This is my fourth trip, and this is by far the best pilgrimage that I’ve been on. This time I did bring six people from home. This time has been the best. I felt the Blessed Mother pulling me back to Medjugorje much more than I did even the first time. Just meeting all the people and feeling the community and the sense of love and the graces being poured out. And experiencing Jesus over and over every day through Mary. 

Being able to stay the night for the apparition and being present at such an intense apparition. I loved the message. It was such a beautiful message this time. 

I have a trick. I go up and I make friends with the people that are all camped out and that got there really early. And I offer them pizza and coffee and water. And they tell me, “Oh you’re not really going to do that are you?” And I said, “Yeah, I’ll be back at like 11:30. Is that cool?” And of course they say, “Yeah that would be wonderful.” So I buy my way into a good spot for the apparition. It’s worked twice now so I think it’s a good trick. 

Staying out all night and having those conversations with wonderful people that are in love with the Blessed Mother, they’re in love with Jesus, and even that being said, they just want so much more. So they’re willing to make those sacrifices and offer up the suffering for other people too. It’s amazing. Whether it’s their families or their husbands or people in their parish or nephews, whatever. 

Just experiencing that — I’m getting goosebumps right now — just experiencing that has been so beautiful. 

I’ve always gone to daily mass. I got away from praying the Rosary every day a little bit and so I got back to that. I got away from fasting so I need to get back to that. 

The Blessed Mother was just calling me back to help others. Climbing Apparition Hill, I’m always called to help others so I never really know what the pilgrimage is going to be about and then I get here and I think that that’s one of my strongest spiritual gifts is that I’m just a natural helper. I love helping. I feel the best helping. 

Medjugorje has brought that out in me too. I volunteer at home at the Lord’s Diner. I wash dishes and I love it. 

She was just like, “You need to come back.” Really, I had planned on not coming back and promoting the pilgrimage. I was trying to find somebody to go and that just fell through. I heard the Blessed Mother really loudly say, “You need to come. You need to be here for your people.”

And then yesterday, climbing Apparition Hill, I was like, yeah they needed help. They had some fear of heights and some confidence barriers that they were very capable of breaking through and they did. 

I feel like I’ll always come back. This place, it’s home. It literally feels like my grandmother’s house when I would go over there. She was Italian and she would say, “Can I get you something to eat?” And you would say, “No,” and she’d say, “No, can I get you something to eat. Can I get you something to drink?” She would not stop until you took something. 

She was the reason we came to Medjugorje in the first place. She passed away in 2014 and her death was so beautiful. We were all in the room, and the second they gave her the Last Rites, she opened her eyes really big and her eyes were glowing blue. Her eyes were brown… 5:15… I really, truly believe that the Blessed Mother came to get her. She was a member of the Blue Army of Fatima. She always had stuff about Medjugorje so that’s how we learned about it. After she died, I feel like when she got to Heaven, I think that she immediately started praying for all of the family. 

I was the first one to come to Medjugorje. My sister came also on my second trip, but my entire family has seen graces upon graces poured out. We’ve gotten so much closer to the Rosary, so much closer to confession, and we’ve always been faithful mass goers, but daily mass has definitely been a big thing. And we also know we need to read the Bible more and try to do some type of fasting. 

I decided to fast from alcohol for an entire year starting on the Anniversary — so June 24th/25th. Since I’ve started to do that, because I struggle with fasting on bread and water, so much grace has come. Because it is a sacrifice. When you’re hanging out with your friends and they’re all having fun and family things everyone’s having a little bit of wine. I think that when you fast, when you give up something as a sacrifice, it leaves a space open for God to pour those blessing into your life and to pour those graces into your life. And He wants us, I think, to expect that when we give up something. So it’s been really beautiful. 

It’s been a wonderful year and I’m so excited for 2020 to come back again. I’m already planning next year’s trip.