Marian Center for Peace, 241 Apricot Street, Wisconsin Rapids, WI 54494, Phone: 715-424-MARY or 424-6279, info@mariancenterforpeace.org

Marian Center History

Carole and I, along with some friends who had a like interest in devotion to Our Blessed Mother, were given permission by our dean to start a Marian Center. Fr. Joe Hirsch was our first spiritual director.

Our goal was to promote devotion to Mary, support prayer activities in our parishes, start prayer cenacles in our homes and to start a lending library of sound Catholic teaching in the form of books, tapes, C.D.s etc.

Several cenacles sprang up including one in our home. We met in our home for ten years until, in 2004, the Adoration Chapel opened and we moved our devotion there, where we continue to meet on a weekly basis.

The library started in our home, then transferred to Assumption High School and is now large enough that portions of it are housed in two locations. In addition to the collection at Assumption High School, we have added the St. Juan Diego Library and Lounge in our new Marian Center.

In 1995, Carole and I discovered the Divine Mercy Sunday devotion. Starting that year, we organized a Divine Mercy Devotion for our area, and for the next two years, we celebrated the devotion at St. Jame's in Vesper. When we outgrew the space available at St. James, we transferred the devotion to Sts. Peter and Paul in Wisconsin Rapids. We believe that when we began the devotion, ours was one of only two Divine Mercy Sunday devotions in the diocese. People traveled 50-60 miles to come. Now the devotion has spread so much that we concentrate on promoting the event only in our deanery. Nevertheless, we still get more than 200 people for the day.

In the spring of 1995, the Marian Conference was held at Assumption High School. The Marian Center for Peace was asked to help prepare the site, food, etc. for the conference. At this time, one person, Eileen Cleaver, was doing all of the work for the conference by herself, and it was getting to be too much. Fr. Hirsch suggested to her that she ask for our help. So, it was announced at the closing of that conference that we would be organizing the conference the next year, then the next, and so on until now.

Many of the people belonging to the Marian Center for Peace missed the devotions we loved and grew up with, but that were no longer available to us. Inspired by many things including the teachings and writings of John Paul II, we desired an opportunity for Eucharistic Adoration. We approached our pastors to no avail, but the Wisconsin Rapids dean, Fr. Menzel, suggested that we work with the deanery pastoral council, which we did. This combined effort amongst all the priests and parishes resulted in a successful beginning to Eucharistic Adoration in the deanery. Fr. Karoblis allowed us to use his church at Sts. Peter and Paul for this endeavor.

The pastoral council permitted us to have a one-hour devotion from 7-8 p.m. on the Thursday before the First Friday of each month. Between 75-100 people would regularly attend. The evening would begin with Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament, and continue with readings or prayers Father recommended. Confessions would follow until a few minutes before 8 p.m. when Father would finish with Benediction.

This lasted two years, before we received the courage to ask for an all-night extension of Adoration until the Friday 8 a.m. Mass. We promised to keep the hours filled. The pastoral council agreed, and for another two years all-night adoration continued once a month.

About the year 2000, we also began a devotion to the Nativity of the Blessed Mother. This devotion included a Eucharistic procession accompanied by a statue of Our Lady. The devotion started at St. Philip in Rudolph. We sang and prayed in the Grotto. We finished with coffee and birthday cake in Our Lady's honor. Recently, this devotion also has been transferred to Sts. Peter and Paul.

In 1998, Bishop Burke requested that we have a group called Life Foundation, whose mission includes stopping abortion through the intercession of Our Lady of Guadalupe, present at the Marian Conference that year. Life Foundation received the blessing of John Paul II and it was because of this that Monsignor Ponce, the rector of the Basilica in Mexico, became aware of the organization. Life Foundation's Life and Mercy Crusade was to fulfill John Paul II's prophesy that the light of the gospel will go out from the Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe in Mexico City. Monsignor Ponce agreed to act as the spiritual director for the Life and Mercy Crusade.

A crucial part of this crusade is the distribution throughout the world of full sized digital images of the tilma of Juan Diego on which there is the sacred image of Our Lady of Guadalupe. Each of these digital copies has been touched to the actual tilma of Juan Diego, thereby granting them the status of third-class relics. At this time, there is one available for every country in the world -- seven for the United States. Due to our relationship with Life Foundation, the Marian Center for Peace was offered the first relic image of Our Lady of Guadalupe to be enthroned in the world.

At the same time this was developing, we began making moves to begin Perpetual Adoration. Bishop Raymond Burke suggested that we contact Fr. Robert Goedert, who could help us to make Perpetual Adoration in Wisconsin Rapids a reality. (We had not told anyone that this was our real goal because we weren't sure about it ourselves -- plus everyone would tell us we were nuts.)

Fr. Goedert agreed to come to speak to the Wisconsin Rapids parishes in September of 2004, telling us that if he came, we needed to be ready to begin Perpetual Adoration by October 2004.

We now had a huge problem -- we needed a home for Perpetual Adoration and the relic image. We had been looking (thinking) about the vacant convent at Sts. Peter and Paul. It was now time to get really serious. Fr. Karoblis gave us permission to move into the convent, and agreed not to charge rent. We would be responsible, however, for all of the upkeep. As we cleaned the building, preparing for Adoration and the relic image, we named the workshop St. Joseph's Workshop. He had many helpers. We like to say first came the Father to prepare the site. Then came the pregnant mother in the relic image. Then came the Son in his Eucharistic Presence.

With the blessing of the dean as well as all of the deanery priests, we proceeded with Perpetual Adoration. Thus, the Perpetual Adoration at the Marian Center for Peace is considered a deanery activity that is organized and maintained by the volunteers from the Marian Center.

On September 11, 2004, the relic image of Our Lady of Guadalupe was brought to the Diocese of La Crosse by means of the Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe in La Crosse. We felt that it was appropriate that her first visit to our state should be to a Shrine built in her honor. A busload of pilgrims from Wisconsin Rapids traveled to La Crosse, attended Mass, and returned to Wisconsin Rapids with the relic. Fr. Karoblis met us at Sts. Peter and Paul Church, where we processed in and had a small prayer service. On Sunday afternoon, the day appointed for our celebration of the Nativity of Our Blessed Mother, we conducted a prayer service, listened to speakers, and processed with the Eucharist and the relic to the former convent where we enthroned the relic in the Chapel.

Approximately three weeks following Fr. Goedert's visits, we started Perpetual Adoration on October 4, 2004. It has been going very well.

Life and Mercy Crusade will be promoting more relic images as they develop appropriate programming. Since we are honored to house the first relic image, we hope to give some direction and support to the crusade. The fourth relic image was installed in the fall of 2005.

The increase in activity and responsibility for the Marian Center necessitated that we become better organized. We became a corporation on November 1, 2004 with 501c3 status.

We now have offices, phone, website, presentation room, resource center, library lounge, kitchen, dining and bedrooms plus our precious chapel.

God has blessed us with many blessings, and it has been truly a labor of love. We are most appreciative of the guidance of our spiritual directors over the years.

Denis and Carole Virnig

© 2016 Marian Center for Peace of Wisconsin Rapids
Philip Kosloski
http://www.mariancenterforpeace.org