Our Lady of Light Ministries
Almost from the outset, in her visits to the Batavia visionary, Our Lady indicated that much work needed to be done to get out the word about the need for prayer in the world at large. Yes, there would be signs. Yes, there would be a local groundswell in support of the visionary and her messages, but the work at hand would not be without conflict and resistance. And it was meant to sweep beyond local purview, and on to national scope and beyond. Eventually Our Lady began to talk of her “ministries” and let it be known that there was more to her visits here than just accepting her apparitions and messages. As in all faith altering events, the faithful were called to action.
Our Lady of Light Foundation
The first of the Our Lady’s ministries was Our Lady of Light Foundation, established to support local priests committed to the promulgation of devotion to Our Lady, to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, and to dissemination of the messages to the visionary. The foundation set out to raise monies for such purposes, publishing a book describing the visionary’s early experiences at fields in southern Indiana, near Batavia, Ohio, then at St. Joseph Church in Cold Spring and beyond. When the messages continued, and further messages needed to be published, a second entity was born, called Our Lady of Light Publications.
With the advent of a need for a home for Father Leroy Smith’s Gospa prayer groups (composed of hundreds of the Faithful who had a strong allegiance to what was occurring in Medjugorje, Yugoslavia at the time), a new problem needed to be addressed. Father Smith was retiring from his position as pastor at St. Joseph Church and the local diocese was hesitant to be associated with an alleged apparition reported to have occurred at the church. A facility was available, but direly in need of repair. Eventually Father Smith made arrangements with Father Richard Wilhelm, who owned a large site in Norwood (Cincinnati), Ohio, to reside there and bring his prayer groups with him.
The founder of Our Lady of Light Foundation, Gerry Ross, became engaged in raising funds for this site, a former seminary complex, which at the time went under the name of Monks Retreat. The task was monumental, and several key volunteers began work on the windows and doors (hundreds needed to be repaired and replaced), and the roof (thousands of square feet of roofing, neglected for more than twenty years, desperately needed rework) needed attention just to prevent irreparable damage to the main 500 seat chapel and surrounding complex. As work proceeded on the physical rehabilitation of the facility, Mr. Ross set about organizing a priests’ prayer group, eventually hosting as many as 25 local priests in a monthly Marian Movement of Priests prayer cenacle.
The Foundation also actively supported the refurbishing of the former archbishop’s residence as a home for retired priests. After years of disuse, it too required an overhaul from top to bottom. When Fr. Smith moved there in early 1993, the archbishop’s residence provided the only safe enclave wherein to escape falling plaster and dangerous scattered debris at the seminary complex.
As work progressed on what eventually was named Our Lady of the Holy Spirit Center, other demands began to occupy the foundation. A second local visionary, Sandy, had experienced apparitions from Our Lady at the Center and elsewhere in the area, eventually being visited at a farm near Falmouth, Kentucky by Mary the Mother of God under the title of Our Lady of the Most Holy Rosary. Our Lady had asked that a chapel be built on the grounds, eventually appearing there over a period of several months. The complication to any construction was that the farm was only partially owned by the person committed to the validity of Sandy’s apparitions, so building a chapel would have to involve the purchase of the land. Mr. Ross set out to raise the monies necessary to purchase the farm, eventually succeeding. But the farm needed major work to allow the erection of the chapel and the road improvements necessary to allow parking, and even simply the walking of the grounds. The Farm, subsequently named Our Lady’s Farm, continued under the ownership of the Foundation until 1995 when it was deeded over to Our Lady of the Holy Spirit Center for $1.
Our Lady of Light Publications
Originally only a name assigned to the books published by the Foundation, this ministry was devised to stand alone as a publishing entity, with the goal that any surplus funds generated would help to support priests in residence at the Center. Eventually a total of five books of messages and experiences of the Batavia visionary have been published, with the sales of early volumes paying for the later ones.
But publications went far beyond just books called Personal Revelations of Our Lady of Light. Pamphlets, brochures, and eventually books by other authors were published and promoted by the publications group. When Fr. Ed Carter founded Shepherds of Christ Ministries, the first several books published by that organization were edited and designed by Our Lady of Light Publications. The Shepherds of Christ Newsletter, at one time printed bi-monthly in a volume of 5000 per issue, and mailed to destinations all over the world, was printed and mailed with the Foundation’s help.
To date Our Lady of Light Publications has published some 15 books, numerous brochures and pamphlets, and a myriad of other spiritually oriented materials. All of these materials are directed toward an increased spirituality among the faithful. All are designed to point us to the Immaculate Heart of Mary and the Sacred Heart of Jesus.