Fraternite Notre Dame | San Francisco

Fraternite Notre Dame: Wisconsin, USA

Wisconsin, USA

For several years, Most Reverend Bishop Jean Marie and his religious have been giving food to the poor at the entrance of this humble Hermitage in Wisconsin. Whatever the weather: sunny, rainy, snowy, icy or slippery, the poor are welcomed and receive their food pantry box in the prairie; meaning in the open air!
But Bishop Jean Marie had pity on these families in need and the elderly, so he decided to build a welcome house with a kitchen for them, and adding... a church to also attend to the souls in confusion.
This past winter, the Bishop bravely laid out the foundation for the new building, leading his religious in the same fervor that animates him to relieve the poor and save the souls while performing the Will of God!
Now, what is his budget like? As usual; nonexistent! And where is the energy coming from? It is God-sent and in abundance, does not recede in front of any difficulty!
Bishop Jean Marie is happy, despite the poverty of our Work, which compels us to work hard with our own hands and build from the sweat of our brows. By the winter's early signs, while the Priests and Friars were using the last concrete mix truck, a white blanket of snow softly descended, as if to preserve until spring the beginnings of what was to become a Shrine to Divine Mercy!
While the sun of the new 2017 season timidly started rising, Bishop Jean Marie with his Friars and Priests set to the task again. A new construction method adopted by Bishop Jean Marie allowed us to raise the walls of this edifice meant for God's glory in just a few days, almost too quickly for you to catch your breath!
Meanwhile, more snow and ice pellets slowed us down a bit, along with a lack of finances, torrential rains pouring down the mountains into our valley, not far from the flooding river, with vehicles breaking down and sometimes uncooperative people, slowed our efforts. There were trials upon trials in close succession, as if to stall the construction, but Bishop Jean Marie did not lose his courage, much to the contrary. With outstanding patience, he and his Brothers, worked his way through the various ordeals and a hectic schedule, replete with spiritual retreats and ceremonies to be held.
You can see them, doing the roof of the soup kitchen and of the little monastic store, and finally, the high-pitched roof of the church! The angle is definitely sharp and steep and you must be in your best shape to climb to the top of it under a scorching sun!
Courage indeed is required to raise the long wooden beams, one by one, which will cap the church in such a rustic, distinctive charm, with its small steeple and bell which we christened Marie Madeleine. The mission of the bell is to ring out unceasingly and implore Divine Mercy for the souls of this area!
For the whole duration of the construction, all the Religious take turns for Eucharistic Adoration on the very spot, and they pray for their benefactors, for visitors and for all of Bishop Jean Marie's intentions. In short, in an endless monk's labor, day and night, Bishop Jean Marie and the Religious would lay down to rest in the early morning hours tired out, but would get back up, just as exhausted and crushed, but God's Love gave them wings to complete this Shrine to Divine Mercy!
The point is to meet the scheduled date for the Pilgrimage and Consecration of the Church, which Bishop Jean Marie has set to September 8th, 2017. A challenge that will require all heavenly forces, because our good Father's faith and trust are boundless.
Just imagine the blessed site under construction: Friars here and there; Friars up on the roof and down on the floors; Friars in the fields and Friars on machinery, or in front of the exposed Blessed Sacrament or on the scaffolding, changing tasks as required by the job: tile or brick layer, electrician, plumber, cooling and heating installer, roofer or carpenter; marble or mosaic layer... or whatever.
The religious seemed to have doubled in numbers and Bishop Jean Marie was everywhere simultaneously, distributing cold drinks: on the road, in the church, or giving advice.
There he is even, compacting the base material for the parking lot with a compactor roller, while Father Marie Samuel, operating an excavator, is laying gravel or going back and forth to dig further along the buildings, also preparing an outdoor oratory to Our Lady of Guadalupe.
Our Nuns were also busy as bees, cleaning up, painting and sanding, or tying up and sorting things out, even laying sod to round up the active atmosphere of the busy bee hive.
Over just a few summer weeks, an incredible, extraordinary and stupefying work was to be realized, impossible to complete by human standards, when the job really required an additional 6 months' work. But with goodwill, courage and God's grace, everything is possible!
