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Our Lady of Good Help, Pray for Us.

Rev. Peter Stryker, CPM, Rector, Shrine of Our Lady of Good Help

Rev. Peter Stryker, CPM, Rector, Shrine of Our Lady of Good Help

By Rev. Peter R. Stryker, CPM, Rector, Shrine of Our Lady of Good Help

Growing up in Cincinnati, Ohio, I was blessed with two brothers and three sisters! And not long after I arrived to serve here at the Shrine of Our Lady of Good Help, one of my sisters said to me: “I’ll bet Dad had something to do with your new assignment!”

Excellent observation! Our Dad died at the age of 98 in 2008, and along with Mom he always gave us Stryker children a wonderful example of devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary and her Rosary. I can remember all of us frequently kneeling together and praying the Rosary in our living room. The Rosary is the wonderful Gospel Prayer, and praying it always brings us into deeper friendship with Christ Jesus, our Heavenly Father, and the Holy Spirit. And of course, families that pray together stay together!

When it came to discerning my vocation to religious life and the priesthood, I entrusted the entire journey to Mary. It was only after I entered the Fathers of Mercy that I learned Pope Gregory XVI, in 1834, explicitly placed our recently formed community under the protection of the Immaculate Conception. The Fathers of Mercy are, indeed, a Marian religious community!

Here at the Shrine of Our Lady of Good Help, it is a constant joy to see so many pilgrims and other visitors entrusting their needs and intentions to the Queen of Heaven, the Mother of God! Mary’s words to Adele Brise in 1859 remain an urging and challenge for each of us: Gather the children in this wild country and teach them what they should know for salvation.”


Given that things are still kind of wild in this country, we all do well, to the best of our ability, to study, live, and teach our Catholic faith. And we do that best when we do it with the Mary, the Queen of Heaven, assisting us along our walk with Jesus toward greater holiness and true happiness!

Our Lady of Good Help, pray for us!

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Gather The Children in This Wild Country…

By Joe Tremblay, Director of Adult Faith Formation, Green Bay Diocese,  jtremblay@gbdioce.org.


In 1859, when the Blessed Virgin Mary appeared to Adele in North East Wisconsin, times were tough. It wasn’t uncommon for pioneers to die from starvation and from the harsh, cold Wisconsin winters. One could say, without the least bit of exaggeration, that the basic necessities of life were hard to come by. Although heaven is not indifferent to the bodily and material needs of mortals, the help that Our Lady came to provide did not have anything to do with food or clothing. The message she came to deliver to the young immigrant from Belgium was short and to the point: there was work to be done. There were settlers who were in need of conversion.

Nevertheless, history proves that people are most open to the truths of the Gospel in times of crisis; especially when their physical well-being is in question. In fact, twelve years after the apparition in October of 1871, the greatest natural disaster in North American history was to threaten Adele and the Catholic community in Robinsonville, Wisconsin. The disaster was none other than the Peshtigo Fire. In fact, it raged across a 2,400 square mile area and killed anywhere from 1,500 to 2,500 people. According to The Compass News, Fr. Pernin, an eye witness to the fire, wrote about what he saw in his memoir. “The Finger of God Was There,” he said. “I chanced to look either to the right or left, before me or upwards, I saw nothing but flames … I  saw nothing but immense volumes of flames covering the firmament, rolling one over the other with stormy violence …”(February 17, 2011)  But some Catholics had gathered where the Blessed Virgin Mary appeared in October of 1859. Through a rosary procession around the Chapel, they implored her for help.

To make a long story short, help came. The chapel, the convent, the school, the five acres of land and all who gathered there were miraculously spared from the “stormy violence.” But the good help came- the really good help came –twelve years earlier when Our Lady instructed Adele to save souls from a far worse fate; namely, spiritual death. She said, “Gather the children in this wild country and teach them what they should know for salvation.”

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Thoughts of St. Joseph

By Rev. James Bernard Herring, O. Praem., JCD, Ph.D., St. Norbert Abbey


I go back to my days in grade school at Gesu, St. Elizabeth and St. Benedict in Philadelphia. When going into the Church I was always drawn to the three altars at the end of the great aisle: the Tabernacle in the middle, our Blessed Mother to the right, and St. Joseph on the left. The image of St. Joseph with the child Jesus in one arm and the stick with white lilies at the top of it always intrigued me. The “good sisters” would explain that St. Joseph was the foster father of Jesus and the protector of the Holy Family. In the school pageants at Christmas, it was the “best” boy who was picked to be St. Joseph.

