The Deacon's Bench

It happened last weekend, and The Tidings has the scoop:

Despite threatening skies, groups of parishioners, students and religious had already arrived by 8:30 a.m. at the corner of Ford Street and Cesar Chavez Avenue in East Los Angeles, to show their love for the Virgin of Guadalupe.

Hailing from throughout Southern California, they did not mind waiting two hours and then processing for another hour in a three-mile route to East L.A. College, where thousands joined them, including Coadjutor Archbishop José Gomez, to celebrate the 79th annual Procession and Mass. This year’s theme was “Mis hijos unidos” (“My children united”) honoring Our Lady of Guadalupe, proclaimed Empress of the Americas by Pope Pius XII, Mother of the Americas by Pope John XXIII, and Patron of the Americas by Pope John Paul II in 1999.

Indigenous dancers from Riverside County and throughout L.A. County joined equestrian groups, decorated floats and mariachi, who escorted the “Peregrina” (migratory) image and the Guadalupe Torch.

All were united to thank the Virgin for her miracles. María Sánchez, a Salvadoran single mother of four, is “forever thankful” to the Virgin for interceding so that her 12-year-old twin son Steven did not have to suffer an eighth brain surgery to treat cerebral palsy and epilepsy; 56-year-old Juventino Solorio, attending from Our Lady of Solitude for the last 15 years, is in remission after undergoing treatment for colon and lung cancers within the last seven years; and popular regional Mexican singer Beatriz Adriana shared with thousands gathered at the college stadium how the Virgin helped her heal from the pain of losing her son and forgive his kidnappers and murderers.

There were also those who showed up simply to praise the Virgin and to learn first-hand about Mexican culture and traditions, including confirmation students from St. Louise de Marillac Church in Covina, and the group of Resurrection School students from East L.A.

“I invite you to be the Juan Diegos of the third millennium,” said Msgr. Diego Monroy, rector of the Basilica of Guadalupe in Mexico City, as he was shown on a jumbo screen.

“We all desire an immigration reform,” he said. “We are all children of God and we should never reject, humiliate or violate the rights of others, especially of our migrants.”

The celebration offered, for many, an introduction to Archbishop Gomez, main celebrant, who was joined by Auxiliary Bishops Oscar Solis, Alexander Salazar and Gerald Wilkerson and priests from the archdiocese. Cardinal Roger Mahony, who will retire next year, was in Stockton participating in that diocesan celebration (see below), but he was thanked by the multitude with loud applause, for supporting and participating in the celebration during the last 25 years.

“Although we are physically away from the Cerrito del Tepeyac (Hill of Tepeyac, where the image of the Virgin miraculously appeared on the cloak of the indigenous peasant Juan Diego), from here we unite with millions throughout the continent in their faith and love for the Virgin of Guadalupe,” Archbishop Gomez told the more than 25,000 people during his homily.

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mert.jpeg“There is not a flower that opens, not a seed that falls into the ground, and not an ear of wheat that nods on the end of its stalk in the wind that does not preach and proclaim the greatness and the mercy of God to the whole world. There is not an act of kindness or generosity, not an act of sacrifice done, or a word of peace and gentleness spoken, not a child’s prayer uttered, that does not sing hymns to God before his throne, and in the eyes of men, and before their faces.”

Thomas Merton, “The Seven Storey Mountain.” 
 Merton entered the monastery on December 10, 1941.
He died on December 10, 1968. 
Eternal rest grant unto him, O Lord …

Who is Adele Brise, the visionary who is responsible for the first approved Marian apparition  in the United States?

The Compass has the answer:

Adele Joseph Brise’s story began when she arrived from Belgium with her parents, Lambert and Marie Catherine Brise, two sisters and a brother in 1855. They bought a farm at Red River, near the border of Brown and Kewaunee counties.

1040crypt15web2.jpgAdele had her first of three apparitions while carrying grain to a mill near Dyckesville on Oct. 9, 1859. On the following Sunday, while walking to Mass in Bay Settlement, the Blessed Mother appeared again. During the third vision, while returning home from church, Adele said Mary identified herself as “the Queen of Heaven” and told her, “Gather the children in this wild country and teach them what they should know for salvation. Teach them their catechism, how to sign themselves with the sign of the cross and how to approach the sacraments. That is what I wish you to do. Go and I will help you.”

So the 28-year-old gathered the children and taught them about the faith. She would travel to farms, sometimes 50 miles away, to teach them. While Adele was never a vowed religious, she gathered a lay community around her, known as the Sisters of Good Help. Adele, called Sr. Adele, became their leader.

It wasn’t until 1867 or 1868 that the first school was built on the chapel site. St. Mary’s Academy, a boarding school, had 95 students enrolled by the 1871-72 school year. Sr. Adele supported the school by relying on God and the generosity of those she met. She sometimes went begging for what she needed.

One of Sr. Adele’s students was 6-year-old Odile Allard, who arrived at St. Mary’s Academy with her baby sister after their mother died. Odile, (later Sr. Marie du Sacré Coeur) stayed until she was 15. “I don’t remember that there were less than a hundred children, the year around at the Chapel, mostly orphans,” she wrote in a letter to the sisters at Bay Settlement.

The first shrine chapel was built by Adele’s father. It measured 10 feet by 12 feet and was located near the spot where Mary appeared to Adele. A larger chapel was built in 1865. The present chapel was completed in 1942. The altar in its crypt stands over the site of the reported visions. Logs from the trees between which Adele said Mary appeared can be seen in a display case in the shrine’s gift shop.

Fr. John Doerfler, vicar general and diocesan chancellor, is rector at the shrine.

“What is really remarkable about Adele,” he said, “is that her life had a real focus to pass on the faith to the children. She gave her whole life to this. And she was a simple, yet strong and dedicated, woman of faith. It was not an easy life. Yet she lived this life with joy, with humility, with abandonment to God’s providence and reliance on the intercession of the Blessed Mother.”

Bishop David Ricken, who said he was “thrilled” to learn that the diocese had a shrine dedicated to the Blessed Mother, echoed Fr. Doerfler’s sentiments.

“What has stuck me about the story of the life of Adele Brise is her lifelong fidelity to what the Blessed Mother asked her to do with her life,” he told The Compass in 2009. “She dedicated her life to prayer, especially for the conversion of sinners, and to the catechesis of children. She made great sacrifices and attracted other young women to follow her in her fidelity to the Blessed Mother’s call.”

There’s much more, along with pictures. Check it out.