Bishop consecrates diocese to Blessed Virgin Mary
Catholics packed into Ss. Simon and Jude Cathedral bowed their heads as they joined Bishop Thomas J. Olmsted in a prayer that consecrated the diocese to the Immaculate Heart of Mary during an Oct. 13 Mass.
“In union with the entire Diocese of Phoenix, I entrust myself and all my brothers and sisters to you, Holy Virgin and Mother of the Church. With confident affection, I say to you: I am always yours! We are completely yours!”
It was the culmination of a 54-day novena that began Aug. 21 and ended on the 100th anniversary of the final apparition of Our Lady of Fatima to three humble shepherd children.
At a time when humanity lingers on the precipice of world war and attacks on the family such as pornography and abortion run rampant, the message of conversion, prayer and penance is just as crucial today as it was 100 years ago, said Msgr. Peter Bui, pastor of Holy Spirit Parish in Tempe.
Msgr. Bui, who is also Theological Consultant to the Bishops for the diocese, helped organize the 54-day Novena and consecration.
“Society — through modernism, materialism and secularism — has pushed aside God and is just living without any moral guidance,” Msgr. Bui said. “The message of Fatima is return to God, prayer, penance. And that’s what we need.”
The consecration of individuals and of the diocese “helps us remember we have a powerful mother in heaven, the Blessed Mother,” Msgr. Bui said. Just as our earthly mother is with us especially in times of distress, so the Blessed Virgin Mary “takes seriously her role and calling to be our spiritual mother. And prayer helps us see that. She is very much involved in our lives to help us get to heaven, to Jesus,” Msgr. Bui said.
Bishop Olmsted began the Mass and Marian consecration telling the standing-room-only crowd at the cathedral about the troubled times in which the Blessed Virgin Mary appeared to three shepherd children near Fatima, Portugal. He referred to Pope Benedict XVI who described Our Lady of Fatima as the one who introduced the three seers to a deep knowledge of the love of the Blessed Trinity and led them to God Himself as the most beautiful reality in existence.
“In a century when atheism and totalitarian regimes would bring the horror of genocide of hundreds of millions of people and when equal numbers of innocent children in the womb would die through legalized abortion, this deep knowledge of the Blessed Trinity was and continues to be badly needed in our world,” Bishop Olmsted said.
In his homily, the bishop pointed to the first reading in which Ahaz refused to ask the Lord for a sign. “Not only Ahaz, but many people down through history sadly have refused to listen to God,” Bishop Olmsted said. And though many refuse to listen to God, His “mercy is far greater than our foolishness and our human pride, stronger than sin.”
Through the prophet Isaiah, God promised a sign, that the virgin would be with child and bear a son and name him Emanuel. The Son whom Mary brought forth is “this wondrous sign, and He is truly Emanuel, God with us,” who remains with us in the Eucharist, Bishop Olmsted said.
The bishop pointed to the era in which the apparitions at Fatima occurred as a time of despair when “many people had lost hope in God’s love and refused to believe God is with us.”
Into that world, “God sent a sign — He sent the Blessed Virgin Mary to the three children in Fatima a message of hope for them all, a message to help them to believe firmly in the merciful love of God, in the victorious Cross of Christ, in Jesus’ Incarnation and birth, the fountain of dignity and hope for all the human family.”
Those who attended the Mass processed forward after Communion to receive one of hundreds of blessed brown scapulars. From the elderly and infirm to small children and teenagers, the faithful stood in long lines as the cathedral’s choir sang.
Luke Speier and his wife Allie of St. Anne Parish in Gilbert were in attendance with their 1-year-old daughter Marian. They spent much of the evening walking the baby in the courtyard but said they were nevertheless moved by the liturgy.
“I think it’s important for us to come together as a total diocese especially when it comes to the consecration to our Blessed Mother,” Luke said. “The bishop clearly asked for his entire diocese to do this and I thought it was extremely important to show our support of the bishop but also to be involved in this consecration.”
St. Jerome parishioner Wanda Weisgarber of St. Jerome Parish found respite care for her autistic son and was thrilled to be able to attend the Mass.
“I’ve always loved Our Lady of Fatima because my grandmother instilled it in us about the three little children of Fatima — and I’ve always loved Mary,” Weisgarber said. “It meant everything to me to be here tonight and it was just a miracle that I got to come.”
Julie Watson of St. Maria Goretti Parish in Scottsdale came with her friend Denise. “We’ve kind of been on a journey and we are just getting to know Mary,” Watson said. The two made a pilgrimage to Mexico City last year and committed to praying the 54-day Novena together each day.
Paul and Margaret Chang of Tempe attend Ss. Simon and Jude regularly. They came with four of their six children, they said, “because we wanted to respond to the call of Our Lady that we should consecrate ourselves and our families to her and to Jesus.”
Their daughter Paula, 16, said she was touched by the Mass. “It was jam- packed full and just seeing the church so full gave strength to my faith.”
That strengthening of faith was something Bishop Olmsted pointed to with the consecration.
“Let us ask Jesus and Mary to strengthen our faith to prepare us for the spiritual battle that is part of following Christ,” the bishop said. He also reminded the congregation of the promise Our Lady of Fatima made 100 years ago, that in the end her Immaculate Heart would triumph.
“Yes, it will triumph, because it beats in union with the Sacred Heart of her Son,” the bishop said.