On the Feast of Our Lady of Fatima, Bishop David M. O’Connell, C.M., drew parallels between the Blessed Mother’s call for prayer 100 years ago and those needed today in a pandemic-stricken world.

“Between May 13 and October 13, 1917, three Portuguese shepherd children received apparitions of Our Lady near Fatima. Mary asked the children then to encourage the Church to pray for a world engulfed in war. The world today is engaged in another kind of war, against an invisible yet hostile, deadly enemy,” Bishop O’Connell preached May 13 during a special diocesan Mass of Thanksgiving and Support for health care workers, first responders and frontline workers battling COVID-19.

“The Church, on this Feast of Our Lady of Fatima, is moved to lift up to her loving intercession those who have cared for the victims of COVID 19: those on the front lines of health care, their staff and volunteers; those who provide so many services in our institutions for health care; those who provide food; those who provide essential services; those who are on the front lines, our first responders and emergency personnel,” he said.

The Mass, livestreamed from St. Joseph Church, part of Our Lady of Fatima Parish, Keyport, was concelebrated by Father Rene Pulgarin, parish pastor. Father Jason Parzynski, diocesan vocations director, served as the Bishop’s master of ceremonies. Though the Mass was celebrated without a congregation, parishioners’ photos lined the pews as Bishop O’Connell preached the homily, which can be viewed on YouTube.com/trentondiocese.

“Today, the Feast of Our Lady of Fatima inspires to pray for those who are spending their every day, their every hour, caring for the sick, working to bring the coronavirus to an end. At Our Lady’s invitation, pray the Rosary,” he said.

The Mass commemorating the Feast of Our Lady of Fatima is the third special May event led by Bishop O’Connell to highlight all impacted by the coronavirus pandemic. On May 1, the Feast of St. Joseph the Worker, Bishop O’Connell celebrated a noon Mass for all Workers from the chapel of St. Joseph Church in Toms River. The Mass was livestreamed and can still be viewed on YouTube.com/trentondiocese.   

Later that day, Bishop O’Connell joined bishops from around the United States and Canada in reconsecrating those two nations to the care of the Blessed Mother under the title “Mary, Mother of the Church.” Bishop O’Connell led a prayer service from Mary, Mother of the Church, Bordentown, which can be viewed in English on YouTube.com/trentondiocese or in Spanish.

Note: During this COVID-19 crisis and until further notice, Holy Communion can only be distributed to the faithful as Viaticum for the dying in the Diocese of Trenton.