Virgin Mary prayer services can continue

June 14, 1994|By Greg Tasker | Greg Tasker,Western Maryland Bureau

EMMITSBURG -- Special Thursday prayer services -- at which a woman claims to have visions of the Virgin Mary -- can continue at a small Roman Catholic church here, the Archdiocese of Baltimore said yesterday.

Priests from St. Joseph's Church met with Baltimore Archbishop William Keeler yesterday to discuss the visions of Dr. Gianna Talone-Sullivan, 37, a pharmacologist who moved here from Scottsdale, Ariz., several months ago. Dr. Talone-Sullivan's visions at the weekly services are attracting growing numbers of people to the 152-year-old church. About 700 people attended the nearly three-hour service Thursday.

During the services, Dr. Talone-Sullivan says, she sees a brilliant light and then the Virgin Mary appears and speaks, giving her messages that she shares with the congregation. The woman says the Virgin is "indescribably beautiful," with black hair and blue eyes, and disappears back into the light after several minutes.

The archbishop "doesn't want to discourage anyone from praying, especially to the Virgin Mary," said Bill Blaul, a diocesan spokesman. "There is some very powerful, sincere prayerful activity attracting a lot of people there and he doesn't want to discourage that."

Archbishop Keeler will meet with the Phoenix bishop next week to discuss an investigation the Arizona archdiocese conducted of Dr. Talone-Sullivan and other visionaries in 1989, Mr. Blaul said. That investigation found nothing miraculous but commended those involved for their devotion to the Virgin Mary.

"The bishops will meet face to face to discuss the investigation," Mr. Blaul said.

The Arizona investigation is now before the Vatican. Mr. Blaul said Archbishop Keeler will try to learn the status of that investigation and possibly coordinate any further efforts with Rome.

Dr. Talone-Sullivan's visions are said to have begun in 1988 at St. Maria Goretti Roman Catholic parish in Scottsdale.

The Rev. Alfred Pehrsson, pastor of St. Joseph's, said Dr. Talone-Sullivan moved to the area after a visit to the Grotto of Lourdes, off U.S. 15 near the campus of Mount St. Mary's College, during which she said she experienced a vision.

In the vision, Dr. Talone-Sullivan was told there was good work for her to do in Emmitsburg. That work, Father Pehrsson said, includes a "Mission of Mercy," a traveling health clinic to aid the poor and homeless in rural Maryland towns.

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