VANCOUVER—Parades, dancing, and fireworks filled the streets of Vancouver on the Canada Day weekend, but the holiday was marked with a more solemn patriotic event at Holy Rosary Cathedral.
Hundreds of Catholics gathered at the downtown cathedral to pray as Canada was consecrated to the Immaculate Heart of Mary July 2.
“For me, this the greatest thing that could happen because I am very devoted to Our Lady,” said Zahira Rengifo, after the Mass and historic consecration.
“This year is a very special year because it is also 100 years after the apparitions of Our Lady of Fatima. I understand how important it is what Our Lady requested at that time, to consecrate the whole world to her Immaculate Heart. For me, this is so moving.”
An immigrant from Venezuela, Rengifo said the consecration’s coinciding with Canada’s 150 anniversary was also meaningful.
“I think it’s a great thing, Canada’s 150 years since Confederation. Canada has been consecrated to the Immaculate Heart of Mary at a nation level. I think this is the greatest thing that could happen.”
Jeanifer Decena shed heartfelt tears as she knelt before a statue of Mary at the cathedral that day. “She is really my mother. Since I was born, she has really helped me a lot, through thick and thin in my life,” she said.
Without Mary’s intercession, the Filipino woman said, she would not have been able to move to Canada or find employment. She continues to rely on Mary’s prayers for her job and family life.
“She’s not just a woman who became a mother. She is very holy,” Decena aid.
“I am so happy she is adored and acknowledged by the Church. I know some people don’t recognize her, but she is the best buddy of God!”
About a dozen Catholic movements and associations with local chapters joined the celebration at the cathedral. Among them was Focolare, an international movement that is also called “The Work of Mary.”
“We have this desire to live our lives somehow following her path, trying to bring the presence of Jesus in the world, as she did,” said member Giulia Levrini.
At Mass with her fellow Focolarini, she prayed for Canada’s politicians as well as for the wellbeing of all citizens. “We trust in Mary, and know that the people of Canada are in her heart.”
Parishes throughout the Archdiocese of Vancouver made the consecration at their weekend Masses, and consecration events took place across the country on the Canada Day long weekend. Bishops in Calgary, Edmonton, Ottawa, and St. John’s also hosted solemn ceremonies asking Mary for her intercession.
Other dioceses, including Trois-Rivieres and Montreal, will hold the solemn ceremony later this year. The Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops, which called for all dioceses to join in consecration, will consecrate Canada to Mary at their annual plenary meeting Sept. 26.
Catholics across the nation were “imploring our Lady’s intercession for, and maternal guidance upon, our country, so richly blessed by also struggling to remain faithful to its highest values which are grounded in the Gospel and the moral conscience of humankind,” said Archbishop Miller.
“By consecrating ourselves and our nation to Our Lady, we pray that a fresh enthusiasm and a deeper faith will be born in the hearts of believers, which will bear fruit and abundant graces for all Canadians.”
Canada was first consecrated to Mary at a National Marian Congress in Ottawa in 1947, then again in 1954 at the National Shrine of Our Lady of the Cape near Trois-Rivieres.
A statue of Our Lady of Fatima, blessed by Pope Francis, arrived in B.C. in time for the consecration and was to appear around July 1 at several area parishes for events including Masses, Marian processions, and exposition of the Blessed Sacrament.