By Bishop Robert Baker
This Saturday, May 13th, the Diocese of Birmingham launches its Marian Year, commemorating the centenary year of the Apparitions to the three young shepherds of Fatima, beginning May 13, 1917.
Pope Francis will canonize two of the visionaries on his visit to Fatima close to the anniversary date of the first apparition in Fatima, Francisco and Jacinta. The universal Church is highlighting the Fatima messages, and our diocese will join in this centenary celebration with events in our diocese and in our parishes.
Specifically, we are encouraging praying the Rosary, at least a decade of the Rosary daily, observing the First Saturday celebration of Holy Mass, joining in the diocesan consecration to the Immaculate Heart of Mary, and visiting Marian churches and grottos of our diocese.
We are inviting pastors and Religious communities to indicate special sites dedicated to the Blessed Mother on parish grounds, including parish churches dedicated to Mary. Kindly let our chancery know (ph. 205-833-0175) if you would like a church or grotto to be designated as a “Marian Year Pilgrimage Site” in the diocese. We hope to obtain a special indulgence through the Sacred Penitentiary at the Vatican for such sites in our diocese, to encourage private and public prayer in honor of the Blessed Virgin Mary at those sites. Especially parishes with grottos dedicated to Our Lady of Fatima would be encouraged as pilgrimage sites.
May the Blessed Mother lead us closer to her Son, Jesus Christ, during this Marian Year, as we prepare for our 50th anniversary as a diocese in 2019 with a Eucharistic Congress (June 28-29, 2019)!