Dear all,

We would like to share with you the events that we have lived in Holland surrounding the centannary of the apparitions of the Virgin of Fatima

The Consecration of Holland to the Immaculate Heart of Mary

This past May 13th, the centennial anniversary of the first apparition of the Virgin in Fatima, all of the bishops of Holland gathered in the Basilica of Sterre der Zee in Maastricht, consecrated “their bishoprics and all of the people living in their dioceses” to the Immaculate Heart of Mary, after the solemn celebration of Vespers.  “Through this consecration – says the release – the Bishops hope that the faithful will be strengthened to travel as the Church in Holland, along the road of life, in faith, hope and love, with joy and confidence, toward God our Heavenly Father”.[1]

The day of May 13th, the basilica Sterre der Zee in Maastricht was full of faithful who had come from various parts of the country, in order to unite themselves to the act of consecration of their bishops.  We believe that this act of consecration performed by all of the bishops together, has marked a new period for the local church.  The abundant blessings that have followed after this act can be seen in the faithful, above all in an increased devotion to Our Lady, and particularly, a desire to go deeper into the message of Fatima, central to understanding our history.

Image brought from Fatima and used for the Bishop’s consecration

We were able to participate in this historic act of consecration, and God, in His providence, allowed us to do so in a special way.  During Easter Week, a group of sisters had the grace of going on pilgrimage to Fatima, Portugal.  In addition to the proper end of the pilgrimage, we had the intention of bringing back an image, more than a meter high, to place in a grotto in the garden of the provincial house in Brunssum.  Our sisters have apostolate in the basilica on the first Friday of every month, and on the first Friday of May they mentioned the pilgrimage to the Rector of the Basilica and spoke of the image they had brought to be placed in a grotto in our garden.  Since they were looking for an image to display on the 13th, it was decided that it would be the one brought from Fatima that had been blessed in the Chapel of the apparitions, before which such an important consecration would be made.  The statue, as you can see in the photographs, is very beautiful, with delicate features and has acquired special meaning by this providential occurrence.

With a group of families and their children, we wanted to participate in this day by making a pilgrimage to the sanctuary.  We did so, deciding on the grotto where Saint Gerlach lived as our starting point.  Thus we went on foot through woods and fields over the very roads that Gerlach himself travelled each week to go and venerate the holy bishop Servasion in Maastricht.[2]

Consecration of our Institute to Our Lady of Fatima

This image of Our Lady of Fatima is not yet in its definitive place, since she has begun a “pilgrimage” to visit our communities.

In union with the whole Religious Family, on the 15th of May we made our consecration as an Institute.  For this, we got together with all of the sisters in the community in The Hague, and in the church, before the same image which on the 13th had presided over the consecration made by the bishops, we made our consecration as an institute, according to the beautiful formula sent by the General Government, which is an eloquent compendium of our Marian spirituality and of our fourth vow.

Here in Holland, many groups, association and families made the act of consecration to Our Lady of Fatima, that same weekend, and throughout the month of May.  In this way, as an Institute, we participated in a double way in this consecration, in union with the religious family and in union with the local church.

Fatima Congress

As the apex of the events surrounding the centenary, we would like to tell you about the grace we had of organizing a congress in order to go deeper into the message of Fatima.  This congress was organized jointly by our Religious Family and the Sint-Janscentrum or diocesan seminary of the city of Den Bosch.  The chosen date was May 31st, the last day of the month of Mary, and it took place at the Sint-Janscentrum.  It should be noted that the geographical location of this place was important, since it is in the center of the country and this facilitated participation, not only from Holland, but also from Belgium.

The city of Den Bosch is the capital of the Brabante Septentrional región.  The cathedral, also dedicated to St. John, is housed the precious and miraculous image of the Sweet (gentle) Mother of Den Bosch (Zoet Moeder), which has been a center of pilgrimage from the XIVth century and is greatly venerated by the people even in our day.  In it interior one can find the chapel that holds the precious image, which is visited by numerous pilgrims and is always adorned with flowers and votive candles left by the faithful, together with their prayers.

Even in our days, the month of May dedicated to the Most Holy Virgin is intensely lived by the faithful.  In this sense, it was a grace to be able to organize this congress as the closing of the month of Maria.  The chosen theme was “Fatima and the hope of peace for the XXIst century”.  There were three invited speakers.  The first conference was led by Father Gonzalo Ruiz, who came from Rome and spoke a

bout “Fatima and the martyrs of the XXth century.  Completing in our flesh what is lacking in the Passion of Christ.” (Col. 1: 24)  The second conference was led by Monsignor Jan Hendriks, auxiliary bishop of the diocese of Haarlem-Amsterdam, canon lawyer and mariologist?, who spoke about “The consecration of our families to Mary in the light of Fatima”.  Finally, the third conference was led by Mother Anima Christi, missionary in Russia, who spoke about “Fatima, Russia and the maternal protection of Mary: a testimony”.

