THE FATIMA SHRINE AT HOLY TRINITY CHURCH
Andrew T. Flowers, a Holy Trinity parishioner and a World War II veteran, was in poor health after his discharge from the military. He made a promise to the Blessed Mother that he would build a shrine to her if his health improved. Mary’s motherly care came to his aid, the shrine was built, and has served as a visible testament of faith and gratitude to Our Lady of Fatima.
Beginning in August 1952, Andy Flowers scoured the fields surrounding his home for the stones to use in building a grotto which he constructed by himself. Built high on the hillside overlooking the intersection of Alpine Church Road and Alpine Avenue, the grotto enshrined a white stone statue of Our Lady of Fatima. Neighbors donated shrubbery and money to buy the additional figures of the three shepherd children and sheep. Msgr. Charles Bolte was the pastor of Holy Trinity at the time the shrine was built.
The shrine welcomed many local visitors as well as persons from 22 states, Canada, and Mexico, as found in the guestbook. In 1990 the entire shrine was moved from Andy Flowers’ home to the northeast side of Holy Trinity Church, facing the intersection of Alpine Church Road and Cordes Street. Fr. John Wisneski was the pastor at the time. It remained there until 2004, when it was relocated to an area in what was the former driveway between the school and church. It became a quiet and peaceful setting for people to sit and pray. Fr. Dan DePew was the pastor when the shrine was moved to its present location. Parishioner Bob Brechting, who was instrumental in helping to relocate the shrine from Alpine Avenue to the parish site and who died in December 2009 left a generous bequest in his will for the refurbishment of the shrine. On Saturday, August 13, 2011, the shrine was rededicated at its third location, a year before the 60th anniversary of the shrine. The statues were restored, new lighting installed inside the grotto, and new shrubbery and flowers were added along with 2 stone benches where people can pray and meditate. A memorial stone placed in front of the grotto reads: “In remembrance and gratitude to Andy Flowers who built this grotto in 1952 as a visible testament of faith and who donated it to Holy Trinity Church and to Bob Brechting who helped relocate this shrine to the parish grounds in 1990. This shrine was restored and re-dedicated in 2011.” Fr. Tom Simons, pastor, led the rededication blessing following the 5:00 pm Mass on August 13, the day of the 4th apparition at Fatima in 1917.
In 1950 the Fatima Nine-Day Home Novena began at Holy Trinity Parish. With the encouragement of Msgr. Charles Bolte, a statue of Our Lady of Fatima was purchased by Earl and Elizabeth McDonald and arrived from Portugal on September 5, 1950. Beginning on September 6, 1950, the pilgrim statue traveled from home to home in the parish and has continuously done so ever since. The novena consists of praying the rosary daily with the accompanying prayers to Our Lady of Fatima. In 1975 on the 25th anniversary of the Fatima parish novena, a celebration in church for nine days took place with parishioners, led by Msgr. Edward Jaworowicz. On the 35th anniversary in 1985, Our Lady’s statue was brought into the church for one day, praying the rosary and Fatima prayers, led by Fr. John Najdowski. The 40th anniversary was celebrated at the outdoor shrine, with rosary and prayers led by Fr. John Wisneski.
On Wednesday, May 10, 2017, Bishop David Walkowiak will celebrate the School Mass, followed by the May crowning at the Shrine of Our Lady of Fatima. 2017 is the 100th anniversary of the apparitions of Our Lady of Fatima. Pope Francis will visit the Shrine of Our Lady of Fatima in Portugal from May 12-13, where he will celebrate Mass and canonize two of the children, Jacinta and Francisco Marto, who were beatified by Pope John Paul II in 2000. The third child, Lucia dos Santos, was declared a Servant of God and is in the process for beatification. She was a Carmelite nun and died in 2005 at 97 years of age.