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By A.F. Phillips

 

“And how shall they preach unless they be sent, as it is written: ‘How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the gospel of peace, of them that bring glad tidings of good things!’” Romans 10:15

 

From the start, TFP/America Needs Fatima has been missionary.

At the beginning, volunteers boarded a Volkswagen van and covered thousands of miles taking the message of Fatima to homes across the continent. As the years passed, and the Volkswagen van phased out, minivans took over.

At night, after a long day on the mission, young volunteers either checked into a hotel room or accepted the charity of hosts who generously offered their hospitality.

One day, on Fatima visits in Florida, the Snowbird State, where motor homes abound, ANF full-time volunteer and custodian, Matthew Shibler, had an idea—why not a motor home?

“Rather than spending all this money on hotels and meals, why not carry our own hotel/restaurant with us,” mused Matthew.

He soon found a used motor-home with few miles on it, outfitted the vehicle with bunk-beds, decorated the interior in the spirit of ANF, and christened it “Saint Raphael,” patron saint of travelers, the angel who protected Tobias on his journey.

 

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More Cost Effective

Now on Saint Raphael II, and having learned the ropes, Matthew has the numbers. To begin with, a used motor home is almost the same price as a new minivan. Because of road wear and tear, minivans had to be bought new. Since motor homes run on diesel, used is not an issue; diesel engines go far.

Not only has “ANF on Wheels” saved largely on hotels and meals, but also on shipping. Custodians sell publications and devotional items. One of these is a thirty-inch statue of Our Lady of Fatima.

Matthew remembers driving a minivan for ninety consecutive days, and the weight of inventory had to be reduced, as it was causing the steering to malfunction. Now, he has all the stocking space he needs. Whereas, previously, items had to be shipped from headquarters several times a year, now he almost never runs out of stock, and if a visit to the headquarters takes place, Matthew stocks up for a full year with many dollars saved.

There is the cost of parking the motor home in camping grounds and RV parks. But often the custodians are able to accept the hospitality of friends who offer their large driveways. One such case was that of a friend who offered his driveway, in typical Texan style, for several months while Matthew and his team did Fatima visits in the area.

At times, Fatima custodians join other efforts of TFP/ANF. One such example was the 2013 campaign for marriage in Indiana when, due to an NRA convention, hotel rooms were a minimum $120 per night. Saint Raphael housed seven of a group of thirteen. The other six were lodged in a log home, while meals came from the motor home kitchen.

“Our expenses reverted,” says Matthew. “Before, the order of expense was: lodging, food and fuel; now it is fuel, food and lodging–which order has certainly balanced the budget.” 

One of the great advantages of a motor home is the large storage space for publications and religious articles sold at Fatima home visits.

 

A Home Retreat in Which to Rest and Receive

Custodians’ lives are demanding, conducting an average of two to three visits a day, often traveling many miles in between.

It is good to have a place to call “home” where the volunteers can rest in their own bunks, relax in their own living room, enjoy a chat and a cup of coffee, read a book from a well-stocked library, or have a time of quiet prayer.

“Rest is also work,” goes the adage. Having such a place to revamp injects a new freshness and a renewed spirit into each day and each visit.

Camping grounds are often beautiful places, at times by lakes, and ANF custodians like to walk under the trees or by the water praying their daily rosaries.

Another great aspect of the motor home is that it allows the custodians to receive friends.

“People love to visit,” says Matthew. “They find it curious that a motor home, typically used for leisure, can also be used for mission.”

Maybe it is the combination of “leisure and mission” that makes the idea of the Saint Raphael ANF motor home so attractive to those who visit. They know these missionaries of Mary are doing God’s work, often for months on end.

It is comforting to think that they’ve found a way to relax their spirits so as to serve Our Lady better the next day, and the next, and the next.

Indeed, the modern-day motor home, under Saint Raphael’s patronage, has found a new purpose, and a new mission. To the surprise of many, Fatima Custodian Matthew Shibler and his team have found a new way to travel more comfortably, more economically and work more efficiently to bring Our Lady of Fatima’s statue and message to thousands of homes across America.


 

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Quote of the day

DAILY QUOTE for September 23, 2019

In all the events of life, you must recognize the Divine wil...

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September 23

 

In all the events of life, you must recognize the Divine will.
Adore and bless it,
especially in the things which are the hardest for you.

