by Joe Bollig
HARTFORD — Catholics the world over are observing the 100th anniversary of the apparition of Our Lady of Fatima this year, and seeking to obtain the plenary indulgence granted by Pope Francis.
Parishioners at St. Mary Parish in Hartford wanted to seek the indulgence, too.
But they had a problem.
The only way to receive the indulgence without actually going to the shrine in Portugal involves prayer before a statue of Our Lady of Fatima.
But they didn’t have a statue.
Fortunately, a solution to almost any problem can be found on the internet.
To obtain the plenary indulgence, the faithful must visit with devotion a statue of Our Lady of Fatima that has been solemnly exposed for public veneration in a church on the 13th of each month from May to October 2017.
They must devoutly participate in a celebration or prayer in honor of the Virgin Mary, pray the Our Father, recite the Creed and invoke Our Lady of Fatima. They also must fulfill the ordinary conditions of going to confession and receiving holy Communion, be interiorly detached from sin and pray for the intentions of the Holy Father.
“I read about [the indulgence] and thought that this would be a good thing for our parish to do,” said Karin Murphy, a member of St. Mary Parish. “So I talked to our pastor Father Nick Blaha about it, and the ladies of the Altar Society.”
Murphy did an internet search and found a statue for sale on eBay. It was owned by an elderly person, now downsizing to move to an assisted living facility, who went to Fatima years before and bought the statue there.
“It’s an exact replica of the statue at the shrine in Portugal,” said Murphy. “I think Our Lady found us.”
On May 13, Father Blaha celebrated a Mass in honor of the 100th anniversary of Our Lady of Fatima at the parish. There was a crowning of the statue and a public procession outside the church with hymns and a rosary.
In addition to being pastor of St. Mary Parish, Father Blaha is chaplain and director of the Didde Catholic Campus Center at Emporia State University.
Further observances and devotions during the anniversary will occur at the Didde Center the morning of the first Saturdays of each month up to and including November. Further devotions will be held at St. Mary Parish, although those are still in the planning stage.
For information about Our Lady of Fatima observances and devotions at the Didde Catholic Campus Center, go to the center’s website at: Diddecenter.org.