Our Lady of Fatima procession draws thousands to St Mary’s Cathedral

No sooner had the statue of Our Lady returned to the refuge of St Mary’s Cathedral following her much-anticipated feast day procession, the heavens re-opened and umbrellas went up.

Around 2,000 attendees rushed off to beat the torrents which began the moment the procession concluded, with some exclaiming the timing as “miraculous” and “unbelievable.”

The Massgoers seemed in the clear of the week-long wet weather when they exited St Mary’s Cathedral for the Our Lady of Fatima rosary procession led by Archbishop Anthony Fisher OP on 11 May in candlelit darkness following the 6pm vigil Mass.

The occasion marked the second annual rosary procession celebrating the feast in Sydney, commemorating the 1917 Marian apparitions reported by Portuguese children Lúcia dos Santos and cousins Francisco and Jacinta Marto.

In one apparition, Mary asked Lúcia to build a chapel in her honour and to continue praying the rosary daily.

After 170mm of rain in the first 11 days of May, it seemed Sydney’s Catholics were in need of some divine intervention to ensure the outdoor procession could go ahead. They got just that.

Following Mass a darkened cathedral was aglow with thousands of candles lit from the flame of the Paschal candle as attendees joined in a rosary recited in Arabic, Croatian, Portuguese, Vietnamese, Malayalam and English.

Images by Giovanni Portelli Photography © 2024

In his homily, Bishop Richard Umbers had touched on the need for Catholic witnesses to Christ and looked towards Mary as the prime example of such witness.

“People ask questions: what is it about you that makes you optimistic? That makes you open? That makes you a person of pardon, forgiveness and charity? What is that flame in your heart? We say it’s Jesus,” Bishop Umbers said.

“It’s for us to bring this message to everyone around us. Firstly to ourselves, but then to friends, family and work colleagues, as the first Christians did.

“When we look to Mary as the first disciple, we follow her in haste.

“The message of Our Lady at Fatima, Lourdes, Knock and in other places, is always the same—prayer and fasting. She calls us to live more fully what Jesus has already revealed.

“Mary leads us to Jesus, she convinces us, pleads with us. ‘Believe in my son, follow my son.’

“If we pray the rosary, we contemplate the life of Mary with Jesus. If we receive the Eucharist duly prepared, we know that it is Jesus we receive into our hearts. In that way, her immaculate heart will triumph.”

Maureen Tamer and her sister Ann Boutros saw the procession advertised on Facebook and decided to attend despite the threat of rain.

“Not only does the procession give a public witness to Christ through Mary, but the different cultures together praying the rosary in their native tongues shows the universality of our Catholic faith,” Tamer said.

“We aren’t barred by language, but rather united by belief and hope.”

Our Lady of Fatima - The Catholic Weekly
Images by Giovanni Portelli Photography © 2024

Boutros said growing popularity of processions is a much-needed example of joy in the current cultural climate.

“In times of distress and famine, which we are living in now—a spiritual distress and famine—the message of Fatima is definitely needed,” she said.

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