Perhaps my being “called” to end my “spiritual Hat Trick” with a visit to Fatima is not such surprise after all. A recent phone call from my cousin, Sharon, reminded me of a long forgotten family connection to Fatima.
The story goes… My uncle Joe, 4/21/1902-10/16/1952, struggled much of his life with alcoholism. I grew up being told that “Joe was a wonderful guy that everybody loved. Only he drank a bit too much.” He reportedly enjoyed a 7 year period of sobriety but ultimately lost the battle. During this period of sobriety he got it in his head to write to Sister Lucy, the the last of the sisters, who witnessed the Virgin Mary when she appeared to them in Fatima. Though we do not have his letter it would appear that Joe wrote in 1947 asking for prayers on behalf of his wife and himself. Remarkably Sister Lucy was good enough to find time to write a reply. She enlited another nun to translate and handwrite her reply in English. The original of the letter and “small pictures” have been handed down on my mothers side of the family. My cousin Leslie now has the original and kindly provided me with a copy. I will be carrying this copy with me on my pilgrimage in order to complete a symbolic circle.
I have to imagine that this connection was, in large part, what inspired my mother, father, and Aunt Helen to visit Fatima on their one and only visit to Portugal in 1964.
Below is the text of the letter:
18th October 1947
Dear Mr. Brennan,
I am replying to your kind letter to Sister Lucy. You will readily understand that she does not know the English language and cannot write herself.
All your intentions have been commended to her and she will pray to Our Blessed Lady of Fatima for you and your dear wife’s health. Let us hope she will speedily recover and that you will get rid of your rheumatism. It is such a painful disease. However if you offer up all your sufferings to the Divine Heart in reparation you will surely obtain a great reward in Eternal Life,
Do not allow yourself to be upset with fear and insecurity. Place all your trust in the Immaculate Heart of Mary. If you make an effort to please her, she will be your guide and counselor throughout life and sure refuge at the hour of death.
I am enclosing two small pictures of you and your wife. They were touched on the miraculous statue in the Shrine of Fatima.
May God bless you.
Sincerely yours in J.C.
Sister Mary King