Mary’s 3 Priests, l to r,  Fr. Sweeney,  Fr. Smith and Fr. Rinfret at OLHSC Priests' Residence.

Mary’s 3 Priests, l to r, Fr. Sweeney, Fr. Smith
and Fr. Rinfret at OLHSC Priests’ Residence.

Mary's 3 Priests

L to r, Fr. Kenney, Fr. Sweeney and Fr. Carter at St. John Bergamo Grotto in Dayton, Ohio

Father Donald Rinfret, S.J. (1925-1997)

A native of Baltimore, Fr. Rinfret graduated from Loyola High School and entered the Society of Jesus in 1943. He was ordained at Woodstock College in Maryland in 1956. In 1958 he was appointed principal of Loyola High School. He taught at St. Joseph Preparatory in Philadelphia until 1966 when he was appointed president of Scranton Preparatory School, a post he held until 1981. From 1982 to 1988 he served as Director of Planned Giving for the Maryland Province and director of the Jesuit Seminary and Mission Bureau in Baltimore. In August of 1987, Father made his first pilgrimage to Medjugorje. He returned more than 10 times, acting as spiritual director for pilgrimages and for several Baltimore area Marian and charismatic prayer groups. When invited to be Our Lady’s “Priest of the East,” Father immediately accepted, even though neither he nor the visionary knew what that meant. All he knew was that Our Lady had announced that she wished to be known as Our Lady of Light and that there would be three priests who would act as her “ambassadors” in America. Father remained in regular contact with the Batavia visionary, received copies of all messages from Our Lady and served on the board of directors of Our Lady of Light Foundation. Following is his letter of affirmation (Personal Revelations, Vol. 4, 1997):

Our Lady of Light has reinforced my devotion to and trust in the Mother of God which a few years earlier had been renewed by Mary’s apparitions and messages at Medjugorje.

Her main message of bringing light to a darkened America has personally awakened me as a priest to the urgency of helping souls return to God, especially through the sacraments of Reconciliation and the Holy Eucharist.

I have also been deeply edified by the priest and people connected with the Our Lady of the Holy Spirit Center.

Father Donald Rinfret, S.J., Director
Jesuit Seminary and Mission Bureau
Maryland Province
Baltimore, Maryland

Father Leroy Smith

A native of Northern Kentucky and one of five children, Father Leroy Smith was ordained a priest of the Diocese of Covington in 1954. He served as secretary and master of ceremonies to the bishop, editor of the diocesan newspaper, vice-rector and professor of English at the diocesan seminary, and pastor of several diocesan churches prior to his retirement in early 1993 to devote full time to Our Lady’s work. At the May 1992 Marian Conference at Notre Dame University, Our Lady asked the Batavia visionary to approach Father Smith to be the “Priest of the Middle” of the country and to tell him that she would appear at midnight on August 31, 1992, at St. Joseph Church in Cold Spring, Kentucky where Father was pastor. Father hence became the spiritual leader and chief helmsman of Our Lady’s movement in the Tri-state area (Ohio/Indiana/Kentucky). He served as president and chairman of the board of Our Lady of the Holy Spirit Center in Norwood (Cincinnati), Ohio, and vice-president of the board of Our Lady of Light Foundation, the non-profit organization dedicated to supporting Our Lady of Light Ministries. For health reasons, Father retired to Florida in 2002. His letter of affirmation (Personal Revelations, Vol. 4, 1997):

Never in my wildest dreams did I expect my life to take such a drastic turn as it did after October of 1988. That was when I took the first of my seventeen trips to Medjugorje. Our Lady took me by the hand and led me from 1988 to 1992 when I received my first phone call from a lady who identified herself as the “Batavia visionary.” The gist of that phone call was that Our Lady would appear in my church, St. Joseph, in Cold Spring, Kentucky, at midnight on August 31, 1992.

You can imagine my disbelief, belief and excitement as she spoke to me. Confirmation came pretty quickly when events that the visionary told me would happen actually did happen. Although I leaned toward accepting everything, I still wanted to discern properly all that was happening.

I called and talked to Father Jack Spaulding in Scottsdale, Arizona, Nancy Fowler in Conyers, Georgia, and Sister Breige McKenna in Florida. I even had a private conference with Vicka, in Medjugorje, when I was over there on my trip in April, 1992. I asked all of these wonderful people to pray with me for proper discernment of things that were happening at St. Joseph parish.

As you probably know, Our Lady did appear on August 31, 1992, at midnight as Our Lady of Light. Many people saw her that evening, and that day of prayer in preparation for Our Lady’s coming was beautiful and impressive.

Since then Our Lady, through the Batavia visionary, has sent us many wonderful messages to help us to come to Jesus and understand His great love for us.

Mary continues to be a mother to us all, concerned for our welfare and helping us towards our eternal salvation in Christ. I thank Our Lady for her presence here, and ask her to continue to be with us daily on our journey to Jesus.

