Julie and Zoltan

Zoltan: Julie was raised in a Catholic family and went to a Catholic school called St. Anthony’s but she left the Catholic faith when she was 12 years old because she experienced a lot of bullying in school. Both the students and the teachers bullied her. And so she just kind of drifted away. 

Our Lady used a very unusual way of bringing her back to the Church. She was born in the early 70’s so in the 80’s she was a teenager and that’s when Duran Duran – the music group Duran Duran – was huge at the time. Julie was a big fan. She was 12 when they were at their peak and she wanted to meet them.

Julie: Especially the base player John Taylor. He’s adorable. 

Zoltan: And so she made a prayer to the Virgin Mary that she might one day meet John Taylor.

Now I promise, this will come back to Medjugorje and the Virgin Mary.

There’s also a circle of friends in Seattle where we live, we call them Durani’s. People who listen to Duran Duran get together. They’ll share love of the music; do some activities together like parties. It’s just clean fun, listening to the band and joking and eating. They all have stories of meeting the band and Julie had never met the band and always felt like the odd one out. At the heart of that community, there’s a guy called Andy but he goes by Durandy. And he’s a huge Duran Duran collector, especially posters, archives, and articles about the band.

Julie: The most significant Duran collection in the world. 

Zoltan: I called up Durandy one day, and I said “Hey, what can we do to help Julie meet the band?” He gave me a lot of good advice. It came down to you have to go to another country to meet the band because they don’t really spend time with fans in the US anymore. Because they’ve done the circuit many times, so they want to go to some place new. At that time Julie totally despaired because she doesn’t like to travel. How would this ever happen? 

So fast forward to May 13, 2017, which is the 100th anniversary of the beginning of the Fatima visions and so a lot of parishes had celebrations. We had a mass. We had a consecration to the Virgin Mary and then a reception afterwards. It just so happened we had a Duran party later that night. So I went to mass and Julie is not Catholic at this point. I went to the mass and as I was saying the consecration prayer, I had this deep deep urge to go to Medjugorje. It wasn’t something I had been planning – it was like you have to go to Medjugorje, you have to go to Medjugorje, and the other part was, you have to take Julie with you.

I have worked for the church full time and I’ve led a number of pilgrimages and travelled a lot so for me it wouldn’t be to hard to come to Medjugorje especially because I have family in Hungary which is not too far. But to bring Julie to Medjugorje, at that point we had never been to Europe together, so if we were going to come to Europe we’d maybe go to Hungary to visit my relatives or Germany where she has relatives, but not Bosnia & Herzegovina. I mean who wants to come to Bosnia & Herzegovina? People don’t know it’s such a beautiful country. So I thought okay Mary that’s great but I have no idea how I would do this. If you want this to happen you make it happen because I don’t even know how to start.

So I was on my way home and I stop at a store and see an email from the Duran Duran fan club that we are a part of and they make an announcement that Duran Duran is set to perform in Zagreb, Croatia at the end of summer. So I am thinking wait, that’s 5 hours from Medjugorje! It’s all adding up. So I called up Julie and said “How would you like to go to Croatia this summer?” 

Three and a half months later we are in Zagreb. There were a bunch of Durani’s who had gathered in Zagreb for the concert and so someone tipped us off about where the band was staying. I’ve never done this before but we did kind of a celebrity stake-out where we stayed in the hotel lobby and waited for them to come through.

Julie: They arrived at their hotel. They came in, and everybody’s all, “Oh! Here they are! Here they are!” I rushed forward, and there was John Taylor and there was Roger — two of them. I’m going, “Hmmm. I want to see John more.” I’m about to head to him and he goes zoom another way.

Zoltan’s going, “Go! Go, go, go!” and pushing at me. So I run after him. I’m a few feet away from him. He’s looking out the door. It looks like he’s waiting for somebody. I start screaming at him, “John! John! John!” I finally got his attention. He looked straight at me. This is my moment. And so I say…

Nothing. I couldn’t say a thing. [Julie laughs] 

He was very sweet. I’m sure he’s had this conversation many, many times over the past decades. So he said, “Do you want a photograph?” 

He was very kind to me. He got together with me, and he asked my husband to join us, “You get in the picture too.” 

Zoltan: Julie had also written a book about Duran Duran.

Julie: They’re in it.

