Jake – Los Angeles, California

I’ll be totally honest, I didn’t want to come. I figured if I wanted to go to Europe, it would be on my terms. I would go to the countries I wanted to go to. Especially taking off from work, which is very stressful, taking a whole week to come to something that I’m not fully invested in didn’t sound appealing at the time. 

I don’t think I would be here without my mother. I don’t think I would have had the interest or the will to make a trip like this. I haven’t been that close to the faith in the last decade.

It was my mom being persistent and then slipping in a little bit of fun vacation on the side that got me over here actually. My mom has been asking about this for years now. 

I had no idea what this place was. I barely even knew about the apparitions. I didn’t really do any googling about it before. I was like, “I’m gonna have my head down and go through it. This is for my mom.” It was really important to her so I knew it would make her really happy. 

The first day, I was very much like, “What am I doing here? This is so much church. This is so much religion.” The people too. I’ve met some fantastic people here, but in the beginning it was like, “These people are so deep in their faith, and I am so not.” I’ve really been away from the Church for like ten years or more. 

For me, it was very overwhelming, especially with the amount of people and everything going on. Everyone’s having these big crying moments or they’re so joyous and I just wasn’t there. 

Throughout my time here, I’ve noticed a bit of a shift in my mindset, understanding this place’s importance for myself and for everybody that comes here and what they try to get out of it. I understand the significance of it. 

I really liked Apparition Hill. That was so wild, the rocks. I thought people put rocks there. I had never seen a rock formation that was so intense. I really liked Miki’s talks during the climb. I thought that was really peaceful. And to see the amount of people coming up that early in the morning says a lot. The view up there was really nice. I know Cross Mountain is a better view, I guess, but I just like that one a little more. It felt more special to me. 

There are lots of parallels between everything happening here and then my mom and I. 

There are so many comparisons between Mary and Her Son. It is touching because my mom doesn’t give up, especially on me. 

It’s mother and son. It was perfect in a sense. I know my mom constantly prays for me, constantly worries about me, constantly wants me to come back to the Church and the faith. I think that’s something I connected with a lot with Mary’s messages, being the same things over and over. It’s nothing new. It’s just gentle reminders because everybody needs those. That’s what I can see with my mom. She’s not trying to be annoying. She just wants what’s best for me, and this is what she believes is best. That’s why she feels so strongly about it.

This is the first big trip we’ve taken together just us. It was interesting. We’ve gotten along really well. We’ve gotten really close, but at the same time, I am apprehensive to open up about my faith to my mother because I feel like there’s an expectation. I know what she wants for me, and I don’t think I’m fully there yet, even after this trip. I got a lot of good things out of it, but it’s a journey and a process and it’s not gonna happen right when I get home. 

I feel almost embarrassed speaking about it sometimes. I’m the kind of person that when I say I’m going to do something or I say I identify with this, I want to be invested in it. I don’t want to say, “I’m Catholic,” but not practice, half in half out kind of thing.

That’s why I have a hard time admitting it to my mother because, if I do put my heart and soul into those words and say it to her, I feel like there’s going to be an expectation on me. That’s what I’m wrestling with, making sure it’s something I really want and I’m not just appeasing her. 

I can tell she’s been trying to talk to me about it, but I’m like, “I don’t really know what to say right now.” I’m still processing it all. 

Overall, the trip has been really good. I am very appreciative that she brought me here. It’s been really nice. 

Now it definitely feels like a very peaceful place. It definitely feels like something is happening here. The apparitions I do believe in based on everything I’ve heard from [visionary] Mirjana and everybody I’ve talked to.

The first thing I noticed about Mirjana is that she just seemed to be glowing. She was full of life. 

Personally, I think it’s really happening to her. 

Through her talk and the whole experience here, there’s a whole community around it, it’s hard to deny. I thought her talk was really good. People asked her great questions, and it was insightful. She was very relatable. I was like, “Oh this was just a normal girl.”

They were normal kids growing up. That was something touching. They’re not celebrities or weird supernatural people. 

The one thing that stuck out to me was when she’s seeing the apparition, she doesn’t remember her kids. She forgets about everything in that moment. That was the most powerful. That was something me and my mom both thought was powerful.

Personally, with my faith, deep down I know it’s in there and I think at some point I do want to be back in the faith, but I want to do it on my time and my terms.

That’s the million dollar question: what’s going to happen when I get back? I think it’s super easy here to be in this mindset because there are no distractions and there’s nothing else to do really. It’s easy to get in that mode. I’m nervous to be back. I’m trying to hold on to this feeling and bring it back there and reengage with it because I won’t have the support that I do here or the expectation that this is what we’re doing every day. 

That’s the big thing I’m processing. If I want to continue that feeling and make the changes to get deeper in my faith, I should go to Mass, go to confession, and all that stuff. 

What I do know is I won’t forget this experience. It will be something to fall back on. Regardless of when I decide to restart or how my journey goes, this is something that I’ll remember forever.