On 8 December 2010, Champion, Wisconsin became the home of the first approved Marian apparition site in the United States. The bishop of the area decreed with, “moral certainty,” that the Blessed Virgin had, indeed, appeared thrice to a young Belgium immigrant woman by the name of Marie Adele Joseph Brise in October 1859. According to the limited amount of research, when Mary appeared to the young woman the last time, Mary referred to herself as, “Queen of Heaven,” but she has been given the title of Our Lady of Good Help.
During the last apparition, Our Lady of Good Help instructed Adele to, “Gather the children in this wild country and teach them what they should know about salvation.” When asked how to accomplish this, Our Lady of Good Help responded, “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 would later become a Third Order Franciscan, and spent the rest of her days living out the message she received.
There is a woeful lack of information on this apparition of Our Lady of Good Help, but I wanted to look into it because it was, and still is, the only approved apparition in the United States. As I read the two credible sources for this apparition at the beginning of the week, I have spent the remainder of the week ruminating on the message of evangelization. I was surprised Mary gave the mission to an individual lady, rather than sending messages to the entire world. As I pondered that seemingly minor detail, I realized the message could still be applied to the world, even if the message was intended for Adele.
I once blogged about evangelizing, and how that is both a daunting word and task. Yet, Our Lady of Good Help provides us with a sure way ahead for evangelizing. According to the message found on the website of Shrine of Our Lady of Good Help, this apparition of the Blessed Mother gives concrete examples of evangelizing: we are to teach others the catechism, teach the Sign of the Cross, and how to approach the Sacraments. I find the message of Our Lady of Good Help to fall right in line with the New Evangelization movement by the Catholic Church in the past decade or so, and is a much simpler rubric to follow than course studies on evangelization.
Taking the call to, “Gather the children in this wild country…,” to heart, I immediately drew a comparison between the wild country and my wild home. I like to consider myself living up to this message by teaching my children about my faith. I like to think I am adhering to this message simply by teaching them the Sign of the Cross, their prayers, and the importance and meaning of their Sacraments.
The Bishop which approved the apparitions acknowledged, “the instructions to Sister Adele were, ‘simple, but very much loaded with the main message of the Gospel and with the teachings of the Church.'” Just like the dire warnings of the approved messages of Our Lady of Fatima were meant for the entire world, I would like to think the messages given to Sister Adele were ones not meant for just the sister, but were meant for the entire world.
So, as I head to Mass today, I will be pondering what ways I can continue to live Our Lady of Good Help‘s call to action:
“Gather the children in this wild country and teach them what they should know about salvation.”