Paulo Cunha, EPA/CNS 
A statue of Mary is carried through the crowd in 2013 at the Marian shrine of Fatima in central Portugal. 
Paulo Cunha, EPA/CNS 
A statue of Mary is carried through the crowd in 2013 at the Marian shrine of Fatima in central Portugal. 

Catholics from around western Oregon will take part in a series of Portland pilgrimage walks May 13, converging at St. Mary Cathedral for prayer and devotion in honor of Our Lady of Fatima. 

This year marks 100 years since shepherd children in Portugal had an encounter with Mary, who urged peace amid World War I, penance, personal conversion and prayer for the conversion of the Soviet Union, which was in the process of the Bolshevik revolution. 

The centennial has sparked a Renaissance of Fatima devotion. Practitioners say it fits the modern era.  

“We’re all hungry for peace and for family strength, and I think we can find that through Our Lady of Fatima,” says Brenda Schwartz, president of the Portland Division of the World Apostolate of Fatima. “This message is so uniting. It can give us hope. At the same time, we can be introspective and find where we can repent and make reparation. Our Lady set it up so we will embrace all the sacraments of our faith.”

The May 13 event, on a Saturday that also marks the feast of Our Lady of Fatima, includes prayerful walks that begin from five sites in the city. Pilgrims plan to carry statues of Mary and other religious items. 

Once at the cathedral in Northwest Portland by about 1 p.m., they will have an opportunity to pray the rosary at 2 p.m., attend a 2:30 p.m. Mass with Archbishop Alexander Sample as presider, and go to confession starting at 3:30 p.m. In 2014, the archbishop consecrated the archdiocese to Our Lady of Fatima. 

The longest pilgrimage walk will start at the Grotto in Northeast Portland. A youth contingent will join there. Other locations are Holy Rosary Parish, St. Stephen Parish, the Washington Park MAX station and St. Michael Parish downtown. 

“The experience will be one of the fellowship of the Christian faith,” says Dominican Father Gabriel Mosher, who is helping guide the day. “We all feel a certain separation from one another. We all live in a society where we are so dispersed. But without seeing ourselves as a part of the bigger church, we miss out on a great richness. This is an opportunity to witness to our faith in public; it’s fellowship for a particular good.”

This is likely to be a multicultural event, with strong Fatima devotion from Filipino and Vietnamese Catholics in particular.  

Any Catholic who shirks Marian devotion is missing a big opportunity, says Schwartz. “Mary brings us so close to her son,” she explains. “The relationship you have with Jesus through Mary is so close, so intense.” As a convert to Catholicism, Schwartz once was troubled by Marian prayer, but when she learned more about it, she was convinced.

Father Mosher says the principal message of Mary is needed keenly in modern culture — “I can abandon my will to God and I won’t be less for it.”  

Two of the Portuguese shepherd children who relayed messages from Mary at Fatima will be canonized by Pope Francis in Rome on the day of the pilgrimage.  

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