Marian apparition approved in D. of Green Bay, WI

This is from the site of the Diocese of Green Bay:

Bishop Ricken approves Marian apparitions at Shrine of Our Lady of Good Help

chapel-exterior-lgGREEN BAY, Wis. (December 8, 2010) — Bishop David Ricken announced today that he officially approves the Marian apparitions at the Shrine of Our Lady of Good Help at Champion.

The announcement was made during a special Mass for the Feast of the Immaculate Conception at the Shrine of Our Lady of Good Help at Champion.

Declared with moral certainty

Reading from his decree, the Bishop stated, “I declare with moral certainty and in accord with the norms of the Church that the events, apparitions and locutions given to Adele Brise in October of 1859 do exhibit the substance of supernatural character, and I do hereby approve these apparitions as worthy of belief (although not obligatory) by the Christian faithful.”

Today’s declaration makes Our Lady of Good Help at Champion the first and only site in the United States of an approved apparition of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

Three apparitions in 1859

adele_briseIn October 1859, the Blessed Virgin Mary appeared on three occasions to Adele Brise, a young Belgian immigrant. Brise stated that a lady dressed in dazzling white appeared to her and claimed to be the “Queen of Heaven who prays for the conversion of sinners.”

The Lady asked Brise to pray for sinners, as well as to gather the children and teach them what they should know for salvation. The Blessed Virgin followed the commands with these words of assurance to Adele Brise, “Go and fear nothing, I will help you.”

Since 1859, countless faithful have made the pilgrimage to Champion, Wisconsin to offer prayers of thanksgiving and petition to Jesus and to ask for intercession from Our Lady of Good Help.

Fulfilling obligations

After receiving the apparitions, Adele Brise immediately began to fulfill the obligations the Blessed Virgin entrusted to her. She gathered local children and taught them how to pray, make the sign of the cross, and to give love, thanks, and praise to the Lord.

As part of her commitment to the Blessed Virgin, Brise set up a Catholic school and began a community of Third Order Franciscan women. Eventually, a school and convent were built on the grounds to further the mission entrusted to Brise.

Spared during Peshtigo fire

The 151-year history of the Shrine is rich with written and oral accounts of prayers that have been answered at the Shrine of Our Lady of Good Help. The sources document physical healings and conversions that have taken place as a result of pilgrimages to the Shrine.

In addition, as the Peshtigo fire of 1871 engulfed the surrounding area, the entire five acres of land consecrated to the Blessed Virgin remained unscathed. It is believed that the land was spared after Brise organized a prayer vigil that circled the area.

More information

  • Web site for the Shrine of Our Lady of Good Help in Champion
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    Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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    1. revs96 says:

      Diocese of Green Bay: “Today’s declaration makes Our Lady of Good Help at Champion the first and only site in the United States of an approved apparition of the Blessed Virgin Mary.”

      Are we forgetting about Our Lady of America? You know-the apparitions officially approved by the Church decades ago that have Cardinal Burke as their main promoter? See here:

    2. basilorat says:

      This is wonderful news and a great consolation of faith.

      I must say however, that I am reminded of a story from my novitiate at an English Benedictine Abbey. We were told of a novice many years ago from another house in our congregation, Downside Abbey at Stratton-Upon-Foss. A novice half way through his novitiate, in the throes of his intense new liturgical prayer life told the novice master he had had a vision of Our Lady. The novice master waved his hand and said dismissively, “oh Father dear (all monks of the EBC were titled, “Father” an ancient custom), in the English Benedictine Congregation we don’t have visions!”

    3. TrueLiturgy says:

      @revs96: From what I can tell and have read after your comment, Our Lady of America was never approved by decree. I greatly admire Cardinal Burke, but it needs to be known that it is simply his opinion in this case. It holds no authority. The manner in which Our Lady of America was approved would be as though the Bishop in charge of Medjugorje celebrating Mass. It doesn’t means that he approves of it canonically, just that he personally believes it. It’s like the Pope’s new book. Opinion.

      Please know that I don’t wish in any way for there to be a fight between the two. I do think that the Bishop of Cincinatti needs to approve of it by decree so that there is no question. The two apparitions carry different significance, meaning that the purposes of their messages are different.

    4. RichR says:

      We are blessed in God’s continual outreach to his wayward children. May we always heed the efforts of his mother to bring souls back to him.

      On a lighter note, I am always reminded of a comment Fr. James McLucas said about one of his fellow priests who is very devout. Fr. McLucas quipped, “Rumor has it, Fr. is so holy, when he was in seminary he appeared to the Blessed Mother.”

