|Sr. Mildred Mary Neuzil (Sr. Mary Ephrem)|
[The webmaster would like to gratefully thank Mr. John Palumbo for compiling this article from various sources. May God reward him for his efforts in promoting devotion to Sr. Mary Neuzil and Our Lady of America.]
Born on the feast of Our Lady, Queen of the Angels
On August 2, 1916, Mildred Marie Neuzil was born of Austrian parents, John and Anna (Smerda) Neuzil. Born in Brooklyn, NY, baptized at Most Holy Trinity, and shortly after moved to Cleveland Ohio. In Austria, her father had been a gardener to Johann Strauss (a renowned Austrian composer), and in America he was a homebuilder.
“My Heart beats with compassion for the sorrows of man. Oh how gladly would I help him bear the weight of his terrible cross, fashioned, for the most part by his own guilt! But alas, he will have none of My help.”
|Sr. Mildred Mary Ephrem Neuzil on August 15, 1964|
Then Our Lord goes on to tell Sister Mary:
“...And since I have found two such souls, I have entrusted to them a great mission.”
'So I come with My cross and My crown of thorns. Will you accept Me, My spouse?'
Of course I accepted,who could refuse Jesus anything?"
”Bride of My Heart do you still wish to suffer all things to give me to souls?”
I answered, “Yes! Yes, dear Lord, I am poor and wretched and unworthy but you know what is in my heart.”
Her confessor, Father Paul Leibold, also progressed in his priesthood. From 1948-1949 he studied Canon Law at the Angelicum University in Rome, there he received Doctor of Canon Law Degree. In 1948 he became Chancellor Archdiocese of Cincinnati and Papal Chamberlain by Holy Father, 1950 Diocesan Consultor and Domestic Prelate by Holy Father, 1951 appointed Archdiocesan Administrative Council 1958 he was promoted to Auxiliary Bishop of Cincinnati, Ohio, and in 1966 he became the Bishop of Evansville,Indiana. On October 2, 1969 he was made Archbishop of Cincinnati.
“My children every home and every soul is My Father’s house, for He made them and they are His, But many of them are no longer sanctified by His presence. Thieves have entered in and stolen from Him, His temples of prayer...If, My children, you will cleanse your temples My Father will return and We will come and make our abode with you.”
“It was like a light in the midst of darkness. The whiteness of his robe stood out against the darkness about him. He was holding a green palm and a drawn sword in his left hand, the tips of both palm and sword resting against his left shoulder. The angel said to me:
'Receive the palm of victory.'
I became suspicious. I could not think of any victory of mine that deserved such a reward. Besides it sounded a bit like flattery to me. I have always been wary of words of praise they put me on my guard...So I shook my head and resolutely went back to my prayers. But the angel would not go away:
'You do not believe me. Will you accept the cross?'
For me this struck more nearly home. I said “Yes I will accept the cross.” To this he replied:
'Then you will accept the palm and sword. With the sword the saints conquered themselves, the world, and the devil. I am the Angel of Peace. I come to those whose hearts are attuned to the Voice of God. To such as these I remain a perpetual light through blinding darkness, I was sent by Him who said,”I am the light of the world.”
"It is the wish of My Son that fathers and mothers strive to imitate me and my chaste spouse in our holy life at Nazareth. We practiced the simple virtues of family life, Jesus our Son being the center of all our love and activity. The Holy Trinity dwelt with us in a manner far surpassing anything that can ever be imagined. For ours was the earthly paradise where God walked among me...The Divine Trinity will dwell in your midst only if you are faithful in practicing the virtues of our life at Nazareth. Then, you also my children, you also will become another paradise. God will then walk among you and you will have peace.”
This plan of the Virgin Mary will begin to unfold in a series of apparitions of Our Lady and St. Joseph. Sister Mary Ephrem had just recently been transferred to the "water cure" staffed by her order of nuns in Rome City, Indiana, to wait on tables. She was not very happy about the move. When she got to her room she felt, as she said later, ‘...like jumping out of the window.’
