I continue sharing on the Pilgrimage to Fatima...
The spirit among the people was joyful and familiar. Someone came to me to apologise for asking where the toilet was: “Sorry, I did not know you were the bishop” (apparently bishops should not be asked those things). The fact is that we all felt we were at home!
The day started with a presentation done by the youth on the life of Joseph Allamano.
We then moved to the “Via Sacra” (Stations of the Cross) an area on a hill bought by the Shrine for prayer. We were thousands of people. Therefore the organisers divided the multitude in five groups to make sure we would be able to listen to those leading and pray together: a biblical text, a passage from Joseph Allamano's words, a prayer.
Fr Jaime Marques IMC, absolutely youthful though being 83 now, walked next to me, told me about special places in the area as we walk.
Lunch time! People had a couple of hours free for lunch and visits. I was interviewed by “Fatima Missionaria” the missionary magazine of the Consolata Missionaries in Portugal.
We then went for Mass at the new church of the Holy Trinity which accommodates ten thousand people! Eighty percent of the church was full.
There were a good number of altar servers, deacons, priests and... two bishops! Bishop Francisco Lerma IMC (Bishop of Gurue, Mozambique) was with us too. I was very happy to be with him as we worked together in Rome, he came to my episcopal ordination from Mozambique and I went to Maputo for his.
For the very first time I was presiding Mass in Portuguese. It seems that the good efforts of Fr Jose Torres Neves produced fruit and people did not struggle too much to understand me.
After Mass we all went in procession to the chapel of the apparitions to renew our consecration to Our Lady. For a moment I remembered the last time I was in Fatima, attending a meeting. I could not imagine that years' later I would be a bishop and preside Mass there.
In our prayer we make everyone present: our families, our dioceses, the countries we come from... the whole world!