Bishop Bransfield Dedicates Our Lady of Fatima Shrine in Charles Town
By Colleen Rowan “The shrine we dedicate today both invites us to live the Fatima Message with renewed commitment and gives us the means to do so: enabling us to pray the rosary with greater devotion and to be renewed in our dedication to the Immaculate Heart of Mary,” Bishop Michael J. Bransfield said to the faithful gathered for Mass Oct. 14 at St. James Church in Charles Town. The bishop celebrated the Mass before dedicating the new Our Lady of Fatima Shine beside the church. Hundreds gathered for this anticipated moment of the parish community including many from the surrounding area and Virginia, who began the day by gathering in the new shrine to pray the rosary that morning. They then proceeded to the church, where Bishop Bransfield celebrated a special Mass with area priests concelebrating. It was fitting to dedicate the shrine that day, the bishop said in his homily, as the church marks the 100th anniversary of Mary’s apparitions to the children at Fatima. The shrine will be a place for the faithful to connect with the Blessed Mother, he said, and make the rosary a central part of their prayer life. The bishop expressed his and the diocese’s gratitude to Tony Braddock for bringing this shrine to the Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston. The shrine was funded through the Alfred and Barbara Braddock Foundation through the generosity of Tony (who started the foundation in honor of his parents) because of his lifelong devotion to the Blessed Mother. “I am so very grateful to Tony Braddock, who conceived of the idea of this Shrine of Our Lady of Fatima and who diligently sought a place to build it,” Bishop Bransfield said in his homily. “Convinced of the importance of having a place to meditate upon Our Lady’s Message at Fatima, he generously responded to challenges along the way and finally found this place. Together with the help of our own Deacon Dave Galvin, Tony brought this shrine into being, giving us a place to gather with Our Lady and seek answers to the questions of our hearts.” Following the Mass, the bishop led all in a procession to the new shrine. The faithful gathered as the bishop blessed the shrine and consecrated the Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston to the Immaculate Heart of Mary. The 10,000-square foot Our Lady of Fatima Shrine is situated beside St. James Church. “The result of the shrine, how it turned out, was beyond my expectation,” Tony Braddock said. “It turned out more beautiful than I anticipated. “It’s a conglomerate of the rosary. It’s everything that our Blessed Mother asked at Fatima.” At Fatima, he said, the Blessed Mother asked that the rosary be prayed daily and that the five first Saturdays be made in reparation to the Immaculate Heart of Mary. “I hope,” he said, “that it (the shrine) will be an inspiration to people to observe and help the Immaculate Heart of Mary, especially in these times that we live in.” At the center of the new shrine is a statue of Our Lady of the Rosary with statues of the three children of Fatima kneeling and praying before her. The statues of the children are spaced so that those who visit may kneel between them and pray. Another statue is of St. John Paul II, holding a bullet (recalling the shooting of the pope on the memorial of Our Lady of Fatima on May 13, 1981), and giving thanks to Mary for saving his life. The image of the second bullet is in the crown of the statue of Our Lady of the Rosary. The third statue is of the Angel of Peace, who also appeared to the children at Fatima. The shrine is encased by a 2 and a half-foot wall with four semicircles, each featuring the mysteries of the rosary. In between each one of those semicircles are two angular walls with a bronze plaque and a picture showing part of a Fatima apparition. The floor of the shrine depicts the rosary. At the end of the ceremony, Deacon Galvin recognized those who worked on the project: Louis DiCocco of Saint Jude Liturgical Art Studio in Philadelphia; Tim Machado, AIA, of Design Concepts Architecture & Interior in Winchester, Va.; W. Harley Miller Contractor in Martinsburg; R & L Landscaping in Kearneysville; Great Lakes Cast Stone in Girard, Pa.; Kable Excavating; S and S Electric; and Bragunier Masonry.