    5. HighMass says:

      Dear Blessed Mother,

      Please Pray for US! Ora Pro nobis!

    6. Re: Our Lady of Good Help – YAY!

      Re: Our Lady of America, there’s a lot of difference between Msgr. (eventually Archbishop) Leibold approving publication of various devotional materials, and approving the apparition itself. The latter involves a formal investigation and such, and much more formality of announcement. Burke is a dear man, but he never served as bishop of any of the dioceses connected with the alleged visionary; his personal opinion is an extremely iffy and tenuous basis on which to be going around talking about this stuff. Our current archbishop, Archbishop Schnurr, or the Indiana archbishop, would be the ones to ask about approving the apparition.

      The branch of the order that the visionary served in, actually ceased to exist; she left the overall order; she’s dead; the overall order isn’t interested in her visions at all (though to be fair, they couldn’t promote them, given the lack of approval); and there’s a fight over who is approved to promote this still-unapproved apparition. I live in the town where the apparitions allegedly first took place. They’re so unapproved I never even heard of ’em until a few years ago. Heck, I heard more about the woman out at Bergamo telling people to watch the skies and store drinking water.

      So yeah, you can pray the prayer if you like and read the messages, because they got a high sign. But whether or not they’re anything more than the pious products of prayer and imagination, no more or less of interest than an imprimatur’d essay or song by any pious Catholic — no bishop has declared that officially. Wait and see, before you invest too much in this. It took from 1859 to 2010 for a bishop to make up his mind on Our Lady of Good Help, and that’s historically a very short time for a bishop to approve things. Really really quick approvals, like Lourdes and Fatima, are not supposed to be the rule.

    7. Father G says:

      Wow, what very pleasant news to read on this Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception!

    8. KevinSymonds says:

      Oh dear, someone mentioned the “M”-word….

      No, seriously though…the commission here in Green Bay took 2 years to investigate information that stretched back 150 years. I appreciate the sentiment that it took 150 years for our local Ordinary to make a decision, but that statement needs to be qualified.

      The Our Lady of America devotion is currently in litigation in both civil as well as canonical courts. Sr. Neuzil’s willed heiress who retains all copyrights is suing two men who are not endorsed by her (she says) and who promote the devotion. The Our Lady of America alleged apparitions have not been approved by Decree and so Our Lady of Good Hope in Wisconsin is the first apparition ever approved in this Country by a formal Decree.


    9. Clarification — Well, obviously Burke had a right to write up a canon law opinion when asked, and I suppose that people can lean on that opinion. But all I know is that there’s been three archbishops of Cincinnati since Leibold reigned, and I’ve never seen any of them act like it’s approved while I’ve been alive.

    10. xgenerationcatholic says:

      I’m psyched! I went there a few months ago to visit. A Marian apparition site not far from where I live (about 2.5 hours away)! Kewwwwwlllll! (Referring to OLGHelp)

    11. irishgirl says:

      Wonderful news on this Feast day of Our Lady!
      Thank you, Bishop Ricken!

    12. JerryM1967 says:

      Awesome, used to go the the Chapel when we lived in GB in the early ’90s. Carmelite sisters were there back then.

    13. doanli says:

      Glad you posted about this, Father Z.

      I felt like, after Mass this evening, that my pastor priest blew me off when I tried to tell him about this. I am very hurt.

      Seeing it here consoles me.

    14. catholicmidwest says:

      You know, as long as I’ve been Catholic (over 25 years now), I still don’t *get* apparitions. I accept them, I suppose. I just don’t comprehend them or exactly what they have to do with any of this.

    15. Elizabeth D says:

      I was skeptical (I think there’s too much imprudent and irrational interest in private revelations out there), but the more I’ve read about this, the more pleased I am.

      The revelation to Sister Adele is refreshingly simple in content. Basically, Mary asked her to make a general confession and offer her communion for the conversion of sinners, and teach catechism to children and teach them to make the sign of the Cross and how to approach the sacraments! Yes, the great message Mary commissioned Sister Adele to give to the world is… THE CATECHISM (and the sign of the Cross, and to partake worthily of the sacraments). That’s it. So, she did exactly that, in faithfulness and self sacrifice and obedience to ecclesiastical authorities even when it was painful. Go ye and do likewise.

      The point that this is the ONLY formally approved Marian apparition in the US is an important one. There is a lack of certainty about all others. And Bishop Ricken gets specific about a couple that are not for real, Neenah WI and Bayside NY. There are other Marian private revelations with authority to be published, or where some bishop opines in favor of it, but that’s not the same.

