Local priest writes book on Maria Esperanza

Father Timothy Byerley first met Servant of God Maria Esperanza Medrano de Bianchini in the early 1990s, when Medrano — a wife, mother of seven, and Catholic visionary — was spreading the message she received in Betania, Venezuela, and had been invited to speak at Marian conferences in New Jersey.

Bianchini reportedly first saw an apparition of Mary in 1976, but she became a world-renowned figure after Mary reportedly appeared to her and 150 others at a farm named Finca Betania in Venezuela on March 25, 1984. Mary is said to have appeared under the title “Mary, virgin and mother, reconciler of all people and nations.”

The apparition was deemed valid by Bishop Pio Bello Ricardo of Los Teques, Venezuela, in 1987.

Esperanza’s sainthood cause was formerly opened at St. Francis of Assisi Cathedral in Metuchen, N.J., on Jan. 31, 2010. Father Byerley was named vice-postulator of her cause.

To promote her life, virtues, and mission, Father Byerley, pastor of Mary, Queen of All Saints Parish, Pennsauken, has written a biography of the visionary and mystic, “Maria Esperanza and the Grace of Betania.”

For the past four years, Father Byerley has worked with prayer groups in the United States and Latin America to study the life of Esperanza and promote devotion to her. Esperanza died in 2004 in Long Beach Island, N.J.

His recent book covers the life of Maria Esperanza: her early childhood, the Marian apparitions, her mystical and spiritual gifts such as bilocation and locution, and her family. As well, the work includes testimonies from others.

The book allows people to “see how a woman was able to live the heights of mystical spirituality, and at the same time be an extraordinary wife, and mother of seven children, and how she was able to integrate those two vocations, through her unity with Christ,” Father Byerley said.

As Esperanza’s mission was to introduce souls to the “blessings of Betania, which are family, unity, and fraternal reconciliation,” his book will “greatly illuminate” this fall’s World Meeting of Families in Philadelphia, with Pope Francis and the U.S. Bishops, he said.

“Maria Esperanza and the Grace of Betania” can be ordered in English or Spanish, for $9, by going to www.betania2.org, or calling 508-533-5377.

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