Our lives are forever changed by God, Mary and our 90 years of ministry at the Shrine
by Sister Elise Cholewinski
Where is the Shrine? For the Sisters of St. Francis of the Holy Cross, the Shrine of Our Lady of Good Help is located just a few miles from our convent, near a town called Champion, Wisconsin. It is holy ground where, in 1859, the Blessed Virgin Mary appeared to a young woman named Adele Brice. In 2010 the apparitions received ecclesiastical approbation (official church approval), and the place has now become a national shrine, visited by thousands of people each year.
For 90 years following Adele’s death our Sisters took care of "The Chapel" (as it was known then) in the midst of Belgian farms. We operated, at succeeding stages in its history, a boarding school, a crippled children’s home, a girls’ high school, and a retreat house. In 1992 the Community relinquished the property to the Diocese of Green Bay.
Continuing the celebration of our Community's 150th anniversary, the Sisters and Associates gathered on Mother’s Day to honor Mary and to honor the time that the Sisters spent at "The Chapel". Many stories were shared about healings that occurred at the shrine, lives that were touched by prayer at that holy place, and the ministry that the Sisters carried on there, reflecting the Blessed Mother’s devotion to her Child. As we moved through the events of the afternoon, I sensed within me something of the aura of the Shrine that is still with us. It is so much a part of who we are today, as we identify prayer, presence, and hospitality to be the essence of our charism.
We leave some places, but some places never leave us. The Shrine will be enshrined in our hearts forever.