Tom – Austria

I heard about Medjugorje from my mother. She asked me if I wanted to come to the Youth Festival. It was twelve years ago. I decided to go, and it was a very good decision because I would say it was the start of my personal relationship to God. 

When I first arrived here, I felt a lot of love and peace. The first week I was here, I didn’t sleep a lot, but I was still very full of energy. 

I had doubts the first time I was here. I think it was necessary for me to be part of an apparition to see what’s happening here and be able to feel the peace in the moment of the apparition. That helped me to understand it’s not fake. It’s real.

I was very impressed to see so many young people praying together. It gave me a lot of strength for my own faith because I saw that there are others who are young and praying a lot. I still spend time with the people  that I met the first time here.

For the first time, it’s very important to be in a group because you have to have people around you. You can talk about what you have experienced here. Also, a big part of the experience of Medjugorje is coming with a group because people change when they are here and you can experience community like the apostles did. It’s a bit similar, in my opinion. 

It’s very good being together with people. Everyone cares for each other. It’s a very healthy way of living together. 

I came back for the Youth Festival the next year. 

I would describe Medjugorje as Heaven on Earth. I always feel that in Medjugorje, Heaven is very near and the presence of Our Lady and God is stronger. 

For me, it’s like coming home, and coming closer to God and Our Lady when I come here. It’s interesting because here, very often, things happen, like coincidences. I think it’s planned by God or Our Lady that we meet certain people and talk to them. I always find out that we have many things in common or the same questions that we want to have answered. 

It’s a surprise every day because you meet different people and you have different faith experiences. 

One of the places I like a lot is Apparition Hill and the statue of Our Lady. I like to go there in the evenings, when it’s dark, and pray there. 

In former years, it was a lot harder for me to share my faith at home. Now, I got more comfortable in sharing my faith. I go to church at home nearly every day. When I say, “I have to go because I have to go to Mass,” they see how I want to live my faith. 

My parents met on a pilgrimage to Lourdes. It’s special for me to be in a pilgrimage place because it was an important part of how they met, otherwise I wouldn’t exist. Therefore, it’s special for me to do a pilgrimage in a place like that. 

I’ve been to Lourdes and Fatima and Brazil. 

I like to go to other shrines, but it’s different in Medjugorje because the apparitions are still happening. I feel the presence of Our Lady here a lot more than somewhere else. 

Here, the faith is more lively.