Dear Friends of Our Lord and Blessed Mother,
We want to thank all of you who participated in the 25th International Week of Prayer and Fasting (October 1 – 9, 2017). This year, we experienced a tsunami of graces during the 100th anniversary of Our Lady’s apparitions in Fatima. Many people participated throughout the country and throughout our metropolitan region of Washington, D.C. in this movement. We received great feedback from many priests, laity, and Catholic leaders. There was a great increase in people participating by reciting the Holy Rosary, attending Holy Mass, praying the Divine Mercy Chaplet, and adoring Our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament.
Before the week began our country experienced three catastrophic hurricanes: Harvey, Irma and Maria. A powerful 7.1-magnitude earthquake shook Mexico killing more than 200 people. Then on October 1st, the opening day for the 25th International Week of Prayer and Fasting, the deadliest mass shooting in the history of our nation took place in Las Vegas at a country music festival where 59 people lost their life and at least 500 were injured.
In response to these crises, the International Coalition of Catholic Organizations mobilized for the 25th International Week of Prayer and Fasting (IWOPF) from October 1–9, 2017. This year, the Coalition united with The Marians of the Immaculate Conception, Legion of Mary, Priests for Life, and many other groups to pray and fast for:
- The conversion of all nations and peoples
- To build a culture of life
- To defend the sanctity of marriage and family life
- To implore God’s Mercy for peace.
On the ninth and final day—Monday, October 9th—participants came to an all-day Eucharistic Prayer Vigil for our nation and the world at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, D.C. from 9 AM–4:30 PM. Registration was FREE and participants were asked to register their prayer and fasting pledges online at www.iwopf.org.
Over 30 people from the Legion of Mary came to help with the visitation of the Relic of Saint John Paul II. They also had a table of literature in the Narthex and gave out hundreds of miraculous medals and Rosaries. Next year, they plan to involve even more Legion of Mary members. We are very thankful for their help and support.
There were several speakers at the prayer vigil. In the morning, the Hispanic community opened up with a procession with Our Lady of Guadalupe and then they prayed the Joyful Mysteries of the Rosary.
Ted Flynn, co-author of The Thunder of Justice and author of several other books, gave a brief opening talk on the importance of sticking to the fundamentals of our faith in troubled times. He stressed believers today must stick to the fundamentals to endure the trials before us to live joyfully. Ted mentioned a strong community is essential to overcome evil in our midst.
Eric Scheidler, the first speaker, gave a talk entitled, “Blessed Are They Who Mourn.” He is the father of eight children who himself grew up in the pro-life movement, attending rallies and protests with his parents from a young age. He is the son of Joe and Ann Scheidler, renowned pro-life warriors and activists. In 2002, Eric joined the Pro-Life Action League as communications director, and in 2009 assumed the role of executive director. Under his direction, the Pro-Life Action League has expanded its national leadership role to include coordinating nationwide events. Eric provides assistance to local pro-life leaders throughout the country.
The second speaker was Teresa Tomeo who is a bestselling author, syndicated Catholic talk show host, and speaker with more than thirty years of experience in print and broadcast media. Tomeo is a columnist and special correspondent for OSV Newsweekly. She has written over 20 books. Teresa’s talk at the Basilica was entitled, “Bringing America Back To Life.”
Before Mass, the Asian community comprised of people from the following countries: Korea, China, Vietnam, Bangladesh, Philippines, and India, prayed the Sorrowful Mysteries. Then there was the Procession of the Nations before the noon Mass. A choir comprised of 130 members of the African, Asian, and Hispanic communities sang beautifully for the Mass, and we truly saw Our Lady of All Nations represented.
Bishop Joseph Perry was the main celebrant and homilist for the Mass. Bishop Joseph Perry gave a very inspiring talk on why we need prayer and fasting for our Church, our country and the world. He is Episcopal Vicar for Vicariate VI of the Archdiocese of Chicago, and is Vice- Postulator for the Cause of Sainthood of Father Augustus Tolton (1854-1897). Bishop Perry publishes widely in canon law journals and Catholic periodicals on issues treating ecclesiastical governance and the rights of persons within the Church.
After Mass, the African community prayed the Glorious Mysteries, followed by the Divine Mercy Chaplet recited by Oscar Delgado, a great devote of the Divine Mercy Devotion.
The speakers in the afternoon were Immaculee Ilibagiza and Lou Engle. Immaculee gave a riveting talk and had people spellbound as she spoke about the horrors of the Rwandan genocide. She shared how she survived in a small bathroom for three months praying the Rosary while the bloodshed was occurring outside. She spoke about how she had to forgive those who killed her family. Immaculee’s talk at the Basilica was entitled, “Hope, Forgiveness and Love: The Power of Our Lady and the Rosary to Defeat Evil.”
The final speaker, Lou Engle, gave a rousing, Holy Spirit-filled talk on spiritual breakthroughs he has seen over many years through prayer and fasting. He had come to pray with us on his final day (October 9th) of RISE UP, an event organized by Lou Engle’s The Call on the National Mall in Washington, D.C. where 10,000 people gathered together to pray and fast for four days begging Jesus to heal our nation. Lou’s talk at the Basilica is entitled, “Why Prayer and Fasting is Critical for America Now.”
This year we were blessed to have the visit of the Pilgrim Relic of the Blood of Saint John Paul II. Attendees were given the opportunity of a lifetime to venerate this first-class relic of St. John Paul II’s blood that is contained in a glass ampoule at the center of a reliquary. By venerating the relics of St. John Paul II, pilgrims seek his intercession, receive spiritual graces for their families and loved ones, and obtain the courage and spiritual strength to imitate his saintly life and persevere in their Christian witness to the Gospel.
From the graces received in prayer before the relics of St. John Paul II, pilgrims and their families are renewed in their daily striving for holiness of life and in faith, hope, and charity. The Blood Relic of St. John Paul II is traveling with the Servants of the Pierced Hearts of Jesus and Mary. The drops of blood are still liquefied, which is impressive after such a long time. The blood was originally drawn for medical testing, and what wasn’t used was reserved. One vile was processed at his Mass of beatification, and the other was divided into smaller vials. There are four other reliquaries like this one, but each of these are stationary in places significant in the life of St. John Paul II – this is the only one that travels.
The reliquary is in the form of a book, recalling the Book of the Gospels that was laid on his coffin during his funeral Mass. Many recall the wind that turned the pages of the Gospels until the whole book finally closed, symbolic of the life of St. John Paul II who spent his life living and preaching the Gospel with his words and deeds.
See the pictures below of the Blood Relic in the Our Lady of Czestochowa Chapel at the Basilica, which many believe are miraculous (see the light streaming in the chapel and on the book containing the Blood Relic).
The International Prayer and Fasting Movement relies solely on the generosity and volunteer efforts of many people and organizations. Your tax-deductible donations are greatly appreciated.
Donations can also be mailed to:
International Week of Prayer and Fasting
P.O. Box 927
Herndon, VA 20172
Videos of the talks will be available soon online.