Declaring it “time for us to rediscover the power of the rosary,” Bishop John O. Barres has called on the faithful of the Diocese of Rockville Centre to pray the rosary daily during the month of May for the promotion of dramatic missionary growth on Long Island.

Bishop Barres made the request in his first pastoral letter, released this week as part of the commemoration of the 100th anniversary of the Blessed Mother’s apparitions in Fatima, which began in May 1917.  The letter is available at and copies will be distributed at all parishes in the diocese on the weekend of May 6-7.

Encouraging “dramatic missionary growth” on Long Island has been a priority for Bishop Barres since being installed as the diocese’s fifth bishop on January 31.

“I ask every Catholic of every age in the Church of Rockville Centre to pray the rosary daily during the month of May 2017 in honor of Our Lady of Fatima and for the promotion of dramatic missionary growth on Long Island,” he wrote. “As we rediscover or discover the 1917 Miracle of Our Lady’s Apparitions in Fatima, it is an historical moment and opportunity to rekindle our devotion to Mary in 2017.”

Writing that “the story of Our Lady of Fatima is an inspirational story of faith and trust in God that needs to be told and retold to every generation,” the bishop began the pastoral letter with the history of Mary’s appearance to three children in Fatima, Portugal, and the messages she gave them.

“Our Lady of Fatima confronts each of us with the Truth that our lives on earth are short and fragile and that every one of us will meet Jesus at our death for our individual judgment,” Bishop Barres wrote. “She puts before us the crucial necessity of having a burning desire for heaven and eternal life. She speaks to us of the reality of death, judgment, heaven, hell and purgatory. She calls us to repentance, to conversion of heart, to do penance and to trust in Divine Mercy.”

Calling attention to the need for “peace in our world and in our families,” the bishop notes, “In this fallen world, violence, war, and persecution often dominate the global stage and our hope can easily erode. But Our Lady of Fatima asks us to understand and believe that the world can be better and that her intercession and our prayers and the power of the rosary can help turn historical tides of turmoil to peace.”

When Our Lady appeared at Fatima in 1917, World War I and the Russian Revolution were raging, said Bishop Barres, adding that “as Our Lady prayed at the foot of the Cross, so she prays for the Church and for the world at moments of crisis and upheaval.” Our current times call for Mary’s intercession, he wrote, citing the uncertain plight of refugees and immigrant families around the world and on Long Island.

“We pray for those families that have lost loved ones to the culture of death expressed in gang violence and the senseless murder of young lives,” the bishop wrote.  “The Catholic Church of Rockville Centre stands with you and for you as we express our belief together in the dignity of the human person and the sanctity of every human life and every family. We pray that Our Lady of Fatima strengthens us in our witness to the sanctity of human life and marriage, in our witness in the world to the truths of our Catholic Social Justice teaching, and in our call to serve the poor and the suffering and to recognize in them the face of Jesus.”

The bishop specifically addressed children, teens and young adults, saying “each of you is capable at a young age of great holiness and Our Lady wants that for you.  Our Lady of Fatima wants you to be “New Evangelization Missionary Disciples” to your peers and to every generation.”

As he asked for the prayers of the faithful, Bishop Barres assured that he “will be praying the rosary every day for you, your families and for the entire Church of Rockville Centre.  The graces and miracles that have flowed from Mary’s appearances at Fatima rekindle in us a deep desire for holiness and a deep desire for sharing our Catholic faith humbly and compassionately with everyone we meet.”