What happens when you chase every enticement the world has to offer, but end up disenfranchised? Then, realizing you have nowhere else to go, you look up and find the gift of Our Lady, waiting to take your hand and heal your heart. Some would call this their conversion experience. For J. Basil Dannebohm, it has become his life’s calling.
After Dannebohm spent a period of his life following the world, even serving in the Kansas House of Representatives, he hit what he calls the “sub-floor of despair.” He was losing hope in life and realized he needed to pray more fervently than he had ever prayed before. In turn, God brought the Blessed Mother as a gift to Dannebohm.
“I needed someone on my side who would always love me, never abandon me, and wanted me to love and forgive myself,” he explains. “When the heart is hardened, it cannot love.” The title “Our Lady, Healer of Hearts” came to Dannebohm in prayer, and he learned that she wanted him to share this title with others in need of healing.
“She wants to unleash her Son’s mercy under this title,” he says, following with a beautiful concept that theologically complements Jesus as the Divine Mercy. “The Sacred Heart of Jesus is the noun, and the verb is the Divine Mercy — the action coming from the Sacred Heart. Likewise, the Immaculate Heart of Mary is the noun, while Healer of Hearts is the verb, the action of the Blessed Mother.”
Under this title, Dannebohm believes Our Lady will open our hearts to receiving Divine Mercy, because we can’t experience God’s mercy with a hardened heart. She is softening the jaded and wounded hearts of many who have chosen to join Dannebohm, either as a board member or in worldwide membership.
The Society of Our Lady, Healer of Hearts is still in its infancy, but it is growing exponentially by the day. Dannebohm understands that some are reluctant to acknowledge the society because of its newness. Still, he believes the saints have all been “verb” people of action; they didn’t wait for something to become established before courageously embracing their call.
In turn, Dannebohm suggests that those interested in the society first read True Devotion to Mary by St. Louis de Montfort and The Marian Option by Carrie Gress. He says, “You will understand why you need Mary in your life right now in the midst of conflict and division. If you read these books, you’ll be clamoring to become a member. You will yearn for it.”
Next, he says “prepare your heart and mind to experience what [Mary] wants to do through you. Titles to the Mother of God are powerful. If we’re calling her Healer of Hearts, we have to be ready for what she wants to give.”
Membership is simple. According to the society’s website, the requirements are:
- be a practicing Catholic obedient to the Holy Father and to the Magisterium of the Catholic Church
- accept of all the Church’s Mariological teachings
- demonstrate support for all authentic Marian devotion (the rosary, the scapular, Marian consecration, et cetera)
- accept Marian evangelization as part of the New Evangelization
- demonstrate respect for authentic, Church recognized Marian private revelations
- recite daily, and reflect on, the prescribed prayers of the society
- fervently strive to live a “Marianized” life in thought, word, and deed.
Further, he explains the purpose of the society: “We want members to share the message of having your heart healed. We provide opportunities for spiritual growth by offering new broadcasts of the rosary, excellent resources from our website to further your spiritual journey, and events that we do. We want people to feel like a family. We are very engaged. Prayer requests come directly to me, and everyone has an opportunity to talk to me.”
Because The Society of Our Lady, Healer of Hearts is not a street or parish ministry, but instead a prayer ministry that is guided virtually through the internet, Dannebohm wants once per year to provide an opportunity for members to meet each other and the leadership. The Festa d’ Fiat is what Dannebohm hopes will be “a family reunion. It will put faces with names.”
The future event will include Catholic speakers, musicians, and most importantly, uplifting prayers. The day is a celebration of what Dannebohm hopes will be a “way of giving people the most dynamic Marian experience possible on her birthday.” Kansas is in the middle of the United States geographically so that people from all over the country will have access to it. Dannebohm believes Our Lady wanted a place where all could come and gather.
Finally, Dannebohm explains that this ministry really isn’t about anything other than the grandeur of God. “I’m simply an instrument, and the Holy Spirit is the conductor. The Blessed Mother is the composer. And the song is for the beauty and glory of her Son.”
TO LEARN MORE:
IF YOU GO:
The Society of Our Lady, Healer of the Hearts Convocation is Sept. 7–9 in Salina, Kansas. The event includes the blessing of a statue of Our Lady, Healer of Hearts by Gregor Mussner of the Mussner G. Vincenzo Art Studio in northern Italy. For more information about the convocation, visit OurLadyHealerofHearts.com/Convocation.
PRAYER TO OUR LADY, HEALER OF HEARTS
I belong entirely to you, O Mary, Healer of Hearts, and all that I have is yours. I take you for my all. O Mary, give me your heart. In exchange, I give you mine. (Adapted by Fr. Kevin Barrett)