Holy Love Ministries
Maureen Sweeney — Kyle at Maranatha Spring


Holy Love Ministries - Maranatha Spring

Maureen Sweeney-Kyle started reporting heavenly locutions in 1985 when the Blessed Mother allegedly appeared to her above the altar in St. Brendan's Catholic Church in North Olmsted, Ohio. Transfixed by the vision, Maureen watched as the sparkling rosary beads in Mary's hand caught the light and changed into shapes resembling the fifty United States.1

Not long afterward, the Blessed Mother started making personal appearances to Maureen almost every day. Maureen would hear thoughts like, "Pray for the Church, pray for the souls of corrupt priests, and Maureen, please remember to take your medicine." Not knowing what to do with all the messages, Maureen confided in Father Ferris Kleem, a visiting priest at St. Brendan's parish. Father Kleem was no ordinary diocesan priest—he belonged to the Marianist order, which professed special devotion to the Blessed Mother and wasn't bound to the authority of the local Bishop.2

Maureen explained her situation to Father Kleem by saying, "These words just keep popping in my head, and I don't know where they come from." Father Kleem responded by saying, "Those aren't words, those are divine locutions." He urged her to write them down in a journal so that they could be read aloud at his prayer group.

Because the pastor at St. Brendan's Church treated Maureen's visions like far-fetched tales, Father Kleem and Maureen's followers left the church and started meeting in private homes. The prayer group then adopted the name Our Lady Protectress of the Faith and began a crusade to win ecclesiastical approval from the Catholic Diocese of Cleveland.

During this time, Maureen's husband, Paul Sweeney, was skeptical about the locutions. He was an active parishioner at St. Brendan's Church and had attended many of the group's early meetings. Although he was a devout Catholic, he had no interest in becoming more involved with Maureen's alleged locutions. To resolve this problem, the Blessed Mother prompted one of the group's members to deliver a message to Donald Kyle, a former police officer, requesting him to join the ministry.

By the early 1990s, Maureen was spending more time with Don Kyle than she was with her husband. After asking Don to accompany her on a trip to Florida, Maureen found herself inseparable from his side. Soon after their trip to Florida in the summer of 1993, Maureen moved out of the house and filed for separation. Several months later, Paul filed for a divorce, which was granted in May 1995. Don and Maureen were eventually married in February 1997.

During this time, the ministry moved to a home in the Seven Hills area, and after hiring a professional fund-raiser, the ministry began to flourish. It was at the Seven Hills home that the Blessed Mother told Maureen to dig a well in the backyard. The holy spring, which Mary called "Maranatha Spring," took shape in the form of a red-handled pump on a far corner of the property. After the pump was installed, the pilgrims could fill empty milk jugs with water that allegedly contained miraculous healing properties.

Another popular attraction at the Seven Hills home was the "Blessing Point," a carpeted corner of the living room where Maureen received her visions. The pilgrims were allowed to venerate the holy carpet by kissing it. Allegedly the Blessed Mother told Maureen, "I promise many favors will be granted by this means." Believers would also place their rings and other religious objects on the Blessing Point so that the Virgin Mother would bestow graces upon them.3

In June 1994, about a thousand pilgrims gathered in the Seven Hills home one Saturday afternoon. Pilgrims were spilling over onto the neighbors' lawns, and traffic was being blocked by several tour buses that were piled up in the street. Four days later, the city of Seven Hills obtained a temporary restraining order against the ministry, and in August 1994, Judge Judith Kilbane-Koch ruled that the group could no longer use the house as a meeting place.

Not long afterward, the Blessed Mother started giving orders like the CEO of a major corporation, asking for cash and real estate. According to a December 5, 1994, fund-raising letter, the spiritual entities that were delivering messages to Maureen wanted "three to five acres with options on the surrounding land." The Blessed Mother also wanted a 900 number and was calling out to financial backers for help, "Dear children, the hour has come when you need to pool your resources just as the apostles did, all for the greater glory of God," reads a letter mailed to potential donors. "Search your hearts, find your assets, and contribute generously."4

Shortly after, Don Kyle started knocking on farmers' doors to see if they had any land to sell. Several months later, the ministry was able to acquire an eighty-three-acre farm in Lorain County for $350,000. According to the Blessed Mothers' instructions, they dug a new well at the far end of the property in the middle of winter 1995. The Blessed Mother also wanted the circle of carpeting cut from the suburban living room where She used to appear and have it brought to the new location.

Soiled and worn from many hours of kneeling and veneration, the carpet remnant, or "Blessing Point," is now mounted on a wooden stand in a new chapel on the eighty-three-acre site. In May 1996, the Lorain County Health Department determined that the well was unsafe for drinking, but that did not stop the pilgrims. In 1995 donations from the public nearly tripled to $306,139 and peaked in 1996 at $506,724. Attendance hit an all-time high on May 5, 1996, when 6,000 people turned out for a scheduled appearance of the Blessed Mother.5

Recently, the Blessed Mother gave Maureen a strand of Her hair, which is kept in a glass case in a small prayer room off the Holy Love chapel. The faithful file in, kneel, and "kiss" the hair, wiping their lip prints off the glass with Kleenex from a box on a nearby nightstand. The day Maureen found the hair, she was looking at her blouse, thinking, "Oh, I did a pretty decent job of ironing." She noticed the long strand of hair, picked it off, and threw it on the floor. Afterward Jesus told her, "You shouldn't have done that. That was Our Lady's hair." So Maureen got down on the floor to find it. According to Maureen's husband, Jesus had promised that if anyone were to venerate that strand of hair, "untold graces would be theirs."

Today, Holy Love Ministries at Maranatha Spring continues to host thousands of pilgrims who arrive by bus to pray the rosary and sing "Ave Maria." Many of the pilgrims have claimed to have witnessed spectacular phenomena in the sky, taken miraculous photographs, and watched their rosaries turn to gold. Others have left the site disillusioned by the million-dollar business complete with a full line of sacred merchandise, everything from twenty-five-cent holy cards to a one-million-dollar commemorative plaque.

On November 11, 2009, the Most Reverend Richard G. Lennon, Bishop of Cleveland, released the following decree concerning Holy Love Ministries:

 

Caution: Holy Love Ministries - Diocese of Cleveland

Notes

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  1. Holy Love's website: http://www.holylove.org/about_visionary.php
  2. Article by Laura Putre entitled "Blessed Other," published on August 12, 1999: http://www.newtimesjobs.com/1999-08-12/news/blessed-other/full - View PDF version of Laura Putre's article entitled "Blessed Other"
  3. "Ministry in Lorain County has its Believers and Skeptics" (Cleveland, Ohio) Plain Dealer, September 24, 2005.
  4. Laura Putre, "Blessed Other." http://www.newtimesjobs.com/1999-08-12/news/blessed-other/full
    View PDF version of Laura Putre's article entitled "Blessed Other"
  5. "About the Visionary" from the Holy Love website: http://www.holylove.org/about_visionary.php
  6. Most Reverend Richard G. Lennon, Decree issued November 11, 2009, Diocese of Cleveland website: http://www.dioceseofcleveland.org/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=1152:decree-holy-love-ministries-decreto-ministerios-del-santo-amor&catid=1:latest&Itemid=534   View a PDF version of Bishop Lennon's Decree
    View a Spanish PDF version of Bishop Lennon's Decree