Fatima Center Vignettes: The Phone Call Heard Around the World
All night the metal window shutters rattled loudly, accompanied by screeching and howling noises made by the wind. Sounds I had not heard before on the many previous visits to Fatima. Likely, only those with a hearing deficit could have ignored the persistent noise. It made me wonder if somewhere something bad was happening, or if it were a portent. It just didn’t strike me as normal.
In the early morning, when it is usual to see visiting pilgrims and residents of Fatima already outside going about their daily activities, it was not so on this particular morning of May 5, 2004. The streets were uncharacteristically devoid of pedestrians.
The wind was so forceful that the rain was falling, not in the normal vertical direction, but completely sideways.
My conscience won the battle of whether or not I was willing to brave the horrible weather and get to early Mass. At the time, there was only one place, kept a secret, where one could go to the Tridentine (Latin) Rite of Mass daily.
It was kept a secret because the priest offering the Mass believed he would be stopped from doing so and disinvited from staying in housing owned by the Shrine (provided to him because he helped the Shrine by hearing Confessions in multiple languages), if the Rector of the Shrine found out.
Getting to Mass required walking past the Shrine. On this morning, it was surprising to see no pilgrims. Usually there are pilgrims in the sanctuary from very early morning until at least midnight.
Normally a pilgrimage group would be in the Little Chapel of the Apparitions for early morning Mass. It was not so on that particular morning.
Throughout the day, as I went about my work, I found myself wondering about the atypical occurrences since the evening before, and worked at suppressing a feeling of dread – a feeling that something was wrong.
Thus when evening came, I was somewhat relieved to have not encountered any disasters during the day. But that relief turned out to be premature.
The office phone rang at about 9:30 p.m. Portugal time (4:30 p.m. EST back home in Fort Erie at The Fatima Center). It was one of our helpers in Coimbra, Portugal calling.
What he said was horrifying. On a Portuguese television station a news show was being televised that showed footage of what had taken place at the Shrine, right in the Little Chapel of the Apparitions – the very site where Our Lady appeared – earlier that day.
With the full cooperation, and at the invitation of the Rector of the Shrine, a busload of about 60 Hindus visited the Shrine and desecrated it by performing a Hindu ceremony – right on the altar consecrated for the sacrifice of the Mass.
It was then that I understood the reason for everything that had occurred in the last 24 hours or so. It was a diabolical occurrence, and one that the world will be punished for. God does not take lightly such an abomination and certainly not one so insulting to His Mother.
What Father Gruner had been warning the Catholic world about for the 7 months leading up to that day, and just 11 days after “An Open Letter to the Faithful of Portugal” was published by The Fatima Center in three Portuguese newspapers (see “Stopping the Progression of the Diabolical”), the desecration of the Shrine in Fatima by a group of pagans took place.
As soon as I received the phone call, I placed a call to Father Gruner at The Fatima Center to notify him. It was near the end of the staff workday at the apostolate in Canada.
Father would have been happy to have been proven wrong about his prophetic warning, and was not happy to find out his discernment had been correct.
On May 5, 2004, SIC, a national Portuguese TV station, announced its coverage of the Hindu ritual at Fatima.
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As soon as he received the call, Father immediately took steps to notify the Catholic world. John Vennari was visiting Father when I called, and Father asked him to post a notice of the desecration immediately on the Catholic Family News website.
The Catholic world was notified of the desecration, thanks to Father Gruner and Our Lady’s Apostolate. Had we not had a presence in Portugal, it is possible that the desecration would never have been brought to light.
Father then took steps actively seeking to obtain a copy of the televised news show as proof of the desecration so those who would try to deny such a happening would be unable to do so.
May Almighty God have mercy on us.