Our Lady of America

The Immaculate Virgin

Church Status, Uncategorized

Devotion to Our Lady of America gains further approvals! What comes next?

Our lady of America carried in procession at Hanceville, AL

Our lady of America carried in procession at Hanceville, AL

On May 7th, 2020 Bishop Kevin C. Rhoades of the Diocese of Fort Wayne – South Bend, along with 5 other Bishops where Sr. Mary Ephrem was alleged to have had apparitions issued these Documents (Singular Decree and Statement Regarding Devotion to Our Lady of America) following a multi-year study. Included, in these documents is a finding by all the bishops of competence approving this Private Devotion to Our Lady of America.

While the devotion was first approved (early 1960’s) by Archbishop Paul F. Leibold of the Archdiocese of Cincinnati, the question concerning the supernatural nature of the alleged apparitions had never been previously studied by a Bishop of Competence (a Bishop in the diocese where Sr. Ephrem had her alleged apparitions).  Since Sr. Ephrem was frequently moved by her Order, this became a multi-diocesan question. 

Serious Challenges

Most all authentic devotions go through a period of testing.  Devotion to Our Lady of America is no different.  In statistical measure, the odds of an apparition being declared as truly supernatural are slightly above zero.  And those that are approved go through a time of testing which in many cases starts with a condemnation and only when the truth and fruits are fully revealed does it get this rarest of recognition.

As one example, the Divine Mercy devotion was condemned by the Church in 1959 and is now a source of hope, consolation, and conversion for many worldwide.  This is one example (of many) showing the difficult path to declared authenticity.

The Our Lady of America Devotion has faced serious challenges over the years.  First, with the death of Archbishop Leibold in 1972 the devotion lost its most ardent ecclesiastical supporter and it seemingly fell into dormition.  Then, after the death of Sr. Ephrem, it emerged that a former nun, Patricia Fuller, claimed that she alone owned and controlled the devotion through copyrights and a trademark.  Of her own admission, there was an expectation of profit from these. 

During this period of about 15 years the devotion was outside the control of the Church.   Francis Cardinal George, Archdiocese of Chicago (who was very supportive) told me around 2008 that this devotion was going nowhere until that claim of private ownership was resolved. After a 10-year Federal Court battle it was determined that the devotional materials were in the public domain (available to all).  Fuller did not control the devotion!  As one who personally lived through the litigation, I see its outcome as miraculous.  During the litigation, the attacks on the devotion, Church and us were demonic.

Meanwhile, as the faithful have begun to see more clearly the widespread bad fruits from the breakdown of the family and a complete loss of purity in our society, the writings of Sr. Mary Ephrem started to resonate as an important antidote.   Over the past fifteen years or more there has been a renewal of devotion to Our Lady of America and the writings of Sr. Ephrem, bearing increasing fruit in the lives of many souls.

A Discerning Church

Almost immediately upon the favorable completion of that litigation, the Bishops of Competence met to determine the course for this growing devotion, which had survived the decades, was gaining interest, and had produced good fruits.  Since Sr. Mary Ephrem claimed that the devotion was the result of apparitions, the Church needed to determine if this was indeed the case.   This led the 6 bishops to initiate the Church’s process for making such a determination by forming a Commission (led by Bishop Kevin C. Rhoades) to follow the process as outlined in ”NORMS REGARDING THE MANNER OF PROCEEDING IN THE DISCERNMENT OF PRESUMED APPARITIONS OR REVELATIONS.”  

This process was introduced by the Vatican in 1978, 6 years after the death of Archbishop Leibold. The process requires a Commission to investigate the virtue of the visionary, the messages in light of Church Doctrine, fruits, miracles and other matters (suffering).  Much like the process of determining sainthood the standards of determining supernaturality are among the most stringent in the Church.  

Why are the standards so high?  Because Satan, the master of deceit, is very clever in leading the faithful astray.  Hence, the Church has an innate duty to protect us against false doctrine and teachings.   The Church would much rather fail to find an authentic apparition as supernatural than to proclaim a false apparition as authentic.  This is for our protection and we must rely upon our shepherds for this discernment. 

There are three possible outcomes from a study:

  1. “constat de supernaturalitate”, affirms the supernatural origin of the events;
  2. “non  constat de supernaturalitate”, expresses a decision based on the insufficiency of facts and elements of proof to either affirm or negate the supernatural character of a presumed private revelation;
  3. “constat de non supernaturalitate”, negates the supernatural character of the facts/events which were examined.

