September 19 – 29 ,1998
It is always very difficult for me to put my experiences in Medugorje to words. Much of what happens is hard to put into words, it seems to lose something along the way. However, I will do my best so that all of you who cannot go on pilgrimage get a share in my experiences. I will give a day by day log and finish with my reflection.
Sept. 19, 1998 (Saturday)
1:00 PM the pilgrims begin gathering at St. Francis Xavier parking lot. Many of the families and friends also gather to bid off farewell and a safe journey. Some of those who are staying behind and those who are traveling shed tears. Some are sad because they did not want to go, but now wish they had, others already miss a loved one who has not yet departed.
2:00 PM we board the bus and depart for Boston Logan Airport. We begin our journey with a short prayer and the group begins to mold together. One shares with another how they came to take the pilgrimage. Another shares who they are praying for. Some reminise about a past pilgrimage and wonder what this journey has in store. Once in Boston we check in and wait for our 5:40 PM flight for Frankfurt on Luftansa.
Sept. 20, 1998 (Sunday)
After a 7 hour flight, we arrive in Frankfurt with a six hour layover. We try to plan a bus tour of Frankfurt, and find a church for Mass, but it does not work out. Someone at an information desk informs us that there is a Catholic chapel in the airport. Shortly we arrive at the chapel at 8 AM to find there will be a Mass at 9 AM. We all had time to spend in the presence of the Blessed Sacrament and to pray before the Mass. The Priest arrives and warmly welcomes our group. The Mass was celebrated in German, English and Latin. Following Mass some went in search of food, rest rooms and the like. Before we knew it, it was time for the next leg of our journey. We had a 1-1/2 hour flight on Croatia Air to Zargreb with a 1 hour layover and a 40 minute flight to arrive in Split at 4:15 PM.
After entering the luggage area, we were met by our tour guide, Oliver Vasilj. Oliver has become a very good friend through my many visits to Medugorje and my stays in his familiy’s home.
Our bus ride from Split to Medugorje is along the beautiful Adriatic Sea coast. There are fantastic views of villages, the sea and islands. The road slowly climbs the side of a mountain until we are at least 1000′ above. Thank God for the good bus drivers who take these winding curves so skillfully!
As we enter Medugorje, we are greeted by St. James Church. This evening, we can not see the cross because it is downcast and there’s a light rain. We arrive in Medugorje at 7:00 PM just in time to see the people depart the evening Croation Mass.
Finally, we arrive at our family’s home. We are greeted by Ivanka and Creso Vasilj. After unpacking the bus and settling in our rooms, we had a very wonderful supper waiting for us.
Following supper, the group joined me for a walk to St. James Church, which was shortened by a heavy downpour of rain.
Sept. 21, 1998 (Monday)
I woke at 7:30 AM to the sound of the bells calling the people to the first morning Croation Mass. We had 8:30 AM breakfast and went to the church for the 10 AM English Mass. There were about 20 English speaking Priests. Following Mass we met at the statue of St. Leopold for a brief meeting, then 12:00 lunch at home before we departed for Siroki Brijeg to hear Fr. Jozo Zavko speak about Medugorje.
On arriving at the Altar, Fr. Jozo asked me to lead the Rosary. Fr. Jozo spoke for 2 hours, gave everyone a picture of Our Lady and a Rosary, and then briefly spoke to the Priests, prayed over them and then we prayed over the people.
We visited the church gift shop, and the cave where a group of Franciscan Priests (22) and Brothers (8) were burned alive and buried in 1945. We then returned to Medugorje for supper. the evening was free for gift shopping, a banna split, etc.
At 9:00 PM we met as a group to walk through the fields to Apparition Hill. At the place of apparitions we remained for about 1/2 hour of silent prayer and meditation, then returned home for hot chocolate before going off to bed.
Sept. 22, 1998 (Tuesday)
I awoke once again at 7:30, breakfast at 8:30, English Mass at 10:00. After Mass we walked through the fields to Apparition Hill. During our climb, we stopped at each mystery to pray the Rosary together. On the way to the top, we stopped at the “grey cross”, which designates the spot where Our Lady appeared a second time to Maria on the third day and said, “Peace, peace, peace. peace between man and God and mankind.”.
At the top we remained in silent prayer. The view of the village is very beautiful. You can see why Our Lady chose this hill to appear – she could see the entire village and bless it from this spot. As Our Lady appears in Medugorje, she stands upon the hill where she watches the whole world and blesses it, calling us all back to her Son.