Zoltan: It’s an urban fantasy novel. It’s called Speaking in Feline. It’s about a 12 year old girl in 1985 who loves Duran Duran. The fantasy element is that she meets these talking cats from outer space. It all weaves together with Duran Duran and coming of age and eighties music. She was able to give a copy to John. 

Julie: I described a little to him, and he said, “Isn’t that interesting?” 

Zoltan: The next morning, we went and hung out in the lobby again. The band were out and about shopping and stuff. Then Simon came by, that’s the lead singer, Simon Le Bon, and so we were able to talk to him too and get a picture with him and give him the book. 

Then it was the night of the concert.

Julie: It was a fabulous concert. I was right up in front for the first time ever. 

Zoltan: It was a really great concert.

It was at that point she told me that she had made this prayer to the Virgin Mary. I didn’t even know.

Julie: My 12 year old girl prayer.

Zoltan: It took 32 years, but it was answered. 

Then the next day, we came to Medjugorje. Julie was more favorably predisposed to things. We were here for the September 2nd vision in 2017.

Julie: The concert was just a few days before the apparition day. 

Zoltan: The timing was perfect. So we went to Apparition Hill. It was a Saturday morning, and it was pretty full. We got there a few hours early and we could still go up and, we never saw Mirjana, but were within a few hundred feet of her. Just waiting and waiting and praying the Rosary, or at least I was. Julie, you describe your experience.

Julie: A few times over the years, I’ve been dabbling in other forms of Christianity. I was reflecting to myself that the last time I was in such a large group of people, of Christians, it was the more radical type. The speaking-in-tongues type. More of a circus show than anything else. Everybody trying to out-Christian the next person. 

I’m looking around me, and everybody seems to be doing their own quiet thing, praying or crying quietly or some people were, like me, looking about, just observing. I started to wonder, “What am I supposed to be doing here? I know that I was brought here for a reason. Should I be praying? Should I be singing?” Then I heard, both inside my head and outside, audibly, words of affirmation that whatever I bring to the table, that’s what it should be. I’m not supposed to be like somebody else. Who I am, what I do, it’s fine. It’s okay. And I know that these words of affirmation came from Our Lady herself. 

I’m not ready to reveal exactly the words that were said to me, but it was said in a way that it could only be for me. Almost like a private joke. It couldn’t be for the people around me or the person next to me. This was mine. And because it was so personal, I almost started laughing. It was almost very much like a private joke, but I stayed quiet. I didn’t want to bother the people around me, because they were doing their own thing. I’ve got my thing. They have their thing. 

Zoltan: This was during the silence of when the apparition was happening. 

Julie: It was about a half a year later…I made peace with the Church without actually being Catholic. Taking all these little steps forward and little steps forward knowing that there was a threshold to cross before becoming Catholic, and it just occurred to me that I’ve hit that threshold already. It’s somewhere behind me. I don’t know when I went over it. But yeah, I think I’m back home now. 

Zoltan: I was at a conference in Canada, and Julie messaged me and said, “I’m ready to tell people, and I’m going to make an announcement on Facebook.” I said, “Okay this is awesome.”

Julie: Ten months after Medjugorje.

Zoltan: She ended up posting the statement on June 13th which is the feast of Saint Anthony, and she didn’t even realize it was the feast of Saint Anthony. 

Julie: The church that I had left many, many years before. 

Zoltan: Mary has a sense of humor.

Julie: I know that some people would be put off at the idea that Our Lady would use a secular band to draw somebody to the Church, and that could hurt some people’s idea of Medjugorje. But to me, it’s further proof that God can use whatever he freaking wants as a tool to draw people to the Cross. 

Zoltan: If you think about the story of Our Lady of Guadalupe, and it’s not like our story is anywhere near as significant, I don’t want to sound grandiose, but what did Mary do with Guadalupe? She used the Aztec imagery, their language, to communicate with them. I’m sure for some of the Europeans, that might have felt like, “Well, why is She using pagan symbolism to speak to these people?” Because that was their language. She used what spoke to them, and was able to convey the message of Christ through their own imagery. And in a way, Mary used a secular thing, decidedly not a Catholic band, but She used something that Julie knew and broke into her heart. 

Julie: And because of that, this necklace that I have, I use a medal, Our Lady of Guadalupe because of Her use of language to speak to whoever She’s directly speaking to, and a Duran Duran pendant because that is how She spoke to me. She spoke my language.