Norwood student addresses national Fatima gathering

NORWOOD -- All eyes were on Monet Souza.

With the EWTN cameras rolling, Monet addressed a packed Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception -- most of whom were Catholic schoolchildren -- on Oct. 3 for the 6th annual Worldwide Children’s Eucharistic Holy Hour.

“Good morning, my name is Monet Souza,” she began. “I am in the 6th grade at St. Catherine of Siena School, in Norwood, Massachusetts. I am honored to speak to you, most of all the children of the world, and to share with you my Faith in Jesus Christ and my love for our Lady of Fatima.”

Monet spoke of her devotion to the Virgin Mary, and urged those in attendance to be “shining examples” of the Lord’s goodness and all that pleases him.

“Our Blessed Mother is calling us to do the same thing she told the children: place our trust in her Immaculate Heart and follow her Son and his Gospel,” Monet said. “We should listen to her, because there are many voices in the world trying to lead us away from Jesus. But our Mother’s voice is stronger and more powerful.”

“Let us promise to pray and make sacrifices that will help our Lord and our Lady change our world to reflect our Father’s will and our Blessed Mother’s call to us: Do whatever Jesus tells us to do,” she concluded.

Monet was given the opportunity to speak at this year’s Holy Hour as part of the coronation ceremony because this year’s crown was donated by the students at St. Catherine of Siena school in Norwood.

According to Father John Currie, parochial vicar at St. Catherine of Siena Parish, the crown was initially bought for the World Apostolate of Fatima-Boston for their statue of the Blessed Mother.

Father Currie, who traveled to Fatima this past August on a pilgrimage, was asked by Lynn Kenn, co-director of the World Apostolate of Fatima-Boston to buy a crown at Fatima. He did so, even getting it specially blessed at the shrine, and offered the crown as a donation in the name of the schoolchildren of the parish.

However, when Kenn picked up the crown and tried it on the statue, it did not fit.

“I was devastated,” recalled Father Currie.

Together Kenn and Father Currie tried to think of some way to use the crown.

“That’s when Lynn [Kenn] suggested we try her friend, Connie Schneider, who is the founder and director of the Worldwide Children’s Eucharistic Holy Hour.

Schneider gladly accepted Father Currie’s offer of the crown and suggested that one student from the school be chosen to give opening remarks.

With only a few weeks before the event, Father Currie met with school principal Gretchen Hawley. Within minutes, the two decided on Monet.

“Based on her experience with her faith and with the Blessed Lady, she was the perfect choice,” he said.

“When Father Currie asked me if I wanted to do it, I said, ‘Absolutely!’” Monet recalled. For the next week, Monet worked on her speech, and then practiced in front of her schoolmates.

“It was nice because all of my friends were really helpful,” she said.

According to Monet, the night before the Worldwide Children’s Eucharistic Holy Hour, she flew to Washington together with her parents, her brother, her grandmother, her principal and Father Currie.

“It was very exciting,” she said.

Then, a few rehearsals later, she found herself addressing the world.

“It was a wonderful experience,” she said. “I hope I can do something like that again.”

“At the risk of sounding like a doting father, Monet really pulled it off,” said John Souza, her father. “She was amazing under pressure.”

Monique Souza, Monet’s mother, beamed with pride while recalling her daughter’s confidence as she delivered her speech in front of the audience.

“It definitely brought us to tears,” she said. “To see every pew filled, mostly with children, was just amazing.”

“I told Monet, ‘If we’re feeling this elated, imagine what the Blessed Mother must be feeling,’” she recalled.

Monique Souza hopes this experience, “opens the doors for more local, Massachusetts-based parochial schools to get involved with this and be able to go down and be a part of this experience.”

Father Currie, added, “I believed I bought the wrong size crown, but in the eyes of the Lord it was the right size crown because it opened the door to such a wonderful opportunity.”

The Worldwide Children’s Eucharistic Holy Hour has become a primary focus of the World Apostolate of Fatima USA, Children’s Program, according to its website. The event takes place every First Friday in October, the Feast of Our Lady of the Rosary.