The lovely image of Our Lady of Fatima before which the bishops consecrated Holland, also presided over this congress.  Placed on a procession stand and decorated with white and blue flowers, the statue was in front of the conference room, and thus attracted the looks and thoughts of all with her silent and majestic beauty.

In order for more people to participate and to better spread the message of the congress, we had to work beforehand to publicize the event, and hoped in this way that a great number of people would be able to take advantage of the high level of presentation that would be shared by each of the speakers.  For this, we asked for help from the Catholic Newspaper Katholiek Nieuwsblad who happily agreed to publish the event in their paper, which is distributed in Holland and Belgium.  For the centenary of Fatima, the newspaper had planned a special edition about Fatima that would be published on May 12th.  Motivated by the initiative of the congress and the invited speakers, they decided to interview Mons. Hendriks and publish the interview as one of the main articles for this special edition (KN, May 12th edition, pg. 14).  The interview was titled “Mary is very important for the family”, and in it the journalist deftly interwove the consecration the bishops would make the next day, the message of Fatima and its timeliness, and the congress on Fatima that would take place on May 31st.  The interview was an excellent presentation of the importance of consecrating oneself to Mary, and a notable invitation to the congress, even publishing the contact information in order for people to sign up.  With this excellent publicity, people began to take interest in the congress and began to sign up from all over.  In addition, we were able to hand out pamphlets, after the ceremony in the basilica of Maastricht on May 13th, and publish the event on the websites of the Institute and the seminary of Den Bosch, which also made registration more efficient.

By the grace of God, these efforts bore fruit.  Despite the fact that the congress was held on a Wednesday, that is, in the middle of the week, and in the month of May (which is usually a busy month since it is the end of the semester), nevertheless, more that 250 people attended the congress.  An important factor that helped people attend, was having rented buses that left from our convents in Brunssum, the Hague and Heiloo.  Approximately 100 people arrived in this way from the North and South of the country.

Given that the participants spoke different languages, we decided to offer simultaneous translation of the talks, giving each participant an audio device so that they could follow the conferences with a selection of three translation channels (Dutch, English and Spanish).  The first conference given by Father Gonzalo would be in Spanish with simultaneous translation into Dutch and English.  Thanks to this system, and the excellent translation into Dutch by Mother Iuxta Crucem, into English by Mother Nadiya and into Spanish by a lay volunteer, each of the participants was able to follow the conferences easily and at the normal rhythm of the talk, thus making it possible for difficult theological themes to be followed by the people with great attention.

Procession and Marian Consecration

After the conferences, the beautiful statue of which we have spoken, and before which the bishops of Holland had consecrated the country, and which was present during the congress, was brought in solemn procession by the seminarians, preceded by candles carried by two Servidoras.  After these, the faithful people followed the image carrying candles and singin the traditional song of Ave Maria to Our Lady of Fatima.

When we arrived at the altar that had been prepared in the garden and decorated with lovely white flowers, the statue was placed there and Mons. Hendriks read the consecration, accompanied by all the faithful, since each one had a prayer card with the words.  After the consecration the faithful brought their candles and left them at the feet of Our Lady.  It was a moment of great solemnity and recollection, with the faithful placing their candles and stopping to pray for a moment before Our Lady, while the sisters continued to intone hymns to Mary.

In Christ and Mary

Sr. María de Montserrat

Solemnity of the Sacred Heart

Las tres conferencias serán publicadas en la revista internacional católica Communio, en la edición holandesa del mes de octubre, gracias a la invitación del padre rector F. De Rycke del seminario de Den Bosch, quien es también el jefe de redacción de la edición holandesa (http://communio.nl/wp/). También el periódico católico antes citado, Katholiek Nieuwsblad, publicó un extenso artículo luego del congreso, bajo el título “El mensaje de Fátima es inagotable” en su edición digital del 1 de junio con galería de fotos (https://www.katholieknieuwsblad.nl/nieuws/de-boodschap-van-fatima-is-onuitputtelijk) y en su edición impresa del 9 de junio, pg. 13. También agradecemos a este periódico católico por el gran trabajo de difusión hecho.

Pueden ver galería de fotos del evento, yendo al sitio del seminario de Den Bosch http://www.sint-janscentrum.nl/?p=newsitem&id=868&t=Fotoserie+indrukwekkende+Fatimaconferentie o bien al nuestro, en el siguiente enlace: https://www.facebook.com/ssvmnortherneurope/videos/1404892589586466/

[1] https://www.rkkerk.nl/toewijding-nederlandse-bisdommen-aan-onbevlekte-hart-maria/  “Door deze toewijding aan het Onbevlekte Hart van Maria hopen de bisschoppen dat alle gelovigen gesterkt worden om als Kerk in Nederland de weg door het leven te gaan in geloof, hoop en liefde, met vreugde en vertrouwen, naar God de hemelse Vader.

[2] Gerlachus van Houthem, (Gerlaco de Valkenberg) (1100? – 1170?), was a XIIth century Dutch hermit.

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