Tag Archives: USCCB

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

An unexpected Evangelization Moment—Distributing Ashes on Ash Wednesday in Walmart

Celebrating Lent                                                                    allevents.in.jpg

By Larry Peterson

The USCCB states that evangelizing means bringing the Good News of Jesus into every human situation. So how can we everyday Catholics always be prepared to evangelize?

Our behavior and our actions and the words we use are tools for evangelizing. They show that we are Christian. Saying grace before meals while in a restaurant with family or friends or simply having an “I Love Jesus” bumper sticker on your car gives a powerful message. You get the idea.

Many times things happen that are “in our face,” and we have only a moment or so to decide what to do; should we stay and help or keep on walking?  It is very easy to “ignore,” a situation, but that is not what the Good Samaritan did, is it?  What follows is an example of one of those unexpected moments.

I am an  EMHC, and on Ash Wednesday, on my way home after distributing ashes and Holy Communion, I decided to make an unplanned stop at Walmart. I did not have to go there; there was nothing specific I needed, but there was the store and the next thing I knew, the car was parked.  As I walked toward the entrance I decided I needed “double A batteries.” I did not need them but I guess I had to validate my being there.

Walking into the store, the express lanes were ahead and to the right.  Ahead and to my left was McDonald’s. Outside McDonald’s was a bench and sitting in it was an elderly lady I knew from church. We have been friends for a long time and her name is Rachel. I walk over to her to say “hi”, and she looks at my forehead and says, “Oh, Larry, it’s you. We forgot today was Ash Wednesday. We didn’t get ashes.” Let the unplanned evangelizing begin.

Rachel weighs about 70 pounds soaking wet and she is in her late eighties. Her husband, Jim, has Parkinson’s disease and is about the same age. They were both widowed and have been married for about fifteen years. I was still in my shirt and tie and wearing my EMHC cross. Next thing you know I am sitting next to Rachel praying with her and placing ashes on her forehead. When I finish I ask her, “Where is Jim?”

Jim was on the line in McDonald’s. The entrance was about fifty feet from where we were sitting. As I got up to find Jim,  I noticed there were about a half-dozen people standing there watching us. It dawned on me that there were some people wondering why I was smearing dirt on an old lady’s forehead. I simply looked at them all and said, “Hi folks, today is Ash Wednesday. You can Google it.”

I turned and headed into the restaurant. There is Jim, standing there about eighth in line with about ten more people behind him. The place is packed and the poor guy is standing there with his left forearm and hand trembling unmercifully. I walk up to him and he is stunned to see me. I say as quietly as I can, “Jim, I just gave Rachel ashes. Would you like to have them too?”

As I stood praying softly with Jim, our audience began to grow. By the time I placed ashes on his forehead more people were coming over to see what was going on. I did hear some people mention, “Ash Wednesday.”

That was my impromptu queue. I turned and faced the gathering crowd and raised my hands in the air. “Hey everyone, today is Ash Wednesday. I am Catholic as are my friends here who I just happened to bump into. They were unable to get to Mass today so they are receiving ashes which remind us to “remember that we are dust and into dust we shall return.”

I actually gave several more people ashes but then I had none left. I know a lot of people, religious and non-religious alike, watched the unscripted distribution of the ashes. It was an evangelization moment for sure and it all happened in less than fifteen minutes. I also know it had to be my guardian angel who helped me pull that steering wheel to the right leading me into Walmart.

A sidebar to all of this; I never got the batteries.

copyright© Larry Peterson 2019