For your discernment:


By Michael H. Brown

We carried an article yesterday about Ned Dougherty, a New York-area nightclub owner who was radically transformed by a near-death experience. During that episode -- in which his vital signs disappeared -- he says he was taken to the hereafter and encountered a "Lady of Light" who showed him events in the world's, the nation's, and his own future. 

We'll be getting into more of that tomorrow but first, his predictions about a shrine on Long Island. It's called "Our Lady of the Island" and is located near the Hamptons in Eastport. Dougherty says that after his death episode he began to have mystical experiences at this shrine operated by Montfort Missionaries with a striking 18-foot statue of the Madonna and Child.

Dougherty, the former owner of the posh Club Marakesh in the super-rich Hamptons (who "died" on July 2, 1984, from cardiac or respiratory failure), says in a book called Fast Lane to Heaven that during a trip to a heavenly realm and then in subsequent alleged visions he was shown future events that included multitudes flocking to this obscure shrine.

We are currently trying to discern all this. There are always many aspects to consider and always points of debate with "near-death" experiences. But we are taking it seriously because Dougherty seems like a very credible man and one of his prophecies -- that terrorism would strike New York or Washington in such a way as to change our lives -- has obviously materialized and was documented in his book last March.

The vision of the shrine, says this otherwise down-to-earth businessman -- who was not devout before his episode -- indicates future events at the shrine that will "foreshadow the End Times." He believes that the shrine will become "a safe place or haven for many people who would be drawn to the shrine during the End Times."

We're not sure what to make of terms like the "end times" (as Ned emphasizes, much can be changed through prayer), but important is his report that manifestations are occurring at Our Lady of the Island. Indeed, the statue is located in such a way that when one faces it one is facing the precise area where TWA Flight 800 -- which some suspect was sabotaged by terrorists -- crashed some years back. Dougherty says that on his first visit to the shrine, which he had previously been shown in vision as a clearing, he sensed the Virgin Mary near a large pine near the statue. There he says the Virgin reviewed scenes from his near-death episode and spoke to him about his mission. 

At first skeptical ("I am by nature cynical and disbelieving," he says), confirmation came on December 8, 1994, when he went to the shrine to pray and meditate and saw flashes of light emanating from the pine tree at the top of the clearing. 

"At first, it seemed as if the pine tree was enveloped by a flash fire, but then the flash of fire moved away from the tree and formed an oval shape six feet high, and it came down the hillside and onto the path directly in front of me," writes Dougherty in his book. "I stood mesmerized as I realized that the golden flame came from a celestial being."

According to the former businessman (now founder of a pro-life charitable organization, Mission of Angels), the light slowly moved up a pathway and paused in front of him -- brighter than the sun but not blinding him. She spoke to him only briefly about a request of his being granted and was gone -- leaving Dougherty mesmerized and in a state of disbelief.

As the former nightclub owner looked for any other witnesses to confirm what he had seen, he says he observed "clouds of golden light" settle on the tops of the pine trees, turning the branches and needles a deep violet.

The lights seemed to move as if to guide him. When he reached the shrine's main road the apparitions allegedly ceased. He says that while in prayer he heard a voice telling him to go to Egypt -- where he discovered tremendous similarities to the phenomena that had occurred during the 1960s in Zeitoun, Egypt

There, the Virgin, appearing above a Coptic Church -- in apparitions approved by ecclesiastical officials -- was likewise known as "Our Lady of Light"!

Indeed, hundreds of thousands had witnessed her at Zeitoun -- including many Muslims and even former Egyptian president Abdul Nasser.

At Zeitoun lights that looked like doves appeared over the street, round and gold in color.

As in Doughtery's own visions, she had also appeared inside a luminous circle at Zeitoun and was even photographed. At the church there a painting especially struck him. "The artist had captured what the photographers could not: a portrait of the Lady of Light as she had appeared at St. Mary's Church in Zeitoun, and just as she had appeared to me at Our Lady of the Island Shrine in Eastport, New York, on the morning of December 8, 1994," he says.

Dougherty says that during his "death" the Lady of Light showed him a scene from a hilltop on the coastline of Long Island as rows of massive tidal waves descended on the coastline, inundating the land. "I was told the world could be saved, but not by its leaders, but by prayer groups throughout the world," Dougherty says in words strikingly similar to a Long Island woman who last week gave us the same message from alleged visitations of the Virgin and Therese the Little Flower. "I was told that the fate of mankind rested on our ability, individually and collectively, to change the direction of mankind in accordance with God's plan."

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