Father Tom – Omaha, Nebraska
I heard about Medjugorje from the first day. I was living in Houston, Texas in 1981, and the Houston Chronicle had a little blurb in the paper about this place in Yugoslavia, it started with an ‘M,’ but I knew I couldn’t pronounce it. There were six kids who said they saw Mary. The second day, it was further back in the paper. They say they saw her a second time. I was really intrigued.
Then I didn’t hear about it again until 1988. The bishop of San Angelo, Texas went there and had quite the experience. He put it in his diocesan paper.
Six months later, I was transferred to Turkey. I worked as a geophysicist. I got offered a job in Turkey. I wasn’t excited about it, but I moved to Turkey.
I got there Easter Sunday 1989. In Turkey it’s against the law to have churches on Turkish soil. It’s a Muslim country. I went to the Vatican Embassy. They had a bulletin they handed out, and there was an advertisement to go to Medjugorje. I didn’t want to fly across the ocean, but flying across the Aegean is pretty easy.
The day I called, everyone had cancelled. The guy said, “If you want to go, let’s go.” I had a personal guide. It turned out he became a priest also. God works in mysterious ways.
The first trip was just him and me. We were living at the base of Cross Mountain. There was a family there with a couple rooms that they let people stay in. We were walking across the fields down to the church, it was tobacco fields back then. It was just a whole different experience.
I went to Medjugorje from Turkey once a year for three years. The second year, we drove.
The next year, I organized a pilgrimage. This was after the Gulf War. We had bug out plans [military term to leave in a hurry in an emergency] because it was within missile range at that time. We had people cancel except four of us.
The third trip, I was interested in the priesthood. I asked the Blessed Mother, “Where do you want me to go?” The third day here, a priest from Omaha, Nebraska was saying Mass. He grew up within two blocks of where I grew up in Omaha. After Mass, there’s usually a gaggle of people that want to talk to Father, but I was the only one.
He had no plans that day so we walked the village. We promised we would keep in touch, but we didn’t have any paper to exchange addresses. I had a Turkish note worth about ten cents. I just ripped that in half. He said, “When you get ordained, we’ll put that back together.” We’ve done that several times. We actually just recently got together.
I was never really interested in the priesthood before Medjugorje. My natural ability is science. I knew I was going to be a scientist from when I was about five years old. I was always fascinated by nature. My confirmation saint was St. Francis of Assisi.
I got a degree in geology. I came to Medjugorje and saw all these rocks. They’re all carbonates and kind of boring, but there’s things that you can see there. That’s one of the things about God, you can meet Him in nature in many ways. That’s beautiful and wonderful, but meet Him personally in the Eucharist.
In Medjugorje, you can feel the presence. If you really believe in this, you’ve got to take this seriously. Jesus is here. Medjugorje is one of the deepest Adoration experiences.
The doors opened, and here I am. I’ve been a priest now for almost 26 years.
No regrets. I loved being a geophysicist. I made lots of money. But is that what life is about? That’s the million dollar question that we all need to ask ourselves. What is life about? Is it to get rich, traveling the world, getting famous, making lots of friends? That’s not what it’s about.
As far as what happened to me, I always went to Mass on Sunday, even when I went to Turkey, even in college. But Medjugorje was going deeper. She’s still with us to feel Her presence, to get to know Her love, and to go deeper into our faith.
I came back shortly after I was ordained in 1996. It was a totally different experience coming back as a priest. We came with 216 people and two priests. I heard confessions for an average of three hours a day. This is the Super Bowl of confessions.
The first night I heard confessions for three hours, I literally could not sleep. I was on fire with the Holy Spirit. I saw sparks. Everything that had happened in my life, good and bad, had prepared me to be here for this penitent. I was able to help them in ways I could not have ever imagined. It was so exciting. I was on fire.
I’ve seen so many miracles from the Rosary. I pray at least two a day. I have a continuous Rosary Novena. When you ask for something that’s impossible and you see it granted, you just say, “There’s something going on here.” Try it. And try to go deeper into it. Pray from the heart. Bring your needs, wants, and desires to Our Lady to intercede for us and watch what happens. She loves to help people.
Medjugorje is not approved by the Church, but it also hasn’t been condemned by the Church. It’s open because it’s ongoing.
But to encounter Our Lady in a special way, the faith of the people here, the faith of the pilgrims, is affecting. This is alive.
I go to Rome about four times a year. I’ve been to the Holy Land twice. But this is alive. That’s history. You’re looking at monuments and churches, which is wonderful. Even in the Holy Land, walk where Jesus walked, but He’s not there like He is in the Eucharist, like Mary is here in Medjugorje.
Her messages are guides. I really got affected by the last one, February 25th, “if you do not return to God and His Commandments, you do not have a future.”
“Dear children! I am with you and we pray together. Help me with prayer, little children, that Satan may not prevail. His power of death, hatred, and fear has visited the earth. Therefore, little children, return to God and to prayer, to fasting and to renunciation, for all those who are downtrodden, poor, and have no voice in this world without God. Little children, if you do not return to God and His Commandments, you do not have a future. That is why He sent me to you to guide you. Thank you for having responded to my call.”Our Lady’s message February 25th, 2022
Our Lady is coming here. She’s been very kind and gentle, a good mother, but She’s preparing us. A good mom, if she knows something’s coming up in your life, she’s going to prepare you for it. This is not a game. This serious business, and whatever we can do to help Her plan come to fruition is our glory. What can I do to help change this world?