The finding here is the second(2).  Its meaning can be confusing.  What it means: there is not enough evidence (at this time) to find definitively for supernaturality, but the possibility remains that it may be supernatural.  Until there is reason to change this determination, the faithful may practice the private devotion as nothing stands in the way. 

Here, from the Norms is the paragraph that most accurately reflects the outcome we have. “If the faithful request it legitimately (that is, in communion with the Pastors, and not prompted by a sectarian spirit), the competent Ecclesiastical Authority can intervene to permit or promote some form of cult or devotion, if, after the application of the above criteria, nothing stands in the way. They must be careful that the faithful not interpret this practice as approval of the supernatural nature of the fact on the part of the Church (cf. Preliminary note c).”

It is of great significance that the Decree and Statement held open the possibility that the origin could be supernatural.  They also placed Sr. Mary Ephrem, Rome City, Indiana (site of the alleged first apparition) and the fruits of the devotion in a favorable light.   These are extremely positive findings and provide a solid foundation for moving forward in faith. 

Before this decree there was only one Bishop, Archbishop Paul F. Leibold (of happy memory) of Cincinnati that had approved the private devotion.  Today there are 7!   This includes all the current ordinaries of those places where apparitions had allegedly occurred.  Do not underestimate the significance and encouraging nature of this!

Of Miracles

Miracles play an important part in the determination of supernaturality, just as they do in the determination of sainthood.  Why?  Because after all the study and discernment, limited by the imperfect intellect of fallen humanity, only Heaven can tell us with certainty that which we cannot know any other way.  As in the case of sainthood, since we have no way of knowing who has achieved this crown, we must rely on Heaven to tell us. Thus, the Church relies on miracles to know these truths that cannot be known any other way.

As science, technology and medicine continue to advance it is becoming increasingly difficult to judge something as objectively miraculous.  For something to be deemed so, it cannot have any other explanation than being supernatural.  In a court-of-law the standard is “beyond a reasonable doubt.”  In the case of a declared miracle, there can be no doubt. 

As an example, one of the miracles confirming Our Lady of Guadalupe was the delivery from Our Lady via Juan Diego of Castilian Roses from Europe in the middle of the winter to the Bishop in Mexico.  This was a miracle because at that time it could happen no other way.   Today it would not be considered a miracle.  Why?  Greenhouses and overnight air transportation give a plausible explanation to producing fresh European Castilian Roses in Mexico City.  In 1531 there was no other explanation than to be a miracle.

We are familiar with at least one of the alleged miracles that was investigated by the commission.  While it is popularly believed that this healing was miraculous (and so does the recipient) given the state of modern medicine there is a remote, but plausible alternative explanation.   This high standard is the same reason why only 69 miracles have been declared at Lourdes since 1858, where nearly 5 million pilgrims visit each year in search of healing, grace, and consolation.

Bishops have taken great care

As one who has been most privileged for 15 + years to work with many Cardinals, Bishops and Priests in promoting this devotion there is something that must be said.  The Church has taken great care and exercised great kindness toward this devotion.   During the litigation, there were many instances of bishops offering encouragement, cooperation and support.  And many, who had official capacity, chose to act in ways that saved and / or protected it from evil’s design to destroy it.  There were many opportunities where it could have been lost forever. Certainly, there were detractors along the way.   But they were overcome by those in positions of authority who acted courageously, in truth and charity to make sure no harm was done. 

The work of the commission is no different.   Bishop Rhoades and the others have acted with extreme charity and love in relation to the broad spectrum of options that were open to them.   From what I can tell, in all cases where the record could support either a negative or favorable light, they chose the favorable approach. 

How to proceed?

With the Decree and Statement, the Church is now officially back in control of this devotion and has entrusted it to the faithful with encouragement as a private devotion.  As such, the devotion is in a great position to grow and bear good fruit.  The Bishops have laid a fecund garden for it to grow and flourish under the Grace of Heaven.   They have cleared the way for God’s Mercy and Love to rise through the instrument of this devotion.   They have shown a favorable light on the person of Sr. Mary Ephrem and the place at Rome City.  They have also pointed to our nation’s history of love and devotion to Our Lady, The Immaculate Virgin, Patroness of Our Land.  I expect the Church to continue to guide us with love and kindness. 

We do not yet know what will be specifically allowed in terms of the practice of the devotion.  While the Church has determined it to be a private devotion, that does not mean that it can only be practiced in private. As an example, The Holy Rosary is also a private devotion.  We expect further guidance from Bishop Rhoades on what is allowed and what is not.   We would be wise to follow his guidance.  Obedience is of the utmost importance in these matters.

