by Jack Figge
Special to The Leaven
FATIMA, PORTUGAL — “You are from Kansas!” exclaimed Klemens Muthsam in his thick Austrian accent. “Go Chiefs!”
The World Youth Day pilgrims met Muthsam, a pilgrim from Austria, during the candlelight procession in the Sanctuary of Fatima. Pilgrims prayed the rosary in a variety of languages, switching language every half decade.
It concluded with a candlelight procession around the square and the pilgrims chanting the “Salve Regina.”
“Singing the ‘Salve Regina’ with everybody was so powerful,” said Mckinzie Horsley, a parishioner at St. Francis DeSales Parish in Lansing. “During that moment, I heard God say, ‘You are home.’
“Being surrounded by all these Catholics from all around the world was so beautiful. Even though we had never met, we all shared one faith.”
Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann reflected on the theme of a global Church when the pilgrims gathered for Mass in the Hotel Avenida.
Archbishop Naumann spoke about Saturday’s Gospel reading, the story of Martha, Mary and Lazarus and the importance of family.
“As we celebrate the feast of these siblings, we give thanks for our families and realize that we are part of a broader family,” said Archbishop Naumann. “Not all will go according to plan during these next coming days, but the Lord wants us to encounter him here.”
The pilgrims had already experienced wayward plans.
The group that connected through O’Hare Airport in Chicago, including the archbishop, experienced a three-hour delay Friday evening, meaning that only one group of pilgrims had the opportunity to tour the Holy sites of Fatima on Saturday.
“It’s an adventure!” joked Archbishop Naumann before Mass.
The group that toured Fatima was deeply moved by walking through the streets of Fatima, the sight where the Blessed Virgin appeared to three children: Sts. Jacinta and Francisco Marto and Venerable Lucia Santos in 1917, delivering three prophecies.
Pilgrims like Ariana Brancato of Church of the Nativity in Leawood were moved by walking in the steps of the three children.
“One thing that was really powerful was that the homily was about the power of family because it was the feast day of Sts. Martha, Mary and Lazarus,” said Brancato.
“We got to see the tombs and houses of Sts. Jacinta and Francisco,” she continued. “I saw a lot of parallels between the feast day and that the story of the children of Fatima, which was beautiful.”
The pilgrims look forward to another day in Fatima, continuing to explore this holy site before they head to Lisbon for the World Youth Day festivities.
“A pilgrimage is not a vacation — it is something better,” said Archbishop Naumann. “It is better because you will return with a deeper friendship with the Lord.”