Today I will be posting “part 11” in the History series on the Shrine of Our Lady of Good Help. Let’s pick up where I last left off.
In Sacred Scripture, the Lord tells us:
“Blessed are you when they insult you and persecute you and utter every kind of evil against you [falsely] because of me. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward will be great in Heaven. (Mt. 5:11-12)
As I mentioned in “part 10”, Sr. Adele patiently and humbly endured the cross – suffering insults and persecutions by those who misunderstood her or were envious of the great graces bestowed on her. Yet, what legitimate visionary has not suffered these crosses? After her visions in Lourdes ended and she entered the convent, St. Bernadette was treated with contempt by many of the other sisters. At Fatima, the children were dragged before the law and threatened with death if they did not recant in their “story.” Adele too had her fair share of trials, however she also had many joys as well.
One of Sr. Adele’s joys was the building of a new brick chapel and school. Due to the size of the crowds which flocked to the site where the Queen of Heaven touched earth, it became clear that such buildings were badly needed. Bishop Krautbauer led twenty-two other prominent priests of the diocese – including Fr. J. Fox, the future Bishop of Green Bay – in making financial contributions to the building funds. By the year 1880, work started on these buildings and in the year 1885, Bishop Krautbauer dedicated the new brick chapel. It must be noted that when this chapel was built, the sanctuary was constructed over the very site (between the hemlock and maple trees) that the Blessed Mother had appeared to Adele. We know this because when this brick chapel was razed to allow for the construction of the present chapel (which was commissioned by Bishop Rhode in 1941) the stumps of the two trees were discovered under the Altar. This site is preserved to this day, in a crypt under the Sanctuary of the current chapel.
Shortly after the 1880 brick chapel was finished, a new brick schoolhouse was completed (in 1885). This new school accommodated more than one-hundred children a year – quite a number for a rural schoolhouse in the late 1800s.
However, Sr. Adele experienced many crosses, humiliations and misunderstandings as well. In my previous post in this series, I mentioned the instance when beer venders and other such entertainers tried to exploit pilgrims who had come to the Shrine to honor Our Lord and His Mother on the Solemnity of the Assumption. Sr. Adele had nothing to do with the unwelcomed vendors, nevertheless the blame for the event fell on her head. As a result many – including Bishop Melcher, first Bishop of Green Bay – came to doubt the validity of the apparitions given to Adele. Eventually, the instance resolved with the Bishop giving his blessing to Adele and encouraging her to continue her good work.
On the first of January, 1890, an epidemic of the croup swept through the school, claiming the lives of two children. The always heart-breaking responsibility to notify the parents of their loss fell on Adele. The two children were buried in the cemetery next to the Chapel (the very cemetery in which Sr. Adele would be reposed in 6 years later) and their graves can still be visited to this day. Then the remaining children were sent home for a one month vacation. February of 1890 saw some, but not all of the children return – for the parents were concerned about the safety and health of their children.
However later that month, Sr Adele lost her greatest source of help and support and her most cherished sister. On the 27 of February, 1890, Sr. “Maggie” commended her soul to the Lord, after falling ill just 12 days prior. Sr. “Maggie’s” death was very hard for Sr. Adele to take and she had this to say:
“Sr. Maggie left a great vacancy in our Convent, and it is a separation very hard to take. She was here twenty years with us, and she has always been so faithful to me, as a good child towards her mother. But we most bow to God’s Holy Will (The Chapel of Our Lady of Good Help Sr. M Dominica, O.S.F. 38).”
The death of her closest sister also took a toll on the already failing health of Sr. Adele. When it became apparent that the time had come to appoint a successor, Sr. Adele chose a capable, younger sister who had only recently joined the community. In fact, this sister had joined the convent only two years prior. This decision angered many of the older sisters, unable to abide by Sr. Adele’s decision, more than half of them chose to leave. This was a heavy blow to Sr. Adele and a predicament she did not anticipate.
Six years later, on July 5, 1896, Sr. Marie Adele Joseph Brise peacefully surrendered her soul to Our Lord and His most Holy Mother – whom she had the grace to behold in this life on earth. Her last words were to a former student:
“Josie, be kind to the sick and the old, and continue to instruct the children in their religion as I have done (The Chapel of Our Lady of Good Help Sr. M Dominica, O.S.F. 39).”
Sr. Adele was buried in the Chapel cemetery next to her beloved Shrine. Her grave marker bears an inscription in French which translated reads:
“Sacred Cross, Under Thy Shadow
I Rest And Hope.
Sr. Marie Adele Joseph Brise
Died July 5, 1896
At the age of 66 years.”
I often visit the grave of this future saint. If you receive favors through her intercession, please notify the Diocese of Green Bay. The official cause for Sr. Marie Adele Joseph Brise has yet to be opened and I hope and pray that it may be opened soon.