On a November day in 1946, Monsignor Harold V. Colgan, pastor of St. Mary's Parish in Plainfield, New Jersey, was rushed to the hospital with a heart attack. The consensus of opinion among his doctors was that with rest, he might survive another six months. As he lay in his hospital room on December 8, 1946, he spent the day in prayer and told the Mother of God that if she would intercede with her son to postpone his death, he would spend the rest of his life promoting devotion to her. His prayer was answered and one week later he walked out of the hospital totally cured, to the amazement of the doctors.
Then one day in 1947, Monsignor Colgan, who was devoted to our Lady's appearance at Fatima in 1917 to Lucia, Jacuita, and Francisco, decided to make this the focus of the Marian devotion upon which he would expend his life's energy. He preached the message of Fatima in his parish. One day he said, "From now on I want you to wear something Blue and we are going to become the Blue Army of Our Lady of Fatima, in opposition to the Red Army of Russia." When the Bishop of Fatima heard about what he had done, he commissioned a statue of Mary, just as she appeared to the children at Fatima. It was carved from cedar wood, stands about four feet tall, and contains several fragments from the tree upon which our Lady stood during the apparitions in 1917. It was a gift to Monsignor Colgan from the Bishop of Fatima, and was blessed by him.
When Monsignor Colgan died in 1972 he left the statue to Robert Froehlich, a close personal friend, and founder of the House of Loretto Marian Center in Cohoes, New York, and the statue was brought to America. When Robert Froehlich died in 1978, his parents gave the statue to Mildred and Ed Breitenbach, who were on the board of directors for the House of Loretto Marian Center. They founded the Saint Joseph Marian Center in order to continue to spread the message of Fatima. The Blue Army, in Washington, New Jersey, was informed of the Saint Joseph Marian Center's intentions. Thru Bishop Howard Hubbard and the Blue Army, the Saint Joseph Marian Center became the Blue Army's representative for the Diocese of Albany.
The Saint Joseph Marian Center borrowed the film, "Our Lady of Fatima", from the Blue Army and a projector from our parish CCD, and started to give presentations about Fatima at Catholic schools, churches, rosary societies, nursing homes, and Knights of Columbus meetings. In the first three years, they gave over 65 presentations with Mary's statue. In the early years, they were invited by most of these groups, but over the years this has stopped.
Since 1978, the pilgrim statue has been carried in processions at Rosary Rallies in Auriesville at the Shrine of the American Martyrs, at May 1st devotions at LaSalette Shrine and at the Saint Joseph Marian Center in Altamont, at Rosary Rallies at the South Mall in Albany, and at Columbus Day parades. The statue was present in the Cathedral when Bishop Howard Hubbard consecrated our diocese to the Immaculate Heart of Mary on March 25, 1984.
When the Pope declared 1987 the Marian Year and with the approval of Bishop Hubbard his pastors, the Saint Joseph Marian Center took the pilgrim statue of Mary to every parish in the Diocese, two or three a day, and held Rosary Rallies through their towns and villages. It took six weeks! The statue was displayed in a "Mary Mobile", a pickup truck with protective plastic glass partitions, like the "Pope Mobile".
The Saint Joseph Marian Center has visited many families for their Home Enthronement through Jesus and Mary. They have been told by many who touched the relic below Mary, with their rosary or religious medal, that they have had healings. We do not publicize them.