We descended from the back end of the hill so that we could stop at the “blue cross”. This is the spot where Ivan meets with his prayer group and Our Lady appears for special apparitions. We then returned home for a 2 PM lunch. At lunch we had a birthday cake for my mother. Following lunch some went to a talk by Fr. Svet, others went shopping, to the the adoration chapel, or other places to pray and reflect.
I returned home at 5 PM for a little nap and at 7 PM went out for pizza. At 8:30 we all headed to the blue cross on Apparition Hill for a special apparition with Ivan’s prayer group at 10:00 PM.
We arrived early enough to get to the blue cross. the Rosary was being prayed in German and Polish, I also heard the Rosary in French, English, Italian, Croation and other languages. Before long it became impossible to move. The hill was covered with people. They were sitting on the rocks, in the bushes and leaning against small trees. It reminded me of the story of Jesus healing the paralytic. There was no room in the house so the paralytic’s friends lowered him through the roof.
Finally, we could hear Ivan’s prayer group singing and praying in the distance. It was not possible for them to reach the blue cross with so many people gathered.
Our Lady appeared around 9:50 PM, her message was to pray for Priests & Bishops, She prayed over the people gathered. She was very happy.
Sept. 23, 1998 (Wednesday)
Breakfast 7:30 AM, at 8 AM we took taxies to Vicka’s for a talk. When we arrived, the area around the house where she speaks was already overflowing, the street and all around was filled with people listening to Vicka. I have never seen so many people at her talks before. The talk was in two languages (I believe Italian and Polish). When they finished, she spoke to us with translations in English and in French simultaneously. By the time the talk finished we had missed the English Mass. We walked through the fields and returned home. We had lunch at at 2 PM. After lunch we walked to the Church and visited the new outdoor shrine where there is a very large corpus of Christ without the cross.
Than I spent time hearing Confessions and took the opportunity to go to Confession. After Confession, I went into the church for the Rosary and the Evening Mass. Following Mass we went out for a pizza and then returned to church for Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, led by Fr. Slavco.
The chuch was filled to the brim. All the Priests were seated in the sanctuary. People were sitting in the pews, on the floor, in the isles and up the steps to the altar. The young men from the Community Cenacolo helped with the music.
Following the Holy Hour I returned home to relax and pray.
Sept. 24, 1998 (Thursday)
8:30 breakfast. Following breakfast I went to church to prepare for the English Mass for which I was the main celebrant. It was wonderful to celebrate Mass in St. James. The lively enthusiasm of the people, the singing and the overflowing church, are all an inspiration for a Priest.
Following Mass, some went to a talk by Fr. Branimir. I went with our tour guide to set an appointment for our group to visit the Community Cenacolo.
Upon returning home, we prepared the group to climb Mt. Krizevak. As we climbed the mountain, we prayed the Stations of the Cross as a group. We had a beautiful climb; perfect weather and a bright sunny day.
The rocks on the path to the cross have become smooth as glass by the millions of people who have climbed to the cross. It is similar to our own crosses. The longer we struggle, and continue on our journey, the smoother the path becomes. There will always be stones in our path, but we come to know the obstacles, and dangers.
After our descent, we all stopped for a refreshing drink at a snack bar at the bottom.
Then Oliver and I visited the cemetary where his grandparents, uncle and cousin are burried.
Sept. 25 1998 (Friday)
After breakfast, we took taxies to the Community of the Oasis of Peace and spent time in adoration. The community is made up of men and women Religious who spend many hours each day in prayer. The community is founded on living the messages of Medugorje. After prayer, we all walked through the fields to the church and some of the group went to a talk by Fr. Slavco.
I returned home and make a private climb of cross mountain with Oliver. It is always nice to climb the mountain or Apparition Hill without a group so there is more time to pray and reflect without worrying about people falling behind the rest of the group.
On the return we had lunch and returned to the church for the evening program (Rosary and Mass).
Sept. 26, 1998 (Saturday)
Today’s Mass was celebrated by Fr. Patrick, a Priest from Austrailia whom I became friends with. When visiting Medugorje, you befriend people from around the world. You may never see them again, yet you always treasure those moments and those friendships at home.
After Mass I visited different people I have come to know during my past visits. Mirijana the Divine Mercy shop. Joseph at Charlies and others around the village. It is like visiting long lost friends or family members who you have not seen in a long time.
