May has always been a special time of year in the Church, in Catholic schools, and in the world. Something about the sun coming out and the flowers in full bloom gives us renewed hope in Our Blessed Mother, her holy month, and the promise of summer being closer than it seems.
May is the first of two months out of the year when we celebrate Mary and her revered place in the Church family. Students (and hopefully teachers and parents) get excited for the May crowning ceremony, the living rosary, or extra emphasis on Mary in the classroom.
This May is particularly important in the celebration of the Blessed Mother. May 13 marks the 100th anniversary of the apparition of Our Lady of Fátima to three small children in Portugal during World War I. Back in February, we recognized the historical significance of this event, we saw Pope Francis’ declaration of a year of Jubilee, and we previewed how you could prepare for this month of May in honor of the celebration.
Now that the anniversary is upon us and two of the children to whom Mary appeared are being canonized, it is time to put these ideas and festivities into action! The anniversary and the canonization in concurrence with the traditional month of May celebrations serve as an excellent time to integrate lessons about sainthood, prayer, the Rosary, and a relationship with Mary into everyday learning.
Sr. Marlyn Monge, FSP, co-author of Mary and the Little Shepherds of Fátima, explains that this apparition specifically captures the attention of children—because it happened to children! Shepherds Jacinta, Francisco, and Lucia were just seven, nine, and ten when Our Lady of Peace appeared to them. If someone as young as seven can receive and spread the message of Mary, children of any age can fully comprehend and appreciate the love Mary delivered to the world those six months in 1917…and continues to bestow upon all God’s children.
To explore this story with narrative and perspective, JClub and Pauline Books & Media offers a variety of Our Lady of Fátima books. For read-aloud purposes, Mary and the Little Shepherds gives children the story of Fátima in an engaging and colorful way.
For the more advanced reader, Blesseds Jacinta and Francisco Marto (from the Encounter the Saints series) provides a compelling biography of the two newly canonized saints. And for the interested adult, Shepherds of Fátima delves into the details of these holy children’s lives. Check out Pauline Books & Media’s full line of Fátima products to enhance your 100th anniversary commemoration.
This May, you can easily include Jacinta, Francisco, and Lucia in your activities honoring Mary. Here are a few ways to start:
Whatever you do, make sure that the children around you realize what a special time this is. The best way to do that? Get excited yourself!