(SNR) – In the year 1917, in a mountainous region at the center of Portugal, the Mother of God appeared six times to three young children, Lucia, Francisco and Jacinta. She brought a message of the need to pray for peace, especially through the Rosary and devotion to her Immaculate Heart.
This year marks the 100th anniversary of these apparitions of Mary at Fatima, and to join in the celebration and the graces of this year, Father Gary Coulter and Father Ronald Homes will lead a pilgrimage to Fatima and Lourdes. The pilgrimage to France, Spain and Portugal will be held July 5-14.
Father Coulter explained how a pilgrimage is not the same as a vacation.
“Yes, it means departing from the normal routine of our lives and traveling to some destination,” he said. “But what makes a pilgrimage isn’t just the travel, or even the destination. What is important is that it is also a spiritual journey that reminds us: the destination of our ultimate pilgrimage, the pilgrimage of our lives, is Jesus Christ!”
He continued, “If I spend the same amount of time and money on a dream vacation or luxury cruise, what would I have to show for it afterwards? The difference is that after every pilgrimage, I return changed. We might visit a holy place, the relics of a saint or a famous shrine. But ultimately, we go to encounter Jesus in a deeper way such that, we can bring Christ back into our daily lives, to our families and friends, to our parishes, schools, and workplaces.”
The pilgrimage July 5-14 will include a full day in Lourdes, France – where Mary appeared to St. Bernadette, a day in Santiago de Compostela, Spain – the famous pilgrimage site honoring St. James, and a day of retreat in Fatima July 13, the anniversary of Mary’s third appearance.
Among many stops in Spain are Loyola, the birthplace of St. Ignatius, and the Sanctuary of Our Lady of Covadonga, which marks the battle that halted the Moorish invasion of Spain. In Portugal the group will visit Braga, the religious center of Portugal with its oldest Cathedral, as well as sites such as the largest church in Portugal, and one of the oldest recorded Eucharistic miracles.
To learn more about the pilgrimage, everyone is invite to one of two information nights. They will be held Sunday, Feb. 12 at 8 p.m. at Gianna’s Java and Gelato, 2241 O St., Lincoln, and Monday, Feb. 13 at 7 p.m. at Aquinas High School in David City.
Father Coulter will also give a presentation on the “Rosary Journey of the Holy Land” at 7 p.m. Feb. 12 at Gianna’s Java and Gelato before the Fatima info night, as part of the diocesan “Coffee House” series.
The information nights will cover the places to be visited on the pilgrimage, and will also be a chance to meet fellow pilgrims, have any questions answered, and cover topics such as cost, electronics, weather, luggage, jet lag, safety and carpooling.
More information about the July 5-14 Fatima pilgrimage, including the full brochure and online registration can be found by visiting www.frcoulter.com/fatima or call Father Coulter at 402-786-2705 or Father Homes at 402-543-2233. The trip is being organized through Tekton Ministries, who also have many travel resources at their website, www.tektonministries.org.