The inaugural Marian Conference of the Immaculate Heart of Mary parish in Brentwood, California was held October 12-13, 2018. It was an over the top beautiful celebration, on the 101st anniversary of the final apparition of the Blessed Mother in Fatima, Portugal. First of all, Immaculate Heart of Mary is one of the most beautiful parishes in California, and perhaps, in the United States of America. While selling Catholic books as a new convert, at Glad Tidings, some years ago, Father Garcia, the former pastor of IHM, visited our shop every week. Years later, I had the good fortune of traveling to Brentwood and receiving multiple blessings at The Divine Mercy Conference with Fr. Seraphim, MIC, Mark Mallett,and Fr. Jim Sullivan, who heard my confession. It was there that I heard about the monthly Day of Reflection of Fr. Jim Sullivan, that included very inspired Bible teachings, breakfast, and lunch, with Fr. Jim’s homemade Mexican dip. It was there, at my first Bible study with Fr. Jim, that I was told to begin a Divine Mercy cenacle.

This was the first annual Marian Conference in Brentwood, but Marian Conferences were held in Los Vegas, Nevada under the direction of the new pastor in Brentwood, Fr. Quang Minh Dong. Everything was beautiful; everything was perfect; everything was inspiring. The conference opened with the rosary and Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, followed by the opening mass presided by His Eminence William Cardinal Levada, who formerly was appointed by Pope Benedict XVI as Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith at the Vatican, having studied theology at the Pontifical Gregorian University, ordained as a priest, and receiving a doctorate in sacred theology magna cum laude at the North American College in Rome. The mass was followed by a talk by Cardinal Levada on “Mary and the Church”.

I stood in a long line for dinner at the food trucks, dining on fabulous fish and gelato!!! Since the line was long, as was the wait, as everything was totally freshly prepared, I was able to meet many of the young people who were waiting to hear the Papa Ninja Sean Bryan.

Father Arturo Bazan led the Benediction and Adoration the next morning with an awesome huge monstrance, along with the praying of the rosary. The Blessed Sacrament inside the huge and beautiful monstrance was flanked by two large statues of angels and six very tall candles sitting on white pedestals. Gorgeous white flowers adorned the altar below the Crucifix, the Tabernacle, the image of The Divine Mercy, and the statue of Our Lady, all around the altar.

At eight a.m., Father Quang Minh Dong, the pastor, said mass along with the Anointing of the Sick. Deacon Steve and Mary Anne Greco gave the morning talk on “Mary and the Family”. The deacon asked us to pray a decade of the rosary daily for each of your children. When their daughter was diagnosed with cancer, the Lord told Steve to turn to Me and ask for more faith and turn to My Mother.

Steve said to Jesus, “I give you my whole heart!” Keep your eyes on God, not the problems in your family. Take time in your daily life for prayer. Expect to hear from God. Take time to praise God. Remember what God has done for you. Thank God for what He has done for you. Thank God ahead of time for healing. Use the many names of God to praise Him. Talk to God about EVERYTHING in your life. Trust in God. When you are going through a difficult situation, tell God that you know that He loves you and that you know He loves your family. Ask the Blessed Mother to inspire you in faith. Ask the Holy Spirit daily for MORE of His Spirit. Pray in the Name of Jesus, through the intercession of the Blessed Mother. When Mary Anne grumbled to God about all the work at Thanksgiving, He replied, “Either do it for Me or don’t do it!”

After praying the Liturgy of the Hours in the chapel, I stumbled upon The Rosary Rally in the meditation garden, behind the chapel, in honor of Our Lady of Fatima on the 101st anniversary of the final apparition of the Blessed Mother in Fatima. We prayed the rosary in the shade of the trees. Some saw the sun dance afterwards.

Father Alexander Castillo gave us a talk on “Mary and Scriptures, relating all the references of Mary in the Bible and the symbolism. Next, at three p.m., the Hour of Mercy, we prayed the chaplet of The Divine Mercy, followed by a talk by Father Erick Villa.

There was a long line waiting outside in the hot afternoon sun, but I was fortunate enough to receive a second wind, chatting with the Missionary Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament and Mary Immaculate. They are a great blessing to this
spirit-filled parish.

My beloved husband took me to a local Mexican restaurant for dinner and drove me back to the parish just in time to see the crowds gathering for the beautiful candlelight procession of multiple statues of the Blessed Mother. At dusk, around the lovely courtyard in front of the church, the Bishop of Oakland, Michael Barber, s.j., blessed the candles and the procession began with the Knights of Columbus, under the patronage of the crescent moon and the rosary, with music and wonder in the city of Brentwood, California, this autumn evening.

The closing mass was said by His Excellency Bishop Michael Barber, s.j.
After the mass, Bishop blessed the seven foot statue of the Blessed Mother from the Philippines in the new and beautiful Marian shrine.

Oh holy town of Brentwood, how still we see thy Light. Thank you, Jesus. Thank you, Mary, thank you priests, pastor, deacons, nuns, seculars, cardinal, musicians, organizing committee, donors, participants, speakers, and all volunteers who made this such a spectacular holy event. Thank you Jesus. Thank you, Blessed Mother. Amen


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