Dear Religious Family,
Our Lady of Peace Sanctuary has an image of Our Lady, a little more than nine meters tall, depicting her Immaculate Heart. It is inspired by Our Lady’s apparitions at Fatima, and was commissioned by Bishop Sweeny, the previous pastor who is now deceased. She is in charge of attracting her children and then leading them to her Son. It is impressive how people pray to her. Some, not even knowing that the statue represents the Mother of God, ask her for graces and, when they meet us, they ask: Who is the Lady of the statue? There are some people who give us money in gratitude for a grace received at her hands. People who do not profess the Catholic faith, Buddhists, people from very different countries and cultures who even speak the language with great difficulty, simply say: “I asked her. She answered. Here is money. Thank you.” She, then, takes it upon herself to call them, to awaken their concerns and move their hearts, to begin to awaken the radical change of their conversion to God. And, in fact, we are witnesses of many conversions.
Particular moments of graces and conversions take place on the 13th between the months of May and October, when the apparitions of Our Lady in Fatima took place. On these days, the Fathers of the Institute celebrate “the Mass of Fatima”. The greatest miracle of all is the Holy Mass, which, thanks be to God, we celebrate every day. But what is special about these Masses are the sermons that exhort to conversion and change of life. After the Holy Mass, we make a procession with the Blessed Sacrament praying the Rosary. At the end, we receive the blessing with the Blessed Sacrament and listen to some excerpts from Sacred Scripture, for example, “I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink…” (Mt 25:35).
After this Mass, we try to stay longer and talk, to be available to the parishioners. Particularly I have not had the opportunity to be in many “Fatima Masses”, but in one of the ones I was in, a boy who was far from the Church and was approaching a difficult moment in his life, since, apparently, he would soon go to jail, after crying for a long time in front of the image of Our Lady, he confessed. Another story: a girl who had already planned her suicide decided to go to the “Mass of Fatima” and in it she found peace, thanks to God, and decided not to carry out her tragic resolution. And these are stories that we know because our sisters live them in first person, but many more happen to people who prefer not to tell them, and keep everything to themselves. At other times it is not we who are witnesses, but the parents or our parishioners, who are also very apostolic.
Father Brian Dinkel IVE, at the “Fatima Mass” in August, encouraged the faithful not to be afraid, to have courage and, as an example of this, he spoke of the little shepherds, who faced storms, were interrogated, imprisoned, pressured, but always maintained a strong faith. In spite of everything, they prayed and offered sacrifices to God for sinners. He said that the cross transforms “destruction” into salvation; the point is that there is hope, that He makes all things new, and God wants us, like the little shepherds, to have the same faith and hope in the face of all our problems and difficulties.
This mission in California is located in a very particular place, the Silicon Valley, where we are close to big companies like Google, Facebook, Amazon, Johnson & Johnson, etc. Close to us is also San Francisco, which, more than three hundred years ago, was the land that particularly missioned St. Junipero Serra founding many missions, but which is currently characterized by liberalism in its greatest extremes. However, in the midst of all this, there is our beloved Sanctuary of Our Lady of Peace which is a little piece of Heaven and hope in the midst of so much forgetfulness of God and materialism, a “Eucharistic community”, where the pillars are really the Holy Eucharist and Our Lady.
In the first part of her Memoirs, Sister Lucia writes one of her dialogues with the Blessed Virgin, whose words can be applied to our mission here. The Venerable said to Our Mother:
– “I wanted to ask her to take us to Heaven.
-Yes, I will take Jacinta and Francisco soon, but you will stay here a little longer. Jesus wants to make use of you to make me known and loved. He wants to establish devotion to my Immaculate Heart in the world.
– And I will stay here alone? I asked pityingly.
-No, daughter. Are you suffering a lot? Don’t be discouraged. I will never leave you. My Immaculate Heart will be your refuge and the road that will lead you to God.
As she said these last words, she opened her hands and communicated to us, for the second time, the reflection of that intense light. In it we saw ourselves as if immersed in God […] In front of Our Lady’s right hand was a heart surrounded by thorns that seemed to be sticking into it from all sides. We understood that it was the Immaculate Heart of Mary outraged by the sins of men and asking for reparation” .
In conclusion, we ask that in our missions we always remember the words of Our Mother, who, like Sister Lucia, never leaves us and is our refuge and our way to God.
Santa Luisita Community – United States, California