I looked to St. Joseph as the model for fatherly love. I guess he was the man to emulate and I still pray to him to be my guide in my life as a priest: “Dear St. Joseph, give me the strength and courage to follow Jesus with love and fidelity.” How fortunate we Norbertines are to have his Shrine at the Abbey – to have the opportunity to visit and pray there at any time of the day and night.

St. Joseph is called by many titles. In the Litany of St. Joseph, we call out to him invoking many of those titles ascribed to him as our patron and advocate before Jesus and His Blessed Mother – our Mother, too. Our beloved abbot of happy memory, Abbot Bernard Pennings, O. Praem., turned to St. Joseph when faced with his deepest challenges; I too, have turned to St. Joseph since my days in Catholic grade school to the present when faced with my deepest challenges.

St. Joseph is a true saint for all, but especially for boys and men. He gave his trust to God in following God’s plan for His Son, Jesus. St. Joseph stood by his spouse, Mary, when others might have urged him to abandon her. St. Joseph brought up his foster son as his own. He was a humble man of great stature, deservedly the Patron of the Universal Church.

“St. Joseph pray for us, pray for our children, pray for our teachers and schools, pray for parents…keep us safe so we may walk in your footsteps as first teachers in the lives of our children.”

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IMPORTANT Logistical Information


Attention all Walk to Mary participants.  You need to read this information so you know what to do, where to go, and what to bring.  We recommend you print this out and use it as a handy reference.

Pilgrim packets need to be picked up at Rock Garden Conference Center/Comfort Suites from noon until 8 pm, Friday, May 3rd.

Overnight accommodations – Rooms can be reserved at one of our sponsors.  We have a block of rooms set aside – Comfort Suites has rooms available only on Friday night – Holiday Inn Express Green Bay East has rooms available on Friday and Saturday.

Start times vary by location.  It is important to arrive at your start location early enough to park and prepare for your journey.

  • National Shrine of St. Joseph – If you are starting your journey at the National Shrine of St. Joseph at St. Norbert Abbey you should arrive in plenty of time to park your car, use rest rooms, fill up your water bottle, etc.  A short liturgical service will start at 6:45 am inside the Abbey Church.  Confessions are being offered before the liturgical service.  If you want to go to confession you might arrive at 6 am.  The Walk will begin at approximately 7 am.
  • St. Peter and Paul Parish – If you are joining in at this point you should be ready to go around 9am.  The Pilgrims should arrive at St. Peter and Paul somewhere around 8:45 – 9 am.  Pilgrims will refill water bottles and use rest rooms.  We will take a 15 minute break.  We should start walking again around 9:15 – 9:30 am.  Please be ready to go.  Parking is available at St. Peter and Paul and across the street at Nicolet Elementary School.
  • University of Wisconsin – Green Bay – If you are joining in at this point you should be ready to go around 10:45am.  The Pilgrims should arrive at UW – Green Bay around 10:45.  Pilgrims will refill water bottles and use rest rooms.  We will only take a very short break since our lunch stopping point at Holy Cross School is only about 1 hour further.  Parking is available near the soccer fields on east side of the campus.  Our “join in” point is slightly east of the intersection of S. Circle Drive and Leon Bond Drive.
  • Holy Cross Parish – If you are joining in at this point you should arrive around 11:30 am and enjoy lunch.  The Pilgrims should arrive at approximately 11:45 am.  Pilgrims will stop for lunch, rest, refill water bottles, use rest rooms and then get ready to board buses to be transported across HWY 57.  At this point we will wait for all Pilgrims who have been walking so that we board buses and get transported across HWY 57 as close together as possible.  After crossing HWY 57 we hope to begin walking again at approximately 1:30 pm.

Statue of Our Blessed Mother – We will carry Our Blessed Mother the entire route.  We will need volunteers to carry the statue.  It is a very light weight statue securely placed upon a sturdy 4 person carrier.  Volunteers will take turns carrying Our Blessed Mother – every mile or two or when the volunteers get tired a new shift will be needed.  Please pray about whether you’d like to volunteer.

Courtesy Vans – 2 courtesy vans will be available to assist Pilgrims who struggle to complete the walk. Pilgrims can notify safety personnel who will arrange transportation back to their starting point.  The courtesy vans will operate from the National Shrine of St. Joseph to Holy Cross School.