Some people who travel this road on a daily basis have testified on the day-by-day evolution of the building that they did not expect such a beautiful finish. The outside appearance would change with every hour, turning more beautiful, suddenly adorned with new stucco or mosaics from Lebanon: Our Lady of Frechou, St Charbel, St Michael the Archangel, along with two guardian angels by the entrance, and to finish, the coat of arms of His Excellency, Bishop Jean Marie on the front of the church, and with little ceramic oratories of Saints all round the church, constantly inviting the faithful to prayer. Some French pilgrims, along with our Tertiaries, have contributed their work and faithful friendship to this construction, and we thank them wholeheartedly.
Finally, Bishop Jean Marie welcomed Mother Marie Faustina and Sister Marie Fabienne with their precious load of church stained glass windows, handcrafted using techniques from the 12th century. A work of patience that they have realized over several months, in silence and prayer at Notre Dame Monastery.
Each piece is artistically worked, classified and assembled with the rest of the design, very carefully. Finally, the moment had come to set them up in the openings prepared for each one of them, with the help of His Excellency Bishop Jean Marie and Father Marie Samuel. A masterpiece of colors for the eyes and soul to behold; they can be admired in the daytime as well as at night, from within the building just as from without: a unique peculiarity of this type of stained glass window.
Henceforth, the Saints in the shining glass are there, surrounding us with their heavenly presence: St Francis and St Clare; St Joseph Calasanz, St Vincent de Paul, St Teresa of Avila, St Rita and St Philomena, St Alphonsus Mary Liguori and St Louis Marie Grignon de Montfort, St Joan of Arc, Our Lady and the Holy Spirit. For a long time, our religious have been taking time out of their nights of sleep to prolong their labor to finish every detail.
Even on the very eve of the Ceremony, our Brothers and Sisters were full of excitement and Bishop Jean Marie, paying attention to every detail, transformed the large monastic work site after storing away hundreds of tools, into a very clean, welcoming place, a masterpiece artfully orchestrated that gives to every instrument its role to play, in order to perform the most beautiful of symphonies.
During the night between Sept. 7th and 8th, in a very solemn ceremony, Bishop Jean Marie consecrated the church with all the Friars, Nuns and Priests present around him outside the church, while the Feast of the Most Blessed Virgin Mary's Nativity was approaching.
Bishop Jean Marie struck the bottom of the door thrice, saying: "Open up, eternal doors, so the King of Glory may enter". And inside, the Deacon replied to him: "but Who is this King of Glory?" and we all answered, "The Almighty Lord is this King of Glory."
Crosier in hand, Bishop Jean Marie consecrated this place to Divine Mercy and crossed the threshold of this Shrine, to complete the rites of Church Dedication and celebrate the First Mass.
All the walls and floors were shining, ornate with glossy marble, reflecting the lights from the Sanctuary, and when the French and American pilgrims trod the ground of the Hermitage during the Solemn Mass of His Excellency Bishop Jean Marie at the Shrine, a silence full of emotion overflowed from their hearts.
The Merciful Christ, represented by a majestic picture frame above the altar, awaits with love all these visiting pilgrims, having to his right the statue of The Immaculate, His Mother; and to his left, Saint Mary Faustina, the Confidante of His Mercy.
Bishop Jean Marie addresses the audience with emotion, reminding them of the importance of Works of Mercy for the relief of so much misery and sufferings in the world, and how our religious dedicate to it on a daily basis.
The organ and songs make the place resound, accompanied by Diana and Corinne at the violins; they came from Chicago and cause the hearts of all the faithful to vibrate. Many of the pilgrims have come from very far, along with our Sisters from France, The Réunion and Martinique Islands, Niger, New York and San Francisco, to attend the ceremony.
The Most Blessed Virgin Mary was awaiting her beloved children and will have fulfilled them with graces for their trip, their families and their health!
Some pilgrims and our Tertiaries will even come back after nightfall to admire the Shrine by night with its exterior lights, giving a testimony that God is watching over His children at all times.
Some prayers are still rising up, for the intentions of our benefactors, who have their very names written there in the church, and of all those who, directly or indirectly, have contributed their help, their sacrifices, their suffering and their work, to erect this blessed Shrine, and make of it a peaceful and recollected place, meant for the salvation of souls and relief of the bodies.

Mother Marie Martha + snd.

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