Group spreads Marian messages - Catholic Courier

Group spreads Marian messages

WATERLOO — In 1988 Darlene Duprey decided to make a pilgrimage to Medjugorje, a village in Bosnia-Herzegovina. She’d been reading about reported Marian apparitions there, and these fascinating reports compelled her to visit the village for herself. Her husband, David, was more skeptical, but accompanied Darlene because, as he put it, he was a "protective husband who would not let his wife go to some Communist country by herself."

That pilgrimage changed the Dupreys, who belong to St. Mary Parish in Waterloo, and it gave them a boost in their Catholic faith, they recently told the Catholic Courier.

"It brought back the faith that it’s real; that angels, the Blessed Mother, the saints, it’s all real," said Darlene Duprey, who began praying the rosary with her husband each day after they returned.

"I’ve said my rosary daily," David Duprey said. "Never in my wildest dreams would I have thought I’d be a daily rosary person."

After they returned from their pilgrimage the Dupreys also joined the Queen of Peace Apostolate, an organization founded in the mid-1980s to spread the messages Mary has reportedly shared at Medjugorje, said David Duprey, who now serves as the apostolate’s executive director.

Mary reportedly appeared to six children in Medjugorje in June 1981, according to Catholic News Service. The children continued to report visions of Mary on a regular basis for many years after that, and at least one of the six said she still receives monthly messages from Mary, which are later published online, the news service reported.

The Vatican has not officially passed judgment on whether the Medjugorje apparitions are authentic, according to CNS. Although it has not officially supported the apparitions, neither has it discouraged people from believing in them or making pilgrimages to Medjugorje, according to Father Paul Bonacci, spiritual adviser for the Queen of Peace Apostolate.

"A lot of times with Marian apparitions, there’s not official approval until after the apparitions have ceased," he told the Courier in 2006.

The late Father Albert Shamon, who served in the Finger Lakes region for many years before his death in 2003, is one of several people who founded the apostolate in order to help spread the messages of Medjugorje, David Duprey said. He noted that Father Shamon used to say one could determine the value of something by looking at the fruits it bore, and the reported Marian messages seem to lead people to Christ.

Such was the case for Nelson Acquilano, another member of the apostolate. Curiosity first drew him to learn more about the Marian apparitions at Medjugorje, but the more he studied them the more he felt his faith stirring within him.

"(The messages) were words from Mary that I had never heard before, and it drew me in closer and closer, and it brought me back into the church. It really did solidify my faith," said Acquilano, chairman of the apostolate’s board of directors.

Like that of the Duprey’s, Lena Shipley’s faith also was transformed after a pilgrimage to Medjugorje. Shipley, who now belongs to the apostolate, traveled to Medjugorje years ago with a group of teenagers.

"I think when we all came back, we came back with a sense of mission to spread the messages and become a catalyst," said Shipley, pastoral associate at St. Mary Parish.

Mary’s messages through the children of Medjugorje, who have since grown into adults, invite people to return to a life centered around God, Shipley added. Her messages speak of family love, world peace, conversion, gentleness, love for neighbors and the sanctity of life, and she invites people to reconciliation, repentance, prayer, the sacraments and fasting.

"She said at one time that through prayer and fasting wars can be avoided and the course of nature can be changed," said Acquilano, who hopes to increase awareness of Mary’s messages among Catholics in the Diocese of Rochester.

"Part of our concern is it’s (knowledge of Mary’s messages) dying out in the United States. In Europe people still know about it and it’s vibrant and active," he said. "We want people to know that it’s still alive."

To that end, the Queen of Peace Apostolate sponsors a monthly Queen of Peace Night at St. Dominic Church in Shortsville and a Mass in Waterloo each year on June 25, the anniversary of the reported apparitions. The apostolate also maintains a bimonthly newsletter and a Web site that contains transcripts of many of the messages.

"In every generation God has sent prophets into the world. I think in this day and age the world is in crisis," Shipley said. "God has sent the greatest prophet to bring us back to peace and love. How privileged we are to be witnesses, to be living in this time and to be invited to this apostolate."

EDITOR’S NOTE: For more information about the Queen of Peace Apostolate, visit www.queenofpeaceapostolate.com.

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