The world changed in dramatic fashion in 1917. The First World War was raging and the radical, Marxist Bolsheviks seized control of the nation of Russia.
An entire generation of Europe was basically lost in the Great War, as 17 million were killed and 20 million were wounded. The violence and death destroyed much of what remained of a fractured Christendom.
In the midst of this carnage, Vladimir Lenin was preparing the revolution that would lead to a Communist takeover of Russia. In March of 1917, Czar Nicholas (who along with his family would eventually be exiled and executed) was forced to abdicate and later that same year in November, the Bolsheviks led by Lenin, took control and established the Communist state. Through the rest of the century, Communist errors would attain “super power status” in the Soviet Union and would be spread throughout the world.
Pope Benedict XV pleaded unceasingly for peace. As all this was taking place, he turned to the Blessed Virgin for help, directing the invocation “Queen of Peace, pray for us” be added permanently to the Litany of Loreto.
Heaven’s reply to this plea for peace came to the tiny and unknown village of Fatima. Just eight days later, the Queen of Peace appeared for the first time to the three shepherd children on May 13, 1917. Through them, the Mother of God revealed Heaven’s peace plan for our broken modern world.
The great opponent of Heaven’s peace plan would be the communist red army, spreading atheistic errors across the globe. To counter this, a blue army was needed to march under Mary’s banner spreading the message of Fatima. That blue army was established in 1946 by Msgr. Harold Colgan, with the help of John Haffert. Now mostly known as the World Apostolate of Fatima, the organization is celebrating its 75th anniversary.
The Apostolate’s current executive director, David Carollo, took time recently to talk to CWR about the apostolate’s history and current work.
CWR: How and why did Msgr. Harold Colgan found the Blue Army 75 years ago?
David Carollo: Msgr. Colgan was miraculously cured of a heart ailment in 1946. He had promised Our Lady that if she would bring about a cure for him he would spend his remaining days promoting the message of Fatima. Soon after, from the pulpit of his New Jersey parish he called for a blue army of prayer to counter the red army of atheistic communism. He continued on keeping this promise until his death in 1972.
CWR: What was John Haffert’s role in the founding of the Blue Army? What are some of the most popular or important books he has written on Fatima?
David Carollo: John Haffert was author of more than 30 books. He was a former Carmelite seminarian and published a magazine for the Carmelites. He had a great devotion to Our Lady, especially to the Rosary and Brown Scapular. He was the promoter while Msgr. Colgan was the spiritual director. All of his books were powerful spiritual classics. We have recently republished Night of Love, which is a guide for nocturnal adoration vigils, and The World’s Greatest Secret on how the early Christians kept the teachings of Christ alive. His other books speculated on the state of the world and the response, or lack thereof, to the Fatima message. These were guides for our members throughout the years.
CWR: What have been among the most important accomplishments of the Blue Army over these past 75 years?
David Carollo: In 1947 Mr. Haffert met with Sr. Lucia, the last surviving seer of Fatima and developed the Blue Army Pledge. It is estimated that 20 million people worldwide signed this pledge to pray the Rosary daily, live morally according to your state in life, wear the Brown Scapular, and work to fulfill the First Saturday’s devotion.
We have grown from the meeting between these two visionaries 75 years ago to becoming The World Apostolate of Fatima USA, part of an International public Association of the Faithful with a presence in 100 countries worldwide. The greatest accomplishment of the apostolate is the number of souls that have hopefully been saved by the prayerful efforts of our membership.
CWR: What is your hope for the future of the Blue Army’s apostolate?
David Carollo: To bring the Fatima message to as many as will hear it. Perhaps to get another 20 million or more to make the pledge and most importantly to see the First Saturday’s devotion proliferate. This is the part of the Fatima message that has not yet been fulfilled.
CWR: Tell us about the shrine in Washington, New Jersey and the different devotions that are offered for pilgrims.
David Carollo: We host many big events throughout our season, especially on the 13th of the month to commemorate the six apparitions of Our Lady from May through October. We welcome thousands on these days.
We also host many group events, such as Portuguese Day, Sri Lankan Day, Padre Pio Day, and several events sponsored by the Haitians and Filipino communities. Daily we offer the Rosary, confessions and Mass as well as adoration. Our schedule of events can be found on Bluearmy.com.
CWR: What are your hopes for Pope Francis’s recent consecration of Russian and Ukraine to the Immaculate Heart of Mary?
David Carollo: Consecrations bring about great grace. This consecration made by the Holy Father, many bishops, priests and laity will have a miraculous effect on the world, but only if we cooperate with this grace. It is up to us.
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