Families in the Shortsville area have been opening their homes to a small Marian visitor for at least the past eight years. Now families in Phelps and Clifton Springs have the same opportunity.
The former St. Felix/St. Francis Parish Cluster in Clifton Springs and Phelps formed a new cluster last June with St. Dominic Parish in Shortsville, which owns a statue of Our Lady of Fatima. This statue has been making the rounds of parishioners’ houses, often bringing peace and comfort to those who host it, said Lyn Butler. She and her husband, Pete, are parishioners of St. Dominic and have been the statue’s caretakers since 2000.
“Now that our parish is clustered, we opened it up to the cluster,” Butler said.
St. Bridget Parish in East Bloomfield gave the statue to St. Dominic many years ago in memory of a woman named Elaine Gotham, according to a brief history Butler received with the statue.
“The purpose of the gift was to begin a pilgrimage of the statue to those homes where a reminder of Mary’s intercession, on the behalf of the faithful in need, was necessary,” the history reads. “As the title ‘pilgrim’ implies, this statue is meant to visit your homes as a reminder of the grace Our Lady gives unto each one of your families.”
Families who host the statue usually display it in a place of honor within their homes and often gather as a family to pray the rosary together in front of the statue, said Butler, who hosted the statue in her home in 2000.
“It just kind of fell into our laps. My husband and I kept the statue for about a month and a half, and I think that’s when we decided the statue should travel again,” she said.
The Butlers began telling fellow parishioners about the statue and before long they had a waiting list of potential hosts so long that it took several years for the statue to get to everyone. There’s no set time limit for how long a particular family can or should host the statue, Butler said. Although people often are reluctant to part with the statue, they usually seem to know when it’s time for them to pass it on to another family.
The Butlers transport the statue from house to house and keep a record of where it is so it doesn’t get lost as it has in the past. The only thing hosts are required to do besides keeping the statue in a place of honor is to write in a journal that travels with the statue. In this journal, families are encouraged to record any thoughts and feelings they had during their time as hosts, Butler said.
Some of the previous hosts’ stories serve as wonderful and inspiring witnesses to faith, she added. There’s nothing magical or mystical about the statue, but its presence seems to bring comfort to its hosts.
“There’s nothing that’s a miraculous thing, but just that sense of having Our Lady with them,” she said. “I believe it just makes you focus a little more and … make time to pray the rosary.”
“The statue allows you to open your heart to the graces that our Blessed Mother wants you to have,” Pete Butler added.
One-time host Grace Muller said the atmosphere in her home was very peaceful and relaxed for the nearly two months the statue was with her. Fellow St. Dominic parishioner Mary D’Arduini, who hosted the statue from Thanksgiving 2006 until mid-May 2008, agreed.
“She brought a lot of peace and tranquility to our home. Our prayer life has improved,” she said.
D’Arduini and her husband placed the statue on a table in their living room and prayed the rosary before it at least twice a day, she said.
“We always set up shrines for different occasions of thanksgiving, like Christmas, Easter, Mother’s Day,” she said.
The host families take their duties very seriously, and something new is added to the statue or it is somehow improved almost every time it goes out, Lyn Butler said. One host repainted the gold leaf on the statue, and others have added flowers and vases. Muller even had a friend build a wooden box for the statue.
“When she came, she came in a cardboard box,” Muller recalled. “I said, ‘She can’t travel like that. That’s no way to go.’ I figured in a cardboard box she was going to break.”
Muller asked her friend to design a wooden box with a door on the front, so the statue could be displayed inside the box if its hosts wished. She wanted to line the inside with light blue velvet, but couldn’t find any while she was hosting the statue. Nonetheless, she was pleased to be able to return the statue in a better box than it came in.
“I was happy that she could travel around in style. When she came with the (cardboard) box, I almost had a stroke,” Muller said.
The Butlers delivered the statue to its most recent hosts in mid-May and are still looking for people to host it in the future. If there ever comes a time when no one seems interested in hosting it, they’ll probably pass the statue on to another parish.
“We’ll see where the Spirit leads us,” Lyn Butler said.Tags: Faith Formation, Mary, Ontario County News