Get 2 the Point: From local church to national shrine

By  | 

(WBAY) -

It’s been known for decades by local folks as a rural Brown County Catholic Church with a rich history. A place where an apparition of Mary, the mother of Jesus, is said to have appeared to a young Belgian immigrant in 1859. Today, the National Shrine of Our Lady of Good Help in Champion is recognized by the Roman Catholic Church as a Marian Apparition site. As a result, thousands of new visitors are coming from around the world to hear the story and learn the history.

Adele Brise reported that the Virgin Mary appeared to her three times, asking her to teach the children. Adele’s father build a small chapel on the site. Today, the National Shrine is growing on that same site, as its recognition in the Catholic Church puts it right alongside other places like Fatima, Portugal, and Lourdes, France, where appearances of Mary have drawn millions seeking help, peace and healing. The National Shrine of Our Lady of Good Help has 150,000 visitors last year, and the number is expected to grow.

Events coordinator Corrie Campbell says managing the interest is an ongoing task. The site now has a new building--Mother of Mercy Hall--that can house up to 1,200 more people for mass or events.

But any expansion has to be done thoughtfully. “Our place is known as a place of peace. We were concerned about how to maintain that for everyone. So the experience I had when I was five years old here, everyone can have. A peaceful place to bring their family to pray.”

This October, the National Shrine is marking 160 years. There are events beginning the first of October to celebrate. Fr. John Broussard, rector of the Shrine, is expecting to see a lot of people taking part. But he wants to point out it’s not just for Catholics. “If you are thinking about coming, just come. Take the initiative and see what this place might have to offer to you, and to your faith.”

Visit the website for more information on special appearances and services.

Listen to our Get 2 the Point podcast for more from Fr. John Broussard, rector of the Shrine, and Corrie Campbell, events coordinator and communications director about the history, and the growth of the National Shrine of Our Lady of Good Help.

Mother of Mercy Hall. The new prayer and events center was built in 2019 and can seat up to 1,200 people (WBAY photo)