The July 15–29 period represents two significant weeks in the spiritual calendar of the Gran Couva/Tortuga/Gasparillo Cluster as the Our Lady of Montserrat RC Church was the temporary home of the statue of Our Lady of the Rosary of Fatima, Queen of Peace.
Parish priests Fr Jose Marie Thekkekutte MSFS (Tortuga parish priest and the moderator) and Fr Meenuga Prabhudas MSFS (Gran Couva/Tabaquite), with the support of Deacon Simon Rostant and the Cluster Planning Committee, meticulously chalked out the Marian devotion plan for the two weeks.
The arrival of the statue on July 15 was greeted by parishioners and visitors singing Marian hymns and waving white handkerchiefs, reminiscent of the traditional gesture of devotion associated with the statue in Portugal. That day was a memorable event as well as the children of the cluster prayed the Living Rosary.
Cluster communities were responsible for conducting the devotions on assigned days. Morning prayers, Marian devotions, videos (on the Fatima apparitions, History of Rosary devotions and the Eucharistic miracles) and daily celebration of Holy Mass on each of the days, represented the general format of the two-week programme.
Three events were specially celebrated: a Mass for all grandparents (Feast of Joachim and Ann), a Healing (midday) Mass with anointing of the aged and the sick on July 23, and a Mass for families on July 27.
On the Feast of Our Lady of Mt Carmel, Fr Matthew d’Hereaux led his parishioners to Tortuga and had a stirring two-hour session of prayer and contemplation to mark the feast day of their patroness.
A steady stream of pilgrims and visitors came to the church to participate in the devotions, spending time in contemplation and personal prayer, sought the Sacrament of Reconciliation, and Our Lady of Fatima’s intercessions. Many non-Catholics who visited the shrine prayed before the statue of Our Lady of Fatima. Many rosaries were distributed as a form of evangelisation.
This spiritual event culminated with a well participated all-night vigil which started with Holy Mass on the evening of July 28. This was followed by hourly devotions with presentations on themes taken from the Litany of Loreto by Deacon Simon and other representatives till 5 a.m. These presentations and devotions were well-received by parishioners and visitors alike.
At 6 a.m. on Saturday 29, a farewell Mass was concelebrated by Frs Prabhudas and Jose Marie and attended by a full church. A delicious breakfast was served to all present afterwards.
The Sons of Our Lady of Fatima arrived around 8 a.m.to take the statue to Princes Town. The departure was more solemn than the arrival, and a few parishioners shed tears.
The Gran Couva/Tortuga/Gasparillo Cluster feels blessed and is thankful for the time that the Our Lady of Fatima statue spent in our community. Our priests and deacon and all those who played a supporting role are to be commended for their tremendous demonstration of servanthood. All glory to God! Our Lady of Fatima, pray for us. – Shrine Committee, Our Lady of Montserrat RC Church
Updated schedule (dates and venues) for the statue of Our Lady
August 12 – 26: St Philip and St James, Chaguanas
August 26 – September 9: Our Lady of Perpetual Help, San Fernando
September 9 – 23: La Divina Pastora, Siparia
September 23 – October 7: St Anthony’s, Pt Fortin
October 7 – 21: Our Lady of Fatima, Curepe (Miracle of the Sun, Youth Commission all-night vigil, October 13)
October 21 – November 4: St Michael, St Joseph
November 4 –18: Holy Cross, Santa Cruz
December 2 – 16: Holy Rosary, Port of Spain
December 16 – 31: Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception, Port of Spain