Slow Walkers – For the safety of our walkers, if there are slow walkers (having difficulty keeping pace with the rest of the Pilgrims), the Walk to Mary Executive Committee reserves the right to pick up the slow walkers and transport them forward to meet up with the other walkers.  There are several points where we have contracted with Public Safety Officials to escort us and provide additional safety for us.  We all need to remain together as best as possible to obtain efficient use of Public Safety Officials.

Sweeper Buses – After being transported across HWY 57 we will begin walking east on Van Lanen Rd to County Line Road to CTY K.  These roads will be closed to through traffic.  To assist with fatigued walkers there will be buses following the walking Pilgrims throughout these final 7 miles of our journey.  If a Pilgrim becomes fatigued they can easily jump on the bus and finish the pilgrimage in the bus.  The bus will slowly follow the walking Pilgrims to the Shrine of Our Lady of Good Help.

Temporary Parking For Those Attending Mass But Not Walking – please advise those who are not walking but want to go to the Shrine of Our Lady of Good Help to greet the Pilgrims and/or attend mass that there will be limited parking at the Shrine.  These people should park at an abandon MOBIL station on the northeast side of the intersection of HWY 57 and HWY 54.  Buses will transport people to the Shrine from the temporary parking location from 3pm – 5pm.

Bus Departures at Shrine of Our Lady of Good Help – Buses will take people back to the temporary parking location, Holy Cross School, UW – Green Bay, St. Peter and Paul Parish and St. Norbert Abbey.  There will be several “Early Departure” buses leaving the Shrine before mass to accommodate those who cannot stay for mass (time will be flexible based on when Pilgrims arrive).  In addition there will be “Late Departure” buses leaving the Shrine after mass.  There will be a bus departure board at the Shrine identifying buses and departure schedules.

Right to Cancel Pilgrimage – the Walk to Mary Executive Committee reserves the right to cancel the pilgrimage at any time during the pilgrimage due to severe weather or a catastrophic situation.

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Trial Run Reveals Insights

By Pat Deprey, Walk to Mary – Event Director, pat.deprey@walktomary.com.


5 Steps to a Successful Pilgrimage

A couple of weekends ago, Gary Kozloski, one of the 3 organizers of the event and I walked the Walk to Mary route.  Well, I have to admit, Gary walked the whole route and I met him at the first “join in” point – SS Peter and Paul Church.  On Divine Mercy Sunday I walked from the National Shrine of St. Joseph at St. Norbert Abbey (the start) to SS Peter and Paul Church so I already experienced the first phase of our journey.  It is absolutely beautiful, walking early in the morning along the shores of the Fox River, experiencing the beauty of God’s creation.  Gary felt the same way.  What a way to begin our pilgrimage.  However, every phase of our journey has different beautiful characteristics.  We will even walk by an eagle’s nest up in a tree in the middle of a farmer’s field.  Gary and I wondered how eagles pick their nesting place.

Gary left at 7 am from the National Shrine of St. Joseph, just like we will, and together, at 2:30pm, we arrived at the Shrine of Our Lady of Good Help, tired and exhausted.  We didn’t stop and rest like we will on our May 4th journey, so arriving early doesn’t accurately reflect our planned schedule.  However, what our bodies told us represents quite accurately what all of you will feel and experience.  This journey will not be as easy as you think.

Allow me to explain it this way.  Gary, who has completed 24 Birkebeiner 50 kilometer ski races, numerous century bike rides (100 miles), several triathlons and long distance runs, admits the Walk to Mary is as challenging as many of the events he’s experienced.  I have to confess I had lower leg (calf muscle) cramping issues 4 miles down Van Lanen Road.  We only had 3 miles to go to the Shrine of Our Lady of Good Help.  I had to stop, drink more water and stretch before I was able to continue.  We are sharing our experiences to help, not to scare you.  Here are the key things we learned and thought about:

