A SOUL WHO LOVED
by Sandra Costellia
in honour of Mary
The following is the TRUE account of the life of William Costellia
CHAPTER THREE – THE YOUNG MAN
William was now entering his late teenage years. Years during where most young adults grapple with their faith and emotions. For William however, these years proved to be filled with discovery. Not about himself, which is usual for young people today, but about God and the purpose God had for his life.
Up until now, William had suffered his fair share of ill health including bouts of pneumonia which plagued him during high school, but he never let this get in the way of living. Although he excelled in all his subjects, both academic and sporting however, he was keen to leave school.
His Mum had acquired a position in PYE Industries, a reputable company that produced TVs and other electrical goods. Gertrude listened attentively to her son’s wishes and after realising that he knew what he wanted, she was able to get a job for William at PYE. His beginnings at PYE were humble. He initially swept the floor and helped the staff with various jobs. He was sixteen when he joined the company and enjoyed it from the start. All one hundred staff grew to love him and he was to spend the following ten years here eventually becoming a leading hand.
Sundays saw William assisting at Mass as an altar boy at the local Cathedral. His love for God was simple and strong and ever increasing. Today he has the same simple child-like faith. His belief — in only doing something if it is done with love and for love — was present from childhood through young adulthood and still holds true. Each simple gesture for God is steeped in love. It was during this time that William became close friends with a Parish priest. The priest invited William and a Religious sister on a picnic in the country. He was a lovely man and William was very happy to join the small group. It was a most enjoyable day and a further invitation was extended to William to join the priest in a small Parish in the country for a weekend. William saw this as an opportunity to drive his old Volkswagen, to feel free and independent, and so he happily accepted. To his joy, upon arrival, he was able to serve Mass at the country Parish. It was truely wonderful and peaceful here and William was settling into the thought of a great weekend. The tiny Church was next to a small Cottage where he was given a room to stay. It was here, while William was preparing for the evening, when unexpectedly the Priest kissed him on the mouth. The man tried to use his tongue, and this came as a shock. William pulled away instantly. Being gay was unknown to him. He was 16 and knew nothing of this type of behaviour. The Priest tried to sexually touch the young man and on three separate occasions — and also to get into bed with him. Each attempt was met with a firm “No!” Each time the Priest asked William for forgiveness.
Years passed and William believed the Priest had changed towards him. He agreed to another visit. During this meeting, the same Priest once again tried to touch William. By now, the young man was older and more assertive, he also understood the weakness of men in a more profound way. He was able to explain gently yet firmly to the Priest the gravity of his actions. William spoke to him, not crushing his soul, but simply placing him the light of Truth, in front of a loving and forgiving Father. The Priest begged forgiveness for all he had done. He said that William was like his Guardian Angel. As far as William was concerned, he forgave the man and the matter was closed.
At the age of 17 William experienced his first vision: At this time, he was drawn more and more towards the Blessed Sacrament. He was attending Mass on a daily basis. Only souls who are drawn in such a way can relate to this. The Great Flame of God, Who draws all men to Himself. The very first vision occurred on Easter Sunday following Holy Communion, at the 10.30 am Mass in Saint Frances Xavier Cathedral in Wollongong. Mass had ended and the church was now empty. William was kneeling alone, deep in thought contemplating the profound Love of God. Suddenly, the whole church became engulfed in a cloud like mist. It enveloped the young man completely and a beautiful warm peaceful feeling came over him. He knew he was in the presence of Someone Majestic. From both deep within himself and surrounding him came the undeniable, strong, pure Voice of God the Father. These are the Words — Eternal Father: “William. My son: be not afraid for this is your God Speaking to you. You have nothing to fear for I am with you always. I am giving you knowledge of what you are going to do for Me. I have chosen you to be a leader of men; many men will follow you as you will bring them into the Father’s House. You will suffer much and become a great and Holy Saint. You will be married and have children, and you will set an example of how a holy family should be – the example of the Holy Family. Through your influence, many will be saved. Be strong and never lose faith.” (1).
The vision left William in shock but deeply peaceful. He had received his calling. To lead Gods people into the Promised Land. God had also revealed to him that he would live to see the Second Coming of Christ, suffer much and do battle with the antichrist.
Overwhelmed and taken totally by surprise, he was left kneeling, tears filling his eyes. A young man blessed with an unexpected visit from God Himself. The vision lasted an hour, and then, as naturally as the mist came, it slowly faded away.
