All posts by Larry Peterson

About Larry Peterson

Basically I am a “blue-collar guy”. It is the world I come from, a world of hard working, hard drinking construction workers, cops, long-shoremen, firemen, railroad workers, bus drivers, truckers, sanitation workers, etc. who were, for the most part, family men who loved their God, their families and their country—unconditionally. Consequently, if you would ask me to describe my work as a writer I would call it “blue-collar” meaning that I believe my work is simple fair, easily readable, no-nonsense, minimally superlative, and flows quickly. There is lots of dialogue and my tendency to be omniscient is obvious. I think that is because the characters and I are part of each other and I know what they are thinking.

Mother Maria Skobtsova—She had two titles: The “Saint of the Open Door” and The “Trash Can Saint” She was also Martyred by the Nazis

St. Maria Skobtsova                                                       www.pravoslavia.ru

By Larry Peterson

What follows is a brief story about a woman who would have had to be considered one of the most unlikely candidates for sainthood. A chain-smoking, twice divorced, left leaning nun with a brilliant mind and a heart so big she just could never love enough. However, being part of the Roman Church or the Eastern Orthodox Church mattered not to the Nazis; Catholic was Catholic.

Elizaveta Pilenko was born in Latvia, inside the Russian empire, in 1891. Her parents were devout Orthodox and also quite wealthy. Elizaveta embraced her Catholic faith easily and with open arms. By the time she was seven she was asking her mom if she could become a nun. But when Elizaveta was a teenager, her father died.

The girl was crushed and her heart experienced a profound sorrow that left her feeling empty inside. Her faith crumbled like stale crackers.   Elizaveta decided that God’s “nonexistence” was well known to adults but kept secret from children. Her childhood was over. She entered into a personal sea of nothingness called atheism. She was quoted as having said, “If there is no justice, then there is no God.”

Elizaveta’s widowed mom moved the family to St. Petersburg in 1906. It took Elizaveta no time to get involved with some of the radical literary circles within the city. But she soon found herself disappointed in the young “revolutionaries” she was involved with. They all seemed to do nothing but talk, talk, talk and never were willing to put their words into deeds. She said, “…they will not understand that to die for the revolution means to feel a rope around one’s neck.”

In 1910, at the age of eighteen, she married, Dimitri Kuzmin-Karaviev, who was an alcoholic. This marriage lasted only three years but, during this time, Elizaveta gave birth to her first child Gaiana, published a  book of poetry, and began to study theology. Even though a woman, she was accepted into the theological academy of the Alexander Nevsky  Monastery in St. Petersburg. Soon, she began to realize that Christ did, truly, exist.

In 1918, while living in the town of Anapa, she was arrested as a Bolshevik and put on trial. However, a local judge, Daniel Skobstova, fell in love with her, married her, and saved her life. Soon she was pregnant with her second child. The family fled to Georgia and she gave birth to another son, Yuri. Then, moving to Yugoslavia, she gave birth to her second daughter, Anastasia.  In 1923, it was onto Paris.

In 1926 her daughter, Anastasia, died from influenza.  Then her second marriage failed and Yuri went to live with his father. More heartache struck when in  1935, her oldest daughter, Gaiana, suddenly died.  This altered Elizaveta’s life immensely. She yearned to care those who were struggling with disabilities, drug addiction, and mental illness. Her bishop encouraged her to become a nun but she would only do so if she could stay with the poor and downtrodden. Things went her way. Her husband granted her an ecclesiastical divorce and she became a nun. Her name became Mother Maria Skobstova.

Mother Maria managed to rent a house in Paris and moved in calling it her “convent”. It became known for its “open door” for refugees, the poor and even the lonely. Father Sergei Bulgakov became he her confessor and Father Dmitri Klepinin took on the job as house chaplain. Word spread quickly and those in need began flocking to Mother Maria’s convent. She was sleeping in the basement near the boiler and using an upstairs room as the chapel. The dining area doubled as a classroom. More room was needed.

Two years later an old, beat up house was found in an area of Paris where there were many Russian refugees. Here, instead of twenty-five people, she could take in a hundred. There were also stables in the back which became the new church. Then came the 10th of May, 1940.  Hitler’s army invaded France. One month and fifteen days later, it was over. The Fall of France was complete.

