Dear Brothers and Sisters,
“In this year, the Diocese of Providence will renew its devotion to Mary, the Mother of God. We will strive anew to imitate her virtues, and to seek her grace and protection in our lives.”
The year 2017 will mark the 100th Anniversary of the Apparitions of our Blessed Mother to the children of Fatima. The centenary will be celebrated by the Church around the world, here in the Diocese of Providence, and in many local parishes as well. It is a privileged moment in which we should hear and heed once again the message of our Blessed Mother at Fatima – the call to conversion and repentance for sins, the invitation to intense prayer, especially the Holy Rosary, and devotion to her Immaculate Heart.
It seems to me that this anniversary, serving as a centerpiece, also provides us with a special opportunity and reason to focus once again our attention to our Blessed Mother Mary and all that she means to us as Catholics. Therefore, I am asking that in 2017 the Diocese of Providence devote itself to a special Year with Mary our Mother. In this year the Diocese of Providence will renew its devotion to Mary, the Mother of God. We will strive anew to imitate her virtues, and to seek her grace and protection in our lives.
What do we learn from Mary, the first and best Disciple of Jesus? Among her many virtues are: the value of faith – our total and generous response to the God who has loved us and called us; the gift of trust – that we depend on God’s providence in all the circumstances of life that come our way; the call to sanctity – that we are exhorted to be sinless, holy and righteous in the sight of God; the sign of purity – especially important for an age saturated and corrupted by sins of the flesh; the motivation to charitable service – which we find exemplified especially in Mary’s visitation to Elizabeth; and the centrality of Christ in our lives – knowing that when we look upon Mary her gaze always leads us to her Son Jesus.
We will observe this Marian Year in the Diocese of Providence on a number of special occasions. Additionally, I urge parishes, schools, organizations and families to use the time to talk about and pray to our Blessed Mother. Parents and grandparents should be sure to teach their children, and to pray with them, the prayers to Mary that are such an important and beautiful part of our Catholic heritage –the Hail Mary, the Angelus, the Memorare, and of course the Holy Rosary which has been a powerful source of consolation for Catholics throughout the centuries.
While we have no need to organize new committees or a plethora of special projects to celebrate our Marian year, I hope that a renewed devotion to our Blessed Mother will infuse all that we typically do as a diocesan Church – our liturgies and homilies, our classrooms and meeting rooms, our public gatherings and personal prayer.
The Church, in her normal liturgical life, provides us many opportunities to focus on Mary. I think especially of the great Marian Feasts of the Church – the Solemnity of Mary the Mother of God, the Annunciation, the Visitation, the Assumption, the Birthday of Mary, Our Lady, Undoer of Knots (a favorite of Pope Francis, on September 28th), Our Lady of the Rosary, Our Lady of Divine Providence (of diocesan significance, on November 19th), the Immaculate Conception, and of course Our Lady of Guadalupe.
The liturgical seasons – Advent and Christmas, Lent and Easter – also provide an occasion to reflect upon Mary’s unique role in salvation history. Throughout the year many parishes have traditional feasts and festivals around Marian themes. Perhaps in this year we can emphasize the spiritual meaning of these days while we also enjoy the social celebrations. And finally, in keeping with Catholic practice, the Marian Year is a perfect time to organize pilgrimages to holy places of Marian devotion, holy sites both near and far.
So that we, as a diocesan family, will be united in our prayer during this Marian Year, I suggest that in each month we will take to heart the public intentions listed on the attached page. Of course these can be easily adapted, and throughout the year, many other intentions, personal and public, can be added as the needs arise.
Dear brothers and sisters, devotion to Our Blessed Mother is a priceless part of our Catholic faith and heritage. Properly understood, it can only enrich our spiritual lives and assist us as we sojourn through this “valley of tears” to our final home in heaven. We have so many urgent needs – in our world, our nation, our Church and personal lives – and Mary, our Mother, can help us to be strong, faithful and peaceful. Please join me in making 2017 a special Year with Mary our Mother.
With my prayers and blessings for all the members of the Church in the Diocese of Providence, I remain,
Bishop Thomas J. Tobin
A YEAR WITH MARY OUR MOTHER: PRAYER INTENTIONS
For an increase in Respect for Life, especially for unborn children.
For religious women & men who have followed Jesus in the Consecrated Life.
For repentance of our sins, the conversion of Sinners, & the return of those who have left the Church.
For many & holy vocations to the priesthood in the Diocese of Providence.
For peace, justice, freedom & prosperity in every nation.
For priests, deacons, religious & all those who minister in the Church.
For religious freedom, here & abroad.
For those with special needs in our community: including the poor, the hungry, the homeless, the unemployed, the immigrant, the incarcerated, the abused & the addicted.
For the protection of the environment; for the care of our common home.
For those who are ill, in hospitals, nursing homes or at home.
For the Faithful Departed, especially the deceased members of our families & friends & our Diocese.
For our families, especially troubled families; that every family will be a Holy Family where Jesus dwells.