In 1969, William reported this vision to a priest in Wollongong. He advised William to continue life as normal and to pray, as in time, God would reveal the reason for these graces. He also sought out the Cathedral Priest at that time, Father Leo Stevens. Father Stevens listened attentively to all the young man had experienced concerning this event. He was to become William’s Spiritual Director and dear friend. Prior to the vision, William had read about Our Blessed Mothers appearances at Fatima and Lourdes. Now, he began to learn as much as he could about private revelation and prophecy. Our Lady began to appear to William more frequently. Heaven also instructed him through inner locutions and the young man recorded these in a diary. He was to be drawn more and more into a deeper appreciation of his Catholic Faith. He also involved himself in the life of the Parish and also loved learning martial arts. A balanced life living each moment to the fullest.
He watched the movie Fatima and was very moved by it. His love for Our Lady was very alive and personal, and he wished to share this with others. So, with permission from the Parish, the 17 year old William showed the 1950s movie “Fatima” on an 8mm projector at a Church gathering of around 20 people. They all loved it very much. William involved himself in the Legion of Mary and Our Lady of Lourdes Society. He mixed harmoniously with people of all ages and, as time passed, his faith continued to deepen.
In 1970, Pope Paul VI visited Australia. This was a time of great joy for William and coincided with a growing desire to explore the option of a religious calling. The idea of marriage was attractive to him, however, his soul wished to give everything to God without reserve. Was the Priesthood what God had planned for him? Now was the time to find out. So, after much prayer, William decided to contact the Franciscan Capuchins in Sydney. His good friends were involved with them and helped him to attend the retreats offered. Around this same time, he also started simple prayer groups in honour of Our Lady.
It came to be that William made contact with the Order as he wished to spend time with them to explore his desire for a religious vocation. He spent two weeks with the Brothers and experienced daily life as it would be if he chose this path. He was surprised that life in the monastery was not as austere as he had expected. Food and material goods were in abundance and wastage was common. The world had entered there and the life uninspiring.
The Novice Master soon took William aside and suggested this life was not for him as the young man was “too religious”. This statement has remained with William up to the present day. It surprised him that a lay person could be considered “too religious” for the religious life. Life here was not for him, however, the young’s mans search was not at an end.
Upon returning home, William decided to contact the Franciscan Minims in Mexico. The famous mystic known as the Portavoz, whose messages had ecclesiastical approval had formed this Franciscan Order and they were looking for vocations. The idea of a religious vocation was still in the back of Williams mind, although he also knew deep in his heart that the possibility of marriage was very real. So, in 1970, he put pen to paper and wrote to the mystic.
It is of interest to know that William had read all the messages of Heaven to Portavoz. He asked the dear nun to enquire of Jesus as to whether he had a vocation and also to confirm his visions. Our Lord graciously answered Williams letter and confirmed everything. The answer contained a reference to St John the Baptist which was interesting considering William’s Confirmation name was this very same one.
Although he tried very hard to get to Mexico, various Visa problems arose and prevented this. Gertrude also took a bad turn, possibly relating to the thought of losing her son. She begged William to reconsider his plans and seeing how upset she was, he decided to accept his mum’s wishes and abandoned the idea.
His great love for Our Holy Mother continued to grow, and through the direction of Heaven, William concentrated on establishing the Marian Work of Atonement prayer groups. A beautiful statue of the Rosa Mystica accompanied him to each of the groups. This statue was delivered to him from an Italian Seer. She arrived with a little handkerchief covering Her eyes. A note in the box stated that this cloth was only sent with all statues that had shed real tears. Only a few had cried.
Each week, William travelled with the statue of Our Lady in his Volkswagen and also transported many of his dear friends to the prayer groups. His zeal for souls and His love for God and His Mother was ever growing.
During this time, Williams mother Gertrude continued to suffer with ill health. She had developed gallstones and was in a lot of pain. William was able to contact Padre Pio and the great saint sent him part of his mitten which he wore to cover his stigmata. The mitten was placed on Gertrude over the area of the gallstones and she was cured. During her life, Gertrude did not attend Mass regularly and unfortunately the miracle she received did not change this. When her son began receiving public messages however, she had a change of heart.
William and his Mum
During these early years, William made contact with many seers from all over the world. One of these was a seer named Clemente who was from Spain. He has since passed away, but while he was alive, he had proclaimed himself pope. Three other seers were involved with him and William wrote to him encouraging him to returned to the True Faith. Clemente was to visit Portavoz which he did, however due to disobedience he suffered an accident in America which rendered him blind. This was a sign from God that he was in error.
Father Felix was the spiritual director of all four seers. The remaining three seers stayed faithful to Gods Calling and accepted William. However, as time is the great test, Father Felix was to go against William too.
