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AUSTIN, Texas (ChurchMilitant.com) - A Texas diocese is celebrating the 100th anniversary of Our Lady's apparitions at Fatima and 70 years as a diocese with a consecration to the Blessed Virgin Mary.
On Sunday, His Excellency Joe Vásquez, Bishop of Austin, entrusted his diocese to the Mother of God, imploring her motherly care and defense. In a statement, Vásquez spoke of his decision to consecrate Austin to the Immaculate Heart of Mary:
Over the years, I have been personally inspired by the love that the people of our Diocese have for the Blessed Virgin Mary, and how this love is expressed in beautiful devotions across various cultures. Therefore, in this Fatima centennial year and in the 70th year since the founding of our diocese, I have decided to consecrate the local church of the Diocese of Austin to the Immaculate Heart of Mary. On Dec. 10, I have asked all priests and people to join me in a solemn prayer of consecration to the Mother of God, asking for her maternal help and protection. In doing so we are not only entrusting ourselves to her loving heart, but we are asking her to bring us ever closer to her Son, Jesus.
Prayer cards with the Marian consecration prayer were sent to diocesan parishes, which were to be prayed during all Sunday and vigil Masses December 9 and 10. Families and individuals were also invited to pray the prayer of consecration in solidarity with Bp. Vásquez.
Other diocesan bishops have recently consecrated their dioceses to the Immaculate Heart of Mary, including Jackson, Mississippi; Kansas City-St. Joseph, Missouri; Louisville, Kentucky; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; Providence, Rhode Island; San Francisco, California; Santa Rosa, California; Springfield-Cape Girardeau, Missouri; and Tyler, Texas, among others. In addition, Cdl. Donald Wuerl, archbishop of Washington, D.C., consecrated the United States to the Immaculate Heart of Mary on October 13, the 100th anniversary of the Miracle of the Sun.
Our Lady appeared to three shepherd children in 1917 at Fatima, Portugal. 2017 marks the 100th anniversary of her apparitions there.
In October, the Austin bishop presided at a public veneration of a first-class relic of St. Anthony of Padua at St. Anthony Church, along with a candle-light procession.