It happened quickly. The Jewish people began coming to Mother Maria for fake baptismal certificates and for refuge. Father Dimitri would provide the “papers” and Mother Maria would hide as many people as she could. She was even sneaking into a local stadium where many Jews were being held. She would smuggle in food and water and one time managed to smuggle four children out in a garbage truck.

Mother Maria, her son Yuri and Father Dimitri fought the good fight as long as they could. Father Dimitri and Yuri were arrested by the Gestapo first. They were sent to the Dora Concentration Camp where they both died, Yuri being executed on  February 6, 1944 and Father Dimitri dying on a dirt floor of pneumonia four days later.

Mother Maria Skobstova was arrested on February 10, 1943 and was sent to Ravensbruck. the infamous concentration camp for women. Mother Maria lasted two years, until Holy Week, 1945.  She was sent to the gas chamber and died for Christ on Holy Saturday. The war ended shortly thereafter.

Mother Maria, along with Father Dimitri, and Yuri, were canonized on January 16, 2004 in the Cathedral of Saint Alexander Nevsky in Paris. Their feast day is July 20.

We ask them all to pray for us.

copyright©Larry Peterson 2019

Saint Paschal of Baylon…Pope Leo XIII proclaimed him the Seraph (Angel) of the Eucharist

 

St.Paschal Baylon (statue)                                                     en.wilkipedia.org

By Larry Peterson

On May 16,1540, a baby boy was born to Martin and Elizabeth Baylon in the Kingdom of Aragon, located in Spain. This day also happened to be the Feast of Pentecost. Since the people in Spain refer to the Feast of Pentecost as the Pasch (Passover) of the Holy Ghost., his parents named their new son, Paschal.

Paschal’s parents were poor tenant farmers and, while only a young boy, Paschal began working in the fields and tending to the sheep. His regimen of work was seemingly never-ending, and he rarely took part in the activities of other kids his age. However, he possessed an obvious spirituality that was noticeable to others, and the other boys would come to him for advice and requests for him to settle their quarrels. Paschal had innate wisdom that was marveled at by all who came to know him.

The boy was unable to go to school, so he carried a notebook with him when he was working. He would ask other kids and even strangers going by to show him different letters and how to use them. He took his tidbits of information to heart and literally taught himself how to read. Soon his favorite books were those about his Lord.

When Paschal was working in the fields, he always fell to his knees when he heard the bells ringing during the Consecration.  He was not only rich in piety and virtue, but he was also quite humble. It was just the way he was and people who knew him could not help but notice.

Paschal had always harbored a deep desire to enter religious life. Now and then he even wondered if that might ever happen. He had been offered spots in several richly endowed monasteries, and some prodded him to enter the priesthood. He had said, “, “I was born poor and am resolved to die in poverty and penance.”

His quest for simplicity came to fruition when, in 1564, he was able to enter the Franciscan Monastery of the Friars Minor at Monteforte. It was located in Orito, Spain and those who were there lived a no-frills, austere existence. It was what Paschal had hoped and prayed.for. The young man professed his vows at the monastery on February 2, 1565.

St. Paschal was frequently found before the tabernacle, at times even prostate with his arms outstretched. The humble brother, who had taught himself to read and had no known education possessed a deep knowledge and insight into the mysteries and teachings of the faith. Learned men marveled at him, and most figured he was guided by the Holy Spirit. He was so knowledgeable that during the height of the Calvinist heresies he was chosen to travel to France to defend the Church’s teaching on the Real Presence.

Once God even demonstrated the high esteem he had for Paschal by using the Blessed  Sacrament. Paschal was out in the field tending his flock. When he heard the bells ringing, signaling the Consecration was taking place, he immediately knelt down. As he did the Blessed Sacrament appeared before him in the monstrance. Incredibly,  it was held aloft by angels hovering above. Others saw this and were in awe. Word spread quickly about the miraculous Brother Paschal and his visions, which became more frequent.

