By Hieu Nguyen
For The Catholic Messenger
IOWA CITY — It has been 100 years since our Blessed Lady first appeared to three shepherd children in Fatima during the midst of World War I. This year, Pope Francis observed the 100th anniversary of the Marian apparition in a visit to Portugal, where he canonized two of the three children, Jacinta Marto and her brother Francisco Marto, on May 13. Altogether, the Blessed Virgin Mary is said to have appeared six times to the children, until Oct. 13, 1917.
College students who participate in activities at the Newman Catholic Student Center on the University of Iowa campus shared their reflections about the Marian apparitions.
“I find Mary’s Fatima appearances very moving and relevant to today,” said Grace Weiland, a University of Iowa sophomore. “She appeared to three shepherd children, so to get the message out, she had to work harder than if she appeared to an equivalent of today’s street preacher who could gather the masses and gain a following for her. The fact that the children saw and believed that it was Mary speaking to them is very moving; that they had such deep faith and were able to trust Our Mother.”
Weiland said she began learning about Fatima through social media. “A few months ago, I started following more religious/Catholic Instagram accounts,” she said. “The America Needs Fatima, in particular, has been helpful to see how large groups of people are celebrating, and ways I can get involved. Other accounts give small reflections on things like whatever saint is celebrating a feast day that day, or in this case, Mary’s appearances.”
The message of Fatima, “to me,” Weiland said, “was Mary coming to tell us that we need to pray for peace. If we pray the rosary every day with intention, and change our lives to honor Mary and her son, the world will see peace.”
Nick Sinclair, a University of Iowa senior, commented: “When Mary appeared to those kids, whoa Nelly! That changed the world! I’ve never seen her myself, but I think it’s wise to pray for her to get the spiritual power.” He added, “The Fatima event means that Mary can bless anyone that asks for her help.”
A sophomore from Kirkwood Community College, who declined to be identified, said: “I think it’s an incredible blessing that God blessed us by sending us his mother to give us a message of warning and hope.” The Kirkwood student celebrates the Fatima apparitions by praying the rosary and reading books about Fatima, she said. “There are also events at the parishes in Iowa City on the 13th of each month leading up to October, so I’m hoping to participate in some of those when I am around town.”
The Kirkwood student offered a recommendation. “I’d encourage people to dig deeper and learn more about Marian apparitions and devotions and to pray the rosary as often as they can.”