Last week, after my speaking engagement at the Diocese of Green Bay’s Adult Faith Formation and Catechetical Leadership Day, my family and I stuck around for a few days and enjoyed a short vacation. We went to the usual sites, including a visit to the National Railroad Museum (for the kids) and a tour of Lambeau Field (for my wife and me).
But the highlight of the trip was on the second day when we drove 20 minutes to Champion, Wisconsin, to visit the Shrine of Our Lady of Good Help. This shrine is located at the spot of the only Church-approved Marian apparition in the United States.
In 1859 Adele Brise, a youth Belgian immigrant, saw a woman in white standing between two trees. She was frightened by the vision, which reappeared a second time the following Sunday as she was walking to Mass. She asked a priest for advice and he told her she should ask it, “In the Name of God, who are you and what do you wish of me?”
On her way home the lady appeared again and Adele did as she had been instructed. The lady replied, “I am the Queen of Heaven, who prays for the conversion of sinners, and I wish you to do the same.” Adele was also told to “gather the children in this wild country and teach them what they should know for salvation.”
Adele dedicated the rest of her life to catechizing the children of rural Wisconsin, walking from community to community and later founding a school at the spot of the apparition. (It was closed in the 1920s and is now a sandwich shop, but some of the original blackboards are still hanging up!)
Adele Brise is a wonderful example of the humility and perseverance needed for catechists today. The Blessed Mother’s call to œteach them what they should know for salvation remains our calling whether as parents, catechists, Catholic school teachers, youth ministers, RCIA team members, or any number of other roles we play in our lives.
I pray that, during this month of Mary, the Queen of Heaven will pray for catechists everywhere that they may fulfill her son’s will to make disciples in his Church.
Our Lady of Good Help, pray for us!