Tradition holds she appeared in Brown Co. in 1859
Updated: Friday, 03 Sep 2010, 2:25 PM CDT
Published : Thursday, 02 Sep 2010, 1:22 PM CDT
Published : Thursday, 02 Sep 2010, 1:22 PM CDT
Reporter: Kristin Crowley
KLUK-TV Fox 11 - ROBINSONVILLE - Wisconsin could find itself in a unique part of history because of a reported holy sighting.
Hope and faith have drawn tens of thousands of people a shrine in Brown County throughout the past 150 years. People who say it's a holy experience.
“It's a good feeling, I don't know exactly how to explain it, but it's just a good feeling,” said Val Dubois of Brown County.
In October 1859, Sister Adele Brise claimed the Virgin Mary spoke to her and told her to teach God's word to children. The Shrine of Our Lady of Good Help was built on the site, and has kept a steady following of people like Hal and Val Dubois.
“It's been there since I was a kid. When I was five or six years old, I remember going there,” said Hal Dubois.
Shrine volunteer Karen Tipps says visitors find spirituality at the site. Now church officials are investigating the apparent visions.
“It became a great devotional spot over the years,” said Tipps.
“Bishop (David) Ricken initiated the investigation in January of 2009. So he appointed some scholars in the theology of the blessed Virgin Mary to look into the documentation of the history of the shrine and the apparition and to make some recommendations reports to him,” said Rev. John Doerfler.
Doerfler says if Ricken declares there's enough moral grounds to claim the apparition really did happen, this site will make national history.
“If it were approved, this would be the only approved apparition site of the Blessed Virgin Mary in the United States,” said Doerfler.
Doefler says there could be a variety of outcomes from the investigation. The information could support the sightings happened, didn't happen or the results could be inconclusive. But some say whatever the ruling, it doesn't matter.
“It doesn't affect what people have felt here for the last 150 years. It's not going to affect what people feel here for the next 150 years,” said Tipps.
The Apparitions at Robinsonville, Wisconsin
Three important decisions were reached by the Church during the early 1850’s:
• On November 21, 1851, the Bishops of the United States admonished the faithful through the decrees of the First Plenary Council of Baltimore that no parish is complete until it has schools adequate to the needs of its children.
• On December 8, 1854, the Pope declared the dogma of the Immaculate Conception
• Seven years earlier, at a conference in Baltimore, the Bishops of the United States, under her title of the Immaculate Conception, chose Our Blessed Mother as the patron of the United States
Shortly after these important events in the Church, two manifestations of the Blessed Virgin Mary occurred, one in Europe and the other in North America:
• In February of 1858, the Immaculate Mother manifested herself and expressed her will to St. Bernadette in Lourdes, France.
• A year and eight months later, on October 9, 1859, it is reported that Mary manifested herself to Adele Brise in Robinsonville, Wisconsin, USA.
According to Sister Pauline LaPlant, to whom Adele often told her story:
“ She [Adele] was going to the grist mill about four miles from (Robinsonville) with a sack of wheat on her head […]. As Adele came near the place, she saw a lady all in white standing between two trees, one a maple, the other a hemlock. Adele was frightened and stood still. The vision slowly disappeared, leaving a white cloud after it. Adele continued on her errand and returned home without seeing anything more. She told her parents what had happened, and they wondered what it could be — maybe a poor soul who needed prayers?
“On the following Sunday, she had to pass here again on her way to Mass at Bay Settlement, about eleven miles from her home [...]. This time, she was not alone, but was accompanied by her sister Isabel and a neighbor woman [Mrs. Vander Niessen]. When they came near the trees, the same lady in white was at the place where Adele had seen her before. Adele was again frightened and said, almost in a tone of reproach, 'Oh, there is that lady again.'
“Adele had not the courage to go on. The other two did not see anything, but they could tell by Adele’s look that she was afraid. They thought, too, that it might be a poor soul that needed prayers. They waited a few minutes, and Adele told them it was gone. It had disappeared as the first time, and all she could see was a little mist or white cloud. After Mass, Adele went to confession and told her confessor how she had been frightened at the sight of a lady in white. He [Father William Verhoef] bade her not to fear, and to speak to him of this outside of the confessional. Father Verhoef told her that if it were a heavenly messenger, she would see it again, and it would not harm her, but to ask in God’s name who it was and what it desired of her. After that, Adele had more courage. She started home with her two companions, and a man who was clearing land for the Holy Cross Fathers at Bay Settlement accompanied them.
"As they approached the hallowed spot, Adele could see the beautiful lady, clothed in dazzling white, with a yellow sash around her waist. Her dress fell to her feet in graceful folds. She had a crown of stars around her head, and her long, golden, wavy hair fell loosely around her shoulders. Such a heavenly light shone around her that Adele could hardly look back at her sweet face. Overcome by this heavenly light and the beauty of her amiable visitor, Adele fell on her knees.
" 'In God’s name, who are you and what do you want of me?’ asked Adele, as she had been directed.
“ ‘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. If they do not convert and do penance, my Son will be obliged to punish them’
“ 'Adele, who is it?'' said one of the women.
'O why can't we see her as you do?' said another weeping.
“ ‘Kneel,’ said Adele, ‘the Lady says she is the Queen of Heaven.’ Our Blessed Lady turned, looked kindly at them, and said,
‘Blessed are they that believe without seeing. What are you doing here in idleness…while your companions are working in the vineyard of my Son?’
“ ‘What more can I do, dear Lady?’ said Adele, weeping.
“ ‘Gather the children in this wild country and teach them what they should know for salvation’
“ ‘But how shall I teach them who know so little myself?’ replied Adele.
“ ‘Teach them,’ replied her radiant visitor, ‘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.’ "
The manifestation of Our Lady then lifted her hands, as though beseeching a blessing for those at her feet, and slowly vanished, leaving Adele overwhelmed and prostrate on the ground.
When the news spread about Adele Brise’s vision of the Blessed Virgin, most people believed the account and were astonished. Some considered the event a demented delusion. Adele Brise, however, considered it a commission to catechize the children and admonish the sinners of the Bay Settlement. To honor the alleged apparition, Adele’s father erected a makeshift chapel near the spot of Adele’s vision.
Reports of Favors and Graces:
Because we are continually hearing stories of people who visit The Chapel and have their prayers answered, we are interested in keeping records of all favors and graces granted to those who come to this Shrine. Please send us details of healings and miraculous favors that directly result from a visit to The Chapel, or to requests made of Our Lady Of Good Help or Sister Adele.
The Shrine of Our Lady Of Good Help
4047 Chapel Drive
New Franken, WI 54229
It is important to note:
The presentation of the private revelations and apparently supernatural events recounted in the story of Sister Adele Brise, insofar as they have not received approval by the Magisterium, is not intended to make a decision in regard to the validity of the apparitions. That is the work of the Church and the commission of investigation currently in process. As long as we pass along the messages reportedly given by heaven within the limitations presented by the Church, we cannot go wrong…especially when the things asked for are good, are nothing new, and have been formally approved in many cases.
The publication of this story has continually received through the years the permission of the local Ordinary, some of whose imprimaturs are presented below. Since the building of the first Chapel by Adele's father, the Shrine of Our Lady of Good Help has always been accepted as a special place for prayer and worship in the Dioceses of Green Bay, as attested to by the annual visit of the local Bishop, and a visit made by the Apostolic Delegate to North America in 1977.
The Shrine of Our Lady of Good Help in Robinsonville concluded a year-long celebration marking its 150th anniversary on Oct. 9 with a Mass celebrated by Bishop David Ricken. (Sam Lucero photos)