Wednesday, June 14, 2017
Tom Tracy - Florida Catholic
MIAMI BEACH | Greg Dougherty has yet to go to the Shrine of Our Lady of Fatima north of Lisbon in Portugal. But on the 100th anniversary of the Fatima apparitions, he is embarking on a 1,400-mile sea journey from Miami to New York to show his dedication to the Fatima Virgin.
A former small business owner and president of the Covington Diocese World Apostolate of Fatima Division in Kentucky, Dougherty set off on his journey June 13 from Miami Beach.
During a brief ceremony by the side of a canal that runs behind the church, Father Roberto Cid, pastor of St. Patrick Parish, blessed him and his small rowing craft, appropriately named the Santa Maria de la Fatima, Our Lady Star of the Sea.
Although delayed by rain and a technical problem with his vessel, Dougherty was hoping to reach Fort Lauderdale by the end of the first day. He hopes to find hospitality — and places to spend the night — in Catholic churches along the way.
“I am looking forward to the fellowship, meeting people along the way, and what I enjoy the most — running into people who have fallen away from the Church, and being a witness out there publicly for Our Lady and lifting her up to the world. That is something I enjoy doing,” Dougherty told The Florida Catholic newspaper.
The famed Marian apparitions were reported in 1917 by three shepherd children at the Cova da Iria, in Fatima, Portugal. The three children were Lucia Santos and her cousins Jacinta and Francisco Marto.
Dougherty credits his faith life and devotion to Our Lady of Fatima to a 2008 incident in which he experienced the tail effects of Hurricane Bertha while in an ocean row boat 100 miles off the coast of Barbados. He had played competitive rugby until the age of 39, and is looking to enter the seminary to pursue a vocation to the priesthood after the row.
His rowing partner is a British Catholic, Gerald Sargent, who currently serves in the Royal Marines. Sargent was supposed to join him in Florida but was delayed by his military duties at home. He reportedly has served in Iraq and Afghanistan as well as taken on the challenge of climbing Mount Everest in his free time.
According to a brochure, the 1,400-mile South to North row along the Intracoastal Waterway is being dedicated to inspiring children and families who do not have a relationship with the Blessed Mother to begin praying the rosary.
Parishioners and school children throughout the world are invited to join the two in praying a 54-day novena while they are out at sea.
“We trained for 10 days in the English Channel before Easter of this year,” Dougherty said, adding that the two fell short of raising funds for an even more ambitious rowing adventure that would have taken them from New York to Galway, Ireland. “We postponed that to next year.”
The two anticipate getting to New York the second week of August, and stopping along the way to attend Mass at local churches.
“The beauty of Our Lady, I am convinced, will open people's hearts to the Church,” Dougherty said.
He added that they plan to document their journey on Facebook and other social media by sharing their experiences through pictures and videos along the way.
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