The goal of the apostolate of the Shrine (Apostolado del Oratorio) is to adequately respond to the insistent call of Pope John Paul II by cooperating with bishops and priests in the effort for a new evangelization, particularly so that lapsed Catholics may once again become involved in the ecclesial life of their parishes. This work not only seeks to benefit individuals but also entire families.
It is a worldwide initiative of Heralds of the Gospel, an international Private Association of the Christ's Faithful of Pontifical Right.
Essentially it involves forming groups of thirty families (10-15 families in the U.S.) in which a shrine of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, as She appeared at Fatima in Portugal, travels from home to home on pilgrimage.
Family receive the shrine in their home once a month (2 days of the month in the U.S.) on a day determined in agreement with the coordinator. On the appointed day, each respective family invites friends, relatives, neighbors to read a passage from the Gospel together, followed by a few minutes of reflection, recite the rosary and make an act of consecration of the family to the Immaculate Heart of Mary.
The coordinator is the person who takes responsibility for forming and training a group of thirty families and coordinating the pilgrimage of the shrine among them. The coordinator can be either a man or a woman, although couples are preferred. Their age is not important.
The pilgrimage is undertaken with the underlying narrative of St. Joseph traveling with the Blessed Virgin Mary to Bethlehem of Judah and seeking shelter where she can bring forth her Son Jesus. As they go door to door, they are coldly refused at every stop with an icy "no", sometimes with the added note of hostile suspicion:
No, there is no place here.
In the Twenty-first Century, every coordinator is called to serve the Virgin Mary in a similar manner by offering the same aid St. Joseph did in Bethlehem, that is to say, going to cities street by street, house to house, and asking:
Would you like to receive Our Lady in your home one day a month, so that her Son Jesus can be brought forth and reign in your home?
In our case, contrary to what happened in Bethlehem of Judah, the response of thousands of families has been:
Yes! I want to receive Mary into my home with the hope that she likewise one day receives me into heaven.
Blessed are the persons chosen by Our Lady for this sublime mission of coordinating her shrines! As Sacred Scripture tells us: they "will receive a hundred times more now in this present age... and eternal life in the age to come."
Happy are those families which welcome in their homes the shrine of the Immaculate Heart of Mary every month! For wherever the Mother of God comes, so also comes her Divine Son. They bring peace, unity to the family, help in every necessity, and, above all, grace to lead a good life and obtain heaven.
To better appreciate the scope and importance of this ministry in mission lands, we invite you to take a look at the blog of the apostolate of the shrine in Rwanda by Rugori Rwera.