The Holy Family is the model for us as we fight against the attack on the family and loss of purity which has ravaged our nation and world.   Our response will determine the future of the devotion and our nation.  Let us take comfort and encouragement and move forward with Faith and trust.  What has happened is a great mercy and blessing. 

Continue to spread the devotion.  The prayers and medals have been specifically allowed by the statement.  Keep praying that we may all respond to her call and that Our Lady’s hope for our nation is fulfilled.  Especially, pray for these Bishops!

More to come…

36 Comments

  1. Beautiful article! Very scholarly and very encouraging!

  2. Mary Lynn Michalak

    This is wonderful! I learned about Our Lady of AMERICA very recently. I reside in the Diocese of Toledo, St Rose Perrysburg. I immediately printed Her image and displayed it in our home. I pray Her Rosary daily and the intercessary prayer. Purity is mandatory in this era of madness and She asks America’s youth to lead the way. Through the Mercy of God I pray that this is so.

  3. Malindia Lentz

    Thank you! This is very encouraging. I live in Midland, Michigan (where the flooding has been), and when the state was first shut down by Covid-19, many people were putting the Divine Mercy image on their doors—facing out. I live in an apartment, and have an image of Divine Mercy on my living room wall…so I put an Our Lady of America image in my living room window facing the street. I think Our Lady has some big, undeniable miracles in store for this country! God bless you for all you do!

    • Mary Buser

      Thank you. I will continue to pray and hope that Our Lady of America will intervene for our nation

  4. Henry J. Knapp

    In the interest of credibility, the author of this article should identify her/himself (i.e. name, location, role in the process, etc.).

    • ahlangse

      Dear Henry,
      I am Albert Langsenkamp, the publisher of this website and author of the blog post.
      God Bless

  5. Thank you for this article! The recent articles at CNA and Catholic World Report gave a negative impression of the latest findings and so your excellent explanation of the situation was like a breath of fresh air. Thank you! I will continue to pray the OL of America prayers, wear the medal and keep an image of her in my home.

    Our Lady of America, pray for us!

  6. All praise, honor, glory, and thanksgiving be to God! Thank you so much for this extensive and illuminative article, Mr. Albert Langsenkamp. Our Lady of America is the inspiration and hope our country urgently needs. May God’s Most Holy and Divine Will be done!

  7. Bernadette Shonka, Obl.S.B.

    Thank you for the update. Perhaps my CHAPLET to Our Lady of America will get official approval of a bishop before too much longer. I had great encouragement last year when Cardinal Burke indicated he would have approved, but lacked the authority – must be done by a bishop. 🙂

  8. Sharon

    Dear Mr. Langsenkamp:
    I have been wearing the medal since i first read these messages over 15 years ago. Is it possible to purchase more medals? The attraction that people of every age and from every walk of life, have to it is unprecedented and i would like to be able to offer them to more souls of great Faith who would like to wear one.
    Sharon

    • ahlangse

      Dear Sharon,
      The medals are available from us and other sources as well. The Bishop’s Statement explicitly allows for the medals to be worn.
      Please see our Shop page

  9. G

    Things are in her hands, we need to be alert and obedient to her message, and pray.

  10. Wanda Glitz

    We also have had an image of Our Lady of America posted on our front window for several years now. It hangs by the red/white/blue banner with 3 stars for our adult children serving in the military. I wear the medal around my neck with my other religious medals and crucifix. My husband does, too!

    I converted to Catholicism in 1997 and learned first of OLOA while reading about a group promoting her (in CRISIS magazine.) My husband converted in 1998. We have visited her and prayed to her in Washington, DC at the JPII Cultural Center. We have prayed for years that our Bishops will respond to her request to process her into the Basilica and save America while there is still time.

    I was wearing the banner across my shoulders last year while praying at the abortion clinic. An SUV swerved aggressively at me (I was standing at the edge of the curb) and actually hit the banner hung over my shoulders. I believe she protected me from being hit. Yes, a police report was filed and the Thomas More Society took our testimonies. The driver was never found although a complete investigation was done.

    Our country needs her intercession now more than ever since the beginning of the devotion. I believe the miracles will soon follow.

    Our Lady of America, Pray for us!

  11. Anne Zachary

    I’m very pleased to learn that Bishop Thomas Olmsted, of the Diocese of Phoenix , Arizona is a member of the commission ! How truly fitting , and testament of his deep dedication to renewal of the Family,as evidenced in ,“An Apostolic Exhortation to the Husbands and Wives, Mothers and Fathers of the Diocese of Phoenix“ . Our Blessed Mother has asked us all to make reparations for the attacks on the Family , especially here in America! Let us heed her call!

