Joseph Pronechen is staff writer with the National Catholic Register since 2005. His articles have appeared in a number of national publications including Columbia magazine, Soul, Faith and Family, Catholic Digest, and Marian Helper. His religion features have also appeared in Fairfield County Catholic and in major newspapers. He is the author of Fruits of Fatima — Century of Signs and Wonders. He holds an MS degree and formerly taught English and courses in film study that he developed at a Catholic high school in Connecticut. Joseph and his wife Mary reside on the East Coast.
This year marks the 60th anniversary of St. Joseph appearing to a nun in Ohio during March, 1958. He appeared during the continuing apparitions of the Blessed Mother under her title “Our Lady of America.”
These private revelations to Sister Mary Mildred Neuzil (known earlier as Sister Mary Ephrem) in Ohio were fully known by Archbishop Paul Leibold who was Sister Mary Ephrem’s spiritual director from the time he was Vicar General of the Archdiocese of Cincinnati until he died in 1972. He gave his imprimatur to her initial booklet and its reprinting published with the revelations she received.
While he was an archbishop commissioned to examine Our Lady of America, Cardinal Raymond Burke detailed significant facts about Archbishop Leibold’s approval of the devotion to Our Lady of America and his active promotion of the devotion.
“Archbishop Leibold was always clear that the approved devotion had its origin in private revelation received by Sister Mary Ephrem over many years,” Cardinal Burke wrote in his 2007 official assessment, noting this devotion was already canonically approved.
With that foundation, let’s look at St. Joseph’s appearance and what he said and taught.
St. Joseph “Preview”
Sister Mary Mildred wrote not only the messages in her diary but also gave short commentaries. She described how St. Joseph first visited in October 1956 about one week after Our Lady first appeared. On this “preview” she didn’t see him but only heard him tell her:
“It is true, my daughter, that immediately after my conception I was, through the future merits of Jesus and because of my exceptional role of future Virgin-Father, cleansed from the stain of original sin. I was from that moment confirmed in grace and never had the slightest stain on my soul. This is my unique privilege among men.
“My pure heart also was from the first moment of existence inflamed with love for God. Immediately, at the moment when my soul was cleansed from original sin, grace was infused into it in such abundance that, excluding my holy spouse, I surpassed the holiness of the highest angel in the angelic choir.
“My heart suffered with the Hearts of Jesus and Mary. Mine was a silent suffering, for it was my special vocation to hide and shield, as long as God willed, the Virgin Mother and Son from the malice and hatred of men.
“The most painful of my sorrows was that I knew beforehand of their passion, yet would not be there to console them.
“Their future suffering was ever present to me and became my daily cross, so I became, in union with my holy spouse, co-redemptor of the human race. Through compassion for the sufferings of Jesus and Mary I co-operated, as no other, in the salvation of the world.”
St. Joseph’s First Appearance
Sister Mary Mildred wrote that on March 11, 1958, Our Lady said to her: St. Joseph will come on the eve of his feast. Prepare yourself well. There will be a special message. My holy spouse has an important part to play in bringing peace to the world.
St. Joseph came as promised and said to Sister Mary Mildred:
“Kneel down, my daughter, for what you will hear and what you will write will bring countless souls to a new way of life.
“Through you, small one, the Trinity desires to make known to souls Its desire to be adored, honored, and loved within the kingdom, the interior kingdom of their hearts.
“I bring to souls the purity of my life and the obedience that crowned it.
“All fatherhood is blest in me whom the Eternal Father chose as His representative on earth, the Virgin-Father of His own Divine Son. Through me the Heavenly Father has blessed all fatherhood, and through me He continues and will continue to do so till the end of time.
My spiritual fatherhood extends to all God’s children, and together with my Virgin Spouse I watch over them with great love and solicitude.”
[Notice how these defining words from St. Joseph came just as the western world was on the brink of demeaning fathers and belittling fatherhood.]
St. Joseph continued:
“Fathers must come to me, small one, to learn obedience to authority: to the Church always, as the mouthpiece of God, to the laws of the country in which they live, insofar as these do not go against God and their neighbor.
“Mine was perfect obedience to the Divine Will, as it was shown and made known to me by the Jewish law and religion. To be careless in this is most displeasing to God and will be severely punished in the next world.
“Let fathers also imitate my great purity of life and the deep respect I held for my Immaculate Spouse. Let them be an example to their children and fellowmen, never willfully doing anything that would cause scandal among God’s people.
“Fatherhood is from God, and it must take once again its rightful place among men.”
When St. Joseph finished, Sister Mary Mildred wrote how she saw his “most pure heart.” It seemed to be lying on a brown cross. Flames were pouring from the heart and what looked to be a lily appeared in the midst of them. Then she heard St. Joseph again:
“Behold this pure heart so pleasing to Him Who made it. The cross, my little one, upon which my heart rests is the cross of the Passion, which was ever present before me, causing me intense suffering.
“I desire souls to come to my heart that they may learn true union with the Divine Will. Then he told her he would return the next day and “make known to you how God wishes me to be honored in union with Jesus and Mary to obtain peace among men and nations.”
Visit on His Feast Day
On the evening of March 19, 1958, St. Joseph appeared as Our Lady promised and said to her:
“My child, I desire a day to be set aside to honor my fatherhood.