The Apparition Site of the White Cross where the three remaining seers received messages is still there. It is a very plain old cross situated in a field right next to a large basilica, similar to the Vatican, which was built by Clemente. The white cross is outside the church. The visionaries separate from Clemente, and at that time, the Bishop of Seville was investigating their messages. When William visited Spain, in the 1980s, he was able to meet the seers and received wonderful messages from Heaven through them. He had a vision while he was with them, and simultaneously, they too had the same vision. They all saw Our Lord and Our Lady and Heaven gave a magnificent message.
During the 1970s, William’s visions continued, however the meaning of them was not always clear to him. He continued to search for the possibility of a religious vocation, but every door he tried to open in regards to this was closed to him. In order to gain clarity, William decided to contact Cardinal Gilroy in Sydney. So, following confession in St Mary’s Cathedral, he asked the Priest how to reach him. The Priest told William he was the Cardinal!
The Cardinal proved to be most humble and devout. The meeting lasted about an hour and a half after which the Cardinal said he believed William’s visions could have some truth, but he felt some spiritual guidance was needed. He instructed William to present himself to Bishop McCabe of Wollongong.
So the young man calmly left and succeeded to make an appointment with Bishop McCabe. This holy Bishop also suggested prayer and a spiritual director. William told him he already had one in Father Leo Stevens and that was the end of that!
Due to his great devotion to Our Lady, William continued to participate in many Marian organisations. He lived and worked in Wollongong, and learnt as much as he could about the Church, its laws and doctrine. He studied much about the lives of the great saints and also of prophecy and private revelation. He began a prayer group in Wollongong in honour of the Mother of God and in reparation to Her.
At this time, PYE Industries relocated to Sydney. William was 25 and it was time to move with them. He lived in various apartments in Rockdale with good friends and his faith continued to grow.
He studied many prophesies from Heaven and was surprised that Our Lady was appearing to so many of Her children all over the world. She repeatedly called Her children back to the Sacraments and the True Catholic Faith started by Her Divine Son. Through these messages, William began to realise that we were indeed living in the End Times. Many of the abuses mentioned by Our Holy Mother were clearly happening in the Churches around him. He wrote many letters and spoke with Bishops and Priests in an effort to bring these to their attention and correct these abuses. As expected, this did not go well for him.
During this time, he also continued to form many prayer groups in Sydney, bringing the beautiful Rosa Mystica statue with him and regularly transporting many people in his little car to and from them. Thirteen prayer groups were formed where Our Lady was honoured and loved.
The Church also gave William permission to promote Our Lady of Fatima through talks and the movie “Fatima” throughout Sydney. In his heart, all that mattered was to bring people back to God through Mary, and to make Our Lady’s messages to the world known.
In 1972 through his membership as a Third Order Franciscan, William was invited to visit their cloistered Convent with 30 other members. This was to prove an unforgettable experience. The visitors had the rare opportunity to speak with the nuns who stood behind a grill. One nun in particular, who was around the same height as William appeared behind the grill with about 20 other nuns.
William respectfully spoke to each nun in turn. When he came to this particular nun, he was taken aback by Her great beauty. He could only blurt out “what’s someone as beautiful as you doing here?” At this point, She held his arm and William felt a great warmth and power like an electric current pass through his whole body. She told him Her name was Maria, and that She knew all about him and his work for God.
He wondered how She could possibly know all about him. The sound of Her voice brought him much peace and joy. The other people seemed preoccupied and oblivious to what was occurring with William. He felt he was in Heaven.
After leaving the Convent, William could not forget this beautiful Nun. He decided to phone the Mother Superior the next day and ask if he could see Her again. The Mother Superior told him that there was no one there by that name. William explained that he had only seen Her the day before, however, she was unable to help him saying, there was no such nun by that name.
This puzzled William for many years, thirteen to be exact. It was a day he would never forget, but no explanation was forthcoming. It was in 1985 however, that the Australian seer Georgette Harb unexpectedly received a message from St Charbel. The great saint asked her to relay to the Little Pebble that the beautiful Nun he saw in the convent thirteen years prior was Our Lady in the flesh! One can only imagine the shock and joy this brought to William. How much was he loved by Heaven. He will always treasure this experience.
In 1974 William had his first holy dream for the year. It was to leave him moved in the very deepest way. He saw himself in a school playground, talking to people there. As he spoke a white mist came from his mouth and enveloped him. The mist lifted him up into outer space from which he looked down upon the earth. He seemed to go through time and also view things through a telescope. He was placed back on the earth in the year of Our Lord 33, in Jerusalem. He found himself in front of a crowd watching some spectacle. No one in the crowd could see him. Suddenly, he saw Jesus coming towards him, carrying His Cross. What a sorrowful sight. Jesus fell on his knees right in front of William and with his eyes full of tears, William fell on his knees too and reached out his arms to Our Lord in an effort to help Him.