  1. Be prepared – train by walking regularly and walk for longer distances.
  2. If anyone is questioning whether they can make the entire journey we’d recommend you “join in” at a point along the way to make the journey shorter (SS Peter and Paul Parish – 17 miles, UW-Green Bay – 10 miles, Holy Cross School – 7 miles).  We will have transportation available if anyone feels they can’t complete the event, and medical staff to consult with any issues.  The Walk to Mary event will be held each year on the first Saturday of May.  You can try the whole route next year after you experience what this pilgrimage will be like.
  3. Dress properly for the weather.  Dress in layers.  Bring a back pack to carry your clothes.  Make sure you bring a water bottle.  WE WILL EMBARK ON OUR JOURNEY RAIN OR SHINE!  Bring along a poncho and/or rain gear.  We both took clothes off and put them back on numerous times during our journey.  When the wind picks up walking along the ledge overlooking Green Bay it can get to be quite chilly.  A hat to shield you from the sun and keep your head warm is also important.
  4. Good fitting, broken in shoes are critical.  Good cushiony socks are key.  I plan to bring an extra pair.  If it is raining, keeping your feet dry will be necessary.
  5. Stretch your leg and back muscles each time you have a chance.  We have periodic rest stops on the route.  Use them to stretch!
  6. Drink plenty of water during the event and starting for days before our journey.  You must remain hydrated or you will experience cramping, like I did.  To make sure your potassium levels are proper eat a banana or two.  I plan to bring a banana along.
  7. I wear contacts and my eyes got dry by being outside that long.  I plan to bring some rewetting solution along so my eyes remain moist.  Sunglasses are also a must.  You will be outdoors in the elements for many hours so it is important to keep your eyes protected.
  8. My lips got dry from the wind.  I plan to bring along some lip moisturizer.
  9. I applied sun screen before our journey.  This is highly recommended.
  10. After 4 knee surgeries with only half my knee cartilage remaining I wish I would have had some Ibuprofen along.  I plan to bring some along and use it for pain relief, if necessary.
  11. We both brought some snacks along.  The extra boost in energy really helped.  Apples, bananas, nuts, raisins, peanut butter crackers are all good to bring along.  We’ll stop for lunch at Holy Cross School.  We didn’t.  We ate some of our snacks instead and kept walking.

I hope sharing our experiences helped you.  Our Walk to Mary committees and volunteers have been working hard to keep you safe and free of injury.  May God bless you as you prepare for your journey from St. Joseph to Our Blessed Mother which will ultimately lead you closer to Jesus!

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Walk to Mary Prayer


The following prayer was submitted to us by Rev. Francis Hoffman “Fr. Rocky”, Executive Director of Relevant Radio.

Dear Father in heaven,

  • just as the three Kings journeyed from the East to find Christ;
  • just as Jesus, Mary and Joseph traveled by foot from Nazareth to the Temple in Jerusalem;
  • just as Peter and James and John hiked up the mountain all day with the Lord;
  • just as Christian Pilgrims have trekked across Europe and the Middle East to the Holy Places;
  • just as Blessed John Paul II voyaged to all mankind to find Christ and bring Christ;
  • So too we set forth on foot today, starting at the National Shrine of St. Joseph and Walking to Mary, to visit the grounds made holy by Our Lady of Good Help, Queen of Heaven, as we commit ourselves to answering her call to “teach the children what they need to know for their salvation.”

May the archangel Raphael accompany us on our pilgrimage, may our guardian angels protect us, and may we know the joy of the presence of God throughout the day as we rejoice in the gift of life and grace the beauty of your creation.

Through Christ Our Lord. Amen.

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The Queen of Heaven

Our Lady of Good Help

The following is the first in a series written by Joe Tremblay, Director of Adult Faith Formation, Green Bay Diocese,  jtremblay@gbdioce.org.

Not just a lady and not just a mother, but a queen! Wisconsin has bragging rights it has never capitalized on before. A real queen came to visit a young Wisconsin girl named Adele Brise in October of 1859. Indeed, it was Mary, the mother of Jesus Christ, who appeared to her. But she referred to herself–not the queen of any particular nation–but the “Queen of Heaven.” And if she is queen of heaven, she has to be the queen of all of those who reside on the earth as well. We ask her to accompany us and guide as we draw close to Christ. For this reason, she has been given the name of “Our Lady of Good Help.”

Seeing that her children were malnourished in the Faith in 1859, she sought out Adele and instructed her to do the following: “Gather the children in this wild country and teach them what they should know for salvation…” This is Catholic education at its finest. But more is needed. This is why the Blessed Virgin added, “Make a general confession, and offer Communion for the conversion of sinners.” So that the teachings of her Son would take root in souls, she asked Adele to act as an intercessor. To be sure, Our Lady of Good Help not only made Adele into a teacher but she also made her into a living conduit of God’s grace for others. Like Adele, we are not just called to be a beacon of Christ’s light, but also a vessel of his very life.

The Walk to Mary on May 4th is a summons to become a better instrument of Christ’s light and life for a world that so desperately needs it.