October 27, 2017

Blessed Mother’s message at Fatima strikes chord during ‘Morning with Mary’ gathering

Father Patrick Beidelman, second from right, rector of SS. Peter and Paul Cathedral Parish in Indianapolis, and archdiocesan seminarians process through SS. Peter and Paul Cathedral with a statue of the Blessed Mother during a ‘Morning with Mary’ on Oct. 14. Pictured with Father Beidelman are, front, from left: Liam Hosty and Matthew Perronie. Middle: Michael Clawson and Owen Duckett. (Submitted photo by Bob Kelly)

Father Patrick Beidelman, second from right, rector of SS. Peter and Paul Cathedral Parish in Indianapolis, and archdiocesan seminarians process through SS. Peter and Paul Cathedral with a statue of the Blessed Mother during a ‘Morning with Mary’ on Oct. 14. Pictured with Father Beidelman are, front, from left: Liam Hosty and Matthew Perronie. Middle: Michael Clawson and Owen Duckett. (Submitted photo by Bob Kelly)

By Bob Kelly (Special to The Criterion)

As she spoke to an audience honoring the 100th anniversary of the Blessed Mother appearing to three shepherd children at Fatima, Heather Renshaw chose to start her talk with a simple prayer.

“You came here today to hear a humble housewife share her love of the Blessed Mother, and you came to honor Our Lady of Fatima,” said Renshaw, the keynote speaker during the second annual archdiocesan ‘Morning with Mary’ program at SS. Peter and Paul Cathedral in Indianapolis on Oct. 14. “May Almighty God, who sees your sacrifices in secret, bless you for your efforts.”

The creator of the RealCatholicMom.com blog, Renshaw recalled how she considered the invitation to the archdiocesan event by prayerfully discerning God’s will—something the self-described “recovering stubborn and impatient” person said she had to intentionally slow down to accomplish.

Once she accepted, Renshaw said she “asked the Holy Spirit what he wanted me to share with you today—how he wants to bring both conviction and hope into your lives through the message of Fatima.”

Renshaw, who is married and has five children, recalled experiencing the loving presence of the Blessed Mother when she had surgery at the age of 3. It took her several hours to come out of anesthesia, which greatly concerned her parents.

When she awoke, her parents asked her how she was, to which she responded, “I saw a blue lady, and she told me I would be OK.”

Renshaw’s parents recounted that story to her throughout her youth, reminding her that the Blessed Mother is always there to protect us and gather us in her mantle of grace and peace.

In appearing to the three children at Fatima in 1917, Our Lady of Fatima told them that she wants people to be with her Son, but she was also troubled by the way people were turning away from him, Renshaw noted.

“Our Lady told the three shepherd children, ‘Stop offending God,’ and this was before the advent of widespread abortion, pornography, euthanasia, cohabitation and many other things,” Renshaw said.

Renshaw concluded her talk by saying that the Fatima message of praying the rosary for reparation, conversion and peace is as applicable in today’s world as when the Blessed Mother appeared in Fatima 100 years ago.

In her witness talk, Benedictine Sister Nicolette Etienne of Our Lady of Grace Monastery in Beech Grove said the Blessed Mother wants all of us to be in heaven.

“This is what I tell my students, ‘As long as you do your personal best, God doesn’t care how you do on the ISTEP [Indiana Statewide Testing for Educational Progress]. God is mostly concerned with how you know, love and serve God and God’s people,” said Sister Nicolette, a religion teacher at Holy Name of Jesus School in Beech Grove.

She told a story about a high school girl in 1950 who had an older brother who became a priest. Part of his ordination gift was a trip to Europe, and the girl was interested in making the trip, too, but her mom told her that in order to take the trip she had to separate from the guy she was dating, visit a shrine honoring the Blessed Mother, and ask Mary to bless her and lead her to become a religious sister.

The youth visited the shrine and prayed, but she told God there was no way she would become a religious sister. She also added that if she had any children, God could have them all.

The girl, Sister Nicolette’s mother Kay Etienne, went on to marry and have six children. Three of her sons became priests—including Archbishop Paul D. Etienne of Anchorage, Alaska, who was ordained a priest for the Archdiocese of Indianapolis—and her daughter, Nicolette, professed vows as a religious sister.

Sister Nicolette also detailed how her parents and grandparents were devoted to their faith and prayed the rosary once a week.

The event drew people from across the archdiocese, each with a story of their devotion to the Blessed Mother.

Jeanette Carlson, a member of St. Anne Parish in New Castle, recalled how her cancer-ridden mother prayed for the intercession of the Blessed Mother and was eventually cured.

Deacon Juan Carlos Ramirez attended the Morning with Mary program with 35 people from the Hispanic community who worship at St. Bartholomew Parish in Columbus. He related how his mother prayed to Mary to have a child, and eventually Juan was born.

“My grandfather prayed the rosary every day, so I believe praying the rosary has helped me to become the better person that I am today,” Deacon Ramirez said.

Clara and Paul Kachinsky of St. Barnabas Parish in Indianapolis also attended the event. Clara noted the importance of Mary in the life of all followers of Christ.

She said, “If Mary did not say ‘yes,’ then no one would enter heaven.”
 

(Bob Kelly is a freelance writer and member of Nativity of Our Lord Jesus Christ Parish in Indianapolis.)

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