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By Donna-Marie Cooper O’Boyle, Catholic Exchange, November 7, 2019
If we live the message that Our Lady gave us at Fatima, our personal faith will grow much stronger. At the same time, it will have an increased effect on the very life and mission of the Church, which is the mystical Body of Christ.
— Fr. Andrew Apostoli, Soul Magazine, Fall 2012
In the hundredth-anniversary year of the apparitions of Our Lady of Fatima, Fr. Andrew Apostoli was scheduled to be the spiritual director on a pilgrimage I was leading to Fatima, Portugal. As the pilgrimage drew near, Fr. Andrew told me that his superiors informed him that he could not go; it would be much too strenuous for him. His health had begun to deteriorate in the few months prior. It was one health issue after another, and Fr. Andrew courageously fought for a restoration of his health, but also accepted God’s holy will throughout the suffering, wholeheartedly offering it up to God for the conversion of sinners, as Our Lady of Fatima had requested.
Redemptive suffering was something Fr. Andrew had taken seriously and had preached passionately. Now he was intensely living it, too.
As much as I knew I would miss having Fr. Andrew by my side on the pilgrimage, I was deeply concerned for his health and well-being, and I totally accepted the change of plan and would continue to pray for my dear friend. Another Franciscan Friar of the Renewal, Fr. Luke Fletcher, was appointed as the spiritual director for the pilgrimage. Fr. Andrew highly recommended him to me, and with a smile, he added that Fr. Luke had a “very long beard!” The friars have jokingly expressed that the length of their beards denotes the level of their wisdom! But, all joking aside, it was a blessing to have Fr. Luke on my pilgrimage. I’d like to share a compelling story that he shared with me later. ….