Rachel: We met Cimela and Miki and they invited us to go on this 5AM hike up Apparition Hill with a bunch of the locals. The local people have been doing this hike for almost a year now. They’re going at least to the anniversary.
We were hiking at sunrise and it was beautiful. We hiked up Apparition Hill and as we’re going up, we’re praying the Joyful Mysteries. Then we’re going up and starting to come down praying the Sorrowful Mysteries. Then we cut over to the Apparition site with the Mary statue and kneel down on this rocky ground praying a Peace Rosary. And it’s rocky ground, for sure.
Here are all these local people who have been doing it every morning at 5AM. My knees are hurting a little, and I’m like, “Look at these incredible people. Some of them are barefoot.”
Then we finish the Peace Rosary and keep going down the hill praying the Glorious Mysteries. At that point, I’m moving out of the way of the older lady behind me who has a cane and is barefoot and is mountain-goating down the hill as I’m struggling to take my next step.
Then we prayed the Litany of Mary at the Blue Cross.
It’s just incredible to see the faith of these people. With the sunrise, they’re praying on Apparition Hill because somebody has to be praying on Apparition Hill.
It’s a Saturday and I’m over here like, “Okay I’m going to go sit down for a little bit before we go to 8AM Mass.”
Then Miki and all of these local people are like, “Great hike! Now we’re going to go walk miles to Divine Mercy church. Are you guys coming?”
I’m like, “You guys are just incredible.” They do that every Saturday and they do this hike every morning. The faith of the people who live here is something incredible. It’s this pure and simple faith, but it’s also true.
Matt: The locals are really sweet. They gave us two Rosaries.
Rachel: We’re both theology majors from Franciscan University. That’s how we met. I guess word had spread that we were on our honeymoon. When we were praying the Peace Rosary at the apparition spot, the locals stopped and took the flowers and rosaries that were in Mary’s hand, in the statue, took them down and put new ones there.
Then one of them came and put the rosaries in Matt’s hand and this beautiful bouquet of white flowers in mine. Miki walked over and said something like, “They’ve been in Mary’s hand for 24 hours. It’s a gift for you.”
So we were hiking down the mountain with this beautiful bouquet in our hands. Honestly, it made me think of our wedding all over again, carrying that bouquet with Matt helping me down the mountain.
They’re so welcoming and loving and selfless.
Matt: One of my main concerns about Medjugorje before I came here was, Our Lady revealed that we were supposed to pray three Rosaries a day and you’re supposed to fast on Wednesday and Friday. No one I met at Franciscan who really was into Medjugorje, none of them actually did that.
So I was like, “Why would I believe you if you don’t practice what you preach?”
But the locals here do.
Rachel: These local people, at 5AM, are praying these three Rosaries plus some.
We also have gotten to go to the evening program and that’s been beautiful as well. One of the first days we were here, we went to the Rosary part of it, and again they’re praying three Rosaries.
Everything stops at 6:40, the bells ring, and we kneel because that’s the time that Mary appeared. It’s a time that we stop and, wherever the visionaries might be, if you hear the bells ring, you hit your knees and pray to Mary.
We went to International Mass and we didn’t have the radios that translate it, we just had the readings on our phone. We were still able to respond in English. Communion lines are not organized like they are in America so everybody just floods to the front for Communion, and there’s a metal rail there and I see people dropping to their knees in front of the rail. Nothing here is soft, where your knees go. They dropped to their knees on the hard concrete and received very reverently on the tongue.
I don’t think I expected there not to be reverence here, but I didn’t expect to see so much reverence. It’s the majority, not the minority, worshiping so authentically.