“The privilege of being chosen by God to be the Virgin-Father of His Son was mine alone, and no honor, excluding that bestowed upon my Holy Spouse, was ever, or will ever, be as sublime or as high as this.
“The Holy Trinity desires thus to honor me that in my unique fatherhood all fatherhood might be blessed.
“Dear child, I was king in the little home of Nazareth, for I sheltered within it the Prince of Peace and the Queen of Heaven. To me they looked for protection and sustenance, and I did not fail them. I received from them the deepest love and reverence, for in me they saw Him Whose place I took over them.
“So the head of the family must be loved, obeyed, and respected, and in return be a true father and protector to those under his care.
“In honoring in a special way my fatherhood, you also honor Jesus and Mary. The Divine Trinity has placed into our keeping the peace of the world.
“The imitation of the Holy Family, my child, of the virtues we practiced in our little home at Nazareth is the way for all souls to that peace which comes from God alone and which none other can give.”
[Again notice how St. Joseph was talking about his place in the Holy Family and at the same time strengthening the role of fathers and fatherhood at the moment when soon the world would go in the opposite direction.]
When St. Joseph stopped speaking, Sister Mary Mildred said she was given the favor of a “unique and marvelous vision of the glorious St. Joseph.” She described how he seemed suspended “a short distance above what had the appearance of a large globe with clouds moving about it. His head was slightly raised, the eyes gazing upward as if in ecstasy. The hands were in a position similar to that of the priest during the celebration of Holy Mass, only they extended upward somewhat.”
She noticed the color of his hair and his “rather small and slightly forked beard seemed a very dark brown. His eyes resembled in color the hair and beard. He was clothed in a white robe that reached to his ankles. Over this he wore a sort of cloak which did not come together at the throat, but covering the shoulders and draped gracefully over each arm, reached to the hem of the robe. The cloak at times had, or seemed to have, the appearance of a brown, sometimes a purple, hue, or perhaps a slight blending of the two. The belt about his waist was of a gold color, as were his sandals.”
Sister Mary Mildred also added important details how he appeared “quite youthful” yet gave the “impression of rare maturity combined with great strength. He seemed a bit taller than medium height. The lines of his face appeared strong and purposeful, softened somewhat by a gentle serenity. I also saw his most pure heart at this time. Moreover, I saw the Holy Spirit in the form of a dove hovering above his head.”
Then she saw two angels carried what seemed to be small satin-covered pillows, one holding a gold crown, the other a gold scepter, and she heard said: “Thus should he be honored whom the King desires to honor.”
As this vision ended, St. Joseph again spoke to her, saying:
“The Holy Father need have no fear, for I have been appointed his special protector. As God chose me to be the special guardian of His Son, so has He chosen me as the special guardian of him who in Christ’s Name is head of the Mystical Body of that same Son on earth.
My special protection of the Holy Father and the Church should be made known to him. God wishes to make this known to him that he may receive thereby renewed consolation and encouragement.
“During the war, little daughter, it was I who saved him from death at the hands of his enemies [Pius XII was reigning at the time]. Continually I watch over him and the Church, and I desire this to be acknowledged for the greater glory of God and the good of souls.
“Lovely child, precious to the heart of your spiritual father, I will come again on the last Sunday of this month. Jesus and Mary will come also in a special visit. Receive my blessing.”
When Sister Mary Mildred knelt down for the blessing, she felt St. Joseph’s hands on her head and heard: “May Jesus and Mary through my hands bestow upon you eternal peace.”
First Wednesday Devotions
On March 30, St. Joseph’s requests were like those of Our Lady and the First Saturday. Sister Mary Mildred said the Most Holy Trinity chose the Sacred Hearts of Jesus, Mary, and Joseph to bring peace to the world, the reason for their requests “for special love and honor, also, in particular, reparation and imitation.”
The she head St. Joseph tell her:
“I am the protector of the Church and the home, as I was the protector of Christ and His Mother while I lived upon earth. 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.
“I will come again, little child of my most pure heart. Until then, continue in patience and humility, which is so pleasing to God.”
[Notice how this request completes the trinity of devotions begun with the First Fridays, then the First Saturdays, now the First Wednesdays. Heaven makes it perfectly clear. At the same time, these visions seem an outgrowth of St. Joseph’s appearance at Fatima.]
Sister Mary Mildred added that just as St. Joseph had promised for March 30, Jesus and Mary also came. She saw Jesus as a boy around fifteen or sixteen year old, and he spoke to her “about the sanctification of the family” and other matters. The Our Lady and St. Joseph also spoke to her about these same matters and about “the Divine Indwelling.”
There should be no doubt the Holy Trinity wants us to know St. Joseph more and more. As Mariologist Mark Miravalle says on video discussing St. Joseph’s appearance, “Joseph is to be honored like no one except our Blessed Mother. Second only to Mary should the honor in our hearts be designated for St. Joseph.”
He stresses the First Wednesday devotions, and sums everything up by telling us something we should immediately adopt and realize: “Honor St. Joseph. It will make our Mother happy.”
The official website is: OurLadyOfAmerica.com More on Our Lady of America to come.
This article originally appeared at the Register on March 19, 2018.