Preparation for a year of archdiocesan celebrations commemorating the centennial of the apparitions of Our Lady at Fatima begins this Sunday, March 25, the Solemnity of the Annunciation. A Marian Day retreat will be held May 6 at St. Mary’s Cathedral, with Cardinal William J. Levada as main Mass celebrant. Archbishop Salvatore J. Cordileone will culminate the year Oct. 7 by consecrating the archdiocese to the Immaculate Heart of Mary.

The archbishop announced the centennial year and the consecration in a March 15 letter to pastors. He urged pastors to preach and educate about the ancient meaning of such consecrations.

“For this act of consecration to bear fruit, I am convinced that we must prepare ourselves spiritually and with catechesis for this significant day,” the archbishop wrote, noting that a committee made up of various priests, women religious and laity has been meeting in recent months to help prepare for the event. The committee is spearheaded by Father Charles Puthota, archdiocesan director of pastoral ministry.

“I feel it is very important that our parishioners be aware of the history of the Fatima apparitions and in particular the role these apparitions have played in the life of the church over the past 100 years,” the archbishop wrote.

The Marian apparitions began May 13, 1917, when three shepherd children, Lúcia Santos and her cousins Blessed Jacinta and Blessed Francisco Marto, reported seeing the Virgin Mary. They continued once a month until Oct. 13, 1917, and later were declared worthy of belief by the Catholic Church.

Full story at Catholic San Francisco.