She left her room that night and went to the chapel, but the feeling did not leave her. ‘It seemed to me,’ she said, ‘like I was in a ring of evil. I couldn’t get out of it, and it was telling me to get out of there.’
One night she awoke with the sense that something was perched on her pillow a little behind her head. Before she could discern just what it was, she felt it grab her face across the eyes and pull down on them. She found no marks on her face afterward though. The next day she went to her superior and asked to be transferred back to Ligonier, Indiana. She could have gone if she had found someone to wait on tables in her stead, but she was unable to.
|A 300 pound statue of Our Lady of America that has travelled to many events|
And on the eve of the feast of North American Martyrs, that is September 25,1956 while making a holy hour she once again becomes conscious of the presence of Our Lady. Though she did not see Her, Sr. Mary did see a part of Her white gown and blue sash. She was under the impression that Our Lady came as Our Lady of Lourdes. Our Lady stood near her and spoke:
“I am pleased my child with the love and honor my children in America give to me especially through my glorious and unique privilege of The Immaculate Conception. I promise to reward their love by working miracles of grace among them through the power of My Son’s Heart, and My Immaculate Heart. I do not promise miracles of the body, but of the soul.”
“I am Our Lady of America, I desire my children honor me by the purity of their lives.”
Later, in a letter written to the archbishop, Sister Mary Ephrem outlines Our Lady’s wishes:
“It is to the Hierarchy, especially of the United States, that Our Lady is making her plea. They are her favorite sons, placed in high offices in order that they might do the most good. She herself has spoken thus to me.”
“Our Lady has asked that a statue be made as she appeared on Sept. 26th, 1956. After being solemnly carried in procession to the Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington DC. She desires that there it be enshrined in a place of honor and venerated in a special way as 'Our Lady of America', the Immaculate Virgin. She desires also that a small statue or picture of the same likeness be honored in every home.”
To this Our Lady replied,
“I do not come to the worthy, my child, but to the lowly and humble of heart.”
Shortly after Our Lady’s appearance to sister she began to have interior locutions of St. Joseph. He reveals to her that immediately after his conception, through the merits of Jesus and because of his exceptional role of Virgin-Father, he was cleansed from the stain of original sin:
St. Joseph revealed to Sister Mary Ephrem that his heart suffered with the Hearts of Jesus and Mary, for he knew beforehand of their passion yet would not be there to console them. He became in union with his holy spouse co-redemptor of the human race.
“This is my shrine, my daughter, and I am very pleased with it. Tell my children that I thank them. Let them finish it quickly, and make it a place of pilgrimage. It will be a place of wonders. I promise this. I will bless all those who, either by prayers, labor or material aid, help to erect this shrine.”
“It is now the darkest hour...but if men will come to Me, my Immaculate Heart will make it bright again with the mercy with which my Son will rain down through My hands. Tell the Bishops of the United States, My loyal sons, of My desires, and how I wish them to be carried out. Through him who is head over you, make known the longings of my Immaculate Heart to establish the reign of my Divine Son in the hearts of men, and thus save them from the scourge of heaven, both now and in the future.”
“Sweet child, spouse of my Son, console my Immaculate Heart by many acts of self-denial. Tell my faithful sons that I ask this of them also. Let these acts, furthermore be presented to me with many acts of love,because it is these (acts of love) that make them most acceptable to me and my Son… Tell my dear and favored sons that I rely upon them to help me hasten the day when I shall be able freely and without reserve to work my miracles of grace in souls”,
And She requests an ever greater and consuming love for her Son, Jesus. A love which, unable to contain itself, will inflame those around us:
“It is love that counts, for without love there is no fire, and without fire there are only dying embers.”
