I came here with no expectations. I didn’t want to set any expectations because you don’t want to be disappointed, right?
I was like, “Whatever happens, happens, and I hope something happens really for my wife, for Jenny.”
Three years ago I started going to church with Jenny and the kids. She always took the kids to church. She’s a teacher of religious ed; gets them ready for their First Communion.
I started to go to church, maybe in the beginning just to see what it was like again, and maybe just to satisfy Jenny. And I wanted my kids to see me, whether they understood how disinterested I was or not, I just wanted them to see me going to church with them.
Over time, things started to stick.
Then our parish priest leaves, and Fr. Damien Wee comes in. Jenny is immediately friendly with him because she has to work with him.
I really liked Fr. Damien Wee. I like his homilies. He’s a friend of the family. We hang out with Fr. Wee all the time. He’s great fun to be around.
We’re talking, and he hands us the movie Apparition Hill so we watch it. I like it. I get the idea in my head that we’ve got to go to Medjugorje. Jenny and I gotta go see this place. I wanted to do it for Jenny, not so much for me, but just for Jenny. I couldn’t send her alone, and I couldn’t send her with anybody else.
I bought the tickets to come here. The original pilgrimage was scheduled for October or September, and because of COVID we couldn’t come in that month. It got pushed to this year, but in November.
I was reminded by my mother-in-law before we left, “Happy birthday! I’m not going to see you on your birthday because you’re going to be in Medjugorje.”
I didn’t know at the time I booked the trip that I would have a birthday here.
Inside of me, I’m making the connection, “Wait a minute. Maybe I booked this trip, not for Jenny, it was meant for me.”
Maybe it was God’s way of saying, “You know what, you need to talk to My Mother. You’re not very good at this. You really don’t pay attention in church. You’re not studying.”
Maybe the idea a couple years ago, when I started going to church and thinking I wanted to learn more and be more faithful and participate and it would be good for my family, maybe the idea was conceived then, but now, here I am, and I feel like my spiritual birth happened here in Medjugorje on my birthday.
After I went through this process of thinking about what does this mean for me on my birthday?, another pilgrim, Jonathan tells his story.
It was early on, we were having dinner, and Jonathan sat next to me and Jenny, and Jonathan started to get into a little bit of his life’s story. I was intrigued.
Two years ago, he made a decision that he was going to bring himself back into his faith.
Then I said, “Did God need for me to meet this guy? Because everything he was saying, I need to do. It’s what I haven’t done yet in the last two years.”
We were walking home, and out of the blue, Jonathan says, “Has anything happened for you?” like he wanted to make sure, like God was sending him to ask me and make sure I heard and I understood.
It was like a reminder, a nudge to say, “Are you listening?” He asked the question so I had to verbalize what my feelings were.
Jonathan was put in front of me because I needed to know from him how to deepen my faith. He gave me a two year road map. I know it’s longer than two years, but he gave me the first two years.
I’ve already wasted two years. I can’t keep doing what I did the first two years because I’m not going to grow in my faith. God said, “Stop wasting your time. Here’s what you need to do, what Jonathan did.”
I shared that with him, I said, “Meeting you, it helped me think. You showed me what I can do, what I should be doing and how to do it for the next two years so I can be where you’re at right now.”
I think he was touched by it because I was relating it directly to him.
Tonight, we were sharing graces. For some reason, I just got really emotional. I speak all the time in front of big groups, big business meetings, all that kind of stuff. I don’t get emotional. I don’t cry. For some reason, I was very emotional in this moment so things couldn’t come out.
But I did say, “What I’ve learned is, having met Jonathan and through a conversation that we had, I was shown what I need to do.”
Jesus sent a message through Jonathan to me at dinner that night.
If I’m right, Jesus and Mary are in Heaven right now celebrating because they’re like, “This hard-headed, stubborn guy, Kevin, finally got it.”