CHAMPION — They came by bus, by car and some by foot. Hundreds of people turned out on a warm and sunny day to celebrate the feast of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary on Aug. 15. The annual outdoor liturgy, held at the Shrine of Our Lady of Good Help since the late 1860s, attracted people of all ages.
Bishop David Ricken welcomed the crowd, numbering over 1,000, to the shrine. He also welcomed Bishop Emeritus Arthur Tafoya of Pueblo, Colo. Bishop Tafoya, who delivered the homily, ordained Bishop Ricken to the priesthood nearly 35 years ago.
“It’s a joy to gather here at our shrine just a few years after the formal and official approval” of the apparitions of Mary to Adele Brise in 1859, he said. “The Fathers of Mercy, the wonderful staff and tremendous core group of volunteers are so happy to have you here today to pray with all of us together in a spirit of joy, thanksgiving, simplicity and love.”
In his homily, Bishop Tafoya told the crowd that they are blessed to live in the shadows of the shrine, “the only place in the U.S. that Mary has really appeared.”
He said that Adele Brise humbly received the Blessed Mother’s message to teach the children their faith, much like Mary accepted the angel Gabriel’s words, echoed in the Gospel of Luke: “Rejoice, oh highly favored daughter. The Lord is with you. Blessed are you among women.”
Bishop Tafoya said that Adele Brise and Mary showed by their example that “to have faith means we have to trust.” Adele’s trust in Mary meant building a school and visiting nearby homes to teach children how to pray.
As a seminarian, Bishop Tafoya said he turned to Mary when he struggled with his classes. He recalled a trip to Mexico City with other seminarians to visit the Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe. “I said to Mary, ‘I think I want to be a priest. Help me. I’m having difficulty,’” he recalled. “The other seminarians said, ‘It’s too hot here, I’m not going to go up there.’ I said I will go to the steps of Mary and my life changed.
“Mary has been part of my life as a seminarian, as a priest, as a bishop and now as a retired bishop,” he said.
Bishop Tafoya encouraged those in attendance to let others know about Mary’s appearance at the shrine.
“Spread the message because I think very few people have heard it,” he said. “Let that news be known all over the country that Mary has come to you. Mary continues to bless you. My brothers and sisters, spread the word. … I would ask you, be evangelizers and tell the world that Mary appeared here. Let it become a great sanctuary, become another Lourdes, another Fatima, another Guadalupe.”
Following the outdoor Mass, a eucharistic procession with recitation of the rosary was held around the shrine grounds. The procession concluded with Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament.