Hello everyone; today I will be posting “Part Ten” in the history series on Our Lady of Good Help. Let’s pick up where I last left off.
Sr. Adele and all those who sought refuge in the Chapel during the Peshtigo Fire, by an awesome miracle, survived the worst wildfire in U.S. history. They were left untouched by the fire, yet everything around them for miles was burned black. For most people in and around Northern Wisconsin, this alone was enough proof that the Blessed Mother had appeared to Sr. Adele Brise. However, there were some who had their doubts and more often than not, these skeptics gave Adele much grief.
St. John of the Cross says: “Those who seek not the Cross of Christ, seek not the Glory of Christ.” One of the fruits of a true presence of Christ, His Mother or His saints is His Cross. At Lourdes, St. Bernadette was treated with much disbelief, suspicion and hostility after she received the apparitions of Our Lady. At Fatima, the children were dragged to a jail, told that they were seeing the Devil and threatened with martyrdom. Fittingly, Sr. Adele was also endowed with the suffering of Christ that comes with such graces which she received. Though Sr. Adele never ran from the Cross, many trials beset her – and though she never lost her faith, it was most certainly put to the test.
Many of Sr. Adele’s sufferings were caused by incredulous priests and others of authority who were envious of the graces bestowed on her. Other hardships were caused by those who had no faith at all and came either to poke fun at Our Lady or exploited the pilgrims who came in her honor.
The Solemnity of the Assumption is the day when we as Catholics celebrate how after her death, the Blessed Mother was assumed body and soul into Heaven. This feast has always been celebrated with great piety at the Shrine of Our Lady of God Help; many hundreds of people flock each year to the Shrine for the outdoor Mass and procession. However, at one point in the Chapel history, beer venders and others of the entertainment trade were in attendance hoping to increase their profits at the expense of the pilgrims. Sr. Adele, of course, ardently disapproved of such amusements and did her utmost best to prevent their happening. Nevertheless, these festivities threw a bad light on Sr. Adele, the Chapel and even the very apparitions (Our Lady of Good Help Sr. M Dominica O.S.F. 21).
Soon reports of “what actually happened at the Chapel” reached the ears of the Bishop, his Excellency, Most Rev. Bishop Melcher, first Bishop of Green Bay (1868-1873). Though he never personally observed Sr. Adele and her catechetical efforts at that Chapel, he trusted the reports he received. Bishop Melcher placed interdict on the Chapel and Sr. Adele was refused the Sacraments and threatened with excommunication if she continued to tell of the Apparitions (Our Lady of Good Help Sr. M Dominica O.S.F. 21).
“At an opportune time, the Bishop [Bishop Melcher] decided to look into the matters personally. He would visit the Chapel. When news reached the ears of the venders, they immediately registered strong protests and took measures to prevent his proposed visit. The Bishop was notified and he decided to change his course of action. He wrote to Adele, commending her to dismiss the children, lock the school and Chapel, and give him the keys (Our Lady of Good Help Sr. M Dominica O.S.F. 21).
Sr. Adele was as always, perfectly obedient to her legitimate superiors. She gave Bishop Melcher the keys and “reminded him of his responsibility for the souls that would be lost due to the lack of instruction.” Bishop Melcher was so impressed by Sr. Adele’s zeal that he handed back the keys and encouraged her to continue in her good work.
Sr. Adele Brise endured many other such sufferings and humiliations. Through them all, she maintained her joy and perfect resignation to Our Lord’s Will and Our Lady’s mission.