Because of Mary - Fr. Al Reached For Beco’s
In today’s One 2 One Lenten Journey podcast, Fr. Dan and Kevin discuss the invisible finger of the Blessed Mother’s that throughout Fr. Al’s life seemed to point him in the directionof endless lines of Mariette Beco’s. It could be considered that whenever and wherever Fr. Al reached for an orphan, he was reaching for Mariette Beco.
So who was she?
Mariette was the poor little 12-year-old girl that Mary presented herself to as the Virgin of the Poor – the girl who claimed she saw the Mother of God on eight occasions, beginning at
nightfall on January 15, 1933, in a tiny Belgian village called Banneux. The apparitions were authenticated and formally approved sixteen years later, on August 22, 1949 by Pope Pius XII.
At various points throughout the course of the eight apparitions, Mariette returned to the sacraments, which led to the conversion of her hard-luck father, mother, and family, and eventually brought conversion to the entire village of Banneux. For the first time in the history of the world, Mary identified herself with the poor in an apparition. Fr. Al was deeply drawn to her loving messages of care for the downtrodden and eventually consecrated his priesthood to her.
Fr. Al and the Virgin of the Poor
“In a sense, Mary was the one who ordained me,” he used to tell nuns from the Sisters of Mary in talks. “This child, Mariette Beco, resembles in a remarkable way the type of child we are trying to help – very poor, deprived, lowly. This is the type of child we are looking for.”
Fr. Al had an intense devotion to Mary throughout his priesthood and called out to her from his deathbed in 1992.
When he consecrated his life to Mary before leaving to begin his priesthood in Korea, he offered to suffer for her as Her own Son once did. When he began the Sisters of Mary order in 1964, he asked them to suffer for the poor as well. In a very real way, he asked the Sisters to become the apparitions.
“The whole drama of the apparitions is to draw the child from her home, from herself, and to Christ,” Fr Al once told a gathering of Sisters. “The way is prayer and penance … This type of love demands great sacrifice, great mortification. If people want to read about the apparitions of Banneux, they read your life.
They look at your life and actions. You, in a sense, must be a living mirror who reflects Our Lady of Banneux and show the world what She is like and what her thinking is.”
Fr. Al used each of Mary’s eight apparitions as the raw material to build humble kingdoms for the poor in Korea, the Philippines, and Mexico. The Sisters of Mary have continued his mission in Guatemala, Brazil, Honduras, and Tanzania. Everything Mary requested of Mariette in the apparitions was refashioned by the young missionary priest to tend to the lives of many tens of thousands of poverty-stricken children. What he ended up accomplishing is inconceivable.
Whenever he completed another project, opened a hospice, or built another Boystown or Girlstown, he departed to search out more Mariette Beco’s.