Brother Paschal Baylon passed away on May 17, 1592. The custom of the time was for the deceased to be placed on an open stretcher in the church. This was done, and when the Consecrated Host was elevated at his requiem Mass, Paschal’s body sat up, and bowed to the Sacred Host. It remained like that and repeated the bow as the chalice with the Precious Blood was elevated.  Then Paschal’s body lay back down. Witnesses to this miraculous event also testified that his eyes were open watching the priest during the entire Consecration.

Paschal Baylon was beatified by Pope Paul V in 1618, and he was canonized a saint by Pope Alexander VIII on October 16, 1690. He is the patron of all Eucharistic Congresses and Eucharistic Associations. Paintings of St. Paschal usually are shown with him in adoration before the Blessed Sacrament which was the greatest love in his life.

Saint Paschal Baylon, please pray for us.

copyright©Larry Peterson 2019

Blessed Imelda Lambertini—This eleven-year-old became the Patroness of First Communicants

Blessed Imelda                                                nobility.org

By Larry Peterson

Some children exhibit a  spirituality that is so powerful that they become an actual phenomenon. However, unlike child prodigies, it is not their mental capabilities that transcend the norm. Rather, it is a  connection with God Himself that takes them to a place reserved only for them. Imelda Lambertini was one of those chosen as God’s messenger. And she began doing God’s work when she was only five years old.

Imelda was born in Bologna in the year 1322 and was an only child. Her father, Count Egano Lambertini and his wife, Castora, were devout Catholics. Count Egano was well respected and was known for his ongoing charity, especially to the poor and downtrodden in the city of Bologna. When Imelda was baptized, she was given the name, Magdalen.

Magdalen grew and was inspired by both of her parents who told her stories about Jesus and Mary and of the saints. They instructed her in the faith, and her mother had a particular devotion to the souls in Purgatory. Magdalen prepared a place for herself in her room where she could pray. She wanted to think about the Child Jesus as much as she could.

On her fifth birthday, she asked if she could receive Holy Communion. At that time a child could not receive until they attained the age of 14. Magdalen, accepting the emptiness she felt,  would have to wait.

When Magdalen was nine years old, she already had a deep desire to live in a convent. Her love for Jesus was unmatched and all she could think about was that the best thing a person could do was to save their own soul. She desperately wanted to live in a place of prayer where she could just focus on loving Jesus. She began pleading with her parents to let her join a convent.

Interestingly, in those days, it was not uncommon for parents to allow their children who professed a desire to become a religious person, to allow them to move into a place of prayer and worship. Magdalen was granted her wish by her parents and moved into the convent of St. Mary Magdalen, outside Bologna.

Young Magdalen seemed much too young to wear the Dominican habit but she pleaded with the sisters so passionately they gave in. She was filled with joy when they gave her the habit and began calling her Sister Imelda.

Nine-year-old Sister Imelda began to immediately devote herself to prayer and penance. Even though a child she worked so hard at obeying the order’s rules and doing the right thing.  She became a role model for many of the sisters that lived with her. Sister Imelda found a corner in the rear of the convent garden and built a small replica of Calvary there. She would go there and meditate on the sufferings of-of Jesus. The one thing that Sister Imelda longed for more than anything was to be united with Jesus through Holy Communion. She even asked the other sisters,  “how is it possible to receive Jesus into one’s heart and not to die?”

God’s plan for Sister Imelda Magdalen came to fruition on May 12, 1333. The little nun was eleven years old. She knelt alone in the corner of the choir watching as the other sisters received Holy Communion. She wanted to receive Communion so desperately that she was praying and weeping. She remained where she was as Mass ended and watched as the nuns and priest left the chapel.

The nuns who were on their way out suddenly smelled a beautiful fragrance. Following the aroma, they headed back to the chapel and, to their amazement, saw a brightly lit Host hovering above Imelda’s head. The nuns hurried to get the priest.

Still vested,  Father returned and saw the miraculous sight. He held the paten and knelt in adoration before the vision. As he knelt the Host slowly descended onto the paten. Father knew what to do. He gave the Host to Sister Imelda who, at that moment, received her First Holy Communion. Incredibly, the love and joy that was felt by the young nun was too much for her. Upon receiving Communion, she closed her eyes and died, filled with her Savior and His love.

Sister Imelda Magdalen was beatified by Pope Leo XII in 1826. She has been declared the patroness of First Communicants.

