The Walk to Mary: How It All Began

“Through Mary, we come to her Son more easily.” Those are the words of Pope St. John Paul II in his encyclical Redemptoris Mater, which means “Mother of the Redeemer”. And it is the truth behind that statement that resonates so intensely with Catholics around the world and, in particular, our very own Rev. Francis “Rocky” Hoffman, Chairman and CEO of Relevant Radio. The trust the Relevant Radio network puts in the intercession of Our Lady is so strong and integral to our mission that we have dedicated and consecrated ourselves to her protection and guidance for many years.

And throughout all these years, Fr. Rocky has sought ways to bring people across the world closer to Our Lady, and thereby bring them closer to Christ. In 2009, he was met with just such an opportunity through the Shrine of Our Lady of Good Help in Champion, Wisconsin. Father was introduced to the shrine by a friend and told that Our Lady was believed to have appeared there in 1859 to Adele Brise.

Though Fr. Rocky was skeptical, he decided that he had to see it for himself before passing judgment on its legitimacy. On a beautiful day in May of 2010, he drove out to Champion and made a visit to the Shrine of Our Lady of Good Help.

“I was immediately convinced, in some way, that this was real.”

Just seven months later, Bishop David L. Ricken formally approved the apparitions of Our Lady of Good Help, making it the first Church-approved Marian apparition in the United States. Father became convinced of the idea that somebody should start a pilgrimage to this shrine, and after some ideation, it was decided by co-founders Pat Deprey and Tom Schmit that the journey would consist of a 21-mile walk from the National Shrine of St. Joseph in De Pere to the Shrine of Our Lady of Good Help in Champion.

Ever since the very first walk in 2013, the popularity of this pilgrimage has grown exponentially, in part because of people’s love for Our Lady, and in part because of the miracles and extraordinary stories that have stemmed from this apparition: people have prayed for and received spouses, financial assistance, healing from physical, mental, and spiritual wounds, cures for diseases, and much more. The power of Our Lady’s intercession knows no bounds, so it’s no wonder that the number of registered pilgrims has grown from a few hundred in 2014 to over 3,300 in 2022.

And it is the hope of the Relevant Radio family and the Walk to Mary team that we witness even more pilgrims this year. Do you have a special intention that you’ve been praying for? Are you struggling with something serious in your life? Do you need a miracle? Go to Our Lady of Good Help!

Remember, O most gracious Virgin Mary, that never was it known that anyone who fled to thy protection, implored thy help, or sought thy intercession, was left unaided.

To register for the 2023 Walk to Mary on Saturday, May 6th, go to, sign up, and join us as we journey to Our Lady next month.

John Hanretty serves as a Digital Media Producer for Relevant Radio®. He is a graduate of the Gupta College of Business at the University of Dallas. Besides being passionate about writing, his hobbies include drawing and digital design. You can read more of his daily articles at and on the Relevant Radio® app.