Statue of Our Lady at OLPH
“Dear Lady of Fatima, we come on bended knee, to beg your intercession, for Peace and Unity.”
The strains of this hymn to our Blessed Mother of Fatima, filled the Pro-Cathedral of Our Lady of Perpetual Help, San Fernando every day, from August 26 to September 9 when the statue of Our Lady of Fatima visited.
The area in the church chosen for her to be venerated was the shrine with the saints (an apse on the northern side of the church, which once served as the baptistry). The space was suitably prepared, and the statue stood at the centre of the shrine, alongside images of Sts Jacinta and Francisco.
The two weeks were marked by moments of prayer and reflection on our Lady’s message. Each day began with the celebration of Holy Mass, followed by devotions led by different groups and communities within the cluster: San Fernando/Pointe-a-Pierre/Mon Repos/La Romaine.
During the first week of Our Lady’s visit, a series of talks were featured on evenings. These were delivered by parish priest Fr Martin Sirju who spoke on ‘Church Teaching on Private Revelations and Relics’, Fr Wilfred John on ‘God’s Mysterious Choice’, Fr Clifford Graham on ‘Visitations’ and Msgr Kenneth Spence on ‘What do you want of me?’
Msgr Spence’s presentation was followed by an all-night vigil attended by 60 parishioners. The vigil ended with a Votive Mass to the Immaculate Heart of Mary.
During the second week, Deborah Raghunanan gave a talk on ‘Motherhood’. Parish catechists led the liturgy of the evening vespers on Tuesday to mark the beginning of Catechetical Month. The parish was graced with Rev Harold Burke-Sivers from the USA, who came at the request of the Men’s Ministry and Missionaries of the Divine Potter. His talk was dynamic, enlightening, humorous and energising.
We see OLPH, San Fernando, as a beacon of hope for many wearied souls who leave the San Fernando General Hospital and Magistrate’s Court. It is here that the Blessed Virgin calls her children from all walks of life to come rest at her bosom.
During the visit of Our Lady of Fatima, three amazing stories were recorded. The first instance is of a Presbyterian woman who came in search of the statue. She said that many years before, she had the opportunity of visiting the Shrine in Fatima, Portugal where she experienced a life-changing miracle. She said since she heard of Our Lady’s visit, she will be following her wherever she goes, as an act of gratitude.
On another occasion, a Muslim woman who is accustomed coming into the church said she felt something different upon entering. After speaking to someone, she learnt that the statue of Our Lady was present. She said she just felt a peace and serenity which consumed her totally.
Finally, on Independence Day, a man came into the church. He said he was released that very morning from the St Ann’s Mental Hospital. He indicated that after checking his money to travel, he had one extra dollar, and wanted to give it to Our Mother, whom he heard was visiting. These little stories add to faith, deepen devotion and continue the long line of veneration of Our Lady throughout the centuries.
On September 8, the faithful were invited to bring flowers to place in Our Lady’s shrine. Holy Mass was celebrated by Fr Sirju, and followed by a candlelight street procession with a smaller statue of Our Lady of Fatima being carried. Hundreds of people attended. After the procession, the faithful gathered around the grotto of Our Lady outside the church, where the petitions of the pilgrims who visited over the two weeks were burned.
On the last day, with tearful eyes, throngs of people ran behind the truck throwing petals, paying homage, one more time to Our Lady of Fatima. – Submitted by parishioners of OLPH
Updated schedule (dates and venues) for the statue of Our Lady
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