Nationally renowned speaker to explain significance of Marian apparitions
SHELBY TOWNSHIP — Lourdes. Guadalupe. Fatima.
Under normal circumstances, these would be ordinary towns. Just names on the map on the way to somewhere more important. But through apparitions of the Blessed Virgin Mary, these names are etched into the minds of billions of Catholics worldwide.
On May 1, St. Therese of Lisieux Parish in Shelby Township will host a man who has studied these apparitions and other miracles attributed to Mary.
Michael O’Neill, the “Miracle Hunter,” will give a presentation on “The Miracles of Mary” at 7 p.m. at the parish. There is no admission fee.
O’Neill researches Marian miracles and has been featured on Relevant Radio, EWTN, Our Sunday Visitor and has his own website, MiracleHunter.com.
O’Neill’s talk will discuss the significance of Marian miracles and their role in the Church.
“Miracles can be a great point of inspiration for people with what they believe and how they experience that belief in life,” O’Neill told The Michigan Catholic. “When it comes to the Virgin Mary, it is a sign for us to draw closer to Christ. Through these intercessions, Mary becomes an important person in human history.”
A graduate of Stanford University and member of the Mariological Society of America, O’Neill has been featured on secular media outlets, including the December 2015 edition of National Geographic magazine’s “Mary: The Most Powerful Woman in the World,” the highest-selling edition of the magazine to date.
O’Neill gives talks at parishes and universities across the country about how Marian miracles are investigated and how Mariology has evolved in the history of the Church.
“People who come to these events are usually Catholic — they usually have a strong devotion to Mary — but they love these inspiring stories,” O’Neill said. “They really feel God is among us, watching out for them, when they learn of how Mary has interceded on our behalf. One of the things I do is explain how the Church investigates Marian apparitions, because most Catholics don’t have a clue.”
O’Neill’s presentation will explore a 1978 Church document, “Norms of the Congregation for Preceding in Judging of Private Revelations and Apparitions,” the official Church rubrics used to determine whether a Marian apparition is worthy of belief.
“Local bishops are the primary authority in recognizing Marian apparitions,” O’Neill said. “If the local bishop needs more help, he goes to the local bishops conference, and then if more help is needed, the Vatican will intervene. In the case of Medjugorje (in Bosnia and Herzegovina), the local bishop said it was a negative, the national conference said maybe, and Benedict XVI’s commission gave a mixed result. In general, the Vatican doesn’t comment.”
For more classic cases of Marian apparitions, such as Lourdes, Fatima or Guadalupe, O’Neill said those are more prominent in Church lore because the pope has established a feast day on the liturgical calendar or has canonized the witnesses of the apparitions.
“There have been many apparitions throughout history,” O’Neill said. “Places like Fatima, Guadalupe and Lourdes had a message for the world, and that’s when the Vatican recognizes it has a universal appeal.”
O’Neill’s book, “Exploring the Miraculous,” and copies of the National Geographic that featured his work will be available for purchase.
Treasures of the Church
On Friday, May 4, at 7 p.m., St. Therese of Lisieux Parish will host Fr. Carlos Martins, CC, and his special ministry, “Treasures of the Church.”
Visitors will have the chance to venerate more than 150 relics, some as old as 2,000 years. The faithful are encouraged to bring articles of devotion, such as rosaries and holy cards, to touch to the reliquaries as a means of intercession.
Fr. Larry Zurawski, pastor of St. Therese of Lisieux, said the two upcoming events are evidence of increasing faith at the parish.
“This year we have seen one of the largest RCIA groups ever, our adult formation programs continue to exceed expectation and the weekend liturgies are growing in attendance,” Fr. Zurawski said. “We feel this is us ‘Unleashing the Gospel,’ as Archbishop Vigneron keeps saying.”