Parish of the
Good Shepherd, Woodthorpe
St Anthony's of Calverton

The Good Shepherd Church, Nottingham
Sunday 16 October 2022
How did these two little children - Jacinta age 9 and Francisco age 10 - end up being canonised and two of the youngest saints in the Catholic Church?

Standing in the Basilica of Our Lady of the Rosary in Fatima, Portugal on 13 May 2017, Pope Francis canonised these two shepherd children who saw Mary at Fatima, but more importantly, he said, "they heeded the call to pray for sinners and trust in the Lord".

"We declare and define Blessed Francisco Marto and Blessed Jacinta Marto as saints," the pope proclaimed, as hundreds of thousands of pilgrims broke out in applause before he finished speaking.

Fatima came to us on Sunday 16 October at the Good Shepherd Church, Nottingham, when the World Apostolate visited with the Centennial Pilgrim Statue of the Immaculate Heart of Mary and the relics of Saints Jacinta and Francisco Marto. Our "pilgrimage" began with a procession and a crowning of Our Lady's statue followed by Holy Mass. Pilgrims sang the Fatima Ave and waved their white hankies to greet and honour Our Lady, as they do in Fatima, when her statue entered the Church.

After the Mass we prayed the Holy Rosary communally as people came to venerate the relics of the little saints. The Apostolate gave an interesting and informative talk about the message of Fatima, the Brown Scapular and the importance of the First Saturday's Devotion.

In the afternoon, Canon Philipp Ziomek, our parish priest, enrolled many of the congregation in the Brown Scapular of Our Lady of Mount Carmel, after which we concluded with the Sacrament of Confession and a Holy Hour of Eucharistic Adoration.

Bishop Patrick McKinney, who celebrated the Mass, re-echoed in his homily the theme that Saints Jacinta and Francisco were made saints not because of the apparitions but because of the way they responded to Our Lady and lived God centred, holy lives.

The fact that Our Lady chose these two little ones is significant. It is a reminder to us of how precious children are and to show us that holiness is not just for adults, but that children too are called to live holy lives.

We are called to follow the example of the "Little Shepherds", particularly their constant prayer for sinners and their adoration of "the hidden Jesus" in the Tabernacle. Jacinta and Francisco had a great love for Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament in the Mass, and they spent many hours in adoration outside of the Mass to console and adore Jesus.

In October 1918, Jacinta gave us a message which is both relevant and important for our turbulent times. She said: …

God wishes to establish in the world devotion to the Immaculate Heart of Mary. Tell everybody that God grants us graces through the Immaculate Heart of Mary; that people are to ask her for them; and that the Heart of Jesus wants the Immaculate Heart of Mary to be venerated at his side. Tell them also to pray to the Immaculate Heart of Mary for peace, since God has entrusted it to her. Saint Jacinta (October 1918)

When Pope St. John Paul II beatified Francisco and Jacinta, he said:

"There will be saints among the children". And there actually have been saints. But we can now add: "There will be apostles among the children. Let us pray so that this prediction, this auspice may come true ever more, as St. Pius X's came true… Father, to You I offer praise for all Your children, from the Virgin Mary, Your humble Servant, to the little shepherds, Francisco and Jacinta. May the message of their lives live on forever to light humanity's way". Saint John Paul II. (13 May 2000)

We are thankful to the World Apostolate of Fatima for this wonderful visit and pray that Our Lady will pour down many graces upon our parish and particularly upon our children and young people whose prayers and intercessions are very powerful. We also pray that all will respond to Our Lady's request for the First Saturday's Devotion and consecration to God through her Immaculate Heart.

Caroline Smith

On behalf of the Good Shepherd Church

God bless.
3 Thackeray's Lane, Woodthorpe, Nottingham, NG5 4HT. Tel: (0115) 926 8288