“I wish to gather about Me, my tender child, soldiers and valiant bearers of the torch, an army of brave lovers who, as My torch-bearers, will rekindle the fire of Divine Love in the souls of men. Only those who are strong in love can become my soldiers to bear aloft, not the sword of destruction, but the sword of fire--the flaming torch of Divine Charity.”
For Her part, Our Lady comforts sister and asks her to be patient, that the will of the Father must be dearer to her than all else, and that soon a haven of rest would be given to her--not a refuge from suffering and pain, but a nest of solitude for the little white dove. Most of all, the will of God must be paramount: “This is the lesson that every soul desiring intimate union with my Son must strive to learn.”
“Repent and rouse yourselves, O' sons of men! Repent and make ready your hearts, that the King may establish His kingdom within you.”
Our Lady declares that peace must come from within, that to make our hearts more pleasing to her Son we must go to Her, His Mother. She asks for a reform of life as proof of our love for Her. She says: “The Holy Trinity looks down with infinite delight upon such souls [who seek to reform themselves] and makes them Their heaven upon earth.”
"O' my sweet child, when will My desires be realized?...O' my little one, daughter of my Pure Heart, you must pray with greater fervor, and offer yourself with greater love to the Heart of my Son."
"My sweet child, unless my children reform their lives, they will suffer great persecution. If man himself will not take upon himself the penance necessary to atone for his sins and those of others, God in his justice will have to send upon him punishment necessary to atone for his transgressions."
"Do not delay or the time of grace will pass and with it the peace you seek. … My little sister, the message is a dear one, there is no doubt. Make it known; do not hesitate. I, Michael, have made this request."
At the urging of Archbishop Karl J. Alter, the Precious Blood Sisters’ Chapter of 1954 voted to establish a cloister within its active community, an effort Sister Mary Florecita Bidart had worked toward for 20 years. In December of 1954, Bishop George J. Rehring gave permission for the cloister to be established in the Our Lady of Nativity Convent in New Riegel, Ohio, the Toledo diocese. The cloister gate was closed in the ceremony presided over by Bishop Rehring on July 1, 1957, the feast of the Most Precious Blood, establishing it as a truly Benedictine papal enclosure. At that time the cloister consisted of Sr. Mary Florecita Bidart, Foundress, and Sister Mary Leo (Louise) Voisard. The cloister was completely self supporting, mainly with its printing press. By April 1, 1965, the sisters had obtained canonical approval for their Constitution and by September of that year, the Holy See granted permission to erect a Novitiate within the Cloister, allowing women to enter from outside the active congregation in order to increase their membership.
Sr Mary writes: "Our Lady spoke on the great gift of the Divine Indwelling, sanctification from within. This is what she means by reformation and renewal. As Our Lady spoke this, she seemed at the time to be deeply occupied. Though the serenity of her countenance never left her, she spoke with a gravity that made her words all the more solemn. She seemed anxious to impress me with some idea of the greatness of this gift of God to us, namely, His Divine Presence within our souls through sanctifying grace."
Our Lady intensifies Her plea for a reform of life:
“What I have asked and continue to ask is a reformation of one's life. There must be sanctification from within.”
Our Lady of America speaks to priests
September, 16-27, 1957: Our Lady’s admonition to priests to live lives of penance and self-denial, upholding the sanctity and dignity of their calling:
"My dear daughter and sweet child, write my words carefully, because they are of the utmost importance. I address them to my beloved sons, the priests, dedicated to the most intense and extraordinary imitation of my Son in the perfect carrying on of His Eternal Priesthood.
'I am Our Lady of the Divine Indwelling, handmaid of Him Who dwells within.'
"My Immaculate Heart will win in the end, and the Spirit of Christ will dwell in the hearts of men. Those in whom this Spirit is not found will be condemned to eternal hell-fire."
“They must be prepared with the knowledge of the Divine Indwelling. It is to the youth of America that she is holding out this challenge.”