  12. Mary

    Was there any mention in regards to the teachings/messages from Sr. Ephrem’s spiritual experiences, whether these may be shared with others? I have read from a previous email containing the bishops findings that they didn’t find anything contrary to the teachings of the church in her notes/writings. Does this enable us to share them with others? Of course noting they were the fruit of her personal relationship with God.

    If you could please get back to me on this I would so appreciate it.

    • ahlangse

      Dear Mary,
      Yes, the diary of messages may be shared. You may download them free of charge here.

  13. Fr. Nathan Malavolti, TOR

    Thank you for a very well done article! I continue to have Our Lady of America’s image in my friary room, and daily ask for Her protection on our country at this perilous time! May God bless the good work you are doing!

  14. Thank you, Albert, for your careful explaination. I also have had a great
    devotion to Mother Mary under her title of Our Lady of America. My deep devotion to dear St.Joseph is what drew me to learn more about this devotion. St. Joseph will see that his family will receive their proper reverence according to the holy Will of God.

  15. Lynn

    Wonderful article , Al! As you know, I have watched and prayed for years hoping for a positive outcome…
    I will continue to hope and pray that Our Lady’s requests are able to be fulfilled.
    It was really important for me to hear from you in order to understand correctly the bishops’ response. And all of the help and kindnesses they have extended to you and to this devotion. You have done outstanding work. Thank you so very much. May Heaven greatly reward you for all you have done . I am exceedingly grateful. May our country be blessed by this devotion beyond anything we can imagine!!!

  16. Let it be known that last year my In Dwelling felt a calling to get men back at the Altar and start praying against all principalities of darkness with St Joseph leading us. I met a Brother friar named Brother Victario in August of 2018 in Albuquerque where we stayed in touched with one another. Last year before he left I told him about Our Lady of America and the Men’s group which started on May 2019 he told me he had something to share and stepped out to go get something. When he came back he showed me a book from the Tan book company called “ Manuel for Men “ and now I read this article and I knew only one of these Bishops, Bishop Rhodes of conversations with his office but never with him. The one who wrote the Manuel for Men was none other than the Bishop of Phoenix Bishop Thomas Olmsted. I did not know he was also one of the investigator of this cause. The point is many given signs for me till my last breath to be humble and fight the good fight for Her cause and a new friend. Last thing , calling Men of His Holy Church to rise and come to the Altar and pray with St Joseph as The Protecter of Jesus Holy Church against all darkness as Bishop Olmsted said in the Manuel time to dig in the trenches . Viva el Christo Rey and Ave Maria .

  17. Josh Butts

    I love this article! I think it gives a great commentary of the situation while promoting the apparition and simultaneously respecting the Bishops

  18. Margaret Mason

    I have been praying for years for the Bishop’s approval. Will continue to pray for more encouraging news soon.
    Thank you for bringing us all the updates for years.
    Bless you

  19. Dear Al-
    I write in thanksgiving for your very well prepared analysis of the Church’s position on Our Lady of America. I encourage you to pursue with vigor the parameters of “private devotion.” The Catholic Media Coalition would again like to invite our bishops to join the laity in praying the rosary for many graces during their meeting in the fall, and under the patronage of Our Lady of America. Bishop Mark Brennan of Wheeling-Charleston, West Virginia; Bishop Joseph Coffee of the U.S. Military Services,; and Bishop Joseph Strickland of Tyler, Texas led our rosaries last November under Our lady of America’s banner, and it would be good to repeat our prayers this year if permissible. Also- the Veil of Innocence web site would like to foster prayer for the protection of the innocence of children under the patronage of Our Lady of America – again- if permissible. This note is sent with profound gratitude for your perseverance and continued generosity.

  20. Thank you, Al, not only for this fine article, but also for your devotion, investment and work on this . God bless you and yours!!

  21. Marilyn Morton

    I have been to the site of the apparition in Rome City and I believe in it ! I have seen the wall in the bedroom weep oil on a daily basis and have heard of some of the “miracles” My hope is that the good that has come from this they will approve it.

  22. Rita Schneider

    I am so very happy that this devotion is permitted by the bishops. The prayer cards were given free at some point and I gave them out to many people who were at St. Patrick’s Cathedral. I wear the medal and now will pray the prayers on the prayer card every day. I have the statue of Our Lady of America in my bedroom and don’t know where I purchased this. Perhaps you can purchase this statue at a Catholic shop. I will pray for all those bishops who approved this devotion.
    God Bless America!