The look that Our Lord gave William penetrated his very soul. Our Lords look was one of great love and deep serenity. From his heart William said “I love you, please forgive me.” Our lord smiled at him. From that point, William was taken back to the playground. From then onwards, he travelled the world preaching and spreading the love of God to people. Many were converted and fell to their knees praising God for the graces received. They declared William God’s Prophet and visionary. On August 8th that year William wrote to Mama Rosa (San Damiano, Italy) requesting a blessing from Our Lady. On the 14th of August he received a reply from the seer containing a rose petal and the message that Our Blessed Mother had indeed sent Her blessing to William. The day after receiving this blessing, on the 15th August at 6 AM, William received a most extraordinary vision: he walked into a house where people were sitting in a circle arguing. As soon as he entered the room, he brought peace into it. He sat down and talked to them.
He noticed a statue of Our Lady in the corner of the room. A statue that was completely forgotten and unkept. This made William feel so very sad. He noticed icicles starting to form on Mother. He walked over to Her and removed the ice and cleaned Her and sat back down. The people all prayed.
All of a sudden, the statue of Our Blessed Mother became totally engulfed by a splendid light. She slowly became real. She was breathtakingly beautiful. She glided to each person in the circle and spoke to them individually, revealing to each one the work they had to do for God. However, when Our Lady came to William, She stopped, smiled at him and continued on. He became concerned as all eight people in the room had received their mission from the Blessed Mother, but he was passed by. After Our Holy Mother had spoken to the last person, She turned and came back to William. She spoke to him without moving Her lips, which told him She wished Her words to remain between them alone. She said “and you, my son will be mightily exalted.” He was flooded with a tremendous joy. The vision returned to the corner of the room and went back into the statue.
The vision continued as William saw himself leave the room and walk quickly to the nearest Church in order to thank Jesus and Mary. The doors of the Church were closed so he knelt down outside and began to pray. As he did so, the Church doors opened miraculously and the most beautiful heavenly music could be heard coming from inside the church. Upon the main altar was the Blessed Sacrament, exposed and emanating powerful rays of light.
At this point William woke from his vision and found himself kneeling on his bed with his arms outstretched repeating the words “Mary, Mother, how beautiful, how beautiful.” Our Holy Mother spoke to him saying She had a plan for him. Ever since that day, every year on the Feast of the Assumption, William receives a great Grace from Mary.
The love William had for Our Blessed Mother was continually deepening. He felt Her deep sorrow at the loss of so many souls and the need to spread the message of Fatima and so many of Her Apparitions inspired him to give many retreats. He played his guitar and entertained the people while promoting the messages of Our Lady through the Fatima movie, inspirational talks and prayers. His life as a young man was given over completely to God. During this time he met many young women who were interested in him. He fell in love with a beautiful young woman but her mother would not permit the courtship to continue. This hurt William very much but there was nothing he could do about it. In 1976 however, his life was about to change and his Faith tested. He fell deeply in love with a young woman. She was to him different from any other. He gave her his heart and she was to break it. Up until this time he had never surrendered his virginity to any woman. During this courtship, at the age of 27 he did however. It was a a very difficult time in his life as he battled between human feelings and the love of God. He began a modelling career during this time encouraged by his girlfriend but as he made no real attempt to pursue it, it came to nothing.
William’s Modelling Photos
He became engaged to the young woman, however, the love he held for Our Lady did not waver. Although he could not receive Holy Communion, he still attended Mass and wore his scapular. This was a major crisis in his spiritual life as previously to this he had been a daily communicant for many years. His love for Our Lady did not waver through all this time and this was to became a major issue with his fiancé. William was devastated when after 8 months, with plans set in place to marry, the young woman broke off the relationship and returned to her old boyfriend.
Because of this breakup, William became upset with God as he expressed to his Creator that all he wanted was to get married and this was denied him. He went straight away to see Fr Stevens and told him the full story. The good priest explained to William that this was a blessing from God in disguise as this would not have been the right choice. It was simply a temptation in his life. Following this good advice, and with renewed spiritual strength, William returned to the Sacraments. His heart was to remain deeply hurt for a very long time however. He was a young man with a tender heart. When he loved, he loved with all his heart. Trusting and giving. He felt very much betrayed. It took about 3 years for him to get over this relationship. He made many friends during this time but did not date anyone.
