Diocese Re-Consecrated to Mary at Anniversary Mass
By Amanda Hudson, News Editor
October 20, 2017

ROCKFORD—The Cathedral of St. Peter was well filled by Catholics from near and far points of the Diocese of Rockford on a drizzly Oct. 12 evening for a Mass in celebration of the 100th anniversary of the Marian apparition and the Miracle of the Sun in Fatima, Portugal.

Bishop David Malloy celebrated the Mass, joined by many priests of the diocese and by Bishop Saul Figueroa of the Diocese of Puerto Cabello, Venezuela.

Bishop Figueroa is in the Rockford Diocese “to try to tighten the bonds of help with the Mission Appeal at Holy Cross Parish in Batavia,” according to Father William Vallejo who hosted him at his own St. Edward Parish in Rockford. Father Hugo Jimenez, who worked in the Diocese of Rockford for three years, accompanied Bishop Figueroa.

The Mass provided the opportunity for the priests and “all of us gathered here (to place) ourselves in the midst of the context of the Mass at the feet of our Blessed Mother,” Bishop Malloy said in his opening remarks.

In his homily the bishop spoke about the history of the Church-approved Fatima apparitions, and he called the Blessed Mother’s messages “important guideposts.”

The messages given to those children, “but really given to the world,” he said, were so important that “since 1917 four of the last five popes have gone to Fatima in order to honor the Blessed Mother, to pray to her in that sacred spot where she appeared to those young children.”

Regarding the Miracle of the Sun, Bishop Malloy said, “That remarkable moment should in some ways remind us of the accounts in the Gospel of the Transfiguration (when God said) ‘This is my beloved Son. Listen to Him.’ The Fatima miracle, he added, could be seen as communicating the message that, “This is your mother, the Queen of Heaven. Listen to her.”

Calling 1917 a “dire moment” in history, the bishop noted that, “our mother, the one sinless believer from among us, appeared to remind us and encourage us, her children. She came to remind us of the struggles against evil, and the cost of sin. But she came to encourage us, to remain faithful, trusting in her son and in her own motherly love.”

Mary’s messages are applicable to today, the bishop said, pointing to “a secularization grown stronger in the last century. Mary spoke of how many souls are being lost. Sin is real. Sin has consequences, both for individual souls and for the world.

“To that end, in July of 1917 Mary gave to the children ... a vision of hell itself. It was a deep reminder of the final, enduring result of the choice against God, of the choice of sin, of the choice of our selves ... But if that message was stark and dire, Mary appeared as she always does – as a loving mother. And such a loving mother will correct (her children), but it is always in the context of good. It’s in the context of that great love.

“After that frightening apparition, the children were filled with an extraordinary sense of God and of His presence. That itself is part of the private revelation of Mary’s appearance. God will not be overcome. Mary knows ... her Immaculate Heart will triumph. But she asks us to draw closer to her and through her to her son, Jesus. This is the fulfillment of the Gospel.”

During his homily, the bishop also explained the procedure for the two consecration prayers that would follow the Mass.

“You are the representatives of the presence of the diocese and of the Church itself this evening,” Bishop Malloy said to the crowd as he described the first prayer. “As a diocese,” he said, “we will offer ourselves to enter once more intimately into the union with Mary and her Immaculate Heart as she asked at Fatima. Bishop Doran, my predecessor, first consecrated the diocese in this manner on Dec. 8, 2004. So what we will do this evening is a renewal as an offering of ourselves, (and it) still has a great spiritual value, which will be pleasing to our Blessed Mother.

After that diocesan renewal, he said, “I’ll ask the priests to join with me as we offer to the intercession and the protection of our Blessed Mother, our priestly service, carried out for the good of the Church, for the good of you the faithful, and for the good of our own souls.”

As Bishop Malloy concluded his homily, he quoted Pope Benedict XVI who, he said, “wrote a magnificent explanation of the meaning of Fatima: ‘Since God himself took a human heart, and thus has steered human freedom towards what is good, the freedom to choose evil no longer has the last word.

And that time for the Word that prevails is this: In the world you will have tribulation but take heart, I have overcome the world.’”

“The message of Fatima,” Bishop Malloy said, “invites us to trust in this promise.”