In June of 2005, Ann Patterson shared with me, the story of her personal conversion, accepting Jesus back into her heart and her path back in the Catholic faith. Living in Chicago, Ann had suffered at the hands of an abusive father and three failed marriages. She was eventually overwhelmed with the desire to find her father after 30 years, and extend forgiveness so she could begin to heal. She believes that is when the Lord began to change her life.
In 1989, Ann felt compelled to visit a chapel that her mother and grandmother had taken her as a child. Kneeling before a large statue of the Sacred Heart, she released a torrent of tears and told Our Lord, “ I hate my life, I hate it! Change it Lord!” As she began saying the Our Father, the statue disappeared and the Sacred Heart of Jesus stood before her as a person. In fear she ran out, but returned the next day. When the event repeated itself, she bolted for the door a second time. The third day, she returned but promised not to run away if He chose to appear to her again. He did.
One of the nuns noticed Ann’s frequent visits and asked her why. After Ann explained, the nun shared the special history of the statue. It had been made back in 1925 and placed in their convent school. It was reported that unexplained happenings began to take place when Jesus appeared to 3 of the school children. Due to this, the statue was eventually moved from the school and placed in the main church where many miracles and conversions began to take place. As time passed, the nuns moved the statue to the basement of the church. It was there that Ann continued to have encounters with Jesus.
In 1990, Jesus pointed to a small table in the room and Ann discovered material describing a little village called Medjugorje. Although she had never heard of it, she was determined to travel there. While attending Saturday vigil Masses, to Ann’s surprise, she discovered there was a Medjugorje pilgrimage being offered for later the same year. Not having the money to go, she prayed to the Lord for Him to make it possible, if it be His will. Her prayers were answered when her tax refund matched the cost of the trip.
On the second day of her pilgrimage she climbed apparition hill and became keenly aware of her need for confession. Upon her descent, she sought out an English speaking priest and poured out her sins and despair. As she began to exit the confessional, the priest stopped her and asked why she was so hesitant to share something special. She explained that she did not think he would believe her. He reassured her and after hearing her story, he declared her confession to be the best he had ever heard in Medjugorje. He further counseled her to her new vocation, as a disciple of Our Lord.
In 1991, Ann prayed and asked the Lord if one day the statue could come home with her. There was no answer. The next time the nun saw Ann, she inquired as to what she had been praying for. Ann shared her prayer request concerning the statue, to which the nun replied that it would be impossible since the statue had been with them for 75 years. Ann responded that she would never pray for that intention again.
In 1992, under the Lord’s direction, she began a prayer group that met in the basement of the church, at 3pm every Monday. Over time, as word spread about Ann’s encounter with Jesus, the crowds in the basement became overwhelming, placing the church in violation of the fire codes. Due to this violation, the nuns asked Ann to move the prayer group elsewhere and that they would give Ann the statue for a small donation. Ann then began the prayer meetings at a makeshift chapel in her home.
Within a week, a missionary priest based out of Chicago, heard about the chapel and called Ann to ask if the chapel had been consecrated. When Ann responded that it hadn’t, he arranged to say Mass the next Monday and consecrate it. Since 1995, Ann has been blessed to have a priest celebrate Holy Mass every Monday at her home.
If you have any questions, you may contact Ann at the Sacred Heart Center for Peace, PO Box 927, Wilmette, Illinois, 60091.