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EWTN comes to Mary’s House replica

Michael O’Neill, producer of a series on miracles and saints for the Eternal Word Television Network (in dark jacket), interviews Mary Fraser Tarinelli, director of Our Lady of Ephesus House of Prayer in Jamaica. Behind her is the stone replica of the last house the Blessed Mother is believed to have lived in before her assumption into Heaven. Father Albert “Skip” Baltz, a senior priest of the Diocese of Burlington, was one of the reenactors for the filming of the story on the discovery of the house in Ephesus. Photo by Cori Fugere Urban Michael O’Neill, producer of a series on miracles and saints for the Eternal Word Television Network (in dark jacket), interviews Mary Fraser Tarinelli, director of Our Lady of Ephesus House of Prayer in Jamaica. Behind her is the stone replica of the last house the Blessed Mother is believed to have lived in before her assumption into Heaven. Father Albert “Skip” Baltz, a senior priest of the Diocese of Burlington, was one of the reenactors for the filming of the story on the discovery of the house in Ephesus.
It was Aug. 15, the Feast of the Assumption, and Mary Fraser Tarinelli had many details to attend to before the afternoon’s events that included Mass, a guest speaker and music followed by a pot luck supper. 

Director of Our Lady of Ephesus House of Prayer in Jamaica, privately owned and operated by Tarinelli, one of the first things she did when she arrived at the replica of Mary’s House in Ephesus, Turkey, on the Vermont property was sit for an interview with an Eternal Word Television Network producer.

Michael O’Neill, producer of a series on miracles and saints, sat under a tree facing Tarinelli, behind her the stone replica of the last house the Blessed Mother is believed to have lived in before her assumption into Heaven. 

“The idea is to tell stories of saints and those on their way to sainthood,” O’Neill said of the series.

He and a crew of about a dozen — mostly from New York and Chicago — were in Vermont to film a segment about French Daughter of Charity Sister Marie de Mandat-Grancey who lived from 1837 to 1915. She was the foundress of the House of Mary — in Turkish, Meryem Ana Evi — located in Ephesus. As a religious, she cared for orphans in France, then in 1896, she volunteered to serve in the French naval hospital in Smyrna (now Izmir), Turkey. 

She had read and been moved by Blessed Anne Catherine Emmerich’s account of the life of Mary and St. John and, while in Turkey, got two skeptical Vincentian priests to search for the home based on Blessed Emmerich’s visions of the home. When it was miraculously found, Sister de Mandat-Grancey used her family’s resources to purchase and restore the property. 

The archbishop of Smyrna declared the ruins the remains of a house inhabited by the Blessed Mother. 

The sister promoted and cared for Meryem Ana Evi, a shrine for Christians and Muslims who venerate Mary as the mother of Jesus.

The EWTN crew could not go to Turkey to film about Sister de Mandat-Grancey, so they came to Vermont Aug. 14-15 to film at Our Lady of Ephesus House of Prayer, located on the site of what had once been a horse farm operated by Tarinelli and her late husband, Don.

The half-hour segment is expected to air on EWTN sometime in the fall.

“This is a story of a far-off place, but we get to visit it in a special way by coming to Vermont,” O’Neill said. “Visually this is so engaging. A lot of stories of saints don’t have fascinating places like this that you can visit.”

Sister de Mandat-Grancey is currently a servant of God; this is the first step toward canonization.

About a dozen local people appear in the EWTN film along with Tarinelli’s donkey and a neighbor’s horse.

One of the “actors” in the film is Father Albert “Skip” Baltz of South Burlington, a retired priest of the Diocese of Burlington and friend of Tarinelli. Wearing a cassock and berretta consistent with the sister’s times and a long fake beard, he portrayed one of two priests that accompanied Sister de Mandat-Grancey to Ephesus. 

The focus of the film is her journey to Mary’s House in Turkey for the first time. 

“Our people don’t have to go to Turkey; they can come right here to see Mary’s House,” he said. “That’s what Sister Marie was all about: Mary’s House.”

Many people make a pilgrimage to significant Marian sites like and Lourdes and Fatima, but they need not go to Turkey to see her house: “It’s all here. It’s all exactly” the way the house is in Ephesus, he said.

“When you sit in the chapel, you’re overwhelmed. Mary lived in a house like this in Ephesus,” Father Baltz said. “But this is in Vermont.”

He has, however, visited Ephesus twice on a pilgrimage in the past half dozen years.

“Now EWTN is exposing this spiritual treasure [in the Diocese of Burlington] to the world,” he said.

Father Baltz celebrated the Assumption Mass at Our Lady of Ephesus House of Prayer in an outdoor tent next to the replica. His homily focused on the question, “Does our ‘yes’ mimic Mary’s ‘yes’?”

“Everything asked of her, her answer was ‘yes,’” he said.

Francis Laurence attended the Assumption celebration from Shrewsbury, Mass. “It is very special to come here and feel a closeness to Our Lady,” he said.

Mary Cormier from Hollis, N.H., has a strong devotion to Our Lady of Ephesus. “She will never come out of my mind or out of my heart,” she said. “She gave me a living experience of her role as mother of the Church and the understanding of who she is in the Church.”

For another attendee, Marianne Marino of Derry, N.H., it is significant to visit the replica of the house where Mary spent her final earthly years “contemplating her life, her ministry and her Son and what He brought to the world.” 

The stone replica was dedicated in 2006; Archbishop Giuseppe G. Bernardini, OFM Cap., archbishop emeritus of Izmir, blessed the replica and the altar inside.

It had been his idea to have the duplicate of Mary’s House built at Our Lady of Ephesus House of Prayer, founded by his friends, the Tarinellis, at their Fawn Ledge Farm.

He was bishop of the diocese in Turkey in which Mary’s House is located, and he wanted to spread devotion to Our Lady of Ephesus, to whom Mary Tarinelli has a great devotion. Her mother, the late Elizabeth Fraser, had said the Blessed Mother appeared to her in 1959 while she was attending Mass at the original Mary’s House in Ephesus. Years later, she described Mary to an artist who painted a portrait based on her description. That portrait was displayed at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, D.C., where an oratory in her honor was dedicated in 2004.

The replica is an 800-square-foot stone and brick building in the shape of an L with four rooms, one a chapel.

The original house has significance to Christians and Muslims who hold Mary in high regard. Archbishop Bernardini said at the time of the replica’s dedication that at least half of the visitors to Mary’s House in Turkey are Muslim.

“It’s beautiful when Muslims come” to Our Lady of Ephesus House of Prayer and the replica, nestled among the trees, wooden fences and stone walls along a dirt road, Tarinelli said. “I believe it is Mary who is going to bring her children together.”

She continued, “We are trying to replicate what is going on in Ephesus: Anyone is welcome to come and pray.”

For more information, go to ourladyofephesushouseofprayer.org.

Article written by Cori Fugere Urban, Vermont Catholic content editor.
Last modified onMonday, 29 August 2016 13:52
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