Our Mission is All in a Day’s Work

angel fountainBy Dan Wagner –

As a member of the Shrine staff at the National Blue Army Shrine of Our Lady of Fatima in Washington, NJ, I am always inspired and encouraged when I see the mission of this place being carried out.  “How am I doing that?” I might ask myself some days when most of my time is spent (sometimes many long hours) cleaning, cutting grass, fixing problematic plumbing or pulling weeds, all in an effort to keep up with the never-ending maintenance challenges.  “How have I helped spread the Peace plan of Mary?”  For me, praise God, It is usually pretty easy to see that I am playing a part.  This is because at the very foundation of all I do, my task is to do my best to make the Shrine a beautiful place where all God’s children can come to know and love their Mother Mary.  Goodbye weeds and unkempt lawn…Hello inspired Pilgrims looking for a place to meet their Mother.

Some who come to the Shrine have known for years what a wonderful mother they have in Our Lady; others are just curious to meet her, to see who she is, or why we Catholics make such a big deal about her.  There are times, when in order to make this place really beautiful, the work can seem unending. We might feel our days slipping away in endless hours of grooming the grounds and fighting the armies of thistle that pop up like weeds (doing what is natural to them, of course). When the temptation to become discouraged begins to set in, however, I am always reminded what my mission is and why I am here. 

shrine with leaves 2009The other day, for example, I helped collect the petitions and donations that were left in different areas of the shrine and I found something that made me smile.  To respect the privacy of people who may not wish any but God to see their prayers, I am hesitant to read what is so intimate; but still, every now and then as I’m sorting through the notes to make sure there is nothing for the Shrine office, I notice a few heartfelt prayers and pleas to Jesus and His Mother and am often moved.  On this particular day, I came across two thick papers folded up in quarters. When I opened them I discovered pieces of art which must have been painted in watercolor by a young and gifted little artist.  My guess is that the artist was of Kindergarten or first grade level or younger, but whoever it was or whatever age, they did a beautiful job.  When I saw what looked like an angel and our Blessed Mother holding a Rosary, I couldn’t help but smile and thank God and His Mother for giving me a chance to serve on a team that maintains and restores such a place. I thanked God to be one of the custodians of a shrine that serves as a meeting ground between our Heavenly Queen and the innocent hearts of her little ones. 

Thank you, little visiting artist, for your simple love, your good example and for bringing another smile to my day.

 From the Shrine Custodian Team


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