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An Insider's Perspective of the
Our lady of Emmitsburg Cult

Gordon and Murf Fath

At the onset, Murf and I want to thank you for standing for the Truth! We, all of us, live in a relatively small community of Christian people who are trying to achieve the common goal of serving God on this earth and being happy with Him in the next. In working toward that goal there are many different paths available to us to help in the development of our spiritual lives and, some are fraught with danger. In this context and, per your request, we want to share some of our experiences with the OLOE Cult.  

Murf and I were closely involved with both the Thursday Night (alleged vision night) services and the Mission of Mercy organization for many years. Murf worked at the Thursday welcome table and, for more than two years, Gordon was an usher, working from 8AM till after 10PM each Thursday. On Mission of Mercy, Gordon drove the van, operated the computer and provided general support to the medical team. Murf volunteered her services as a registered nurse (RN). We also spent countless hours working on mass mailings to solicit funds. Further, we have donated many thousands of dollars in support of Mission of Mercy. These facts are stated solely for the purpose of firmly clarifying the level of our commitment to both the Thursday Night activities (alleged vision night) and the Mission of Mercy service to the poor.

We had a very close association with Gianna Sullivan that included "small prayer group" and other more intimate social activities. We were, for more than a year(1996-7), active in the "Couples" prayer group, "Jesus of Mercy", established and directed by Gianna. We decided to leave this group because we were not comfortable with the type of control being exerted by Gianna which extended into "spiritual direction".

To better clarify the guidelines we used in our discernment process concerning the alleged visions, we want to quote directly from a taped homily, given by Father Benedict Groeschel, author of A Still Small Voice and, many other solid Catholic books. Regarding Private Revelations he said: "There is a SERIOUS (his emphasis) moral responsibility under sin not to accept or embrace a private revelation without adequate proof- - not to be reckless. It is a sin against the First Commandment to pronounce something a revelation of God which is not. Oftentimes people would not commit a deliberate sin, but they could commit a deliberate serious sin of negligence by not taking adequate care to see that what they are calling a private revelation is in fact something that is authentic. There is a great deal to be said about being very cautious. And, there is a moral responsibility from the First commandment- the Commandment against false worship, to be careful about a reported revelation. So, if you are interested in private revelation you have taken on yourself a serious moral responsibility....."

We watched Giannaís relationship with the patients on Mission of Mercy when there were cameras present and when there were none. We wondered if we were becoming overly critical and judgmental, and so, we sought spiritual guidance from the pastors at regional Catholic churches and from the priests at EWTN by way of personal visits. And, we continued to watch. We watched Gianna bring books to the Mission of Mercy working sites and, spend much of the day reading. It soon became apparent that, by looking at the book she was reading, we could accurately predict the coming Thursday message topic.

We backed away from the Thursday service, fearing that we were giving false witness by our presence. We continued to work Mission of Mercy as, at that time it was still considered to be separate from the alleged apparitions. As time passed, our search for discernment led to many other bits/pieces of information. For example, Gianna published a number of volumes that were allegedly, lessons given to her (via locution) from Jesus. The Rhiele Foundation refused to print the I Am Your Jesus Of Mercy books after volume III. A pre-publication review of Volume IV exposed the fact that there were direct excerpts from other literary works!

We quote directly from the book Dear Marian Movement, Let God be God, by William A. Reck, page 139/140:

"...A good example to show the need for discernment, while at the same time trying to determine what to do, or not do, with certain books, is the fourth volume of the book, I Am Your Jesus Of Mercy. We didnít publish it. We didnít publish it because we felt too many of the messages involved were strictly of a personal nature, that the style and delivery was changing throughout, and that the vocabulary changing from page to page indicated that it was not the same person who authored it throughout. I also found that some material in that series of books could have come from elsewhere. For example, one particular lesson was almost word for word from a certain page in the book, The Imitation of Christ. ....."

There were more anomalies. For example, why, after Gianna had a dispute with someone, did the following week's message contain a seemingly personal rebuke? Why, when a controversial statement in a weekly message received criticism from the community, did future messages provide correction/clarification? A few examples of the data that we have collected which relate to this question are:

Example 1 - Our Lady seemed confused as to whether She was soon ending Her visits to Gianna or, continuing them (messages #276 "...My days of visitation are numbered...", #278 "...Little ones know I will not leave you....", #282 ".... Iím sorry to say I cannot leave this place as some of you desire I would, because my Son has asked me to come here .....my Son is not leaving. I am not leaving ...").

Example 2 - Our Lady seems to be espousing Millenarianism in two of Her March 2000 messages(#278/279). On 9 March 2000 she stated: " ..."new tomorrow when temptations will not affect you....There will be a time of peace and no disease, a time and place where every human being will live in unity....You will be restored to health.....Life will flourish....You will have long life and happiness......march triumphantly into the Era of Peace...." Then, after questions arose within the community, Her June 29 message(#293) clarified the Era of Peace. She said: "....This has been foretold for many centuries and is not a new theology as many seem to believe".