March 19, 1958: St. Joseph appears on his feast day and speaks on spiritual fatherhood
St. Joseph spoke of his spiritual fatherhood, of his great privilege in being chosen to be the Virgin-Father of Jesus, and of his perfect obedience to the Divine Will. He spoke of his special protection of the Holy Father and of the Church:
"Fathers must come to me to learn obedience to authority: to the Church always, as the mouthpiece of God, and to the laws of the country in which they live, insofar as these do not go against God and their neighbors.
"Jesus and Mary desire that my pure heart, so long hidden and unknown, be now honored in a special way. Let my children honor my most pure heart in a special manner on the First Wednesday of the month by reciting the Joyful Mysteries of the rosary in memory of my life with Jesus and Mary and the love I bore them, the sorrow I suffered with them. Let them receive Holy Communion in union with the love with which I received the Savior for the first time, and each time I held Him in my arms. Those who honor me in this way will be consoled by my presence at their death, and I myself will conduct them safely into the presence of Jesus and Mary."
'Do not be afraid! I will keep my promise and everything will be all right. Do not fear.'
|Sr. Mary Neuzil with family|
Nine months before the National Shrine was finished, Our Lady admonished Sister “...to work on writing the message as soon as possible, so that it might be placed in the hands of the Bishops who will be responsible for its fulfillment."
In a very serious manner, Our Lady warned sister that she must not delay any longer to do this [prepare the message] as the time is now. (Editor’s Note: Sister worked closely with Bishop Leibold and the bishops of the Toledo and Cincinnati dioceses.)
Jesus: “Oh, the pride of souls! How they resist My grace! O My priests, My religious, what would I not do for you if you would only let me! I come daily laden with graces which you daily refuse. What am I to say to you, my best beloved? How long will you resist My love? It is from you I expect everything, and you give Me but the husks of your affections. How long will I bear with you, O My chosen ones? How long will you spurn My approaches?”
November 20, 1959 was the day of dedication of the completed Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, DC. Exactly one month later, on December 20, 1959, Our Lady lamented the sin overwhelming the world:
“O my child, tell your spiritual father [Bishop Leibold] that I come again to warn and to plead. See, I weep, but My children show Me little compassion. They behold the sword in My heart, but they make little effort to withdraw it. I give them love; they give me only ingratitude. Weep, then, dear child, weep with your Mother over the sins of men. Intercede with Me before the throne of mercy, for sin is overwhelming the world and punishment is not far away.
February 2, 1960: Bishop Leibold compiles the messages (handwritten/then later typed)
Bishop Paul Francis Leibold, V.G. of the Cincinnati Archdiocese where the Sisters of the Precious Blood’s Motherhouse is located, personally compiled the Diary “without direct references” to specific places in which apparitions or spiritual messages had occurred. He wrote the foreword and had Sister type the messages as a “private diary,” with the author remaining anonymous. To protect Sister Mary Ephrem’s identity and hidden life, she remained unnamed. In the Diary Sister Mary Ephrem is referred to as “a religious Sister,” the “Little White Dove,” or “this Sister.” This Diary existed in handwritten and/or typewritten form only at this time and was given only to some of the sisters internally and the necessary religious superiors and Church officials, not to the public
|Medal of Our Lady of America|
Our Lady of America, April 4, 1960:
“Tell His Grace, my beloved son, that it is through the medal that he will receive the sign for which he asks. I ask him to have the medal struck and distributed everywhere and he will receive not only the one sign for which he has asked but so many, so many that he will have cause to be greatly astonished. My child, God works often through little and humble things and such instruments should never be despised but accepted and used with love and gratitude. It will be through the medal that God’s Will will be manifested and glorified and my desires carried out to the very end. I place my confidence in my faithful sons, the Bishops, who will not fail to take up my cause and make it bear much fruit for sanctification among so many and countless souls. Send this word then to my beloved son, the Archbishop, and have no fear sweet child for I will keep my promise for I am the ever faithful Virgin.
|Archbishop Paul Francis Leibold|
“My children must know my desires. If my desires are not fulfilled much suffering will come to this Land.”
