Several thousand young people – many dressed in traditional ethnic garb – gathered Oct. 4 at the National Shrine for the 11th annual Worldwide Children’s Eucharistic Holy Hour. Above, participants pray the rosary during the Holy Hour. Cardinal Donald Wuerl, who presided during the Holy Hour, encouraged young people “to serve, to share, to love Jesus.”
Several thousand young people – many dressed in traditional ethnic garb – gathered Oct. 4 at the National Shrine for the 11th annual Worldwide Children’s Eucharistic Holy Hour. Above, participants pray the rosary during the Holy Hour. Cardinal Donald Wuerl, who presided during the Holy Hour, encouraged young people “to serve, to share, to love Jesus.”
Young people have a special role in bringing peace to the world through their prayers, sacrifices and evangelization, speakers told thousands of youth gathered for the 11th annual Worldwide Children's Eucharistic Holy Hour.

On Oct. 4, the feast of St. Francis of Assisi, students from area Catholic schools throughout the Archdiocese of Washington attended the holy hour at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception. The Eternal Word Television Network (EWTN) broadcast the event live to viewers all over the world to unite them in prayer for world peace and the conversion of sinners.

"To serve, to share, to give, to love Jesus and our brothers and sisters - this is what will make our lives rich and contribute to the peace all people need," said Washington Cardinal Donald Wuerl, who presided during the holy hour and delivered greetings from the Archbishop Carlo Vigano, the Vatican's aposoltic nuncio to the United States.

During the annual holy hour - which was sponsored by the World Apostolate of Fatima, formerly known as the Blue Army of Our Lady of Fatima - dozens of children were dressed in colorful native costumes to represent the worldwide unity of their prayers. The flags of dozens of nations adorned the altar, as did large banners of two of the Fatima , Blessed Jancinta and Blessed Francisco Marto, to whom the Blessed Mother appeared six times in 1917.

Our Lady's message to the shepherd children of Fatima - prayer, penance and devotion to her Immaculate Heart for world peace and the conversion of sinners - is relevant today more than ever, said several speakers.

"I urge each of you to carry out Mary's requests to share the mission of Fatima," said Father Thomas Morrow, the spiritual director of the archdiocesan chapter of the World Apostolate of Fatima. "...You are experts on technology, computers, social media - use that for the glory of God."

Oblate Father Andrew Small, the national director of the Pontifical Mission Societies of the United States, also encouraged the young people to respond to their baptismal call and be modern-day missionaries. He said they are like St. Therese of Lisieux, who although she never left her convent in France, she prayed for missions her entire life. On display near the shrine's main altar during the holy hour was the saint's small wooden writing desk - on a 20-diocese tour of the United States - upon which she composed her spiritual masterpiece, "Story of a Soul," as well her many letters to missionary priests.

"She called herself 'The Little Flower'...and spread the faith in Jesus Christ. Don't ever be afraid to share that faith with others," the priest said. "Our Holy Father loves St. Therese and her 'little way' of loving our neighbor," working with missionaries for the salvation of souls and "spending (her) Heaven doing good on earth."

The children's choir of Queen of the Apostles Church, Alexandria, Va., led the congregation in traditional Marian hymns, as well as, O Salutaris Hostia and Tantum Ergo. Youngsters also took turns leading the faithful in reciting the Sorrowful mysteries of the rosary. The holy hour concluded later with Benediction and the recitation of the Divine Praises.

"Jesus has a special place in His heart for children. He said, 'Let them come to me' and (that) your faith should be like a child," said Cardinal Wuerl. "He loves each and every one of us, and (asks us) to bring your prayers to (Him) through His mother."

He also urged the students to convey their enthusiasm and energy to their Catholic faith. "You are the future of God's Church," said the cardinal during a brief question and answer with the students.

"Never hesitate to pause and pray. Read and learn about Jesus, the Bible - so you can say, 'Jesus is not only my friend, but I know him,'" Cardinal Wuerl said.

Mia Lulli, a sixth grader at the Brookewood School, Kensington, participated in the holy hour with all her classmates. She it was important to gather at the same time as children all over the world to pray specifically for a single cause. "We prayed together in unity for peace," she said. "If the world could be peaceful, the world can get close to God."