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From Father's Desk

    Father's Letter of July 2010,
    re: “Rediscover Fatima at
    the New York State Fair”


    “They have sought Me that before asked not for Me: they have found Me that sought Me not.” - Isaias 65:1

    Thursday, July 29, 2010
    Feast of St. Martha

    Dear Friend of Our Lady,

    Our Lord taught on hillsides. He preached from a boat. He spoke in the houses of sinners. And Saint Paul walked boldly into the marketplace of Athens to announce the Good News.

    There is no place where one should not bring the Faith and proclaim it with love and confidence. This we believe, and we are putting our belief into practice. We are matching action to word.

    The Fatima Center is bringing Our Lady’s 
    saving Message to the New York 
    State Fair in Syracuse.

    An unlikely place to speak about the Fatima Message? A mission doomed to failure? Some of our staff and supporters thought so when we did it for the first time last year.

    “Nobody wants to hear about Our Lady of Fatima at a state fair. That’s not why people go there,” we were told. “Don’t waste your time and money.”

    But the opportunity was there, given by Providence. Although we applied just before the Fair was about to open and all the booths had been taken, someone canceled at the last moment, on the very day we called.

    Our Lady had given us the go-ahead.

    And so we went. In a frenzy of preparation, we assembled all the materials we could — sacramentals, booklets, Brown and Green Scapulars, Rosaries, Fatima water and a dedicated staff.

    We brought along a beautiful 32-inch statue of Our Lady of Fatima to give away in a free drawing. And our booth was graced by the presence of our statue of the Pilgrim Virgin.

    The result? Success beyond our wildest hopes. Even those of us who wanted so much to bring Our Lady’s Message to the State Fair had our secret doubts: maybe the nay-sayers were right.

    But people were drawn to our booth, as though by a magnet. They saw the Pilgrim Virgin, and they could not resist Her.

    Our Lady’s statue stood, an apparition of beauty amid all the noise and bustle and tawdriness of the fair. People looked at the gentle face, at the very image of grace, and it was as though Our Lady spoke to their hearts.

    And their hearts were hungry. People are fed on so much vulgarity and nonsense by the modern world. They are filled with it, sickened by it. They are starved for beauty and truth.

    And Our Lady offered it to them. She fed Her children as a good mother does. Those of us who witnessed it will never doubt Her power to win hearts and minds.

    People came to our booth in droves. The fair ran from August 27 to September 7. During that time, we gave away about 120,000 items. And we answered countless questions.

    We spoke to Catholics who knew little or nothing about Fatima. They were amazed to learn what they should have been taught in Catholic schools and from the pulpit. And they were grateful. Some left with tears in their eyes.

    And many left with a Rosary. Some did not know how to pray it. We taught them. We also gave them copies of our booklet on the proper recitation of the Rosary and the great graces attached to this essential practice.

    Some Catholics stared at the Scapulars and wondered what they were. Again, they had not been taught, had not been given this invaluable aid to grace and salvation.

    We remedied that. We also gave away booklets on the Brown Scapular that we had just published. People took them with gratitude and reverence. Somehow, they knew that a great treasure had just come into their possession.

    We also gave away copies of The True Story of Fatima. They wanted to know more. It was as though their eyes had been opened and they were amazed to see the splendor of Our Lady.

    Non-Catholics also came to the booth. One man inquired about the Rosary. We explained the practice to him, and offered him a Rosary and booklet. He was surprised. We told him that even though he was not Catholic, he could still pray the Rosary.

    “I can?” he said. We reassured him and he left, with expressions of thanks and his Rosary in hand. Perhaps Our Lady will give him the grace to convert. Such was our prayer.

    And this man was not the only instance of non-Catholics coming to the booth, full of questions, spiritually hungry. Some came and asked if they could have one of the “cross necklaces.”

    We gently explained to them that the Rosary was not jewelry or decoration, but a way to honor the Mother of Our Lord and to draw Heaven’s grace down on themselves and their families.

    No one scoffed. We heard “thank you” often. And the expression was more than perfunctory or just being polite. It was unmistakably genuine and heartfelt.

    But there were so many Catholics who knew little more than our non-Catholic friends. There has been terrible neglect by the pastors of our Church. And there is a crying need for the work of this apostolate.

    Some older Catholics, although they had been taught well in their youth, had forgotten what they had learned or perhaps had neglected their spiritual practices.

    Some looked wistfully at the Brown Scapulars, remembering when they were invested at the time of their First Holy Communion. Finding the Scapular again was like rediscovering the Faith they had lost.

    We received many comments:

    - “I can’t believe Our Lady is here and this booth is here. This is wonderful.”

    - “Now I know why I came to the fair today.”

    - “I have been looking for you. My sister told me this booth was here, I didn’t believe it. I wanted to see it for myself.”

    - “May I take some stuff for my mother?”

    - “This is the best booth that I have visited.”

    - “This is the best thing I got at the fair” (referring to sacramentals and Fatima literature).

    These comments are just a sampling, and they were repeated in one way or another by thousands who visited our booth.

    The staff who worked at the booth during the Fair were all deeply moved by the response of the people.

    One said to me: “Father, I believe we should try to do more of these if funds will allow. There is a hunger out there, and a need to reach these people.”

    I agree. I want to do more, to reach as many people as I can. I would go to every state fair in the nation, if I were able, but our resources are limited.

    We are preparing to make our second visit to the New York State Fair. And I need your help.

    We know that Our Lord and Our Lady poured Their blessings on last year’s effort. We know that this work is willed by Them and will prosper even more this year.

    As I mentioned, we gave away about 120,000 items last year. The items were free to those who received them, but they were not free to this apostolate.

    We paid a great deal for the items we gave away. I expect the cost of the materials we will give away this year will be even greater.

    But how can one put a price on saving souls? To see someone walk away with tears in their eyes and a Rosary in their hands is indeed priceless. Please, help me in this great work.

    I know there is a spiritual famine in the world that only Our Lady of Fatima can bring to an end. Please help Her to feed Her children.

         Yours in Jesus, Mary and Joseph,

         Father Nicholas Gruner

    P.S.  Please give all you can so that we will have enough Rosaries, Scapulars, sacramentals and literature to give away at the New York State Fair. It starts on August 26 and ends on September 6. 

        Help Our Lady save souls by helping us to spread Her saving Message. And, if you are able, please visit our booth during the Fair and see your generosity at work.

        We are at the same booth as last year — you can use last year’s flyerenclosed to help you find us. Pass on the extra ones to your friends and family.