Renee: This is my fifth time to Medjugorje. They’re all different.
To me, it takes a good three days before you fall into the rhythm of Heaven on Earth. It just takes a while. So when I hear people say, “I came for 24 hours,” or our parish priest said, “I went to Medjugorje. I drove through the village. I was there three hours.”
I was like, “No you weren’t. You didn’t experience anything.”
It’s everything. It’s taking in the Mass, the Rosary, the Adoration; it’s the people on your pilgrimage. Having people in your group, that’s what makes it, hearing their stories.
My sister and I had been following Medjugorje because my mom came in like ‘86. She’s since passed.
My sister and I came on this pilgrimage. We met all these wonderful people.
John: She was on the phone like day five of her pilgrimage, she goes, “I’m not coming home.”
I go, “Excuse me?”
She goes, “No. I think I’ve found it. I’m not coming home.”
“But you’ve got to come home, honey. You really do.”
She definitely fell in love with this place. She was always a faithful woman but got that extra boost of faith that hopefully everybody can get.
For me, she says, “We’re going next time.”
I go, “Maybe.” I had work. I had life. I wasn’t called at that particular time.
Then, a few months later, it wasn’t long, she says, “I’ve already booked a trip. We’re going. Take these days off.”
Even at that point, I don’t know if I was necessarily called, but I didn’t say no, so maybe I was called.
I didn’t know what to expect. I’m going, “Where’s the beach? Where’s the fun?”
This is a pilgrimage, not a vacation.
We hadn’t traveled much at all at that point. Once you go through the trouble, the flights, and get here, it is absolutely Heaven on Earth. It is the most peaceful place. Safe.
Going up Apparition Hill at midnight, you don’t think of anything. You’re just involved in your own spiritual enhancement to figure out how things are and what you’re supposed to do.
[John turns to Renee] It was amazing, and I thank you for that every day.
This is my fourth time here.
We got to bring our daughters here. We wanted to bring the daughters and the sons-in-law and the grandkids, but of course that’s not very easy to do.
Renee: My sister that I came with originally, her daughter is with us as well. She’s been hearing the stories the same length of time. I’m like, “We’re going.” She came with us last minute.
John: We decided to bring the girls and hope that they experience a little bit of what we did.
They’re 30 and 33. They’re raising kids. My hope for them, like it has done for me at a later age, is just to find the deepening of faith that we have found.
I truly believe there’s tough times ahead for us. We need our faith. Renee and I brought them up with the faith. We gave them that foundation, and hopefully they can grow from that, not only for them, but for their friends and whomever they’re associating with.
Renee: Our sons-in-law, neither one of them are Catholic. One was Jewish, but his mom became Christian. Then our other son-in-law was Lutheran. They’ve now converted. They’re all Catholic.
They’re very involved in the church. One of them is a Eucharistic minister. They’re in church groups. It’s wonderful.
John: The guys helped with their conversion. It certainly helped their faith. They were good, medium, but their conversion has brought our daughters even more faith.
I’m going to cry. We count our blessings every day.
Renee: Before we came here, my son-in-law said, “I want to have a family dinner, and I want a family Rosary. We’re going to pray for y’all while you’re here.”
We all did a toast, and my toast to my girls was, “I’m passing on the baton, the baton of faith, because you’re going to need it for what’s ahead.”
Their kids are little. They have a seven month old, a two year old, a three year old, a four year old. They need this seed to be planted now so that it can sustain them and their families for the future.
That’s my hope, that this trip solidifies their faith to carry them on for what’s ahead.