|October 24, 2016 • VOL. 54, NO. 18 • Oakland, CA|
Retreats & Pilgrimages
Site of Marian apparitions becomes national shrine
ALLOUEZ, Wis. — Nearly 160 years ago, on Oct. 9, 1859, Mary appeared to a young Belgian immigrant living in Kewaunee County.
Bishop David L. Ricken of Green Bay announced its new status at a news conference prior to the annual Mass celebrated at the shrine for the feast day.
More than 1,500 people attended the outdoor Mass, which was followed by the annual rosary procession around the shrine grounds.
Archbishop Jerome E. Listecki of Milwaukee was the main celebrant of the Mass, with Bishop Ricken as homilist. Bishop James P. Powers of Superior and numerous priests of the Diocese of Green Bay were concelebrants.
"I am deeply thankful for the faith, devotion and unwavering commitment to all those who have been stewards and caretakers of the Shrine of Our Lady of Good Help for the past several generations," Bishop Ricken said during his homily.
"Each of them simply followed the whispers of their own deep faith and in doing so, preserved and advanced the shrine," he continued. "They carried the inspiring story of Adele Brise, a young Belgian woman to whom the Blessed Mother appeared.
"They carried this message in their own hearts, passing it on from one generation to the next, freely sharing it with all who came seeking, searching and praying."
On Dec. 8, 2010, Bishop Ricken formally approved the apparition of Our Lady of Good Help to Brise, making the Marian apparitions that occurred some 18 miles northeast of Green Bay the first in the United States to receive approval of a diocesan bishop. His decree came nearly two years after he opened a formal investigation into the apparitions.
At the same time the site also was officially recognized as a diocesan shrine, although for years Catholics in the diocese had already viewed it as such.
The national shrine designation by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops "is a testament and an honor to all those who come before us," Bishop Ricken said in his homily Aug. 15. "Their generous Christian spirit of warmth, hospitality, reverence and simplicity is very much alive in this holy place."
According to canon law, "The term 'shrine' signifies a church or other sacred place to which the faithful make pilgrimages for a particular pious reason with the approval of the local ordinary."
On April 30, 2015, Bishop Ricken sent a request to the USCCB and its Committee on Divine Worship asking that they consider the Champion site as a potential national shrine. Bishop Ricken noted that the "mission of prayer and catechesis is at the very heart of the apostolate of this sacred shrine."
Since 1992, the U.S. bishops have followed a set of approved norms to designate local shrines as national shrines.
Father Michael Flynn, executive director of the USCCB Secretariat for Divine Worship, said that while exact numbers are not known, there are about 70 national shrines in the United States.
Walt Fountain, operations manager at the shrine, said visitors have come from approximately 90 countries, including Russia, China, Vietnam, Burma, Ireland, Syria, Ethiopia, South Africa, India, Kenya, Peru, all the Central American nations, and many European countries.
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