St. Padre Pio of Pietrelcina


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Saint of the day

SAINT OF THE DAY

St. Pio of Pietrelcina

Offering himself as a victim for the end of the war, Padre P...

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St. Pio of Pietrelcina

Francesco was born in the small Italian village of Pietrelcina on May 25, 1887. His parents, Grazio Forgione and Maria Giuseppa Di Nunzio, were peasant farmers, but they recognized their son was close to God. When he was only five years old, he solemnly consecrated himself to Jesus. It is said he often spoke with Our Lord, Our Lady and his guardian angel, who defended him against attacks by the devil. He joined the Capuchin Franciscans at the age of fifteen, and took the name Pio with his religious vows. After seven years of study he was ordained to the priesthood in 1910.

During the same month he was ordained, Padre Pio was praying in the chapel when Our Lord and His Blessed Mother appeared and gave him the Stigmata. However, the wounds soon faded and then disappeared. “I do want to suffer, even to die of suffering,” Padre Pio told Our Lady, “but all in secret." Soon after, he experienced the first of his spiritual ecstasies.

Pio was in the military for a short time, but was discharged due to poor health. Upon his return to the monastery, he became a spiritual director. He had five rules for spiritual growth: weekly confession, daily Communion, spiritual reading, meditation, and examination of conscience. He often advised, "Pray, Hope and Don’t Worry."

In July of 1918, Padre Pio received the visible Stigmata, the five wounds of Christ (hands, feet and side), after offering himself as a victim for the end of the war. By 1933, the holy priest was recognized by the Church and by 1934 had attracted thousands of pilgrims that attended his masses and frequented his confessional.

On September 23, 1968, Padre Pio said his final Mass, renewed his vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience and died in his cell after suffering from grave physical decline. Before his death, Padre Pio orchestrated and oversaw the building of the “House for the Alleviation of Suffering,” a 350-bed medical and religious center.

He was canonized on June 16, 2002 by Pope John Paul II. An estimated 300,000 people attended the canonization ceremony.

Weekly Story

WEEKLY STORY

“What is that?” Asked a curious voice as America Needs F...

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The Power of a Picture

“What is that?” Asked a curious voice as America Needs Fatima custodian Jose Ferraz stepped into the hotel elevator in Altamonte Springs, Florida. “This is the Pilgrim statue of Our Lady of Fatima,” replied Mr. Ferraz, “I take Her to visit people in their homes to spread the Fatima message.” He then handed the woman, who was a maid at the hotel, America Needs Fatima’s most popular picture. “This is a picture of Her.” The woman gasped. “I know that picture! It inspired a conversion.” She then asked excitedly, “Do you have a minute to hear the story?” 

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As Mr. Ferraz listened, he learned that the woman, Maria Vegra, had a 22-year old son who had recently passed away after three weeks in the hospital due to a fatal injury received in a car accident. While in the hospital, a priest would visit him every day to administer Holy Communion. The priest consistently offered the sacrament to the neighboring patient of Maria’s son, another young man who was also in critical condition. The young man would say, “No. I don’t believe in God.” But the priest continued to offer salvation. “Let me hear your confession and give you Holy Communion and Last Rights,” the priest said, “it will save your soul and get you to heaven.” Time after time, the young man stubbornly refused.

During the weeks of hospitalization and fruitless medical treatments, Maria had taken her son a picture of Our Lady of Fatima a friend had given her from an America Needs Fatima mailing.

She knew Our Lady’s watchful gaze would give her son peace in his last days. The day after she placed Our Lady’s picture at the foot of her son’s bed, she heard the voice of his stubborn neighbor: “please,” he said, “bring the picture closer to me. I want to look at the Lady.” 

Surprised but willing, Maria placed the picture in the middle of the two suffering men. 

After three days of letting the nearby picture of Our Lady touch his heart as he gazed into Her eyes, the suffering patient relented. “Please,” he called out, “bring me the priest. I want to receive the sacraments.”

A few days later, the young man died a Catholic. With a simple picture of Our Lady of Fatima, God touched a heart and saved a soul. 

 By Catherine Ferdinand

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“What is that?” Asked a curious voice as America Needs Fatima custodian Jose Ferraz stepped into the hotel elevator in Altamonte Springs, Florida. “This is the Pilgrim statue of Our Lady of Fatima,” replied Mr. Ferraz, “I take Her to visit people in their homes to spread the Fatima message.” He then handed the woman, who was a maid at the hotel, America Needs Fatima’s most popular picture. 

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