Blessed Imelda, please pray for us all.

copyright©Larry Peterson 2019

A Cold Front in May? If so, blame the Ice Saints.

Ice Saints                                                               en.wikipedia.org

By Larry Peterson

The following three saints are known as the Ice Saints.  Their names are St. Mamertus, St. Pancras, and St. Servatius.

  • Mamertus was the bishop who introduced us to the days of prayer and fasting known as Rogation Days. He died in 475 A.D.
  • Pancras is a much-loved boy saint (especially in Europe) who was beheaded in the year 313 during the persecution of Christians under the emperor, Diocletian. He was only fourteen years of age yet refused to reject his Christianity. He paid the ultimate price.
  • Lastly, there is St. Servatius who was Bishop of Tongeren (now the Netherlands). Early biographies of Servatius suggest he was born in Armenia and was a cousin to John the Baptist. It followed that made him a distant cousin of Jesus (This is not documented). He died in 384 A.D.

These three saints have their feast days on May 11, May 12, and May 13; respectively. So why are they known as the Ice Saints?  The reason is as obvious as it seems; it is because of the weather. What follows may be true but more than likely it is documented folklore with millions of believers.

Most of this has to do with Northern Europe. In that part of the world, the month of April can have quite a few days that are warm and sunny. Then along comes the month of May. Slowly but surely, as the days move on, the temperatures begin to drop. There is an extra onslaught of biting cold, wind, and rain and people have to turn on their heat and start wearing sweaters again.

This ongoing weather anomaly in Europe has a long history and is called “Eisheligen.” This refers to the period in May when, according to the stories told by farmers, the weather is much too unstable to plant crops. Why would mid-May be too early to plant? Because of the danger of frost. Many folks thought this was a bit ridiculous, but most farmers did not. Planting did not start until after “Eisheligen.”

This whole business of the Ice Saints began when students of Galileo examined weather documents and realized that the days from May11 thru May 13 often brought a spell of cold weather. This weather invariably caused frost which would be the last frosts of spring.

In Germany, the legend of the Ice Saints led people to believe that there were special “iron nights” which was prone to frost but they confused them with dates ten days apart from the others. They believed the dates were from May 22 thru May 24.  Their mistake was they failed to take into account the change from the Julian Calendar to the Gregorian Calendar in 1582. The change caused ten days to be removed. Therefore the dates moved to May 11th  thru the 13th.

So as it happens, Saints Mamertus, Pancras (aka Pancratius) and Servatius, are mostly known as the Ice Saints. Their individuality has been compromised by the legend. There is a proverb in England  that says, “Ne’er cast a clout til May be out.” A “clout” was clothes, and the saying simply meant “don’t take your clothes off until the end of May.

Ironically, scientists have been unable to determine if the legendary weather patterns actually cause frost in May. No matter, even with all the kerfuffle over climate change, when the month of May comes around, most Europeans will still talk about the Ice Saints.

Saints Mamertus, Pancras (Pancratius), and  Servatius were real people and are venerated saints. In fact, there is a Major Shrine dedicated to St. Pancras in Rome and a Major Shrine at the Basilica of St. Servatius, located in the Netherlands.

We humbly ask the Ice Saints to pray for us all.

copyright©Larry Peterson 2019

Saint Marie of the Incarnation—the “Mother of the Catholic Church in Canada”

Marie of the Incarnation                                                  en.wikipedia.org

By Larry Peterson

Marie Guyart was born on October 28, 1599, in Tours, France. By the time Marie was fourteen, she had already asked her parents if she could enter the convent. In her book, The Jesuit Relation, written in 1654, she wrote that she had experienced a visit from Jesus when she was seven years old. She wrote that Jesus had come to her, reached out, put His arms around her, and hugging her said, “Do you wish to belong to Me?”

She says she told Him loudly, “YES!” Marie also wrote in her book, that from that point forward she could only think of “Goodness.”

Although Marie constantly spoke of becoming a religious, her parents betrothed her to a man named Claude Martin. When she was eighteen, Marie did as her folks wanted and married him. The couple had a son but Claude died when the boy was only six months of age. Marie was twenty. The year was 1919 and Marie was suddenly a young widow with a baby to raise.

