PILGRIM VIRGIN OF FATIMA IN DIVINE WILL
The Divine Will and Fatima messages have worked powerfully in our lives. The following is a witness to the wonders of God’s love for us all through these two ministries.
My name is David Russell and my wife of 38 years, Gloria, are so pleased to be a part of the St. Faustina community! Through the leadership of Fr. Ramon and the many parishioners who have opened their hearts to us we know beyond doubt God has led us here.
We are trying to bring our experience from the parishes we lost in our move to Central Florida. We feel the intercession following us from all the souls we have ministered with and to. One such ministry is the Pilgrim Virgin of Fatima Statue home visits which aid us in spreading the message of Fatima in a personal way.
During a 2019 visit to Fatima, I was unexpectedly asked to Lector by the Director of English Mass at the Sanctuary of Apparitions, Fr. Jude Arinze, CMF. After the Mass, I went to the sacristy to thank Fr. Jude and take a selfie of us. I told Father how it was the thrill of a lifetime! And he thought Mary wanted me to read that day.
Fast forward two years to when Gloria and I returned to Mass at Fatima in 2021. Covid was still requiring many to wear masks so when I looked up at the sanctuary but was unsure if it was Fr. Jude concelebrating. Neither Gloria nor I could be certain if it was him so we waited (“stalked”) until he came out after Mass. He was wearing a mask and I showed him the selfie of us taken two years prior and asked “if he knew this man?” He pulled down his mask and said, “It’s me!”. Our long-distance friendship continued over the next two years.
In February of this year, we were inspired to offer the Pilgrim Virgin ministry to St. Faustina’s, so I reached out to Fr. Jude to see if he might be able to ship one to us. He suggested it would be better if we visited. Okay, twist my arm. We will need to go back to Fatima in 2023. But we weren’t exactly sure when we might plan a trip. Money was tight because our Tennessee home wasn’t selling as quickly as we hoped. So, we met with Fr. Ramon for some spiritual direction. He suggested we wait until after the house was sold. Within two weeks in was, for cash! I guess our lady wants us to follow Father’s spiritual direction.
Gloria and I have discussed how our pilgrimage group of just 5 came together but the best we can recall is our friend Carmelita Flores mentioned her desire to go to Spain. It was all very spontaneous! Next thing we knew, Father Ramon was going, along with Carmelita Flores and Yolanda Inumerable.
CLICK HERE to see all the photos of the “Fatima Five Trip”.
Never did it occur to us our pastor would join us! Now the exact route of our pilgrimage evolved. Carmelita certainly influenced our itinerary. She would say, “please, please let us go to…Sagrada Familia in Barcelona.” “What about the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela?” Thanks to her inspiration our route came together beautifully!
A few days before our trip hurricane Lee was threatening Florida with a category level five storm. We were concerned this would delay our trip and prayed during our St. Faustina public rosary that it would amount to nothing. Within a day the storm took a radical turn north, and it was obvious even a hurricane wasn’t going to stand in the way of this pilgrimage for the Pilgrim Virgin Statue.
We departed Miami on 9/11 for the flight to Barcelona with layover in Lisbon. Arriving on the 12th we visited the Sagrada Familia, the largest unfinished Roman Catholic church in the world. It has been under construction for 140 years! We thought St. Faustina’s took a long time!
Next we drove to Zaragoza, Spain and visited our Lady of the Pillar. The very first church in the world dedicated to the Blessed Virgin Mary. Legend has it that while still alive and on the wings of angels Mary was flown to Zaragoza to encourage St. James’s mission to spread the Gospel. The Virgin Mary, with the Child Jesus in her arms and standing on a pillar, asked Saint James and his eight disciples to build a church on the site, promising that “it will stand from that moment until the end of time in order that God may work miracles and wonders through my intercession for all those who place themselves under my patronage.” We pray to bring miracles home to you!
The third stop is San Sebastian de Garabandal the site of an alleged Marian apparition to four young girls beginning in 1961. CLICK HERE TO SEE a fascinating video about the many appearances Mary made in Garabandal.
Following this two-night stay we pilgrimed on to Santiago de Compostela in northern Spain. The destination of millions of pilgrims who have traveled the way of St. James across northern Europe to thank God and venerate the relics at the tomb of St. James.
Our last stop for this part of the journey was Fatima, Portugal to meet with Fr. Jude and purchase the Pilgrim Virgin of Fatima statue for her work of ministry here in Central Florida.
Father Ramon, Carmelita and Yoly flew from Lisbon, Portugal on 9/19. It was a quick goodbye and suddenly the Fatima Five was no more. We were now the Fatima Three, Gloria, David, and the Pilgrim Virgin. The Three continued to 7 more destinations of great Catholic and Marian significance in Spain and France.
