Friday, September 18, 2009

Our Lady of Fatima Community Shrine

We are big fans of the Weird New England and Weird Massachusetts books from Weird US. We're always trying to find new places out of one of those books that we can go to when we're feeling bored. So we were flipping through Weird Massachusetts today and started ruling out different places because they weren't cool, they were too far away, we could get in trouble if we went there, we needed more people to go to that one, etc. until we found the Our Lady of Fatima Community Shrine in Pepperell, MA. It was only about an hour away and seemed just crazy enough to be kind of interesting.

We read that this old guy had a vision from the Virgin Mary in 1982 and she told him that he needed to build a shrine for her in the community to help make her and the rosary more well known. Apparently, 4,000 people a year travel to the shrine to see the 24 foot illuminated cross and huge murals of various Bible scenes. Even though we are not religious we thought that 4,000 people a year couldn't be wrong and that it must be kind of cool.

We had no idea that it was in this man's front yard. We pulled up and felt weird almost immediately. We were just pulling into a personal driveway as if we had been asked to dinner one night but we didn't know these people and didn't necessarily want to talk to them. Even though the sign had "welcomed" us, we weren't sure if we should be driving up to this guy's house at 5 in the afternoon. But then again, the cross and pictures of Jesus reminded us that this guy had to be nice...right? We only had a quick glimpse of him as he walked from his car into his home and had a few minutes of awkwardness as we tried to figure out if we knocked on their door? or asked them if it was ok that we were there? or just pretended like we never saw a man or a house and just did what we wanted to do?

Of course we did the last option.

We tried to take on a somber, religious tone - the kind that we pull on when we have to go to a funeral. For some reason we figured that if we walked slower it would look like we were contemplating each mural and its' significance to the Catholic faith. We didn't want to look like jerks who were just there to see some crazy guy and his crazy hobby (even if that was closer to the truth than us being there on some sort of religious pilgrimage) - we still wanted to respect this guy whom we assumed was extremely nice and welcoming.

After walking by all of the paintings, we found the "prayer shed", as we named it. It was a normal shed that you might keep tools and a lawnmower in, but this one had the power of God in it. There were pamphlets EVERYWHERE and cardboard pictures of Jesus and various signs let us know that we could take anything we wanted. There was even a guestbook that we wrote a nice message in because the people who set this up were just so sweet!

And then we saw the "Homosexuality is evil", "Fight for traditional marriage" and "Abortion is murder" pamphlets and realized that maybe these people weren't so loving and welcoming after all.


  1. I guess he missed the "Love Your Neighbor as you love yourself." I hear he is nasty to his neighbors...he must have missed that in the Bible. How does that make sense to him is beyond me!

  2. Used to be his neighbor. Lived on the corner directly across from his driveway. He is not friendly and yes they are hypocritical. IT's too bad. Whenever they had the yearly events, these people would literally take over our small neighborhood parking on our lawns and blocking our driveways! He's really pretty inconsiderate. Glad we're gone.

  3. Self-sacrificial Love(Agape love) is the kind of love that Jesus cited and gave us in order to give us all a chance to make it to our true Eternal home. Self-sacrificial love requires all believers to admonish their neighbor when they are trapped or addicted and therefore endangered by sin. This means that one must warn their neighbor about anything that endangers their soul even if it's not popular or frowned on to do so. Truly loving your neighbor means telling them that sin accepted as a way of life is deadly even if it hurts them to remind them about the truth. This man is a lot more loving than the authors of prior comments give him credit for. One of the best tactics of the Devil is to get people to believe that love is perceived as hate. Jesus himself predicted that believers in him would be hated the way he was. Who warned us that we must enter the Kingdom of God through the narrow gate?