“I was very happy to hear that Bishop Leibold will go ahead with the medal himself. It is a great relief to me to know that it is being made, and we hope it eventually will be circulated. I have great confidence in the message of our Blessed Lady.”
"First I received the leaflets on our Lady of America. I will gradually drop them around places as the opportunity presents itself. I still think of it as a private devotion and await our Lady’s action to make the seeds you are planting grow and, as it were, cause a spontaneous demand for the object of devotion, rather than engaging in any high pressure pushing of it."
Just before his death, Archbishop Leibold arranged a meeting with Luigi Riamondi, the Apostolic Delegate from Washington, DC, Msgr. Boffa, and his personal secretary, Fr. Francis Lammeier, to present a small ivory statuette to the Holy See and the Catholic Church. Posthumously, this statuette was presented to the Apostolic Delegate in August 1972 and is presumed to be in the Vatican Museum.
"When a picture or statue of myself as Our Lady of America is placed in the home and honored there, then will my Son bless His people with peace. Believe in Me, dear child, believe in Me, for My love will never fail you."
“With things as busy as they are, I still do not have time to think. I still am not fully aware that the Archbishop died. I am no dreamer; I know he is dead and is enjoying his reward, but I just can not realize it or be aware of it. I still think often, he will come in the office or I will see him and he will give me that quiet and peaceful smile. I think of him so often. I said many times, I was privileged to be associated with him. He kept a tremendous schedule. If I had been Secretary and Master of Ceremonies with any other Bishop with this schedule, I would have been out of my tree. But with him, it was indeed a pleasure. Often I got tired and certainly he did, but there was no pressure of any kind. He was the kindly, understanding and humble priest. He did not stand on dignity or position but was just himself. He was the Archbishop and I most assuredly respected him for his position, but he was also a dear friend.”
In August, Father Lammeier sent the plaque of Our Lady of America that hung in the Cincinnati Chancery and a large collection of letters/ personal spiritual writings of the Archbishop’s to Sister Mary Ephrem for safe keeping and to be organized for future investigation and publication. He confirmed how deeply the Archbishop believed in this message. During these times Our Lady continued to appear to Sister Mary and continued to make known the longings of Her Immaculate Heart.
Our Lady of America: "It is the United States that is to lead the world to peace. If the United States is faithful to this mandate from heaven, and yet fails in the pursuit of peace because the rest of the world will not accept Its leadership or cooperate, then the United States will not be burdened with the punishment that will come."
Sister Mary Ephrem is told of the shortness of time allotted to us to pray and make the necessary sacrifices to bring about world peace. There is an urgency about Our Lady’s warnings of a terrible purification that is to fall upon all nations. She advises us to pray the family rosary with as many family members present as possible, and to pray the prayer to the Immaculate Conception, Patroness of the United States, because the Forces of Evil are enveloping the world. Our Lady warns their hatred is now particularly focused on the United States because of the Divine Mandate given it to lead the world to peace.
Our Lady of America:
“Dear child, evil is so insidious that it often passes for good. The simple and pure of heart alone can detect the difference. Also, many good works are thwarted and destroyed by well intentioned people who are manipulated by the powers of evil because they do not possess that finer sense of being able to detect a false spirit from a true one."
Our Lady of America's final message to Sr. Mary
In the winter of 1984 Our Lady came to Sr.Mary Ephrem with this final message:
"What happens to the world depends upon those who are living in it. There must be much more good than evil prevailing in order to prevent the holocaust that is so near approaching. Yet I tell you, My daughter, that even should such a destruction happen because there were not enough souls who took My warnings seriously, there will remain a remnant untouched by the chaos who, having been faithful in following Me and spreading My warnings, will gradually inhabit the earth again with their dedicated and holy lives. These souls will renew the earth in the power and light of the Holy Spirit, and these faithful children of Mine will be under My protection, and that of the Holy Angels, and they will partake of the life of the Divine Trinity in a most remarkable way. Let my dear children know this, precious daughter, so that the will have no excuse if they fail to heed my warnings.”