I met my parents for lunch, then the group gathered to take taxies to the Community Cenacolo. The community was founded by Sr. Elvira as a home for people trying to overcome addictions to drugs and alcohol. They have the highest percent of success (95% success rate) over all other reform programs. The secret of Sr. Elvira’s success is a life of prayer, daily Mass, Rosary and hard work. It is a community of love and support centered on Jesus and Mary.
Since I had visited the community many times, I took this opportunity for private time at the Blue Cross and Apparition Hill. After, I met the group and returned home for supper. The rest of the evening, I spent in relaxation.
Sept. 27, 1998 (Sunday)
Breakfast 8:30 AM, Sunday English Mass 12Noon. Fr. Philip Pavich was the main celebrant. Sunday is always a free day, a day to rest, pray, or visit the various places in Medugorje. In the evening we decided to have a group meeting. At 8 PM I blessed all the Religious articles, then the group gathered in the dining room for a time of prayer, then I prayed over those who wanted prayer.
Sept. 28, 1998 (Monday)
(This is usaually the saddest day, for it is our last day in Medugorje.)
Following breakfast, I went to the orphanage with Oliver to bring donations to the sisters. It is a beautiful place. The Sisters are so filled with life and joy. I met a little boy. His name was Ante. He was 3 years old, his father was killed in the war and he saw his mother and sister die in a fire. It is very sad, yet, the Sister (Sr. Loretta), treated this little boy as her own child. It is very moving.
At 11:00 AM, we all boarded a bus for Tilhilnja. This is the parish where Fr. Jozo was stationed after his release from prision. It is here that the famous statue is, whose pictures are all around the world. We had Mass here as a group with myself as celebrant. It is a very beautiful church.
After returning to Medugojorje we had free time. I walked a bit, took some pictures and visited with people. When I returned home, I went with Oliver to lead the German group, which had shared our home for a few days, to the Community Cenacolo. After leaving the group, Oliver took me for a ride to a place called the “cold river” somewhere in a village on the other side of Cross Mountain. It was beautiful. It had two waterfalls. The water was crystal clear.
On returning home it was time to pack my bags. I then took my last opportunity to go to Confession before leaving Medugorje. Then I returned home for supper. Following supper, the German group, which was staying in the same home as we were, took out song books and a guitar. They asked us to join them. It was very beautiful; people speaking different languages, sitting and enjoying each others company.
At 10:00 PM, Oliver and I went to Apparition Hill. I t has become my tradition on the night before I leave, I always go to Apparition Hill to say my goodbyes. We sat, talked and prayed until about 11:30 PM, and then returned home for bed.
Sept. 29, 1998 (Tuesday)
2:30 AM – time to wake up and prepare for 3 AM breakfast. We boarded the bus and departed Medugorje at 3:30 AM for the ride back to split. Our flight was to depart Split at 7 AM for Zargreb and then to Frankfurt. Once in Frankfort, we had another 6 hour delay. This time, we took the train into downtown Frankfurt. I managed to have a little bite to eat at Macdonalds in the station before we took the next train to the Cathedral. St .Barthlimeau’s Cathedral of Frankfurt was absolutly beautiful. Then we returned to the airport for our flight back to Boston.
Every pilgimage to Medugorje is very different. And each person has very different experiances. This year I came back with the feeling that we need to live the messages. Everyone today is runnining around looking for signs. They say: “Hear about the new apparition?.”…”See that bleeding statue?”…”Look at the spinning sun!”…”Did you know about the new stigmatist?”
All of these things are fine and well if they come from Our Lord. Some do, many do not. However, what more do we need? We have it all! We have our Lady’s messages in Medguorje, Fatima, and Lourdes. Our Lady has been appearing daily in Medugorje since 1981 – How come we are not changing? Why is there not peace? Why is our world such a mess?
I beleive there is one answer! – We are not living her messages!!!
How many of us are going to monthly Confession as Our Lady asked? How many fast? How many go to daily Mass or as often as possible? How many pray the Rosary daily? We all have excuses why we can not – if we don’t then who will?
Our Lady has told us many times that she has many more messages for us, but we are not living the ones she has already given us. She is frequently saying – “Live the message!” But are we?
Now is our time for grace. We do not know if we will have a tommorrow. Jesus might call some of us tonight. Let us take advantage of the moment and live Our Lady’s messages today.
God love you,