On 11 February, 1999 The Bishop of Toowoomba, Bishop William Morris, published a
letter informing the people of the results of his formal investigation of the
claim to private revelations of Debra Geilesky of Helidon, and of the teaching
and practices of the Magnificat Meal Movement which she founded. He very clearly
taught on that occasion that "on the basis of all the information
available it can only be concluded that the alleged apparitions associated with
the Magnificat Meal Movement are devoid of any supernatural origin. The writings
published by the Movement itself also lead to the inevitable conclusion that it
neither had, nor desires, any place in the Catholic Church". This is a
conclusion which the Bishops of Queensland would all endorse.
Sadly, since then, some people have continued to believe the claims of Debra
Geilesky which have increasingly become more at variance with Catholic faith,
practice and spirituality. At present she is claiming that the Mass celebrated
in our Parishes is invalid and that Catholics risk their eternal salvation by
participation. Because the Eucharist is at the centre of the Church, such false
teachings is in opposition to the very life of the Church itself.
We, therefore, urge all to withdraw from any association with this Movement and
its teaching. We would wish to welcome all who have aligned themselves with this
Movement back into full communion with the Church. We also ask other Catholics
to pray for those who have been harmed by their association with this Movement
and to reach out to them with Christ-like love and concern.
Archbishop Bathersby Archbishop of Brisbane
Bishop William Morris Bishop of Toowoomba
Bishop Raymond Benjamin Bishop of Townsville
Bishop Brian Heenan Bishop of Rockhampton
Bishop James Foley Bishop of Cairns
PRESS RELEASE FROM REV BRIAN SPARKSMAN, Chancellor of the Diocese of Toowoomba
Bishop Peter Stasiuk, the leader of
the Ukrainian Catholic Church in Australia, has advised the Diocese of Toowoomba
of the intended visit to the Movement at Helidon of a speaker named Josyp
Terelya. He is to be in the district from mid-September until early October.
In a statement issued through his Chancellor, Very Rev Olexander Kenez, Bishop
Stasiuk voices his concern that Josyp Terelya will present himself as an
authoritative member of the Catholic Church. The Bishop stresses that Josyp
Terelya does not in any manner or form represent the Ukranian Catholic Church or
in any other branch of the Catholic Church, and that he is not authorised in any
way to speak on behalf of the Church. He cautions everyone against attending any
talk by Josyp Terelya.
The Magnificat Meal Movement founded by Mrs Debra Geilesky has been much in the
news. In 1997, because so many people raised concerns, I set a Commission to
investigate the Magnificat meal Movement. Late last year the Commission handed
me its findings and I took these, along with publications of the Magnificat meal
Movement, to Rome. The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith supported my
view that Catholic people should disassociate themselves from the Magnificat
meal Movement saying "All this constitutes a clear danger to many good people".
In light of the Vatican statements I still declare that the Magnificat Meal
Movement is not of God.
I want to be quite clear that no Magnificat Meal Movement activity has any
church approval. This includes dressing in the style favoured by them and
appearing en masse at diocesan functions as though they are an approved
religious community. Any silence by me on this subject could be taken as tacit
encouragement or approval of the Magnificat Meal Movement.
Recently in Toowoomba leaflets were distributed advertising Youth for Eucharist
'99, an event sponsored by an organisation called Corpus Christi International.
Corpus Christi International was registered by Debra Geilesky and two of her
Magnificat Meal Movement followers on 15 February 1999, as a business for
"educational materials". It may simply be a coincidence that this new name
appeared within days of the promulgation of my letter advising the findings of
the Commission and of the Vatican. "Corpus Christi International" has no
permission, or approval, to work within this Diocese. This event, and the
organisation promoting it, are not part of the Catholic Church. It is a private
event organised by a private organisation. I issue a strong caution to all to
avoid it. I advise any young people who may be attracted to this event to find
an alternative that does enjoy the support of the Catholic Church.
Many good people have been hurt by their association with the Magnificat Meal
Movement. It is my wish that this new organisation will be recognised as "more
of the same", simply an extension of the Magnificat Meal Movement activities, so
that it will not be the cause of further division and hurt within the Church and
wider civic community.
The Catholic Church holds the Eucharist and Eucharist devotion in highest
honour. The Eucharist is the "source and summit of all Christian worship" as the
Second Vatican Council said. Precisely for this reason the Church will guard
this treasure jealously against any kind of abuse. I encourage all Catholics to
develop their knowledge of, and authentic worship of, the Eucharist within the
genuine forms approved by and promoted by the Church.
