Lori originally wrote this post for the Columbus Catholic Women’s Conference blog, January, 2019.
I was very excited to recently learn about the National Shrine of Our Lady of Good Help located in Champion, Wisconsin, 17 miles north of Green Bay.
This is the site where our Our Holy Mother appeared to a young Belgian-born woman, Sister Adele Brise, 160 years ago in 1859. The apparition was formally approved on December 8, 2010, by Bishop David Ricken, becoming the first Marian apparition approved by the Catholic Church in the United States. In 2016, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) officially designated these grounds as a National Shrine.
The National Shrine is open every day of the year, and welcomed 160,000 visitors last year, and continues to welcome pilgrims from around the world, including Australia, Indonesia and the Philippines.
Much like the apparition sites of Lourdes, Fatima and Guadalupe, the National Shrine is the site of numerous miracles and graces to this day.
National Shrine Marketing and Development Director Corrie Campbell said that when people visit the Shrine of Our Lady of Good Help, they experience an “overwhelming peace, healing grace and a heaven-like feeling that can often be quite emotional. Many carry this in their hearts for their entire lifetime. Many young people come and experience the joy of hope and healing in this holy place which is so needed in our times.”
The story of Our Lady of Good Help began in the Fall of 1859 when Our Holy Mother appeared three times to Sister Adele Brise and asked her to teach the children in the area about their Catholic faith.
Our Holy Mother had already appeared twice to Adele between two trees – one a maple, the other hemlock – along a rural trail. When she appeared for the third and final time, young Adele asked, “What more can I do, dear Lady?” Mary’s direction was simple: “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?” Adele asked.
Mary replied, “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 devoted the rest of her life to spreading Mary’s good news.
The Great Fire
In 1871, there was a great fire in the area and the families that Adele visited gathered at the site of Our Holy Mother’s visits to pray the Rosary for the safety of their community. The fire raged and burned everything around them, but the fire stopped exactly at the line of Shrine location.
The National Shrine Today
Today the National Shrine enjoys the help of 200 volunteers—most of whom had their lives touched by Our Lady of Good Help in some way as many are the great grandchildren of those who experienced Our Holy Mother’s intercession during the great fire.
The National Shrine offers Masses and the Sacrament of Reconciliation and hosts many special events during the year. They recently opened a new prayer and event center. In remembrance of Our Holy Mother’s care during the fire, they host an overnight rosary event on October 8 and 9 with a procession and an an all-night prayer vigil in which the Rosary is prayed every hour, on the hour.
From October 1-9, we are all encouraged to pray the National Novena to Our Lady of Good Help for her intercession. The National Shrine also sponsors a 21-mile walking pilgrimage in the area. Please visit their event calendar for more information.
May we all prayerfully consider making a pilgrimage to this holy and wooded location in Wisconsin to grow closer to Jesus through Our Holy Mother. Our Lady of Good Help, pray for us!