William at the time of the courtship which tested his Faith
In 1978, in the midst of this spiritual trial, William experienced the comfort only Our Lady can bring. In the vision he was carrying a great cross and another was waiting for him. Surrounded by darkness in a dungeon and weeping, suddenly four Holy Hosts appeared in font of him and then disappeared. Then, as he looked up he saw our Holy Mother in all Her Majesty gliding down the stairs, dressed as Our Lady of Mount Carmel. Mother held him in Her Arms, embracing his head and resting him on Her Immaculate Heart, saying “Do not weep, I love you. All will be ok.” Then Mary started to cry and William comforted Her. He felt Her sorrow for the loss of Her children and held Her head on his chest. Our Lady then pointed to the sky and as William looked up he saw God the Father showing great love to them both. Mother then said “fear not. God will look after you; all will be ok.” The vision then ended.
Encouraged by this vision William felt spiritually strengthened and refreshed. The memory of this experience enabled him to continue in his service to God and His Holy Mother.
During this time, he held various positions in finance companies. He enjoyed this work immensely as he made it possible for many battling people to obtain Loans so that they could move forward with their lives and buy their first homes. He made the complicated process simple and within reach of ordinary struggling folk, positively changing their lives and he himself enjoyed helping people in this way. He was also made a Justice of the Peace. William enjoyed and lived life to the fullest. Everything was for God. He was on fire for God and this love was always growing and in 1979 he decided to write to Bayside. He had known of Bayside and promoted the messages and now he felt it was time to renew this contact.
His letter was received by one of the Bayside workers. In their reply to William they wrote that upon opening his letter, it emitted a beautiful scent of roses. It was placed at the feet of the Blessed Mother and the reply included a rose petal blessed by Our Holy Mother. The scent of roses was to occur several times when William was to write. This event spoke to Williams heart and he was certain that Our Lady had a plan for him. In the month of October he was to have a prophetic dream. One which shows the love of William for God and His children. This dream shows the nature of William and his strength and determination to bring all souls to God. His love for God and souls does not measure or weigh up consequences. His life was, up to that point and always would be one of obedience and suffering out of love for God and His children. He will do the Will of God no matter what the cost: He was in a green plain where there were two houses. In one many people were having fun but the other house was burnt to the ground except for its shell and the chimney. William approached the burnt house with a wooden cross in his hands. When he arrived he saw Satan who told him to leave the people of this house alone as they belonged to him. William said “no way.” He started exorcising satan and commanded him to get to hell in the Name of Jesus. As he was speaking, an earthquake occurred and satan let out a horrendous cry. The next moment, William found himself on a higher plain and looking up into the clouds he could see Jesus, Mary and St Michael. William was carrying a huge wooden cross and his guardian angel was by his side. Behind him were thousands of people. Then he heard the most powerful voice crying to him saying “those souls that you see behind you are the souls that you have saved through your suffering and this is why you are suffering, My child.” Then the vision ended. Following the letters that William had written to Bayside came a locution from Heaven directing him to go there. Heaven works slowly and surely, lovingly encouraging souls to always progress in God’s Designs for them, and so it was with William. This locution was repeated daily for almost a month. The constant loving nudge of God was insistent and irresistible. But how was William to fulfil this request? He had no way of reaching Bayside. He was close to Bankruptcy with no available finances. So, here we shall see the beautiful trusting personality of our young man come to the forefront…
He simply spoke to Our Lady from his heart saying that if She wanted him to go to Bayside, he would, but She must supply the funds. And so She did! Two days later, a friend offered William a loan of the money he needed. He flew to New York on the Feast of the Holy Innocents, 28th December 1979.
He was warmly greeted at Bayside from many of the workers as they had heard about the wonderful scent of roses which had emanated from Williams letters. Several photos were taken during this time which proved miraculous. All up, William stayed three days and upon his return to Australia, he promoted this important Apparition of Our Lady. His first of many talks on the subject drew more than 200 people. It was a memorable event as many were brought to tears when they heard of Mother Mary’s messages personally for them. Many other talks were also conducted in private homes. The fire in William’s heart continued to grow for Our Lady and Her children. It was a Mission from Heaven which had captured the young man; to save souls through Mary’s simple message. To make Her cry heard.
In the year ahead William was to meet his future wife …
William at Bayside
(1) The Little Pebble. The Last Pope. A Man of Contradiction. Petrus Romanus. Sinner or Saint. Volume One. Chapter Two, page 13. First published: July 1999. ISBN: 0957717407 (National Library of Australia)