I have stated previously that the Magnificat Meal Movement has no permission to
reserve the Blessed Sacrament at its premises in Helidon, nor does it have
permission for the Eucharist to be celebrated there. No Priest, other than
Father Ryan the Parish priest, or someone who replaces him, is authorised by the
Church for any celebration of the sacraments in the parish of Helidon. That
directive still holds.
Yours in Christ
William M Morris, DD
Bishop of Toowoomba
11 FEBRUARY, 1999
DECLARATION CONCERNING THE MAGNIFICAT MEAL MOVEMENT IN THE DIOCESE OF TOOWOOMBA
On September 1, 1997, I appointed a Commission to investigate the Magnificat
Meal Movement and alleged supernatural apparitions to its founder and some of
its members. In October 1998 the Commission presented its provisional findings
to me. After studying this information I personally consulted with the Vatican
Authorities on this matter.
On the basis of all the information available it can only be concluded that the
alleged apparitions associated with the Magnificat Meal Movement are devoid of
any supernatural origin. The writings published by the Movement itself also lead
to the inevitable conclusion that it neither has, nor desires, any place in the
After reviewing the same information and also publications of the Movement
itself, the Vatican Authorities confirmed these findings. In a letter dated 12
January, 1999, the Secretary of the Sacred Congregation for the Doctrine of the
Faith makes a number of responses.
The letter is obviously referring to a number of specific allegations of
corruption in the literature of the Movement. These even include supposed
admissions of corruption by the Pope himself.
The Secretary writes:
"The facts show serious distortions of truth in allegations of corruption in
"There is an obvious lack of due respect and obedience to legitimate
authority and a disregard for Church discipline. It is misleading, to say the
least, that these attitudes should be presented as inspired by Our Blessed Lady.
None of this can come from a good source.
All of this constitutes a clear danger to many good people who may be lead away
from proper obedience and loyalty to the Church."
Therefore, concern for the
spiritual welfare of the People of God leads me, as Bishop of Toowoomba, to
repeat my request that Catholic people dissociate themselves from the Magnificat
Meal Movement and its activities.
I invite my fellow priests and brothers and sisters to promote the worship of
Christ present in the Blessed Eucharist, and the veneration of Mary, the Mother
of God, in the many authentic forms which have been approved by the Catholic
Under ordinary conditions, priests in Australia are generally presumed to have
faculties to administer the sacraments anywhere in Australia within the
framework of the Catholic Church. Exceptions to this occur where there has been
specific direction by any Bishop within his diocese in some way limiting those
faculties or by virtue of a limitation indicated in the Code of Canon Law.
I have twice made public statements that the Magnificat Meal Movement is not a
movement of the Catholic Church.
Neither I, nor any other Bishop in the world, can grant to any cleric the
faculties to preach or administer the sacraments for any group which is not a
recognised movement of the Catholic Church, nor give permission for the
reservation of the Blessed Sacrament.
The only legitimate clergyman in the Catholic parish of Helidon is Father John
Ryan, or someone who legitimately replaces him. Anyone else intending to
minister in the parish must have my direct permission, or permission arranged
through Father Ryan. For some time now, there have been requests for clergy
visiting the Magnificat Meal Movement premises. The Magnificat Meal Movement has
no right to dictate to the parish of Helidon how to celebrate any Sacramental
Rite or Eucharistic Celebration, nor does it have permission from myself or any
other Bishop, including Bishop Issam Darwish, to reserved the Blessed Sacrament
on it premises, or in any private residence.
To my knowledge, the parish of Helidon always follows liturgical rites as set
down in the Roman Missal or the Roman Ritual: Holy Communion and Worship of the
Eucharist Outside Mass.
Given its public statements and actions, there is some considerable doubt as to
whether the Magnificat Meal Movement is a genuine Christian movement. However,
if the Magnificat Meal Movement wished still to become a recognised movement
within the Catholic Church, the means are always there for it to do so.
When people in the Church claim to experience supernatural visions, and then
attract groups of followers because of these claims, the Church is always
cautious and subjects such claims to rigid investigations.
The Church follows certain set procedures to ensure the veracity of all claims
for the good of God's people.
This is happening in the Diocese of Toowoomba, where Bishop William Morris,
acting exactly in accordance with Vatican procedures, has set up a Commission to
examine the claims of Mrs Debra Geilesky. Mrs Geilesky leads the Magnificat Meal
Movement and claims she has witnessed supernatural visions.
These Vatican guidelines constitute the only legitimate procedure in such cases.
