To trace down the history of the World Apostolate of Fatima we need to go to the history of its predecessor, the Blue Army of Our Lady of Fatima, going as far as to St. Mary of Plainfield, a small parish in the State of New Jersey, U.S.A. Why? Because it was its parish priest, Rev. Fr. Harold V. Colgan, that laid the foundations of this Marian Catholic movement. All started when Fr. Colgan felt very sick and was in hospital for long time without getting any better. It was then that he promised to Our Lady that if She cured him, he would consecrate the rest of his life preaching Her devotion. The miracle happened and the parish priest of St. Mary of Plainfield fulfilled his word. Twice a week he would preach in his church about the Blessed Mother of God. Many were those who attended his sermons.
Spring time of 1947. The Bishop of Leiria blessed in Fatima the statue of Pilgrim Virgin, which was destined to visit the U.S.A. The Message of Fatima was now entering the American mass media. Fr. Colgan, impressed by the private revelation that Our Lady had given in Fatima, thought that the best thing he could do was to spread the Message in his parish and make his parishioners to live it according to the requests of the Blessed Mother. To do this, he summed up the Message of Fatima in three main points: Devotion to the Immaculate Heart of Mary, Daily meditation of the Rosary and Righteous observance and sanctification of the one's state duties. The scope was to answer the requests of Our Lady and by doing so to speed the advent of Peace and the conversion of Russia, as She had promised in Fatima. The campaign was straightway coroneted with the best success.
However, Fr. Colgan knew that it was not sufficient to have good intentions which could easily be forgotten as time went by. So, he thought of adding to the former three aspects already mentioned, other two, totally external to the message. The first was the signature of a little pledge to promise observance of Our Lady's requests; the second, the use of an external sign, a blue coloured medal or a ribbon, to remember the promise. The enrolment would be gratis and by no means would constitute a vow. The little parish of St. Mary of Plainfield enrolled massively on this. "We will be the Blue Army of Mary and Christ, against the red army of the world and of Satan", preached Fr. Harold from his pulpit. Some days after, the parish priest of Plainfield invited the brilliant writer John Haffert, author of many books, to deliver a conference to his flock. Haffert spoke about the apparitions of Fatima. Soon he noticed to be speaking to an assistance extremely keen on what he was saying. In his mind occurred then the idea of extending such experience to other parishes and nations.
Such project was audacious, but neither Fr. Colgan nor Haffert were the type of persons to hesitate before the responsibility of the future. Thus is born the Blue Army. From then onward, Colgan and Haffert will work together: One is the flame, the other the thunder. But both plan and execute. Colgan has even sold his car to cover the first expenses. In May of that same year, the humble parish priest of Plainfield went to the Vatican to present the project to the Holy Father, Pope Pius XII, who received him and said: "As the world chief against communism I bless you and all members of the Blue Army". The foundation of the Blue Army was done. Like a fire, it would spread through the whole world. In 1950, there were already one million registered members. In 1953, five millions and nowadays its numbers go beyond 20 millions spread in many countries around the world.
The extraordinary expansion of this movement in such a short period of time was the natural response to the pleas of Our Lady of Fatima and her accurate description of the present moral, spiritual and religious crisis of the world. The message was spread by the extensive use of all means, by forming prayer groups, known as "cells" that would multiply themselves, the usage of mass media, international meetings, pilgrimages, movies and television programs.
At the international level, Bishop Joao Venancio of Leiria was the first International President. The international see was established at Domus Pacis, in Fatima, Portugal. The association was then a private association of the faithful.With the pontificate of Blessed John Paul II, the Great, the message of Fatima was better understood as a charisma for the Universal Church. John Paul II was truly the Pope of Fatima. He was the protagonist of the third part of the secret of Fatima, revealed at the beatification ceremony of Blessed Jacinta and Francisco Marto on the 13th of May, 2000. The Pope suffered an assassination attempt, but the Motherly hand of Our Lady of Fatima deviated the bullet, saving his life to serve for many years to come the See of Peter, the Universal Church and the world. The world needs "PENANCE, PENANCE, PENANCE" to convert many sinners, save many souls and avoid terrible suffering caused by the sins of hatred and their consequences. A new effort is needed to save the world and make possible a new era of peace and hope, promised at Fatima. To achieve this, the New Evangelization of the world is the main pastoral objective of the Universal Church for the XXI century and the new millennium.
This is how the Blue Army of Our Lady of Fatima evolves into the World Apostolate of Fatima. The Holy See suggested the change of name to focus on the importance of a Marian Apostolate, ecclesial in its nature, avoiding the prejudice of certain governments against the word "Army" and its military connotation. Professor Américo Pablo López-Ortiz, a philosopher from Puerto Rico, who speaks several languages, was asked to write the philosophical and theological principles of the new organization to be submitted to the Holy See for approval.
By studying the Apostolate in several countries, a major recognition of a fourth essential element was discovered: The practice of the First Saturday's Devotion.
The Holy See decreed the World Apostolate of Fatima on the 7th of October of 2005, Feast of Our Lady of the Rosary, an international public association of pontifical right for the universal Church. The Apostolate acquired therefore a bigger ecclesial nature with renewed charisma: the New Evangelization of the world through the authentic Message of Fatima.
On February 3, 2006 there was a public ceremony at the Vatican to mark this new step for the movement, as well as an international congress with the participation of many personalities related to the movement and to Fatima.
The international Board of Trustees of this movement has since then his first lay president, Professor Américo López-Ortiz.
In 2010, The World Apostolate of Fatima received the definitive approval of its Statutes.
Today, the World Apostolate of Fatima is active in 110 countries and keeps growing because the Message of Fatima continues to be crucial in the building of a better world, "a civilization of love, a new springtime for the Church, a New Marian Pentecost."