The year 2017 marks the 100th anniversary of the apparitions of the Blessed Virgin Mary to three shepherd children in Portugal from May to October 1917. The message of Fatima includes a call to conversion of heart, repentance of sin, prayer (especially the Rosary), and devotion to the Immaculate Heart of Mary.
Pope Francis has encouraged the faithful to take advantage of the spiritual benefits at Marian celebrations during this centennial observance. In the Diocese of Altoona-Johnstown, Bishop Bartchak will lead the following celebrations:
* Saturday, May 13, Memorial of Our Lady of Fatima, 11:30 A.M., Rosary and Mass, Our Lady of Fatima Church, Altoona.
* Friday, September 8, Feast of the Birth of the Blessed Virgin Mary, 5:30 P.M., Mass and Rosary Procession (outdoor shrine), Saint Catherine of Siena Church, Duncansville.
* Sunday, October 1, Annual Marian Celebration in Honor of the Holy Rosary, 3:00 P.M., Rosary and Mass, Saint Benedict Church, Johnstown.
Participation in these celebrations are in keeping with the ways in which the faithful may obtain a plenary indulgence during the Centennial Fatima Observance as announced by Pope Francis. The opportunity for a plenary indulgence throughout the entire year, which began on November 27, 2016, and will end November 26, 2017, may be gained as follows:
To obtain the plenary indulgence, the faithful must fulfill the ordinary conditions: Go to confession and Communion, be interiorly detached from sin, and pray for the intentions of the Holy Father.
(1) Pilgrimage to the Shrine: Make pilgrimage to the Fatima Shrine in Portugal and participate in prayer dedicated to the Virgin. In addition, the faithful must pray the Our Father, recite the Creed, and invoke the Mother of God.
(2) Prayer before any Statue of Our Lady of Fatima: The faithful who visit with devotion a statue of Our Lady of Fatima solemnly exposed for public veneration in any church, oratory or proper place during the days of the anniversary of the apparitions, the 13th of each month from May to October (2017), and there devoutly participate in prayer in honor of the Virgin Mary. Those seeking an indulgence must also pray an Our Father, recite the Creed and invoke Our Lady of Fatima.
(3) Application for the Elderly and Infirmed: To those who, because of age, illness or other serious cause, are unable to get around, may pray in front of a statue of Our Lady of Fatima and must spiritually unite themselves to the jubilee celebrations on the days of the apparitions, the 13th of each month, between May and October 2017. In addition, they must pray the Our Father, recite the Creed, and offer to our merciful God with confidence, through Mary, their prayers and sufferings or the sacrifices they make in their own lives.