When in 1993, I heard the reports of the Blessed Mother’s visits to Cabrini Shrine above Golden Colorado, I found them fantastic and incredible. From high above on an adjacent mountain I had ridden my bicycle one Saturday afternoon when I saw below hundreds of pilgrim pedestrians and dozens of school buses and passenger vans and squadrons of sheriff’s deputies and police. The pilgrims had come from all over the country to make their consecrations to Mary’s Immaculate Heart. For several years many thousands of pilgrims came to Colorado on the second Saturday of each month to pray their Rosaries and to pledge their devotion to her apparitions of Our Holy Mother of Virtues. Local news stations covered the events with great skepticism. Reports of the apparitions reached Newsweek Magazine.
Also in 1993, at St. Thomas More Church in Centennial, Colorado the pastor, Fr. Michael Walsh, began guiding his newly founded Queen of the Apostles Mission Association in its many spiritual and corporal endeavors to bring aid to the Catholic Churches and Monasteries that had suffered decades of persecution in the former Soviet Union.
Our Holy Mother of Virtues had implored us to “Run to my children in the east who long to hear your hearts. Russia is the ransom for the peace the world yearns for.” To that end, QAMA organized in June of 1995, an international congress in Colorado Springs to which they invited many bishops and priests from Russia, Ukraine and Belarus. I attended that three day conference because my mother had asked me to go there to interview the envoy from Aid to the Church in Need. My father had shortly before his death set up a well endowed Catholic Foundation under our family’s name.
I had lost my Faith many years earlier. I had no hope in my heart, plunged as I was into an abyss of vice. The composed, serene and regal countenances of the clergy from Russia, standing in their crisp black cassocks, made my soul wince in shame. I understood the depths into which I had descended. That first afternoon I listened to a lay speaker give a comprehensive survey of the many visits of the Blessed Virgin to her children on the Earth these past two centuries. Certainly I had heard of Fatima, but I had never given that story any thought or consideration. But from Ted Flynn’s mouth I first learned that the Blessed Mother had told the three children that most souls go to hell because of the sins of the flesh. My soul trembled in fear hearing these words. That afternoon I received the grace to know that the Fatima story was not superstitious nonsense. My Guardian Angel told me to turn off Dan Rather and to get to confession immediately, and thereafter to pay heed only to the wise words of Our Blessed Mother. I left that conference with joy in my heart knowing my life would never be the same again.
I joined the Queen of the Apostles Mission and bought a condo near the church. With my many new friends I began praying many Rosaries. In 1996, I began flying to Russia and the Ukraine every spring and every fall, year after year for at least a dozen years. My mother put me in charge of the family foundation. We would buy airline tickets to Kiev or to Moscow and leave the itinerary to the Blessed Mother. She guided us through airports and train stations taking us to cities and villages where we met her humble sons and daughters sacrificing and praying in humble poverty.
That’s where we met our Servants of the Lord and the Virgin of Matara, or just Servidoras. In the Ukraine they follow the Byzantine Rite. We found their joy infectious, their purity refreshing. They taught us so many heart rending songs. From them we learned to pray and sing in the vernacular. They always awaited our arrival to spend Holy Week and Pascha with them. Four times my mother made the Paschal season trip to join our Sisters in song, prayer and joy. Sr. Cristiana and Mother Lagrimas have always loved to hear Sylvia tell them about the visits of Our Holy Mother of Virtues. Through our Holy Mother’s guidance and protection we still get to see our Servidoras every year. They wait for our return .
We have developed several relationships with the various Roman Catholic Diocese and Ukrainian Greek Catholic Eparchies throughout the former Soviet Union, but mainly in Ukraine. We have witnessed and assisted with the growth of St. Olexander Cathedral in Kyiv from 400 to 4000 parishioners. We have reclaimed, rebuilt, renovated and helped construct over 40 churches from the over $2.5M collected and donated.
We invite you to join us in prayer and our work!
A. Matt Werner, III, Esq.
Queen of the Apostles Mission Association