It’s a bit amazing all our travel plans were filled and then some! There wasn’t anything standing in the way of this ministry for the Father. Yes, this about the Pilgrim Virgin of Fatima but all our prayer and praise are directed to God the Father. This was the life of Mary. Everything she did, the laying down of her will, was to fulfill the Will of the Father. This is our intention for this ministry. To model Mary, teach the life of Jesus and to live In the Father’s Will.
We dropped off Fr. Ramon, Yoly and Carmelita September 19th at the Lisbon Portugal Airport, on my
Just a note: Without Google Maps the ease of travel wouldn’t have been possible. It appeared as if I knew the routes intuitively but for us the GPS is a God Positioning System and all these blessings of technology come from Him through some gifted people.
The first stop in the second leg of the journey was Madrid Spain. I must admit it was a relief no longer being responsible for the safety and comfort of the others. It’s not easy to maintain a 5 Star Rating with Carmelita! LOL!
There was no special destination in Madrid except a room and shower. This we found without a problem. Attached is a photo of my birthday cake delivered by a friendly staff member. The real gift received was seeing our friends leave safely and on time.
On September 20th we returned to Zaragoza, Spain with the Pilgrim Virgin. We wanted her to visit in memory of our Lady of the Pillar who visited St. James in the year 40. This Basilica of Our Lady of the Pillar is the very first church in the world dedicated to our Mother Mary.
The next day, September 21st, we flew from Barcelona Spain to Paris France. To keep this article as brief here is a list of the places of Catholic and Marian significance we brought the Pilgrim Virgin of Fatima Statue:
- Shrine of the Miraculous Medal – Paris, France 9/21/23
- Basilica and Crypt of Saint Therese of Lisieux – Lisieux, France 9/21/23
- The Shrine of the Sacred Heart Apparitions to St. Margaret Mary Alacoque – Paray-le-Mondale, France 9/23/2023. (Coincidentally, the 17th anniversary of our homes enthronement. We hope many more homes will enthrone their homes as a result of the Pilgrim Virgin’s visit to them.)
- Our Lady of Puy – Puy, France 9/24/2023. The first church approved the apparition of the Blessed Mother in the year 47.
- Our Lady La Salette — La Salette, France 9/24/2023
- The site of the Church of Prouille – Prouille, France 9/25/2023. Where it’s believed St. Dominic received the Rosary from our Lady of Prouille in 1208.
- The grotto of Our Lady of Lourdes – Lourdes, France 9/26/2023. The precise location of our Lady’s appearance to St. Bernadette Soubirous on February 11, 1858
The primary intention of this pilgrimage was purchasing the Our Lady of Fatima statue in Fatima, have her blessed and then bring her on a pilgrimage to several sites of historical Marian significance, i.e. First Church dedicated to the BVM, site of First Marian Apparition, Lourdes etc. and return to share with anyone willing to invite her into their home and pray Rosaries for peace.
We arrived back on the Feast of Archangels, Friday 9/29 to discover our beautiful statue had been damaged in flight. Our Lady’s hands and fingers have been broken off.
The pain and disappointment of seeing the blessed sweet image of our Lady broken saddened us greatly and to gain a little relief we write.
We always talk about the acceptance of Divine Will in all circumstances, easier said than done. But our Jesus never disappoints if we just ask for help in the pain of suffering. So, I asked, show me Lord what does this accident mean?
In my interior, nothing audible but a knowing, we realized the hands are missing on this statue as a reminder to be hands for Mary!
This single thought has brought us great relief!
After seeing positive come from the negative I thought maybe we should leave her without hands as a constant reminder. Perfect for a Ministry Fair!
We didn’t know if she would be restored before our Ministry Fair but regardless, may God’s Will be done!
We turned to our Spiritual Director, Father Ramon, for guidance, and he suggested a talented parishioner for help in the repair. Even amidst a busy schedule they managed to fit us in for this special operation. The artist confided in us they had secretly prayed the Pilgrim Virgin would visit their home first. Their prayer was answered but who would have guessed it was for a restoration!
But the story doesn’t end there! Another parishioner with artistic gifts was also praying to the Pilgrim Virgin. They heard about the statue’s accident but were disappointed not being selected to help in the repair. While attending Mass on the eve of the Ministry Fair they told the Blessed Virgin that even though they couldn’t help with the repair they would be ready if needed.
As it happened there was additional help needed and this quiet prayer was answered too! Our second parishioner was called upon and added some finishing touches making the restoration complete.
Isn’t this how a parish should come together in a time of need? Quite fitting in the theme of the Ministry Fair, to be the “Hands and Feet of Christ” and to repair if need be.
The Pilgrimage and Ministry Fair have been a resounding success! If you haven’t submitted your request to volunteer a week with the Pilgrim Virgin of Fatima don’t hesitate! It may take a year for her to arrive at your home but don’t worry her timing is perfect. Just like her Son!