She then moved in with her sister and her husband, Paul Buisson. Paul owned a thriving transportation business, and Marie began working for him. She possessed great organizational skills and soon took over management of the Buisson business. However, over the ensuing ten years, her primary focus and desire were always to enter the spiritual life.

Marie’s intense desire to become a religious was always present.  When Claude Jr. became a teenager, she began making plans to enter the Ursuline order. Marie’s sister was willing to raise the young man as her own. Marie was heartbroken to leave young Claude, but she believed that he would be better off with a father figure in his life. Paul treated the boy as his own son, and her sister loved him dearly. Those factors sealed her decision to become a nun.

Marie joined the Ursuline order in 1632. She received the name of Mother Marie of the Incarnation. It was sometime during 1636 that Mother Marie had a vision of a beautiful place filled with mountains and forests and beautiful lakes.  She was told that this place was  Canada, and she was supposed to go there and build a house for Jesus. It took her several years, but she managed to raise the necessary funds.

Mother Marie garnered the support of the Jesuits.  She was given the charter to establish centers in New France (Canada) by none other than Louis XII.  On April 3, 1639, she and two other Ursulines, set sail for land she had never seen but only dreamed of.

They arrived in Quebec on August 1, 1639. Mother Marie and her companions immediately set about doing missionary work by attending to the many Indian people in the area. Soon several more Ursuline nuns joined them, and the nuns moved into a small house donated to them for use as a convent. By 1642 the nuns had managed to have a permanent stone building built.  It became the first school in Canada and was known as the Ursuline Monastery of Quebec.  (Today the building is one of  the National Historic Sites of Canada).

Mother Marie’s unique management skills enabled her to organize the new school and convent into a functional and efficient operation. There were Iroquois, Algonquin, Montagnais, and Ouendat natives in the area and Mother Marie worked with the Jesuits and learned their languages even writing dictionaries in all the languages. Slowly but surely women began joining the order.

Ten years after Marie had entered the Ursuline order, her son, Claude,  became a Benedictine monk. Mother and son kept in frequent contact, and when Marie left for Canada, they kept up a regular correspondence with each other and this continued for more than thirty years. Mother Marie of the Incarnation passed away on April 30, 1672.

She had spent 33 years in the Canadain wilderness. Claude wrote a biography of his mom. In it he wrote, “Her zeal for the salvation of souls, and especially for the conversion of the Indians, was great and so universal that she seemed to carry them all in her heart. We cannot doubt that, by her prayers, she greatly called down God’s many blessings upon this new-born Church.”

Mother Marie of the Incarnation is recognized as one of the primary reasons Catholicism grew and flourished in Canada. There is even a statue in her honor standing in front of the Quebec parliament.

Saint Marie of the Incarnation was canonized by Pope Francis on April 2, 2014. We ask her to please pray for us all.

copyright©Larry Peterson 2019

From Jehovah’s Witness to Catholic Priest an Interview with Father Daniel Bowen, O. de M.the man who made that Journey

Father Daniel Bowen O. de M. orderofmercy.org

By Larry Peterson

Father Daniel Bowen, O. de M., distinctly remembers how every Sunday when he was growing up his mom would take him and his two brothers to Kingdom Hall. Their mom was a Jehovah’s Witness, and this was their church. It was as far removed from the Catholic church as one could imagine.

Young Daniel believed in God but was filled with doubts. By the time he became a teenager, he had decided he had enough of “church” and told his mom he did not want to go anymore  His father told his wife that Daniel did not have to go if he did not want to. Daniel seized the moment and stopped going.  After all,  he came first—all else came second.

The years passed by and Daniel more or less forgot about God. Once in college, he became more self-absorbed about his own needs and what might make him happy. Then he met a Catholic girl named Lisa.

Lisa told Daniel that if he wanted to date her, he would have to go to Mass with her. He did, and he liked it. Then she introduced him to Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament. That was it. The young man, as the saying goes, was “hooked.”

Eventually, Daniel and Lisa took different life paths. The Holy Spirit had seized hold of Daniel Bowen and was not about to let go.  On August 15, 2015, the Solemnity of the Assumption, Daniel Bowen was ordained a priest. He now serves as Vocation Director for the Mercedarian Friars U.S.A.

