Thousands have flocked to the Shrine of Our Lady of Good Help since it became the first and only shrine in the United States to be officially recognized for an apparition of the Blessed Mother. And it will get even more attention next week, when it will be featured in a report by ABC News on Marian apparitions.
“The immediate aftermath was the phone was ringing off the hook,” said Karen Tipps, a caretaker of the shrine in northeastern Brown County. “Right from Dec. 8 on, we never had a slow time this winter.”
People began flocking from across the country in the middle of a harsh Wisconsin winter, coming from as far away as Texas, New Orleans and even the south Pacific island of Tahiti — to pray and pay respects.
Tipps estimates visits have grown tenfold, going from an average 75 to 100 visitors a day to now drawing between 500 to 800, including daily bus tours. Similar in traffic, she said, to what used to be one of the busiest days of the year, the Catholic Feast of the Assumption on Aug. 15.
“It was kind of an eye-opener. It was like Aug. 15, every day for seven days straight,” Tipps said. “Our whole classification of what normal is has changed.”The shrine will even be featured in a primetime ABC “Nightline” documentary at 9 p.m. July 13 that examines the Virgin Mary as a religious icon and visits apparition sites around the world.
The sudden and dramatic intrigue has forced the diocese to play catch-up, adding staff, volunteers and amenities to the small but swamped chapel and beginning to plan for future growth and possible expansion to the site.
“The turnout has been incredible,” said Bishop David Ricken of the Green Bay diocese. “It’s been a wonderful gift to the diocese. So many people are coming, and there are all kinds of reports of answered prayers and healings continuing.”
Photo by: H. Marc Larson / Press-Gazette