The great city of Maracaibo once again opened its wonderful doors in 1996 to Mrs. Maria Esperanza Medrano de Bianchini, her family, the Betania Choir, and members of the Betania Foundation. After five years, the Beloved Chinita took the Reconciler of all People by the hand again, to unite the hearts of her children in canticles and acclamations of reconciliation and love. The solemnity of this encounter began with a beautiful procession of Our Lady of Betania from the airport to the Maruma International Hotel, the same hotel where the group stayed. In afternoon they visited the Hogar Clinica San Rafael where with more applause and song the people guided the statue of the Virgin to the Chapel of the place. There, Mrs. Maria Esperanza gave a beautiful brotherly message that ended with her felt blessing, she also visited the patients and 18 children that had been operated on in the morning; and the Betania Choir sang some songs in the Chapel. At night, the family of Dr. Vinicio Arrieta – the doctor who was blessed with the healing of prostate cancer in Betania of the Holy Waters – welcomed Mrs. Maria Esperanza who shared with the members of the Betania Foundation of Zulia State. This was followed by a skilful summary made by Dr. Vinicio Arrieta and by the intervention of Father Emilio Montalvo who thanked Mrs. Maria Esperanza for her reflections regarding priesthood.
Saturday, June 15, the meeting was at 10:30 a.m. in the Basilica de la Virgen de la Chiquinquira, which began with the prayer of the holy rosary, and was followed by the celebration of Holy Mass celebrated by Monsignor Jose Omaña, who during a touching moment expressed, “Maria Esperanza, like an instrument in the hands of God, today comes like Elizabeth, she comes to bring us the Blessed Virgin; as Mary visited Elizabeth, the Blessed Virgin went to visit her cousin Elizabeth; thus today, Mary Reconciler of all People comes to visit us in Zulia.” Once Holy Mass ended, Monsignor Omaña invited Mrs. Maria Esperanza to address the people of Maracaibo who filled the temple of God. In order to close the visit, the highest governmental authority of the region, the Governor of the State, Mr. Arias Cárdenas, and the first lady, invited the Bianchinis and other members of the group to their residence, to pray the holy rosary and to exchange ideas.
On the following day, the ecclesiastical wedding of Raul Peña and Rosalba Arrieta, members of the Betania Foundation and Choir took place, in the Church San Ramon Nonato. Afterwards, they held a reception in the Maruma Hotel where they all gladly celebrated the occasion with classical music, gaitas and songs of the Betania Choir.
In November, Mrs. Maria Esperanza travelled both to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and to Cherry Hill, New Jersey to continue giving her message of love and reconciliation to these towns that she also had visited previously. The first activity she had was an interesting radio interview for 800 WTMR A.M. PHILADELFIA lead by Mr. Dominique Lettieri.
On Thanksgiving in the Culture Hall, Mrs. Maria Esperanza shared beautiful words of gratitude after supper had ended, and after the blessing and participation of several priest friends.
Thus after some private days of Eucharistic celebrations and friendly meetings, on November the 30th in 1996, one thousand five hundred people went to the Garden State Park Pavilion in Cherry Hill for the celebration of Holy Mass presided by Father Cadmus Mazzarella and concelebrated by eight other priests; and to find a wonderful reality: the Mother of God is appearing in these times in Betania, Venezuela leaving us a very important message through her messenger Mrs. Maria Esperanza. The testimony of the father of Ryan Hulick, who was cured of spina bifida, was another reason for the faithful to augment their hope. And to close this great event, the Betania Choir, now with 40 members, released its second disc: Betania, light of the world.
In order to finish the mission there was the celebration of Holy Mass presided by Father Casimir Milewski in a ballroom of the Summerfield Suites Hotel. The homily was kindly handed over to Mrs. Maria Esperanza. Holy Mass was en
ightened by the Betania Choir that transmitted, with its songs, a warm feeling of the beginnings of Christmas.
Men, women and children; priests, religious and lay; non-believers and believers; regardless of the condition each one had, everyone united their hearts and consciences to share and to make a commitment, urged by the invitation Mrs. Maria Esperanza was giving, of assuming the responsibility of fashioning “a great family, the family of God”.