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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 March 3, 2021

Those who educate children well are more to be honored than...

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March 3

 

Those who educate children well
are more to be honored
than they who produce them;
for the latter only gave them life,
the former give them the art of living well.


Aristotle

  
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Saint of the day

SAINT OF THE DAY

St. Katharine Drexel

Catherine made her social debut in 1879 as a wealthy, popula...

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St. Katharine Drexel

Katharine Drexel was born Catherine Marie Drexel on November 26, 1858, the second daughter of Francis Anthony Drexel, a wealthy banker, and his wife, Hannah, who died very shortly after Catherine’s birth. Francis married again two years later, and he and his new wife, Emma, had another daughter when Catherine was five.

The three Drexel children were well educated and enjoyed many social and material privileges. They were privately educated at home by their tutors and would often tour parts of the United States and Europe with their parents. They were brought up to the practice of the virtues and assisted their parents every week when they opened their home to the care and aid of the poor.

Catherine made her social debut in 1879 as a wealthy, popular young heiress. However, her life took a profound turn when, after nursing Emma Drexel for three years during a terminal illness, she realized that her family’s fortune could not buy freedom from pain or death. She became a very active and staunch advocate for the black and native Americans after witnessing their plight during a family trip to the Western United States in 1884.

At the prompting of Pope Leo XIII, the young heiress became a missionary religious in 1891 and established the Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament to work among the American Indians and Afro-Americans. Her decision to enter religion rocked Philadelphia social circles, one newspaper carrying the banner headline: “Miss Drexel Enters a Catholic Convent—Gives Up Seven Million."

Over the course of the next sixty years, Mother Katharine Drexel, as she became known, devoted herself and her fortune to propagating her missionary work. By the time of her death in 1955, at the age of ninety-six, she had established a system of Catholic schools for blacks in thirteen states, twenty-three rural schools, and fifty missions for Indians in sixteen states. Her most famous establishment was Xavier University for Blacks in New Orleans in 1915 – it was the first of its kind in the United States and faced great opposition from radical racists.

Mother Katharine Drexel was canonized by Pope John Paul II on October 1, 2000, the second native-born American ever to be declared a saint after St. Elizabeth Ann Seton in 1774.

Weekly Story

WEEKLY STORY

Handing him a Rosary she asked him to go to Mass for a week....

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Payback

At Anna’s mother’s funeral a man came up to her and after offering his deepest sympathy, took the grieving daughter aside, “I must tell you a story about your good mother and something she did for me…”

He proceeded to recount how, many years before he was involved in an extra-marital affair. One day, when dining with the woman in a restaurant, Anna’s parents had come in and pretended they had not seen them.

But next day he picked up the phone to hear Anna’s mother inviting him over for a piece of pie.

“You know how good your mother’s pie was…But there was also a tone of urgent authority in her voice, so I went.”

After enjoying his piece of pie, Anna’s mother revealed that she had, indeed, seen him and his girl-friend the night before.

“Though I vehemently denied it, your mother would not relent...She proceeded to remind me of the time when I was out of work and she had cooked for my family day in and day out.”

“Now, I want payback,” she demanded.

“I reached for my wallet, but she said,”

“Not that way.”

Handing him a Rosary she asked him to go to Mass for a week. She instructed him to say the Hail Mary and Our Father assigned to each bead while thinking of something good about his wife, his children and their family life.

“If at the end of this week you still think this woman is better for you, just mail me back the Rosary, and I will never say a word about this again.”

At this point, the man telling the story reached into his pocket. Pulling out a worn Rosary, he said,

“This is the Rosary your mother gave me all those years ago. My wife and I have said it together every day since.”

 Based on a story from 101 Inspirational Stories of the Rosary by Sister Patricia Proctor, OSC

Handing him a Rosary she asked him to go to Mass for a week. She instructed him to say the Hail Mary

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