Sister Mildred Mary Ephrem led a life of hidden sufferings which she accepted with love and great patience. Given a haven of rest, but not from suffering as Our Lady said, she endured a broken hip in January 1994 which compounded her physical adversities. With crippling arthritis, a ruptured appendix and especially severe asthma, Sister’s distresses were, at times, life threatening. . Despite adversity Sister worked tirelessly for Our Lady of America and her cloistered family. With each step closer, and usually on the eve of each victory reported for Our Lady of America, Sister Mildred would suffer intense physical pains and many times battled spiritual attacks designed to discourage her from praying.
For example, just before World Youth Day 1993, one night she suffered from terrible abdominal pain and the “old Boy” (her name for Satan) suddenly appeared as his horrible real self, trying to entice her to “Just say that you made it all up and I promise you will not suffer anymore pain.”
She stated, “If God required her life or suffering, so be it.” She reported on the “old Boy’s” physical assaults and hateful glares. After World Youth Day her physical pain intensified with each victory; she was especially inflicted with the terrible crippling pain of osteoarthritis complicated by rheumatoid arthritis. Medical treatments to alleviate pain were negligible or made her suffering worse with the complications of side effects. She would hide her moans when people were near her. Certain points on her body radiated such excruciating pain that it was sometimes quietly wondered if she had the hidden stigmata.
They were bonded by love and endured all for love of Jesus. They even shared August 2nd birthdays – the feast of Our Lady, Queen of the Angels! Sister Mary Ephrem was often seen surrounded by angels and loved to send people from her presence with “May the angels go with you!”
January 10, 2000: The death of Sr. Mary Ephrem Neuzil, the “little secretary of Jesus’ Heart” and the “little white dove”
Her Holy Death
On January 10, 2000, the first year of the New Millennium, this humble, holy soul, Sister Mary Ephrem (Mildred Marie) Neuzil, at age 83, was set free from the cross she had so willingly embraced for the cause of Our Lady of America. She was set free to receive her full communion with the Most Holy and Triune God that had dwelt so intimately within her while on earth. Her funeral Mass was celebrated at the Basilica of Our Lady of Consolation in Carey, OH by nephew Fr. Gregory Neuzil from Tennessee. Friends from around the country, including niece Elaine Bratrovsky of Colorado, traveled to Carey that snowy winter day to bid her farewell, knowing they, too, had lived with and known another saint. Fifty white roses were brought for Sister Mary Ephrem by Ellis Maria Taylor of the Reparation Society in Baltimore, MD. Eulogies were delivered by Theresa Wukusick from Ohio, Anita Marovich from New Jersey, and Audrey Frank from California. The song to Our Lady of America, written by Sister Mary Ephrem and put to music by Richard Paul Rencher, was sung by Marty Rotella of the Divine Mercy and Life Foundation in New Jersey. Sister’s body, laid to rest in a handmade wood casket with Our Lady of America’s picture encased in the lid, is temporarily laid to rest in a vault at St. Wendolyn’s Cemetery, Fostoria, Ohio.
On May 31, 2007, Most Reverend Raymond L. Burke, then Archbishop of St. Louis, wrote a Letter to the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops outlining the results of his review of the history and canonical status of devotion to Our Lady of America. Those interested can read the original document here.
Our Lady of America told Sr. Mary Neuzil that greater miracles than those granted at Lourdes and Fatima will be granted here in America if Our Lady’s request are carried out by Her Bishops. Let us pray and make sacrifices that this may soon come to be.
-Our Lady of America- The Diary of Sr. Mary Ephrem Neuzil Availible here
-Our Lady of America Official website operated by Our Lady of America Center in Fostoria, Ohio.
-"The True Story of Our Lady of America", Unity Publishing
~Our Lady of America and Sr Mary Neuzil, pray for us!