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