by PATRICIA SISON

On September 30 to October 1, a contingent of families set out on a pilgrimage visiting sacred sites in the North Island associated with the titles of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

The “Family Pilgrimage” was organised by the Centre for Marriage and Family (CMF) to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the apparitions of the Blessed Mother to three shepherd children — Lucia do Santos, and Saints Francisco and Jacinta Marto at Fatima, Portugal , during the height of World War I.

In these apparitions, the Blessed Mother revealed herself as the Lady of the Rosary and gave them a message of hope to pray the rosary and to offer sacrifices for peace in the world.

The family pilgrimage began at the Our Lady of Fatima church, Tawa where parish priest Fr John van der Kaa gave a blessing to the pilgrims for a safe journey.

From Tawa, the pilgrims visited the statue of our Lady of Lourdes in Kapiti and then travelled to Our Lady of Fatima church, Waikanae. At each of the sacred sites, the pilgrims heard a reading about each of the Fatima apparitions and prayed a decade of the joyful mysteries of the rosary. It was fitting to end the day with a tour led by Fr Phil Cody, SM of St Mary’s church, Otaki, the oldest continuously used Catholic church in New Zealand and Hine Nui o te Ao Katoa, the marae whose literal translation is Maiden of the World at Pukekaraka, Otaki.

On October 1, the pilgrims concluded their family pilgrimage by attending the 9:30am Sunday Mass at the National Shrine of Our Lady of Fatima in Meadowbank, Auckland. The organisers were very grateful as the liturgy celebrated by parish priest Fr Sam Pulanco was a Family Mass, which they took as a sign of the pleasure from our Blessed Mother for the pilgrims’ act of faith and devotion to her.

As one pilgrim said, “Thank you Lord for this awesome weekend . . . having completed a weekend pilgrimage to our Lady of Fatima . . . celebrating 100 years [since] the apparitions”.

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