Father Leroy Smith, President (1993-2003)
Our Lady of the Holy Spirit Center
Cincinnati, Ohio

Father (later Msgr.) Lawrence Sweeney

Pastor of Holy Family Parish in Ogden, Utah, Father was born in Laramie, Wyoming in 1929, the fifth of seven children. Ordained in Salt Lake City in 1954 as a diocesan priest, he has been involved with the Marian Movement of Priests, various prayer groups, a complement of pastoral activities, and the Holy Land Foundation. On December 8, 1993, Fr. Rinfret called the Batavia visionary to say he had met Father Lawrence P. Sweeney of Ogden, Utah, who could be the “Priest of the West.” The visionary had known that there would be, but whenever she had asked when this priest would appear, she had always been told not to worry, that he would turn up. Father Sweeney was different from the other priests who had known or been associated with people who had had mystical experiences because he himself had experienced unusual occurrences. On several occasions during the celebration of Mass, he had witnessed the phenomenon of white wine turning into droplets of a red substance which left a sticky residue on the inside and outside of the chalice. His statement (Personal Revelations, Vol. 4, 1997):

I think Our Lady is coming here to call all of us back to her Son Jesus, and she is doing so through her messages. All of us should listen and respond to the messages she is sending to us as our loving mother.

Listen and respond, and let the Lord take care of the rest. He will lead us, if we just get out of His way as Our Lady did. Looking at her earthly life, we can see that she totally submitted to the Lord. She responded “yes” to Him, as she “listened” to His call to her from heaven. Now we need to follow her example and respond “yes” to her call to us.

Father Lawrence Sweeney,
Pastor, Holy Family Church
Ogden, Utah

Father Edward J. Carter, S.J. (1929-2000)

The fifth priest-helper sent to the Batavia visionary by Our Lady, Father Carter himself saw the image of Our Lady in the trees at St. Joseph Church in Cold Spring, Kentucky on August 31, 1992. A native Cincinnatian, he attended St. Xavier High School and Xavier University and was ordained in the Jesuit Order in 1962. After receiving his doctorate in theology from Catholic University of America, he taught theology at Xavier University in Cincinnati for 29 years. He authored 14 books on spirituality and gave numerous retreats and talks on the spiritual life. A lifelong devotee of the Sacred Heart of Jesus and the Immaculate Heart of Mary, Father founded and edited Shepherds of Christ Newsletter, directed to all the priests of the United States and the English speaking world. He was theological consultant to Our Lady of Light Foundation and Shepherds of Christ Ministries, a movement he founded, which is dedicated to the renewal of the spiritual life, especially among priests and religious. He was one of the original members of the Board of Trustees of Our Lady of the Holy Spirit Center. His statement (Personal Revelations, Vol. 4, 1997):

In recent years there have been reports from all over the world regarding alleged visionaries and locutionists. One question that immediately comes to mind is, “Why would there be such a great number of visionaries supposedly receiving private revelations at the same time?”

I myself asked that question about six years ago when I was doing research regarding the writing of a book about our Blessed Mother. Initially, I myself was quite skeptical concerning the great number of persons allegedly receiving private revelations. However, the more research I did, the more convinced I became that many of the messages being received by the reported visionaries and locutionists were authentic.

We apparently are living in one of the most critical periods of human history, and many of the messages, in one way or another, bring out how a great number of people have seriously strayed from God. Never before has there been such alienation from God. Has there ever been a time in the history of the human race when sin was so widespread?

I am convinced that God, in His great love and mercy, is going to extraordinary lengths to try to wake up the multitudes concerning the seriousness of the situation. This, to me, explains why there are so many claimed visionaries and locutionists in these, our times.

I believe that this book of revelations is among the authentic ones being presented to the world. I believe that the one to whom these messages have been given for all of us is truly a chosen messenger of God.

Father Edward Carter, S.J.
Professor of Theology
Xavier University
Cincinnati, Ohio

Father Frank Kenney, S.M.

Born in Dayton, Ohio, the second of seven children, Father Kenney was ordained a priest in 1949. He received a doctorate in theology from Catholic University of America in 1956, his thesis title being Mary’s Spiritual Maternity According to Modern Spiritual Writers. Retired from his duties with the Marianists (he served as high school principal, head of four religious communities, associate university dean of students and chaplain of several university sports teams, and associate pastor), he continues as leader of prayer groups, as moderator of his healing ministry, and as spiritual director to a number of visionaries. He has been involved with the Batavia visionary and has received and discerned her messages since 1993 when Our Lady appeared to her at the Lourdes Grotto at Bergamo, Mount St. John, in Dayton, Ohio. The Bergamo facility is owned by the Society of Mary, Father’s order. His statement (Personal Revelations, vol. 4, 1997):

Along with so many lay people who are devoted to our Blessed Mother, I feel very happy, blessed and grateful to be involved in the Marian apparitions happening all over the world in our times. At the same time, it is so heartbreaking that so few clergy and religious are paying any attention to this urgent, all-significant and grace-filled phenomenon. What a privilege it is to be one of Mary’s apostles, helping her in her apostolic mission, in union with her Son Jesus, of crushing the head of the serpent, as foretold in Genesis (3:15), the first book of the Bible, and also referred to in the Book of Revelation (Chapter 12), the last book of the Bible.

Never in my wildest dreams did I ever anticipate having such a role in Mary’s apostolic activities in Dayton, Cincinnati, Cleveland and beyond. Leading Marian and healing prayer groups, directing visionaries, giving talks about Mary’s apparitions, attending Marian conferences, being privy to the conversion and mystic accounts of many people are some of the experiences that have lighted up my life.

Thanks be to God and Our Blessed Mother and all who are in this with me.

Father Frank Kenney, S.M.
Dayton, Ohio