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Pentecost XXII

✠ The Bishop’s Corner ✠
The air almost everywhere was smoky last weekend for the last days of this year’s Fatima devotions. The fragrant smoke was that of prayer, clouding forth from the thuribles of pilgrimages and processions. Its abundant coals were red with the fire of God’s love through and for the Mother of God.

On October 12th, in Wisconsin, 20 souls traveled in pilgrimage from St. Hugh in Milwaukee to Our Lady of Good Help in Champion just north of Green Bay. The cloudy misty day gave way to light (I knew it would) as we drew near to the shrine. The complex is not much to see, but one can pray peacefully at the apparition site. It is a simple 1940s-style American room with an old fashioned polished linoleum floor and a humble low ceiling showing the pipes. Its prayerful darkness is lit with many votive candles surrounding a very beautiful Madonna of Grace from France, which stands above the stumps of the trees between which Our Lady, “Queen of Heaven,’ appeared to Adele Brice, reminding everyone of the necessity of prayer and penance, and asking her to teach catechism to the little ones. Our visit came within the octave of the apparition anniversary, October 8, 1859. We were able to pray with recollection at this holy spot.

The cold wind outdoors last Saturday suddenly gave way to a pleasant warm breeze as we were casting about for a dry place to enjoy a late picnic lunch. We did, and just as we finished the wet mist returned as if to say “Now, back to your prayers.” We concluded the day’s devotions with an outdoor Way of the Cross in honor of Our Lady. The beautiful old stations were still marked in French, the original language of the shrine of Nôtre Dame de Bon Secours.

The next day I led the St. Hugh congregation in a noon hour Rosary Procession. The blue skies and golden Fall trees served as a canopy for the statue of Our Lady of Fatima. The following day in New Mexico, three of our faithful retraced the steps of last year’s pilgrimage in Santa Fe, honoring La Conquistadora, the Franciscan Martyrs, and Our Lord of Chimayo, the miraculous crucifix and the Niño de Atocha.

By the way, we are grateful to the Rios family, recently arrived here from Texas (welcome!) for the donation of the beautiful Niño de Atocha statue, which has joined the other Holy Child statues in our Children’s Corner under the protecting wings of the Guardian Angel. Remind me to give a sermon about the Niño de Atocha and His baby shoes.

When I returned from Milwaukee on a beautiful Sunday evening, John Seyfried was just returning himself from our own Rosary Procession. He assured me all went well, with 73 participants! I am proud of you, you peacemakers of Our Lady of Fatima. My grateful gaze extends as well to our students, teachers, and even some parents who have assisted at the daily October Rosary, as well as the devout who come to adore the Blessed Sacrament and pray with us on Friday evening and Saturday morning. Just one more weekend left! Let us stoke our heavenly thuribles and produce enough “holy smoke” to make any altar boy proud.

For our own Rosary Procession, our intrepid Confraternity President has penned the following, which I could not improve upon:

“the Procession was a glorious and triumphant homage to Our Lady of Fatima…. from babes-in-arms to octogenarians, no less than 70 souls took part in a true October procession. Dozens of twinkling candle flames in little blue globes shone out along the line of march behind Our Lady’s gleaming image. Both strollers and a wheelchair were included in the procession. I thought of the passage of time as I saw certain little ones who for the first time walked the route, candle in hand, on their own two feet. We wondered that Fr. Lehtoranta seemed to be ahead of the usual pace in the recitation of the Rosary, and it seemed that we would finish before we finished the route, but we rejoiced when Father commenced the Litany of Loreto, followed by the St. Joseph prayer, so we actually prayed the complete October Devotions and finished up with perfect timing for the final prayer and blessing.”

Today is Mission Sunday. Let us remember that even as the whole world is mission territory anymore, so must we be, all of us, missionaries. We are pledged by our Baptism and Confirmation to engage in what Francis calls the “solemn nonsense of proselytism.” Fools for Christ may we be, by speaking up and out, as well as by silent good example, after the manner of the true Francis, St. Francis of Assisi.

Fr. McKenna is our missioner of the moment, and baptized Emily Graff in Grand Forks, ND last week. Our missioner to be, Rev. Mr. Nkamuke, is now in his last weeks before ordination. Fr. McGuire reports a new possible mission in central Iowa. The work continues, and God is sending laborers to bring in the harvest. Deo Gratias!

Fr. Valeriy Kudriavtsev wrote me last Sunday, Feast of Our Lady of Fatima, to report…the conversion of Russia! Well, not the whole land, but ten souls who live some distance east of Moscow have written him about converting to the true Catholic Church (sedevacantism) from the errors of Russian Orthodoxy. Ten souls! God was willing to spare Sodom for the sake of ten just men. Pray for their perseverance!

May St. Thérèse make you a missionary!
– Bishop Dolan