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Catholic News Herald

Serving Christ and Connecting Catholics in Western North Carolina

081817 fatimaASHEVILLE — St. Eugene Church was blessed with the arrival, exposition and procession of the United Nations International Our Lady of Fatima Statue July 16.

Hundreds of people attended each of the Masses for the special occasion, in honor of the 100th anniversary of her appearances to the children in Fatima, Portugal.

The statue is cared for and carried around the world by Judy Studer, who provided information about the statue at each Mass, and testified about miracles attributed to the Blessed Mother by people who encountered the statue – including Studer’s own cure from cancer.

At the 8:30 a.m. Mass, two members of Knights of Columbus St. Lawrence Assembly 781 and St. Eugene parishioners, Sir Knights Tom Kotz and John Matchulat, dressed in the Knights of Columbus Regalia, led the procession into the church followed by Our Lady, carried by Sir Knight Dave Hetrick. Father Christian Cook, a newly-ordained priest from the parish, Deacon Mike Zboyovski and altar servers followed as Our Lady was placed in the front of the altar on a table for all to see throughout the day.

Father Pat Cahill, pastor, invited all to join in praying the rosary after each Mass. Knights Dave Hetrick and Bob Charette introduced Studer as Our Lady’s custodian, and after she spoke they led the congregations in reciting the rosary.

Father Julio Dominguez, Hispanic Ministry coordinator for the Smoky Mountain Vicariate, was the celebrant for the 1:30 p.m. Spanish Mass. Following the Prayer after Communion, Father Dominguez knelt in front of the statue and the entire congregation prayed the rosary. Parishioner Lilliana Duarte directed some of the older youth to lead each decade of the rosary. As each prayer was recited, the younger children placed a rose in front of the altar to form a rosary of roses – red for each Hail Mary and white for each Glory Be and Our Father.

At the conclusion of the rosary the procession began as Knight of Columbus Tom Kotz led, followed by seminarian Jose A. Palma Torres carrying the cross, followed by three altar servers who alternated carrying the statue, then followed by Father Dominguez and the Latino community of more than a hundred.

The procession went out the rear exit of the church, through the church’s parking lot to the church’s columbarium where it turned around to return to the church. Along the way, the procession stopped so the statue could be transferred to different men. Wearing white gloves to hold Our Lady – each was given an opportunity to carry this special statue. Father Dominguez led the congregation in praying, and then everyone sang “Ave Maria.”

Throughout the day at the church, people went up to Our Lady and knelt in front of her, asking for help, thanking her for her intercession and leaving special petitions in a basket for Studer to take with her.

A special prayer event and appearance of the United Nations International Our Lady of Fatima Statue was also held July 15 at the Haywood County Fairgrounds.

— Jim Venglarik, Special to the Catholic News Herald. Jim Venglarik is a member of St. Eugene Church in Asheville.

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