Official Holy Site Near Green Bay
CHAMPION - It has never happened in the entire United States, but now the Catholic Church makes a bold move right here in Wisconsin.
A site near Green Bay where a woman saw the Virgin Mary is declared official by the Catholic Church itself.
To the casual traveler, blink and you'll miss Champion, a town just outside Green Bay. Now it's getting worldwide attention for 'Our Lady of Good Help'--home to a tiny shrine where big miracles are happening.
It all started in 1859, when Belgium immigrant Adele Brise says the Virgin Mary visited her 3 times at that very site.
Green Bay Bishop David Ricken describes the apparition. "The blessed mother told her to pray for the conversion of sinners, and to educate the children in the ways of the faith, especially preparing for the sacraments."
Adele followed Mary's wishes, and became a teacher.
Since then, people come to the shrine to pray for various miracles.
Peggy lives nearby, and has been coming to the chapel for years. Today she's praying for her sister, who has a life-threatening illness. Peggy says, "She has a lot of people who love her and care about her. She's like an angel herself, so we thought this would be the best place to come and pray for her."
Bishop Ricken made it his mission the last couple years to investigate the chapel. "The advantage of this particular apparition is that it happened 151 years ago, so we have the case of history to present," he explains.
For two years, three theological experts pored over historical documents about the shrine. "We had written testimonies, some oral testimonies--written down later, plus a lot of documentation--letters between Sister Adele and the bishop, etc," Bishop Ricken recalls.
They now believe the shrine is a valid apparition site.
That's enough for the Vatican. Bishop Ricken made the official announcement in December- making it the only site in the United States where an apparition of the Virgin Mary has been officially approved by the Catholic Church itself.
Since the announcement, the tiny town is a religious hot spot!
Daniel Drossart can attest to the powers of the shrine--he says his uncle went in a cripple, and walked away without his crutches! "It's a wonderful story to tell, and I've been coming out here ever since," Daniel says.
Daniel says he's also asked Mary for help finding the right job, and other big life issues. "I used to come out here to ask Mary to help me with a problem I had, and sometimes I wouldn't even get back home and I'd have the answer."
Elizabath Smith came all the way from Illinois. "I think it's something you just feel, and if you're open you'll feel it. If you come here thinking you're not gonna, you won't," she says matter-of-factly.
She believes Mary is there, and so does the Catholic Church--making the Wisconsin shrine one for the record books.
There are about four masses a week at the chapel.