I always understand every invitation as God’s call. So I went home, thought about it, and began to preach about Medjugorje for the first time after I came here last October. That was about my fourth or fifth visit, and that was the first time I understood the importance of Medjugorje. After I read visionary Mirjana’s book [My Heart Will Triumph], she put everything into perspective. It was as if little Blessed Mother was talking to me personally. It woke me up from sleep. I have tried to tell every priest and every bishop that I meet, just be open to it. Something’s happening right now in our time and you’re not paying attention. I would invite everyone to come to Medjugorje when we still have time. Otherwise, I think time is running out.
Meghan came here last year and was completely transformed. She gave her testimony in the parish, we put it on television, and the kids began to ask questions, “What is [Medjugorje]? We never heard about it?”
I said, “Let’s go. I’ve been invited back.” We began to fundraise. In eight weeks we got all the money and two thousand extra.
And some parishioners were wondering, why do I need to bring the children all the way across the world. I said, “They need to see it so they understand how important this is.”
Because all they know is the civilization they’re born in — in America. It was necessary for them to see 50,000 other kids praising in the heat, no air conditioning, no comfort, sitting on the grass, and still going to church. If we had no air conditioning in church in America, I’m sure nobody would come on Sunday. But they were willing to suffer all that and just watch other people believe too. And they’re going back to America very different kids.
I couldn’t preach it. I couldn’t just tell them. They had to see it and feel it and know it.
And now I can tell you that we have a firm foundation for the future of the church in my parish. These kids will never forget why they should pray the Rosary, why they should go to church, why they should be good Christians and be very convinced Christians. That was the whole idea.
Now I have the gospel. I have formed Christ in all the lives of the young people. I don’t need to preach to them anymore.
The purpose for which we organized this pilgrimage has been fulfilled 200%. Now they’re going to go home and tell everybody about it, and I believe next year we’re coming back. Because their parents want to come. And so it is going to snowball. Kids are wonderful preachers. The way you hound your daddy day and night about something, he better just listen to you.
I think at the end of the trip, parishioners will now understand why it had to be done. It’s never been done before so everyone was kind of apprehensive. But now that we had group in our area, many parishes are going to have pilgrimages with young people.
The Youth Festival is about seeking God. It’s also about young minds seeking for truth. Jesus says, “I am the Way and the Truth and the Life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” Seeking truth is seeking Christ. Even in science; even in going to church. So I would propose that to every young person today, come to every Youth Festival, every year.