Michael – New Jersey

I feel Our Blessed Virgin Mary and Her Son, Jesus, have taken pity on me, and They have filled my heart with true peace here for the first time in my whole life.

I am an alcoholic.

I went to Catholic grammar school and high school. Then I went to a state college, and I absolutely went crazy partying all the time. I hated who I was. Alcohol took away that feeling, and for the next 30 years I would spend 24 hours a day trying to destroy my very spirit.

I was 49 years old, and I just felt I could not go another ten years of that kind of lifestyle. I got on my hands and knees and asked Jesus to help me. 

I have six kids. When I had the first child, I did go back to church, but all the prayers were like, “Please, Jesus, help me.” They call them in AA ‘foxhole prayers.’ You beg the Lord for help.

By the grace of God, I did get sober. I’ve been sober 16 years. As I became sober, I was more and more spiritual.

I was attending daily Mass. Through our local church, I met Lisa and her husband Pat. Lisa kept gently inviting me to her prayer group. She just gently called three or four times, and I finally said, “Let me do this.”

We began praying the Rosary. I learned how to pray better. It’s a discipline. The more you pray, the better you get.

It became the highlight of my week. 

Every time she talked about Medjugorje, my heart grew more and more, yearning to come here. I wanted what Lisa had and that peace I could feel emanating from her that I knew I could get through the Blessed Virgin and Her Son, Jesus.

Now, I can’t even hardly walk. I had this prosthetic leg for four years that I couldn’t walk with. My family thought I was crazy. They said I wasn’t going to be able to do it. It was a huge mistake. 

My kids were like, “You’re going to have to quarantine after you get back.”

I’m like, “That’s fine. Whatever I have to do. I’m coming.”

My wife thought I was crazy, but when I left she became very supportive. We’re coming to a new peace and understanding that I never thought I could get in my marriage. Especially since I’ve been here, I want to treat her so much gentler and kinder almost like the way I would treat the Blessed Virgin Mary. 

The day we landed and I saw the church, I was in my glory. I’m praying the Rosary in church, and seeing all these thousands of people praying with all their heart and might. It’s so compelling and so contagious and so beautiful.

Cenacolo Community was inspiring to me. 

I was not a first time winner. I tried to get sober. I had never gotten sober one day for 40 years. I went to rehab, and I made it a few months. Then I relapsed, and for the next year I must have relapsed a hundred times. 

I was so desperate that I got on my hands and knees and prayed to Jesus for help. I knew I could not do it alone. I was so desperate to feel some kind of peace. 

I met a man who kind of had a story like me, and we started working on this thing called The Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous. Through working these steps of recovery, you actually have a spiritual experience.

I have never had peace in my whole life. I was a victim of sexual abuse which led to another addiction other than alcohol too. 

Even a year ago, even until I came here, I have not had true peace. For the first time in my life, I am experiencing that. I’m almost at the point of tears all the time. 

I did a confession that really relieved my soul. I had done confessions before, but I still came out feeling guilty somehow. I’m guilt-ridden. That’s the devil working in me. I’ve experienced that peace here, and I feel I can carry it now. 

With my wife, I would always be mad at her about something, but I walk in the freedom of forgiveness. I’ve forgiven her for everything. I feel I’ve been angry at her for so long. This peace, if I could ever share it with her, it would be so amazing. 

I’ve been praying for intimacy my whole life, like an intimate relationship with my wife, but the intimate relationship is with Jesus and Our Blessed Mother. That’s the intimacy that I’ve really been searching for. With that, I can really be at peace with my wife too. 

I was always trying to get that from another person, and you really can’t. They’ll let you down. 

I’ve always had a mentor in my life of some kind. My first mentor was the man who abused me. That was my uncle. Then I had another mentor and he stole money from me. I’ve always been let down by my mentors, but with Jesus and the Blessed Mother, I will never be let down. 

At first I was praying to the Virgin Mother. The Blessed Mother intercedes for us. She’s helped me get closer to Jesus, the Holy Spirit, and God the Father.