Example 3 - On July 13, 2000 (message #294), when the Blessed Mother predicted a sign for October, it was that all might believe. The following week, "....be gentle and show acts of love and charity to others or you will not be able to recognize any sign from heaven because of your own pride and arrogance...." The interesting aspect here is that, at Fatima the sign was for non-believers: now, itís only for believers. Is our God a God of confusion?

When crowds started to dwindle, why did "benign" messages change to more "prophetic" warnings? The crowds came back. The March messages (March 2 and 9 2000) focused on Millenarianism, a Protestant doctrine that the Catholic Church has, time and time again, come out against- see pp.174-178(#668-682) of the Catechism of the Catholic Church. Further, during this same period of time, messages were being received which talked about the return of Jesus as a child (messages #278,279,293,302). Two of these messages seemed to forecast the release of the film Unbridled Mercy, The Return Of Jesus As A Child. The latter two messages, after the release of the film, seemed to be responding to negative commentary. In this light it is interesting to note that in his 8 September 2000 document defending the theology of the film Unbridled Mercy, Fr. John P. Grigus OFM Conv., spiritual director for the Mercy Foundation, stated in eight(8) separate comments that Millenarianistic doctrine, under various guises, have been rejected by the Church, as heretical. So, while attempting to justify one aspect of the messages, he managed to seriously jeopardize the theology of others!

We are not theologians. However, we attempt to use our God-given talents, coupled with prayer, to accurately discern truth. Thus, in the spring of 2000, we became more open in our responses, both orally and via e-mail, to questions regarding our position on the alleged visions. It was time to take a stand for what we believe to be truth. We were motivated to become more open because of the rash of publicity and self promotion being generated at this point in time. It was also during this time that Mike Sullivan explicitly stated that, while in the past Mission of Mercy and the Thursday activities were kept separate but parallel, it was Godís plan that they come together now. There were many signs of business promotion! There were baskets in the church and in the hall for donations to Mission of Mercy (MOM). MOM cadre visited the pilgrim busses before the pilgrims were allowed to disembark, to collect names and address of all so that the Mission of Mercy could expand their mailing lists.

In spring/summer 2000, a number of messages (#281,282,283,284,285,294) were published which referred to Emmitsburg as the "Center of My Immaculate Heart". The messages indicated "physical" center. Message # 282 stated "...there will be many of Godís children who will come here to this, My Center of My Immaculate Heart, and the importance of a receptive and loving community will seal the hand print of Godís mercy...". With the stage now set, the book, Our Lady Of Emmitsburg ! The Center Of My Immaculate Heart was released. We consider this book to be an outrageous commentary. As just one aspect, please note page 83. Would the Blessed Mother really punish one of Her sons (a priest) by sending him south to a poor parish. Isnít serving the poor what we are supposed to be about?

In this same time frame, messages were alluding to the return of Jesus as a child. Messages #278/279 were given just before the release of the undoctrined video, Unbridled Mercy, The Return Of Jesus As A Child. After the release of the video and, amidst the ensuing controversy, two more messages, numbers 293/302 were given to further support the veracity of the video.

Then, an incident occurred on 28 September 2000. Murf and I were fired from our volunteer positions with Mission of Mercy! On that date, we were assigned to serve the Mission of Mercy program. We attended 7AM Mass as usual, and then went to the garage where the Mission of Mercy van is housed. On trying the keys to unlock the van, it would not open. At that point, Dr Mike Sullivan stepped up and, holding out his hand, stated: "You won't be needing those anymore. You are Judas'. We have carried you for a long time now but, you are not worthy to serve the poor !" In his defense, he was aware that we had come to know that there was nothing supernatural about the alleged visions of Gianna. He could have stated such and we would have understood that he did not want any "dissenters" working within the Mission of Mercy organization. However, his words, witnessed by a non-Mission of Mercy observer, beg the question: Why is one not worthy to serve the poor if he/she has difficulty with alleged visions/apparitions ?

Murf and I feel badly that there are still a number of devoted Christians who continue to fall for this ruse even though the Church, at the highest level, has stated that there is nothing supernatural going on. It took us some time to admit that we were wrong in our early belief. Perhaps those who likewise have many years of time/money/talent invested find it increasingly difficult to admit an error in judgment?

We have prayed about publishing our findings and know, like you, that it is our Christian duty to stand for the Truth. We recognize the consequences! However, you have our permission to use this email with the goal of providing enlightenment to those who are having difficulty with discernment concerning the OLOE Cult.

"No one can go off and start up his own church and call it Roman Catholic."

Have your own stories or thoughts about the Our Lady of Emmitsburg Cult?
If so, send them to us as cultwatch@emmitsburg.net

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