Patty Powell (nee Smith) & her twin sister Eileen Giles (nee Smith) went to Stella Maris College at Geraldton in Western Australia. Their Year 11 teacher was Sr. Monica Maddox. Sr. Monica went to Thailand to help form the Presentation Sisters of Thailand Order. As Patty and Eileen had kept in touch with her she contacted them and asked them to help her with a Thai exchange program. A Catholic school called Daruna in Ratchaburi, Thailand sent children, teachers and minor seminarians to Rockingham in Western Australia for their summer break starting March. Patty and Eileen found schools and homes for them amoungst family and friends.
On the 1st August, 1994 Eileen, Patty and their husbands made a trip to Thailand to visit the children from previous exchange programs, who had become so close to them. Patty, who already had a Sacred Heart statue asked a priest, Fr. Silvio, who had been on an earlier exchange, where she could get a statue of Our Lady of Lourdes, as this was the parish she came from. He told her to go to Bangkok and to go to a St. Vincent de Paul Mission office that sold statues and religious articles. She was attracted immediately to the face of this statue. The statue had such a peaceful and serene face.
While in Bangkok they visited another presentation nun Sr. Joan Evans (a West Australian Presentation Nun) who worked in the slums of Bangkok. They all visited the Mercy Centre where Sr. Joan showed them families who suffered from aids and how they were brought into the centre to learn to care for their sick family members. Sr. Joan took them to see the slum area where people had built shanty’s underneath bridges down near the wharf area.
Eight years went by and on March 19th, 2002 Patty came home from work and was sitting out in the shrine area and looked over at Our Lady and saw two shiny streaks running down her face. She thought that it looked like tears and got up to examine them closer and found that indeed it was tears. She felt overcome and saddened that Our Lady was crying and felt like it was her mother crying. She asked Our Lady “what can I do to help you”? On waking the next morning and going out to the shrine she noticed that the face was dry. About 10 days later on Good Friday Our Lady again wept until Easter Monday. She then wept in June on the Feast of Corpus Christi. Each time Patty informed the priests but didn’t take the statue to down to the church. Fr. Walsh at that stage was away and recuperating from heart surgery. On August 14th, St. Maximillian Kolbe’s feast day, on returning from work at Kolbe College, she noticed, when she walked into her house, that the rose perfume that accompanies Our Lady’s tears, was very evident throughout the house. Patty went immediately to the shrine area and saw that Our Lady was again weeping. On reflection she felt that this wasn’t just a private revelation for herself but meant for the wider community.
Patty took the statue down to Fr. Walsh and showed him. He examined the statue and then told Patty that Our Lady should be displayed on a table next to the altar the next day for the Feast of the Assumption. Father Walsh said the 9.30 am mass, which is a school mass. The church was full and Fr. Walsh explained at the end of mass the significance of having Our Lady’s statue out on the table. He told people that they could come and have a closer look. Our Lady stayed in the church on the Thursday and Friday. Patty brought the statue down on the Saturday morning but Fr. Walsh said to take it home. In the afternoon Patty came back down to fold their Parish newsletter and walked with Fr. Walsh to the church. As they entered through the door of the church the rose perfume was very evident in the church. Fr. Walsh looked at Patty and said “can you smell that”? She said “yes”. He said “you had better bring her back tomorrow”. She remained in the Church every weekend until February, 17th, 2003.
The Record (Catholic newspaper) contacted Fr. Walsh to say that they had heard about the statue and would like to do a story on it. They came down and interviewed Fr. Walsh & Patty and took pictures. They said they had to hold the story until the Archbishop of Perth came to examine the statue. Archbishop Hickey was on retreat, nearby, at St. John of God’s in Shoalwater Bay and on the Thursday made a visit to Patty’s house. He gave permission for the” Record” to go ahead with the story. The West Australian newspaper has the “Record” delivered on a Friday and were straight on the phone wanting to do a story as well. The Sunday Times Newspaper and then local television stations Channel 9 and 7 phoned and requested interviews as well as BBC, radio stations etc. The story was reported nationally and hit the headlines in most countries of the world.
On September 10th 2002, the Channel 7 current affairs program “Today Tonight” had the oil and the statue examined at Murdoch and Curtin Universities in Perth. The findings were released on a program airing on 12th September, 2002. The scientists could not come up with any obvious reason or explanation for the phenomena.
At the end of November, the Archbishop of Perth announced that he was getting together a Commission to exam the statue.
In all the apparitions that have happened Our Lady’s message has always been the same. She is calling her children, back to a closer relationship with her Son. Our Lady continued to weep continuously until January the 8th 2004. It stopped until February 9th 2004 (this was while in seclusion at the parish). It started in May of that year and wept up until February of 2007. It wept continuously for over two years It is up to each and every one of us to discern in our hearts as to why Our Blessed Mother wept.
The statue now is kept at Patty’s home, which she has named “The Holy Family House of Prayer” and is open to the public Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday from 11.00 am until 3.00 pm .