with an open heart and a trust in our Lord. I have an even greater admiration for Our Lady as a model for all woman of complete courageous trust and faith in God. I also come away with new prayers (for me) to fulfil my spiritual life, including the Divine Chaplet and a number of Novenas.
It was a moving and beautiful experience for which I will be forever grateful.