Greeting Shrine Pilgrims with Franciscan Sisterly Smile

Sister JulieAnn Sheahan

February 11, 2017

On this feast of  Our Lady of Lourdes, Postulant Megan shares about Sister Mardelle Meinholz’s ministry at Our Lady of Good Help Shrine, Champion, WI.

Imagine visiting a shrine and you have all sorts of questions. While you could read various signs or look for pamphlets to peruse, you wonder if maybe you could just take a few moments and speak with someone about the history and places to visit and pray. At the National Shrine of Our Lady of Good Help in Champion, Wisconsin, that someone with whom you might speak is Sister Mardelle Meinholz.Franciscan Sister Mardelle at Our Lady of Good Help Shrine with Young People

Sister Mardelle started working at the National Shrine of our Lady of Good Help during the summer of 2015. One of her tasks was organizing the creation of a Welcome Center. The Shrine has received a multitude of pilgrims since our Blessed Mother first appeared to Adele Brise in 1859. Visiting pilgrims have increased since the Shrine was recognized as the first officially approved Marian apparition site in the United States. The Welcome Center door opened just in time for the Shrine to publicly receive the national shrine designation conferred by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops this past August. Franciscan Sister Mardelle at Our Lady of Good Help Shrine Champion WI

As catechesis coordinator, Sister Mardelle answers questions, assists with group pilgrimages, creates educational materials, and continues to research Adele Brise and Shrine history. A favorite part of her ministry is the everyday conversations with the pilgrims. People of all faith traditions and from various backgrounds visit the Shrine. Our Lady of Good Help Welcome Center

Sister Mardelle greets pilgrims from California to New Jersey, from India and the Philippines, and from many places in between. Each person expresses interest in different aspects of the Shrine or engages in conversation about a variety of spiritual topics.Our Lady of Good Help Welcome Center 2

Being a Franciscan Sister of Christian Charity, Sister Mardelle continues to share the Franciscan spirituality with the pilgrims. Adele Brise and the women who joined her to “teach the children what they should know for salvation” were Secular Franciscans. After Adele’s death, the diocesan bishop asked the Sisters of St. Francis of the Holy Cross to continue Adele’s ministry at the Shrine. The Franciscan spirituality was definitely present at the Shrine for more than 100 years. Therefore, among the various statues on the grounds is a tribute to St. Francis of Assisi.Our Lady of Good Help Shrine Welcome Center

If you would like to find out more about the National Shrine of our Lady of Good Help and/or possibly visit, please check out While on the Shrine grounds, you might just see Sister Mardelle not only wearing a sisterly smile, but a pair of sunglasses as well.

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