  23. Fr Elias Mills

    Ave Maria ! Dear Mr. Langsenkamp, It seems that the late Archbishop Leibold would not have given permission for Sister Mary Ephrem’s messages to be disseminated if he did not believe them to be of supernatural origin. Why give approval for some sister’s pious reflections? Sister Mary Ephrem presented them to the Archbishop as messages from Our Lady and he gave approval for them to be disseminated with that in mind. Seems this a step backward than forward. I also question the theological rigor and competence of some of the bishops doing the investigating when they have a problem with St. Joseph being called a “Coredeemer” with Christ? If St Paul and the rest of us can be a Coredeemers with Christ, why is it not appropriate to call the Foster Father of Our Lord a Coredeemer? Sounds more like politics than theology. If we are looking for miracles to prove its supernatural origin then the bishops have to practice obedience to Her request of having Her image taken in solemn procession and enshrined in a place of honor in the Basilica Shrine of the Immaculate Conception before they will see miracles greater than Fatima and Lourdes combined. We are suppose to test every spirit. Let us do what She asks and see what happens? You would think the bishops just out of curiosity would like to see miracles greater than Fatima and Lourdes combined, but as this virus has shown, if seems many of them have more faith in “science” than the supernatural. This statement does not move us forward, and a standstill, is just as good as going backwards. Ave Maria!

  24. Keep praying to the Blessed Virgin Mary and her intersession.

  25. My Dear Friend Al
    It is such a pleasure to read with a swollen heart the words you and I have discussed many times over the last few years. Concerning Our Lady of America’s Devotion.
    Again, I applaud you and your troops ( Jean, Mike, Kevin) for your hard work you have already completed for Our Lady during the legal battles and renovation at the Center.
    That enormous battle you endured won for us. the gifts of Her Messages, Her Prayers, Her Statue and Medal which are rightly given to All her children of America. from “Our Lady of America.” Without your dedication and love towards Our Lady we may have lost her forever to a commercial world.
    Most of all, I give Thanks for the courage and generosity the Bishops showed towards Our Lady and this Devotion. I hope they will continue to direct us on the best way for devotees to proceed in harvesting the fruits this “Private Devotion “ which will produce great things for our children, our families and our nation.
    As you know Our Lady works on Her own Timeline. I have the feeling that the timeline has accelerated greatly with the Bishops decision.
    I look forward to seeing how Our Lady will intercede and lead us to peace.
    Gloria

  26. Steve Koob

    I’m convinced that the US bishops have not done their part to purify our and their lives as Mary requested through Sister Mildred and AB Leibold. They need to be the spiritual leaders that their Vicar of Christ title demands of them. How?
    By preaching and teaching the moral truths that lead to the purity that OLoA came to promote. What impurities have been accepted in our Church and culture and go unchallenged?
    Contraception (all methods, including sterilization) leads the way to abortion, homosexual sodomy, pornography, and a long litany of other evils that flow from disrespect for the Creator and the gift of Life: suicide (all forms), in-vitro-fertilization, embryonic stem-cell-research, use of aborted babies for research and vaccines, so-called “brain death,” surrogacy, and all other abuses of the sexual faculties including sex trafficking, sex-texting, LGBTQ ideology, gender change, etc., etc.
    WE need to challenge our bishops to challenge us to reform our lives: Catholic members of he healthcare professions to address offenses to the Hippocratic Oath, Natural Law and bioethics principles; Catholic lawyers and legislators to conform the law to God’s Laws; Catholic theologians to seek, find and proclaim TRUTH that is Jesus–the way, truth and life; priests (all levels) to celebrate the Sacred Liturgy (the source and summit of our Faith) with maximum reverence and humility by following the instructions of Cardinal Sarah, so they and we can have the graces necessary to know and follow the TRUTH .

    • Veronica Haesler

      There is a newspaper called Focus which addresses all these concerns. The May 21st issue surprised me. I was not aware that the teachers unions have destroyed all religious freedom in our public schools. This weekly paper really surprised me relating the history of the moral decay in our society and explains the link of adolescent suicide from the Classes on death , sex education and other cultural differences promoting their progressive ideology disguised as free thinking democracy. I highly recommend it.

  27. I am getting more interest and devotion to our Lady of America-the immaculate conception

  28. Veronica Haesler

    This advancement is amazing… finally. I received free prayer cards and a booklet telling the story of this amazing apparition several years ago from Angels Crossing our religious store in Wilmington, DE. My mother and I felt such grace after reading the story. We used the prayer card and shared them with friends. This news explains alot.

Leave a Reply

Theme by Anders Norén

 

SUBSCRIBE TO NEWSLETTER!