I lived in Iowa. I was driving in my car and I hear Fr. Mike Scanlan talking about Medjugorje and these children seeing the Blessed Virgin. I knew Scanlan pretty well. He was the president of Franciscan University. This was ’80 or ’81.
I thought, “The Blessed Virgin is appearing where?”
It just so happened, a couple months later there was a priest retreat in Rome. I think there were like ten thousand priests from all over the world. I’m at this retreat, and someone said, “Who wants to go to Medjugorje?”
I said, “I do.” Out of that ten thousand priests, about thirty of us said, “We’ll go.”
They had to fly a plane from Rome to Mostar then we bused over to Medjugorje. Medjugorje had nothing—no hotels, no restaurants. Maybe there was a cafe. It was a little dinky village. We couldn’t stay there so we had to go back and stay in Mostar.
We got to meet the visionaries and be at an apparition.
I came back to Glenwood and gave a homily, and I talked about the Blessed Virgin appearing. Word got back to the bishop. This is so funny. The bishop at that time was wanting to make me a bishop because I had worked for him for ten years. He wrote me, he said, “You would be well advised not to say anything about an apparition because that will kill your chances of ever being a bishop.”
I thought, “Nah, I’m gonna talk about it.”
After that I told Msgr. Joe McDonnell about it. Joe was just crazy about the Blessed Mother. Boom, next year, Joe goes. He loves it. He wanted to retire in Medjugorje. He didn’t have a chance to retire, he passed away.
The day before he died, I went and saw him. He had cancer. I said, “I gotta go now, buddy.” He said, “I’ll see you in heaven.” He’s there. I hope I get there.
I’m glad I went from that thing in Rome because when we got back to the USA, I talked to Joe and others, and that’s when they said, “Let’s go.”