The History of the Promotion of the Message of Garabandal by the New York Center
The House of Charity
When he first began to promote Garabandal in 1965, Joey Lomangino carried a pasted photo scrapbook with braille captions which he showed to interested neighbors and church groups in Brooklyn and Long Island, New York.
As the years passed, Joey’s conferences became more sophisticated incorporating slides or the 16mm film of Richard Everson’s The Events at Garabandal along with recollections of his conversion through Padre Pio and the importance of the Garabandal Message for all Christians.
For some thirty years, Joey gave this presentation to audiences across America and around the world. Whether speaking to two or three in a church basement or to crowds of thousands in stadiums, to gatherings of the faithful, to prisoners, to recovering addicts or on the radio and television, he put all his energy into each talk, lifting the audience with his personal charisma, humor and unshakable faith. As a result of his efforts, a network of four hundred Garabandal centers was established across the United States in the 1970s.
Joey would conclude each talk with an exhortation to those present to adopt the devotions emphasized by Our Lady at Garabandal, “Remember every day the Morning Offering of Reparation, Mass and Communion, the Rosary, the Scapular and Devotion to Saint Michael.”
In 1964, Conchita gave Joey a large silver medal kissed by Our Lady at Garabandal. Our Lady had promised prodigies – healings and conversions –to those who used these articles with faith. In a spirit of intercessory prayer, Joey began to apply the medal to those sick in body, mind and soul who came forward at the end of the conference. Over the years, there were many witnessed and documented conversions and cures from this medal.
Friends came along to assist Joey at his conferences. As the workload increased, the New York Center grew, staffed by Joey’s friends and neighbors – all volunteers from Long Island. At the height of activity, there were over three hundred active Workers from New York, New Jersey and Connecticut. The Center organized frequent rosary rallies, family picnics, holy hours, processions, and all night vigils which were very popular.
Whenever possible, Joey spoke in the presence of a priest and remained under spiritual direction through his entire public life. Joey was befriended by Father Joseph Pelletier, a scholarly Assumptionist priest from Worcester, MA whose work on the Fatima apparitions was very well respected. They traveled to Garabandal many times together and Father Pelletier wrote chapters of his book Our Lady Comes to Garabandal at Joey’s home in Lindenhurst in 1970.
After his first trip to Garabandal, Joey returned once a year with friend Mario Corvias and others. In those days it was a demanding journey, a true pilgrimage. It was not easy to reach such a remote place. As there were no inns or hotels in the village, Joey stayed at the home of Conchita’s mother, Aniceta, while the others were welcomed hospitably into the homes of neighbors and relations.
An increasing number of friends, Workers and the curious asked to join these excursions. The short trips soon became dedicated Marian pilgrimages, often visiting the nearby shrines and holy places of northern Spain and then grew to include the great Marian shrines of Europe. These pilgrimages became an annual event for the New York Center.
Often while staying in Garabandal, Joey was given the opportunity to buy a house or property or to invest in a business. He declined as he felt his work with Garabandal would be misunderstood if he had a financial interest in the village.
When the Most Reverend Bishop Juan Antonio del Val Gallo summoned Joey to Santander, the first question was, “What do you own in the village of Garabandal?”
Joey’s reply, “Bishop, not a stone.” To this day Joey does not own property in Garabandal.
In the nineteen eighties, increasing interest and paved roads made Garabandal easier to reach. Buses and rental cars began to arrive regularly and inns and restaurants went up as the village underwent a transformation from a quiet hamlet to a religious destination point.
By the nineties, the New York Center pilgrimage had returned to its roots – once again becoming a focused Holy Week Retreat in the village of Garabandal.
The Printed Word
Father Pelletier helped to author a series of leaflets on Garabandal for distribution at Joey’s conferences. Over the years, perhaps millions of leaflets translated into various languages were dispersed. This tedious work was done by Bill Henry, who passed away in 2005, a group of loyal volunteers from Richmond Hill, Queens and a hand operated printing press.
From the mimeographed sheets sprung the idea for a simple newsletter – Needles – named for the nine pines of the Apparition – in the winter of 1972. As the nineteen seventies ended the mostly black and white print Needles became the glossy and more colorful GARABANDAL Magazine.
These publications were issued quarterly and featured great writing on the history of the apparitions as well as exclusive interviews with the visionaries, reflections on elements of the faith emphasized at Garabandal, and news of the ongoing promotion of the Message throughout the world.
The International Apostolate
In 1975, under obedience, Joey stopped speaking in his local diocese on Garabandal and Padre Pio. He was permitted to continue his work in those places where he was invited to speak and carried on giving conferences throughout the United States.
1978 marked the World Congress on Garabandal in Lourdes; a gathering of the promoters and national centers with representatives from nearly thirty countries.
These years marked the beginning of an international apostolate which took Joey around the world on three fully booked lecture tours, speaking on Garabandal to the world’s Roman Catholics.
One of the earliest international trips was to Ireland, the first of nine consecutive annual visits to that faithful land and her people, always close to Joey’s heart.
Other trips soon followed to England and Scotland, India, Nigeria, Hong Kong, the Philippines, New Zealand, Mexico and Canada. Joey attended and was honored to speak at two International Congresses on Garabandal in Australia in the late 1980s.