You can find Father Daniel’s inspiring story HERE. It is a beautiful story of a man who took his leap of faith holding hands with the Holy Spirirt—ENJOY

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Now let’s ask Father Daniel some questions:

(Interviewer’s questions in Bold:     Father Daniel is (Fr. D) responses in Italics)

When and how did you receive your call to become a priest? Was there a moment in time or an event when you heard the Holy Spirit calling you?

  • D: “People began to ask me the question: Did I ever think about being a priest. I hadn’t, and so I had to ask God about it. It took a few years to figure it out, and then seminary to figure it out the rest of the way. No man knows for sure until he is laying on the ground before a Bishop on the day of his ordination. It is totally a Holy Spirit thing, and prayer is an essential part of it all.”

 Tell me your number one reason for being a priest?

  • D: “To know, love and joyfully serve God, and to love my neighbor as myself. To be a servant to God’s servants. All for the glory of God and the salvation of souls.”

What attracted you to the Mercedarians? (The Order of the Blessed Virgin Mary of Mercy)

  • D: “The Order was founded by the Blessed Virgin Mary, so this Marian aspect was most attractive to me. Also, the 4th vow, the Redemptive Vow, the willingness to lay down one’s life for another in danger of losing their faith – this “all in” aspect always spoke profoundly to my heart.”

 According to the General Rule Of Survey from the Univ. of Chicago, in 2015, among those 18 to 34 years old, 30 % do not have any religion at all. Many do not believe in God. Secularism seems to have infected many the world over. As the Vocation Director for the Mercedarians, your job must present quite the challenge. How is this going for you?

  • D: “I am still working on getting my wings, so to speak. Yes, it can be seen as a challenge, but I prefer to see it as an opportunity. God still calls people to Himself. Christ’s death and resurrection is completely relevant to every generation, even those who feel it does not need to apply to them. First is helping others know that our Lord, the God of love and mercy is real and necessary to live a life of complete fulfillment. To help them realize the Christian faith is about relationship – God’s desires us to be in an intimate relationship with Him. And then to facilitate an encounter with Him. Once men know this, then they can begin to find what the mission and plan that He has for their life. Could God be calling me to be a priest and/or a consecrated religious? And if the answer is yes, then one is best to find out if this is truly His calling, and if so acting on it.”

What advice would you give to a young person who is considering religious life?

  • D: “It is a great gift given by God to some, not all. It is a precious calling to be intimate with God and others in a way that no other lifestyle can match. It is a summons to love fully and without holding back. To proclaim boldly to our world that not only God exists, but He knows and loves us. That I am willing to forsake the goods of this life and world, in order to embrace, here and now, the blessing that God desires for us in heaven. My advice: Go for it!!! Do not be afraid, or put it off, go find out if this is God’s will for your life. If it is you will have the best life. If it is God’s will, then there will be a peace and deep, profound joy that will be under it all.”

 How do you, as a priest, deal with negativity about the Catholic Church in the media, when asked about it by a layperson?

  • D: “Some people were negative towards Jesus in His life here on earth. It is no different today. The Catholic Church is the body of Christ, yes there is a very human element, but there is also a divine element present here, that should not be so easily dismissed. For all her faults, and only the Lord knows why He permits them, the Church is the most charitable and truth-bearing place on the planet. She is the spouse of Christ, and so must be present to continue to bring Christ’s authentic presence, so that all generations may have the opportunity to encounter Him. Staying close to our Lord in prayer is key to keeping one’s head above water, especially when our faults are clearly manifested – keeping our hearts, minds, and souls on the Lord. Jesus, who is the Way, the Truth and the Life.”

 What are the most challenging and rewarding aspects of your job?

  • D: “Helping others to believe that the faith is real, and then to fully surrender one’s life to it. Seeing people fall deeply and madly in love with our Lord, and seeing that transformation take place is most rewarding. Experiencing the good work our Lord is able to accomplish through people who desire Him to work in their lives is a beautiful blessing. Challenging is seeing those who fall away from the faith, or keep saying no to God, seeing the resulting destruction this does to that person and to others and knowing how much it hurts our Lord, this is challenging. But following Christ is a summons to love, and it is an invitation that one must be free to choose or reject. Otherwise, it really isn’t love is it?

