21 August 2012

St. Joseph's Hill of Hope and its New Carbon Canyon Home 40 Years Ago

In October 1972, a few months after 440 acres of land in Orange, Los Angeles, and San Bernardino counties north of Carbon Canyon were purchased by Frances Klug for her nonprofit religious institution, St. Joseph's Hill of Hope, John Dart of the Los Angeles Times penned the first of two articles he composed on the association.  In both pieces, the other coming out in 1976 and which will be discussed in a separate post, Dart was able to secure an interview and photos of Mrs. Klug under a portrait of Christ and a devotee kneeling before a covered statue of St. Joseph.  He characterized her as a "Roman Catholic mother and housewife, [who] says she has for five years been the vehicle for the admonition and advice of Gon, Jesus, Mary, Joseph and other saints in Heaven."

At the time of this initial article, titled "Hill of Hope—It's Her Mandate from Heaven," Mrs. Klug was 52 years old and Dart noted that "when he locutions began to draw overflow crowds to her Placentia home earlier this year, the meetings were switched to a clubhouse in town for Friday nights and to an outdoor site off Carbon Canyon Road for the Sunday and Wednesday morning gatherings."

To allow for these morning meetings, the Carbon Canyon ranch land was purchased for $1.1 million with a $100,000 down payment raised by donation during escrow in April and May.   During the interview, Mrs. Klug noted that the site being within three counties constituted a "trinity" and "added seriously that God chose the land for them."  Moreover, the article continued, she and the nonprofit corporation formed for the project "hope to fulfill heavenly instructions to construct within the next five years an array of facilities on the land—including a hospital, monastery, convent, restaurant and religious goods store."

As pointed out in previous posts about the organization, there was a backlash by the Roman Catholic Church, which Dart pointed out (!), "Catholics were advised not to give financial support to the Hill of Hope organization in a recent statement by Bishop Leo T. Maher of the San Diego diocese (San Diego, Imperial, Riverside, and San Bernardino counties."

Maher was quoted as saying that "down through the ages, the church has witnessed countless claims to personal revelations from God, the Blessed Mother or popular saints.  Most of these assertions have been found erroneous, some fraudulent, and the unsuspecting faithful have suffered much harm. No credence should be given to these claims unless and until authenticated by the church."

In response, Mrs, Klug stated that letters "dictated by Our Lord" were sent to Vatican City and specifically to an American cardinal in Rome, "to keep them aware of what's been happening" with her revelations.  Dr. Andrew Kiely, a Long Beach surgeon who was then president of the St. Joseph's Hill of Hope nonprofit corporation, noted that there were attempts by the group to get official Roman Catholic recognition and an interview with Archbishop Timothy Manning, but the 42-year old Irish-born doctor observed that "they ignore it completely."  Yet, it was also noted that some priests and nuns were found among the estimated 150-500 persons who listened to Mrs. Klug's regular lectures and that a priest from San Diego diocese was considered a "personal spiritual advisor."

This same advisor evidently cautioned Mrs. Klug not to talk about her past, though why was not stated.  Still, she offered some details about herself.  First, that she was born in May 1921 in Chicago at St. Joseph's Hospital; then that she was married for 26 years to insurance agent Robert Klug; and that the couple had three teenaged children.  She offered to Dart that, "I was aware of a closeness wth God since I was a child in Chicago."  She had been a parishioner at St. Joseph's Catholic Church in Placentia before determining that there was a truer path to trod.

When asked by Dart why there was so much emphasis on St. Joseph in her work, it was noted that at Dr. Kiely's dedication speech at the new Carbon Canyon site on 7 May, before some 1,200 guests, he stated that the Virgin Mary in her appearance at Fatima (this was in Portugal in 1917) proclaimed that the time would come when the world would come to follow the example of her husband, so Kiely remarked that" it is these times which need more than ever to hold up the image of St. Joseph's life . . . the miracle of St. Joseph was given to a family woman; it was made available through a family home; it was delivered to families."

Dart got to the heart of the reason why the St. Joseph Hill of Hope organization was formed, which was that "the purported messages from Heaven, delivered through Mrs. Klug's voice and recorded on tapes and printed in booklets since 1968, mesh frequently with the views of devout Catholics of the pre-Vatican Council days."  In other words, for the pronounced conservative Roman Catholics, the sea change in the direction of the policies adopted by the Holy See and marked by Vatican II in the mid-1960s was unacceptable.

Consequently, a great empahsis was put on daily mass attendance, a fervent devotion to the rosary (which was expressed, according to Mrs. Klug, in a statement attributed to the Virgin Mary through her on 15 June 1970), kneeling while at prayer, and the stress placed on "religious articles, religious items, religious statues."

As for the particular method of revelation, Dart stated that "the majority of the locutions, in which Mrs. Klug maintains the voice is hers but the words are not" lead to a "difference in voice or manner between the locutions and Mrs. Klugs 'own' [that] are indistinguishable to an outsider, but close devotees of the miravle say they can tell the difference."

Rose Barres of Placentia was quoted as saying that "we can tell by the wisdom that comes through" and that the miracle of St. Joseph as expresed through Mrs. Klug was "the answer that I had been praying for," when she found the Hill of Hope the previous December, eight months after her husband's death.

While Mrs. Klug told Dart that he was informed "by many learned men that in their simplicity, the locutions are profound," the reporter cited a San  Diego diocesan newsletter editor as reporting, after hearing one of these in person, that they were "naive and simplistic" and in a style that was "stilted [and] awkward."  At a recent Wednesday service, attended by the journalist, she stated that "man is always trying to disprove something like this."

Dart then gave a rare view into the service as held at the Carbon Canyon compound, after noting that visitors would pass through a green and white gate and past security personnel in brown hats, like a park ranger would wear, before approaching, at a mile or so in, a small house and some sheds.  He described that the service began with hymns, after which Mrs. Klug walked among the devoted seated in a semi-circle, crossing herself and leading the group in prayers.

To the author, "her manner is unpretentious, except possible for a sigh after a long locution, and her clothing is unusually simple—a cotton dress, a sweater and slippers."  For the congregants, they received at least one heaven-mandated locution and sometimes several.

Meantime, the pressing need was to build the complex that God commanded be completed within five years and so "to raise money for those goals a modest 'Pennies from Heaven' collection is supplemented by the traditional Catholic raffle (first prize, a car; second prize, a microwave oven) and a charity ball to be held at the rather worldly Century City in mid-November.

Curious to know how the ambitious five-year plan was going, Dart returned to the subject a little under four years later in a follow-up article--this to be discussed soon.


Anonymous said...

Heres an interesting, if not long winded and post-brainwashed view of Frances Klug.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous refers to a link with information written by someone who claims to have been associated with the Hill of Hope some time ago. As a Hill of Hope volunteer since the 1970's, I can say that I never heard of this guy. I checked with several other longtime Hill of Hope supporters, and none of them knew of this fellow, either. Seems like he's just a self-appointed Internet personality.