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Posted February 01, 2005 in Memorials:
Our Lady’s Escort

by Paulette Curran.

On November 20, 2004, Fr. Patrick Moore, an associate priest of Madonna House, died at the age of 93.

Fr. Pat had a most unusual vocation within the vocation of his priesthood. For 34 years he traveled around the world with a Pilgrim Virgin Statue of Our Lady of Fatima.

This vocation, this mission, began in 1948 when he had been a priest for fourteen years and was a missionary in the Dominican Republic. In May of that year, he was sent by his bishop to Fatima to obtain the third pilgrim virgin statue of Our Lady of Fatima, a statue carved by José Thedin, the sculptor who had made the original statue enshrined at Fatima.

A Blessing

On that trip Fr. Pat was granted a private audience with Pope Pius XII, and he and the statue were blessed for his mission of bringing to the people the message of Fatima.

He and the statue then visited every diocese and parish in the Dominican Republic. That may have been all his bishop had had in mind. If so, Our Lady had other plans.

Around the World

Over the next 34 years, on numerous trips, Fr. Pat brought the Pilgrim Virgin throughout the world. By 1957 they had covered over 300,000 miles by land, sea, and air. And they continued to travel after that until 1982—another 25 years!

I myself never heard much about the pilgrimages and crusades centered around the Pilgrim Virgin, but recently I did a bit of reading about the pilgrim virgin statues. (For there were several of them..)

What is so special about the Pilgrim Virgin?

“‘The Pilgrim Virgin conveys the moral presence of Our Lady,” said Fr. Joseph Cassidy of the Archdiocese of Newark, New Jersey (U.S.A.). ‘Moral presence is not the same as physical presence, but rather implies the effect of her real presence. This effect has been so striking that the Pilgrim Virgin program has become part and parcel of the Fatima story itself.’

A Shower of Grace

“‘Experience shows that a visit of the statue of Our Lady of Fatima in a diocese results in a true shower of graces,” observed Professor A. Martins, S.J.

‘Any priest who doubts this need only volunteer to sit in the confessional during one of these visits.’ ” [1]

Apparently the crusades drew tremendous crowds. And no crowd was too big or too small for the Virgin’s visit. Often there were processions in which the statue was carried and the rosary said publicly in the streets. Often local radio and television stations showed the event. And the Fatima message was proclaimed.

Miracles

And right from the start, the journey of this statue was accompanied by such spectacular signs that Pope Pius XII exclaimed, “As she sets forth to claim her dominions, the miracles she performs along the way are such that we can scarcely believe our eyes at what we are seeing.” [2]

When the statue traveled throughout the United States, John Haffert, author of the book, Russia Will Be Converted, said, “Within one year, the Pilgrim Virgin evoked the greatest Marian devotion this nation has ever seen. Four million people touched the image, making four million acts of faith in the conversion of Russia.” [3]

John Haffert also said, “The greatest fruit of the Pilgrim Virgin has been conversions— numbered in many, many thousands.” [4]

Madonna House was among the many places Fr. Pat and the statue visited. They first met the community in Maryhouse, our house in the Yukon in 1955 while on pilgrimage there.

Fr. Gene Cullinane, who had a deep devotion to Our Lady, was chaplain of Maryhouse at the time. He and Fr. Pat became instant soul mates, and Fr. Gene became Fr. Pat’s spiritual director, a relationship that continued until Fr. Gene’s death in 1997.

In 1960 Fr. Pat made the first of numerous visits to MH Combermere. In Madonna House our experience of Fr. Pat and the Pilgrim Virgin was not dramatic, but was instead, as all things seem to be in Combermere, simple and homey.

Fr. Pat and the statue visited from time to time between pilgrimages. Usually we would see the statue first, standing in front of the chapel, and her arrival always was an occasion of joy.

We would pray before her and kiss her before and after Mass and whenever we were in the chapel. And even in Combermere she pilgrimmed, spending a day at the farm or a night in a dormitory.

I have a beautiful memory of the statue being carried in procession around the fields at the farm when she happened to come at the time of the blessing of the fields.

Unquestionably there were many hidden graces and blessings from her visits.

The visits of Fr. Pat himself were blessings, too. His holiness and love of Our Lady were palpable, and he had the tenderness I have come to associate with those whose spirituality is deeply Marian.

Fr. Pat’s vocation was that of a urodivoi, a fool for God. Though he doubtless often had the joy of seeing graces bestowed, he constantly suffered both from ill health and humiliations.

When he traveled, for example, he carried the statue openly—with no wrappings of any kind. On airplanes, instead of being in the baggage compartment, it sat on a paid seat next to him.

Not surprisingly, Fr. Pat was often ridiculed. But, I am told, the most difficult thing for him to bear was the indifference he encountered in the years after Vatican II when the Church was in upheaval and the Mother of God was often minimized.

The day of his funeral the staff who attended it in Sudbury, Ontario, brought the Pilgrim Virgin back here with them. For the Pilgrim Virgins are no longer traveling for crusades, and Fr. Pat has willed her to Madonna House.

Right now, until our directorate discerns a permanent place for her, she is in the annex we call Our Lady of the Visitation, the place where our elderly and sick members live. What an unspeakable gift it is to have her with us!

And what a gift to the world is the message that Our Lady brought us at Fatima!

A Peace Plan

These days as we carry the pain of the wars throughout the world, we need never feel that there is nothing we can do. For at Fatima Our Lady gave us her peace plan.

“Pray the rosary every day,” she said. She told us to avoid sin and amend our lives. She told us to accept the responsibilities of our daily lives and all our big and little crosses in reparation for sin and for the conversion of sinners. She told us to consecrate ourselves to her Immaculate Heart and to practice the devotion of the Five First Saturdays.

In one apparition Our Lady said, “War is a punishment from God for sins.” And in another she said, “If my requests are fulfilled Russia will be converted and there will be peace… In the end my Immaculate Heart will triumph… And peace will be granted to the world.”

Footnotes

[1] From Fatima: The Great Sign, by Francis Johnston, Augustine Publ. Co., Devon, England, 1980, p. 124.
[2] Ibid., p. 125
[3] Ibid.
[4] Ibid.

 

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