Go here and listen to Father Daniel  discuss the kind of men  the Mercedarians are looking for

 THANK YOU Father Daniel for taking the time to do this interview. May God bless you as you move forward in your priestly ministry.

copyright©Larry Peterson 2019

Sister Mary Ephrem—God’s ‘Little White Dove’ and the apparitions of Our Lady of America

Sr. Mary Ephrem Neuzil                                                              public domain

By Larry Peterson

Mildred Marie Neuzil was born in Brooklyn, N.Y., on August 2, 1916. A few days later Mildred was baptized in Most Holy Trinity Church on Montrose St. in Brooklyn’s, Williamsburg section. Shortly after that, Mildred’s mom and dad moved to Cleveland, Ohio. Mildred’s dad, a home builder, had heard there was more opportunity in the Cleveland area and off they went.

There was a pronounced spirituality that surrounded Mildred. At the age of 14, she entered the religious congregation of the Sisters of the Precious Blood, in Dayton, Ohio. When she was 17, she made her first vows as a professed religious and was given the name, Sister Mary Ephrem, a name that means “doubly fruitful.”

Sister Mary Ephrem’s duties were a combination of domestic chores and teaching kindergarten. When she was 21 years old, she was sent to work at the Chancery in Cincinnati, Ohio. It was here she would meet a holy man who would, as time went by, become her confessor and her mentor. He would also become an archbishop. His name was Father Paul Leibold. Neither of them had any idea of the special plans God had for each of them.

It was in 1940 when Sister Mary began receiving interior messages and revelations with specific detail and clarity. These messages were coming directly from Jesus and she was being told that her mission was going to be one that would help provide for the sanctification of the family. She began maintaining a diary and documenting all of these things.

One of the quotes taken from her diary was as follows; “Pray, pray, pray, oh My Little White Dove. Pray and sacrifice yourself for the souls of poor sinners. How many are lost because there are no prayers said for them, no sacrifices made for them.”

Jesus even gave Sister Mary a message for Father Leibold. He told her to tell him, “—not to become discouraged at the crosses awaiting him, for I the great High-Priest, go before him carrying the heaviest part of his cross—I seek only the humble and lowly of heart.”

It was after this message that she turned to Father Leibold for guidance. The priest had only been ordained a short time before. The year was 1940. He would be her confessor and her advisor until he died in 1972.

Before 1956, Sister Mary spent time in many different locations. She worked in Rome City, Indiana; Denver, Colorado; North Dakota; back to Cincinnati, and on to Ottawa, Ohio. Here she was visited by St. Michael the Angel of Peace to prepare her for what lie ahead. She was told that Satan would do everything to keep her from doing what Jesus wanted.

The Blessed Mother first appeared to Sister Mary Ephrem on September 25, 1956. She was wearing a blue mantle and a white robe like Our Lady of Lourdes. Our Lady gave Sister Mary a message which was a promise of  “great miracles of the soul” for her children in the United States if they would heed the call for repentance. She also expressed her pleasure in the fact that the American Catholic Church had dedicated a national shrine to her in Washington D.C.

The very next day, on September 26, Our Lady appeared to Sister Mary holding a lily in her right hand. She was dressed all in white without any decorations of any kind. Her veil was white and reached to her waist. Her mantle and robe were also pure white and a gold clasp held her mantle together. She wore a golden crown and her heart was encircled with roses and sending forth flames of fire. Sister Mary wrote that Our Lady said in a beautiful voice, “,I am Our Lady of America, I desire my children honor me by the purity of their lives.”

The Blessed Mother showed Sister Mary a medal she wanted to be struck honoring Our Lady of America. She gave a sketch of it to Bishop Leibold, and he had it made. He placed his Imprimatur on the sketch.

Raymond Cardinal Burke presented this letter to the USCCB in 2007: (see entire letter here)  What can be concluded canonically is that the devotion was both approved by Archbishop Leibold and, what is more, was actively promoted by him. Also, over the years, other Bishops have approved the devotion and have participated in public devotion to the Mother of God, under the title of Our Lady of America. 

 copyright©Larry Peterson 2019