As you read this article, I am in Caracas, Venezuela! I make this pilgrimage every August to celebrate the anniversary of the passing of the Servant of God Maria Esperanza. She died in Long Beach Island, New Jersey, on August 7, 2004, and we celebrate this day each year with a solemn Mass in the chapel of Cemetery East in Caracas. The Betania Choir sings for the Mass and hundreds of people attend. After Mass we process to her grave, pray the rosary and sing hymns to Our Lady. It is a very joyful and sacred experience.
Maria Esperanza was the Venezuelan wife, mother, mystic and missionary who was the central figure of the apparitions of the Mother of God at the Marian sanctuary of Betania, Venezuela. These apparitions were approved by the local Bishop, Pio Bello Ricardo in 1987.
Maria Esperanza visited many places around the world to speak about the message of fraternal reconciliation and family unity that Our Lady announced in Betania. The Blessed Mother came to Betania under the title, Virgin and Mother, Reconciler of All Peoples and Nations.
Perhaps you are aware that I am the Vice Postulator of her Beatification Cause, which was opened by Bishop Bootkoski in the Metuchen Diocese on January 31, 2010. I have been working on this cause since it opened. I published a biography of Maria Esperanza entitled Maria Esperanza and the Grace of Betania in 2014, to help promote her life and works.
It can be obtained by going to www.betania2.org or calling 508-533-5377.
As a final note, I would like to mention that Maria Esperanza visited our Church here in Merchantville on October 21, 1999. The Church was packed and she remained there until 3:30 AM ministering to and praying with each person individually.
Servant of God Maria Esperanza, pray for our parish!
Fr. Tim Byerley