When one thinks of Marian apparitions, it is natural for the mind to jump to Fátima, or Lourdes, or La Salette, or even Knock, Ireland, where Pope Francis will visit in August while he is in the country for the World Meeting of Families.
But, for those of us in the United States, we often forget — or perhaps don’t even know — that we have an approved Marian apparition site right here in our own backyard. Or more specifically, in the rolling rural landscape of Champion, Wisconsin.
| Photo by Gretchen R. Crowe
Visiting the National Shrine of Our Lady of Good Help was the best part of the recent Catholic Media Conference, this year held in Green Bay. There, a beautiful chapel stands on the spot where Mary appeared to Adele Brise, a 28-year-old immigrant from Belgium, in October 1859. According to the decree for authenticity of the apparitions by Bishop David Ricken of Green Bay, the Blessed Mother was “elevated slightly in a bright light and gave words of solace and comfort and a bold and challenging mission for the young immigrant woman.” Her message? To teach children the Faith.
Speaking to Adele, Mary said: “I am the Queen of Heaven who prays for the conversion of sinners, and I wish you to do the same. You received Holy Communion this morning and that is well. But you must do more. Make a general confession and offer Communion for the conversion of sinners. ... Gather the children in this wild country and teach them what they should know for salvation. … Teach them their catechism, how to sign themselves with the sign of the Cross, and how to approach the sacraments; that is what I wish you to do. Go and fear nothing, I will help you.”
Adele spent the rest of her life carrying out Mary’s request, beginning a school that came to enroll 60 students.
For those able to visit the shrine, I highly recommend it. It is a beautiful, peaceful retreat from the world, and a place where Mary’s presence is truly felt.
What’s more, the message remains urgent today. For the Faith to be sustained in our country, and in our families, we have the responsibility to pass it on to our children. This isn’t necessarily complicated, and Mary instructs us on how to start small. We should remember to listen to her.
For more information go to www.shrineofourladyofgoodhelp.com.
Gretchen R. Crowe is editor-in-chief of OSV Newsweekly. Follow her on Twitter @GretchenOSV.