      The bishop also makes a point that the diocesan bishop, not the episcopal conference or the Holy See, is the one with the perogative to approve or disapprove apparitions. For example, the bishop of Medjugorje. AMEN

    16. Elizabeth– that’s what struck me about the whole thing too– it’s so…. humble. I love that the Blessed Mother appeared to say “You know, this area really needs a better catechism class!” No grand warnings or messages, just simple, homely truth.

      Also, the bit about the souveneir-sellers and money-makers being a constant thorn in the visionaries side is GREAT.

      Maybe I can convince my husband to do a “Marian Wisconsin” road trip this summer– we could hit this site AND the La Crosse shrine! (I’d like to check out the Fr. Hardon center….)

    17. Andrew says:

      As somebody learning of these events from Australia, Our Lady of Good Help in Champion, Wisconsin is a very good case study in how apparitions are approved.

      Many a promoter of sites like Bayside and Necedah (ironically also in Wisconsin) which have received the Church’s disapproval will say things like, “Well it took years for Lourdes and Fatima to have the Church’s approval as well. A decision against this from the ordinary is of no consequence”.

      Other well promoted apparitions like Garabandal and Medjugorje (which is now being formally investigated by the Holy See) have had negative statements issued by the ordinaries of those particular jurisdictions.

      However, this apparition never had any of this, and for quite some time a shrine existed there with the Church’s approval, where the sacraments are allowed to be celebrated, and most importantly the diocese of Green Bay has encouraged the faithful to go on pilgrimage there. This has been the policy of the diocese for many decades.

      Looked at in this context, the approval hardly seems earth shattering, and is like the final knot being tied. Its approval has happened because of the long history of the ecclesial devotion to Our Lady of Good Hope. Not because there was any controversy, and an approval was necessary to resolve the issue like when a dogma is defined by the Church, after there has been disputes over the teaching.

      The Church making U turns over apparition sites is very unlikely. Even in 1959, when the Divine Mercy devotion was forbidden by the Holy See, the Vatican did not disapprove it as such, but simply forbade propagation of the devotion and the images, which was lifted in 1978. The lesson to be learnt from Bishop Ricken’s decree, is to follow the Church’s advice on these matters, regarding both approval and disapproval of alleged private revelations.

      Our Lady of Good Hope’s message of the importance of catechesis for children could not be more timely, when one considers the ignorance of Catholics in recent times, because of classroom and parish religious education programs.

    18. Andrew says:

      Sorry. I meant to say Our Lady of Good Help there.

    19. AnAmericanMother says:

      The Peshtigo Fire is little known outside of Wisconsin, because it occurred on the same day as the Chicago Fire (an early example of the media burying a story). But it was the worst fire in American history and killed more people than any other. It was a firestorm of enormous proportions that basically burned everything on both sides of Green Bay.

      And there was another story worth hearing that came out of that disaster. Father Peter Pernin was the parish priest for the town of Peshtigo, and he wrote an account of the events of the day. As the fire approached, he buried the communion vessels near the church and then took the Tabernacle and went to the river to take refuge in the water. He pushed the wagon containing the Tabernacle as far into the river as he could and then turned to help save people who were fleeing the fire. He spent the whole night helping people and then at daylight returned to look for the Tabernacle:

      “I hurried with him to that part of the river into which I had pushed as far as possible my wagon containing the tabernacle. This wagon had been blown over on its side by the storm; whilst the tabernacle itself had been caught up by the wind and cast on one of the logs floating on the water. Everything in the immediate vicinity of this spot had been blackened or charred by the flames; logs, trunks, boxes, nothing had escaped, yet, strange to say, there rose the tabernacle, intact in its snowy whiteness, presenting a wonderful contrast to the grimy blackness of the surrounding objects.”

      You can read his account here:

    20. The other thing that’s interesting about the Our Lady of Good Help apparition is that apparently Mary thinks that not getting into a religious community doesn’t mean people can just mope around at home. :) Also, there’s a very touching reiteration of “Blessed are they who have not seen, but believe.” Also, a reiteration that we should pray for each other’s salvation.

      But the big thing for Catholics today is that it underlines the importance of teaching kids the basics of Catholicism and prayer, even if we who teach them aren’t all that knowledgeable. If we only know a little, we should teach what we know.

      Mary never teaches us anything we don’t know. She just keeps turning our eyes back to Jesus, urging us to do whatever He tells us.

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