Dear Sacred Heart Family,
You may not have noticed but October is now one of the traditional Marian months in our Church calendar. Partly for the apparition of Mary at Fatima (Oct 13), partly because of the feast of our Lady of the Rosary (Oct 7) and also because October in the Southern Hemisphere in their version of May where Mary reminds us of the new life that begins in spring. For us in the United States, this October is an even more special month for Mary as this month, our oldest shrine in the continental US, Our Lady of la Leche, is being honored with an enthronement.
The Shrine of our Lady of La Leche is found in St. Augustine, Florida (where my family resides) on the grounds of a parcel of land called Nombre de Dios (translated as Name of God, which is the first name the Spaniards gave the new world where they landed.) The shrine was established in 1609 with a specific devotion to our Blessed Mother as one who intercedes for the health of newborn children or for those who were having trouble conceiving a child. The Spanish families realized they had no future without children and as the new world presented many challenges to their health, they were absolutely dependent on God to survive.
In acknowledgement of this continuous devotion of pilgrims to appeal to our Lady of la Leche (Our mother of the Milk) for four hundred years, our Church has chosen to honor this shrine and the image of Mary with an “enthronement.” An enthronement entails that a representative of the Holy Father will come and present our Mother’s image with a crown to acknowledge the important role she has fostered in the life of faith in our country. This honor has only been granted three times in the history of the United States: 1894 (Our Lady of Prompt Succor in New Orleans,) 1904 (Our Lady of Mt Carmel New York), and 2013 (Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception in St. Charles Louisiana.) The Mass of enthronement will happen at 2:00 pm this Sunday (1:00 pm central time zone) and can be witnessed via livestream if you go to the Our Lady of la Leche website. Monday will also have a celebration at the St. Augustine Cathedral by Bishop Estevez (who ordained me a deacon at the shrine in 2015)
It might be strange for us as Americans to be holding up a breast-feeding image of Mary, but I believe her message is just as needed for us in the United States Catholic Church. We will not have a future without our children and our church needs to ask our Blessed Mother to bless our children that they may grow strong in mind, body, and Spirit. Should you ever get the chance to visit St. Augustine you will discover the first roots of our Catholic Faith in the United States and perhaps the most beautiful city in the United States. May your October be blessed and Our Lady of la Leche pray for us!
All for Jesus with Mary,