The only way Mrs Geilesky can receive Church approval is by co-operating with
the Church process.
The Bishops of Queensland wish to express their support for Bishop Morris and
pray that his endeavours will achieve a blessed result for all God's people.
By William M Morris, DD, Bishop of Toowoomba
I am deeply distressed for the residents of Helidon who today have been subject
to a puerile protest by residents living in their midst who are members of a
sect called the Magnificat Meal Movement.
The placards have been particularly distressing to the children of the Helidon
The protest has no grounds, for the spiritual needs of the parishioners of
Helidon, who include individuals who are members of the Magnificat Meal
Movement, have been met and looked after by the Church as they always have been.
In line with Church law and protocol and according to the steps laid out by the
Vatican, I am setting up a Commission to investigate the practices and statutes
of the Magnificat Meal Movement and the alleged apparitions and visions of Mrs
Debra Geilesky, founder of the Movement.
William M Morris, DD
Bishop of Toowoomba
STATEMENT BY BISHOP MORRIS ON THE CHURCH'S POSITION RE THE MAGNIFICAT MEAL
In May 1996 I made a statement to the Diocese which was released to the Media
and sent to the Bishops of Australia as well as various parts of the world. This
statement was made to clarify the Church's position in its relationship with the
Magnificat Meal Movement. I stated then and I state now, that the Magnificat
Meal Movement is a private movement sponsored and founded by Debra Geilesky. It
is of Debra and has absolutely nothing to do with the Catholic Church. There is
no Church approval for the Magnificat Meal Movement or for the alleged private
revelations and visions of Debra. Those who attend and participate in the
practices of the Magnificat meal Movement do so as private individuals and not
as members of the Catholic Church. Those who participate within the liturgical
life of the Parish of Helidon do so as individuals and not as members of the
Magnificat Meal Movement.
There has never been a response to my request of Debra for the statutes under
which the Magnificat meal Movement operates nor has there been clarification
concerning its financial situation. Half-truths and inconsistencies in various
reports concerning Debra and her movement make it difficult to know what is true
and what is not, thereby causing confusion in people's minds to its
authenticity. This confusion continues by using such titles for Mary as
Corredemtrix, Mediatrix of all Graces and Advocate.
On June 22 the Catholic Weekly reporting from the L'Osservatore Romano stated
that a Commission was set up by the Vatican at the request of Pope John Paul II
to investigate petitions sent to him from certain circles asking that Mary be
formally proclaimed as "Mediatrix" (Mediator), "Corredemtrix" (Co-redeemer) and
"Advocate". The Commission unanimously agreed that the Roman Catholic Church
should not solemnly define new teachings about the Virgin Mary. The Commission's
main objectives were that the titles as proposed are ambiguous, and that the
Second Vatican Council, although initially asked to make the same solemn
proclamation chose not to do so after study, prayer and discussion. It
completely avoided referring to Mary as Co-redeemer and made only a very sober
use of the titles Mediator and Advocate.
The Bishops of the Second Vatican Council and Pope John Paul II in his speeches
and letters have preferred to describe Mary as "Cooperator" in Christ's work of
redemption. Mary does have a role of Maternal Mediation on behalf of all
believers but this is subordinate to the absolute and universal role of Christ.
The Magnificat Meal Movement continually misleads its followers by saying that
these titles are going to be defined by the Pope in the very near future.
Once again, this is clear evidence of the half-truths and inconsistencies in
statements and reports made by the Magnificat Meal Movement. The Magnificat Meal
Movement is no more authentically Catholic than a tennis club made up of
predominantly Catholic members or a fishing club made up of predominantly
Catholic members. The Magnificat Meal Movement uses traditional Catholic
practices to entrap people into a sect or cult that is not Catholic. The
confusion and the hurt surrounding Debra and her movement saddens me for there
have been many who through traditional devotion to Eucharist and to Mary have
experienced conversion of heart and deepened their faith in the Risen Lord.
Unfortunately because of the half-truths, the inconsistencies and in some
instances the lack of orthodoxy concerning aspects of statements made and
practices performed, the Magnificat Meal Movement places itself outside the
Catholic Church. the Magnificat Meal Movement has no standing within the
Catholic Diocese of Toowoomba or within the Universal Catholic Church.
MEMBERS OF THE MAGNIFICAT MEAL MOVEMENT
All powerful and ever present God, we pray for the return of the members of the
Magnificat Meal Movement to full communion with your Church. May the example of
Mary, whose obedience, faith, hope and burning charity made her Mother of the
Church, inspire them to follow in her footsteps, united with the Apostles and