The Shrine Newsletter

Carry the Message and the Mission Forward

On these grounds over 150 years ago, the Holy Mother appeared to the young Adele Brise and instructed her to teach the children in the faith. This is where Sister Adele began her work and inspired the efforts of generations of faithful Christians.
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Adele Brise

peopleLike trees providing shade from the summer’s heat, Adele’s quiet conviction to her mission fostered a refuge for the faithful. And her kindness and grace softly lit the way like slender sunrays through the spaces between the trees’ leaves.

Since the apparitions in 1859, Adele’s mission has helped the faithful discover the all-loving Mother’s nurturing embrace, so we might continue our journeys with greater strength.

From the time of the vision until her death, Adele devoted her life to the work our Holy Mother gave to her. Adele was charming and she was persistent. Undeterred by weather, fatigue or ridicule, she would venture as far as fifty miles from home seeking funds and sustenance for the chapel and school. Even when Adele’s fellow Sisters did not know where their next meal was coming from, Adele would gather her companions in the chapel and ask for Mary’s help. Before morning, someone would undoubtedly drop off a bag of flour or supply of meat at the door.

As misconceptions prompted several closures of the chapel and school, Adele’s confidence in Mary’s promise and dedication to her mission endured. And when Adele attended Sunday Mass with the children, finding the pews closed against her, she would still hear Mass kneeling in the aisle. Her determination was so strong and her faith so bright that her mission continues to inspire today.

Sister Pauline remembered near the time of Adele’s death, “We went into the chapel and prayed. I can still see the calm, serene and happy look on the face of the good Sister as if a light from heaven shone upon her.”

On July 5, 1896, Adele Brise said her last words: “I rejoiced in what was said to me. We shall go into the house of the Lord.”

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Sister Pauline

Recalling her childhood encounters with Adele, Sister Pauline once wrote, “Adele had a sweet voice and possessed a charm that drew the young to her. I would kneel behind her with a burning desire to follow her.” Sister Pauline accepted this quiet invitation to discover a deeper relationship with Jesus. When the time came, she led the Shrine with the same unwavering determination that guided Adele.

Seeking advice on dedicating their lives to serving God, Father Daems directed Pauline and her friend, Christine Rousseau to the Dominican Sisters of St. Catherine’s Convent in Racine. Pauline and Christine eventually joined with Sister Pius Doyle to open Holy Cross School in early 1868. They later formed a community of Tertiary Sisters of the Third Order of St. Francis. These three women, along with Mary Van Lanen, established the first Franciscan community in the Bay Settlement in 1874. In 1881, the order received Episcopal approval, and, in 1893, the community was incorporated as an educational and charitable institution named the Sisters of St. Francis of Bay Settlement.

Upon her arrival at the Shrine after Adele’s death, Sister Pauline wrote in her diary, “I found two Sisters, twenty children, and 42 cents. Bishop Messmer, bishop of Green Bay, sent the Bay Settlement Sisters to the chapel to continue the work of instruction.”

Sister Pauline’s solicitation for funds around the Green Bay peninsula saw the chapel and school through those lean times. “We were out of bread, and I sent the children into the Chapel to tell our dear Mother that we were in need of bread. When our prayers were ended, there came a letter from our good Bishop and 25 dollars. All I could say was God bless and keep him. From that time on, we never wanted for anything.” Within a year of her arrival, more than a thousand dollars of debt was satisfied, and tuition and board remained low.

For 24 years, until her death in 1926, Sister Pauline carried Adele’s mission forward to new generations.

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