Archbishop Coakley celebrates 100th anniversary at Bison Fatima Shrine

By Diane Clay
The Sooner Catholic

More than 100 years ago in the small village of Fatima, Portugal, three children reported visits from the Virgin Mary over several months with the Blessed Mother bringing messages of warning, devotion and a call to prayer.

On the 100th anniversary of The Miracle of the Sun that was witnessed by thousands in 1917, Archbishop Coakley celebrated Mass at Saint Joseph Catholic Church in Bison, home to the Archdiocesan Shrine of Our Lady of Fatima.

“Mary did not come to frighten us, but to bring us a message of hope, to show us what the final outcome of turning our back on God would be,” Archbishop Coakley said during his homily.

“Her message is as urgent as ever. Today, our Blessed Mother continues to call us to prayer, so that she might lead us to Jesus. … This is a great day of celebration in Oklahoma.”

Archbishop Coakley was joined by more than 300 faithful, Father Ed Menasco, pastor of Saint Joseph in Bison; Father Joseph Arledge, pastor of Saint Peter in Woodward; Father Jim Mickus, pastor of Our Lady of Sorrows in Chandler; Father Phil Creider; and Father Carl Janocha, pastor of Saint Mary in Medford.

The Mass was part of a day-long celebration at Saint Joseph that featured the world famous International Pilgrim Virgin Statue of Fatima, which is on a two-year journey across the United States to honor the 100th anniversary of the apparitions at Fatima.

The event in Fatima consisted of a series of apocalyptic visions and prophecies that were given to three young Portuguese shepherds, Lúcia Santos and her cousins Jacinta and Francisco Marto, by a Marian apparition, starting on May 13, 1917.

The three children were visited by the Virgin Mary six times between May and October 1917. The apparition is now popularly known as Our Lady of Fatima.

The Shrine of Our Lady of Fatima in Bison was dedicated at Saint Joseph in 1951. The shrine is the only one of its kind in Oklahoma and is hosted and maintained by parishioners of Saint Joseph. Welcoming visitors 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, the shrine makes available votive candles and a guest book in which visitors are invited to share their joys, sorrows and prayer requests.

Every Sunday, entries in the guestbook are included in the prayers and petitions of the people of Saint Joseph during Mass.

The message on the outside of the shrine reads, “I am the Lady of the Rosary. I have come to warn the faithful to improve their lives and to beg pardon for their sins. They must not offend Our Lord any more for He is already too much offended by the sins of men. People must say the Rosary.” 

Diane Clay is editor of the Sooner Catholic.