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Article: Marian statue and Eucharist meet on way to Indianapolis

John Burger

Aleteia (Original article HERE)

Published on 06/08/24

Astatue of the Blessed Mother, usually kept in a New Jersey shrine, has been making its way to the National Eucharistic Congress that will open in Indianapolis in July. Just as Mary preceded Jesus, the statue is staying about a week ahead of one of the routes of the National Eucharistic Pilgrimage that are also due to arrive at the Congress.

On Memorial Day, the two routes – the Eucharistic Pilgrimage and the Marian Pilgrimage – intersected for the only time before they meet again in Indianapolis.

Known as the National Pilgrim Virgin Statue, the image is “paving the way with prayer and reparation for a revival of the Catholic Faith in our nation,” said the Diocese of Metuchen, New Jersey.

“Marking the special spiritual connection between the Diocese of Metuchen and the National Blue Army Shrine of Our Lady of Fatima and the World Apostolate of Fatima, the Cathedral of St. Francis of Assisi is the only stop prior to the National Eucharistic Congress in Indianapolis, where the National Pilgrim Statue of Our Lady of Fatima and our Eucharistic Lord will meet together on pilgrimage.” 

The National Blue Army Shrine is dedicated to spreading Our Lady of Fatima’s message of prayer, repentance, and conversion. The shrine is within the boundaries of the Metuchen Diocese. It began a tour of its National Pilgrim Virgin Statue in Trumbull, Connecticut on May 10, while the Seton Route of the National Eucharistic Pilgrimage began its trek to Indianapolis in New Haven, Connecticut, on May 18. 

Fallen-away Catholics

Parishes hosting the Fatima statue hold “Night of Love” vigils of Eucharistic reparation for the return of fallen-away and marginal Catholics. Petitions for these conversions are being carried to the Eucharistic Congress, which begins July 17.

Barb Ernster, National Coordinator and Communications Manager for the World Apostolate of Fatima, USA, served as custodian for the Virgin Statue through New Jersey and the Washington, DC, area.

“It's been really well received,” Ernster told Aleteia. “Many people have been coming to events."

They're excited about this, and they especially like the idea that their friends and family are being prayed for. We’ve had beautiful all-night vigils of reparation before the Eucharist with the statue.

Fatima connection

The World Apostolate of Fatima has a special significance for the National Eucharistic Revival, Ernster said.

“We've been giving talks on Fatima and its connection to the Eucharist, because the Eucharist is central to the Fatima message,” Ernster said. 

The statue was brought into the Metuchen cathedral at 3 p.m. on May 27, and the next two hours were filled with Marian hymns, veneration of the statue, and a talk by Franciscan Friar of the Renewal Fr. Luke Mary Fletcher, the Blue Army Shrine chaplain. 

Later, after the Eucharistic Pilgrimage arrived, there was an evening of praise and worship, and all-night adoration of the Blessed Sacrament. The priest who is accompanying the Seton Route pilgrims all the way to Indiana, Father Roger J. Landry, gave a meditation titled

"The Pilgrim Church on Earth: The Christian's Lifetime Procession with the Eucharistic Lord," in which he underlined the pilgrim nature of the Christian life and how that pilgrimage is accompanied by the Eucharistic Lord. 

Our Lady of Fatima, he said, is an image of the pilgrim Church on earth, “the Christian’s lifetime Eucharistic procession. If we want to know what the Church calls us to live, she shows us.”

Ernster also had a chance to have dinner with the six young Perpetual Pilgrims walking the Seton Route, who told her about accompanying the Blessed Sacrament through New York City and other places and being touched by other people's profound faith. As they processed through city streets, they saw “so many people recognizing the Eucharist and kneeling down.”

“There was no lack of faith there,” Ernster said. 

One of the Perpetual Pilgrims, Dominic Carstens, a recent graduate of Wyoming Catholic College, told Aleteia later,

“I do think that the people who saw us processing must have either thought we were crazy for believing in the True Presence or they thought we were right. Either way, God being present must have made a difference on each heart of those wide-eyed stares we encountered.”

Upcoming visit from Canada

For her own part, Ernster said she was touched by the “hunger for the faith” she’s witnessed on the Marian statue tour. 

“I do believe that where the faith is it's really strong, and that these are the people God is calling to help bring back those who have fallen away. And that's what touched me, this great love for Jesus and Mary and the Eucharist, and it truly is there.”

At Lucas Oil Stadium during the Eucharistic Congress, the statue will be venerated during a daily morning Mass for youth and family and a daily afternoon Mass in a room next to the exhibition hall. It will also be at the World Apostolate of Fatima’s booth, where people will continue to be able to submit prayer petitions.

The National Eucharistic Congress – the capstone of the US Bishops’ multi-year Eucharistic Revival – is also set to welcome Canada’s National Pilgrim Statue of Our Lady of the Cape, Queen of the Most Holy Rosary, from the national shrine in the Province of Quebec.

The statue will begin its pilgrimage July 4 from Cap-de-la-Madeleine on the bank of the St. Lawrence River.


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