My idea of a holiday was a sun holiday every year, sun during the day and partying at night.
Since 1990, I’ve only been on one sun holiday, and I’ve no desire to go now. I feel it would be a waste of my time and money.
My first time here was in May 1990. All I knew was that there were visionaries and mountains. I didn’t know another thing about Medjugorje.
I remember being down at the church grounds on the third day and thinking, “What am I doing here?”
There were two in our group who had physical disabilities. They had MS. The men in the group carried these people up the mountain, up Apparition Hill, one each day. We used to meet at the statue of Our Lady at 8AM.
Through that experience of going up every day, Apparition Hill is still, to this day, my favorite place in Medjugorje.
The first time I came, I’m afraid of heights, so we went up Križevac at night, but I didn’t realize how high up it was. My late mother, she died on the Feast of the Triumph of the Cross so that’s a special place for me now.
By the end of the week, like most people, I didn’t want to leave.
I went back the next year, just before the war started. I even came during the war years. I’ve been, I would think, over 50 times.
In that time, I’ve evolved. I haven’t stayed the same. When I first came, I went to Mass on Sunday, but now I go to Mass almost every day.
Now, that didn’t come about as soon as I went back home to Galway. That was step by step. Then, I started going to Adoration.
I do the fast on Fridays. I don’t do both days, Wednesdays and Fridays. I do the fast on Friday.
In the last few years, I’ve done the fasting on Friday before I plan to come out to Medjugorje. I pray the Novena to Our Lady Undoer of Knots and fast to unblock any obstacle that would stop me form coming here.
The fasting, I recommend to people. It’s not easy to do. We have to pray for the grace to be able to fast. I have seen the power of fasting.
Thank God, I was privileged to be at many apparitions over the years with both Ivan at the Blue Cross and Apparition Hill and Mirjana at Cenacolo and the Blue Cross.
The memory I have, and we pilgrims would often talk about it back home, we were up on Apparition Hill, the apparition is at 10 PM to Ivan and thousands of people are coming down together. Literally we float down on those rocks. It’s like we just float down, we come down so easily and there are thousands coming down together. Nobody got hurt, and there were no lights on Apparition Hill then. It was a long time ago.
In 1991, the apparitions were up in the choir loft. It was Marija and Ivan, if my memory serves me right.
I was sitting on the church benches in the seating area near where the confessions are. It’s the third window up where the choir loft was so we were looking right at it. Just before the apparition time, all the birds would come, singing. What sounded like hundreds and hundreds of birds would come flying and stop on the trees and they would be singing away.
At twenty to six, the birds would stop singing. Now, who can stop the birds singing? That is no doubt a supernatural event.
The time the apparition was over, they would start singing again, and they would just fly away. That’s a well known phenomenon.
Upon my return home after my first pilgrimage, while in Medjugorje, I became aware there was a monthly Medjugorje Mass. This was the same evening program as here in Medjugorje.
From 1990 to 2019, up until COVID, I rarely missed a month. In fact, I looked forward to it every month. It was a wonderful way of keeping in touch with fellow pilgrims, many of whom have become lifelong friends.
This is another phenomenon of Medjugorje, complete strangers becoming lifelong friends.
I used to travel with many different groups from north, south, east, and west of Ireland, some very large groups. I would travel with friends. Now, I come alone. I believe that’s the step that Our Lady is taking me on.
When I was back home first, I started going to a prayer meeting, then I started going to Mass an odd day, and now it’s nearly every day. It’s step by step. Our Lady takes you by the hand and takes you on the step She knows you’re able to handle at that time.
Not a day goes by, that you don’t think of Medjugorje, when you’re back home. On a day that you’re down, you think you’re up Apparition Hill or something. That keeps you going.
Over the last number of years, I climb Apparition Hill most days that I’m here. What I do is, I let the person know, I text them and I take a photograph when I’m up Apparition Hill. I send it to them and I say, “I’m climbing Apparition Hill now and I’ll be there at the base at such a time and I’ll be at the top in twenty minutes,” so the people would be with me in spirit, especially people that are into prayer and have been to Medjugorje. This gives them great comfort.
Even for people who haven’t been and don’t believe in anything, they do appreciate it when you do it for them and you think of them and you take a picture and you send it to them. They are touched by it.
I have been to Lourdes and Fatima since coming to Medjugorje, but Medjugorje in comparison, while everybody has their favorite place, Medjugorje is happening today. I believe, as do millions of people, that there are special graces here that we’re receiving. I’m not making little of the other apparition sites, but there are special graces here because Our Lady is present here. She’s appeared in so many different places now. We have the privilege of being at the Blue Cross, Apparition HiIl, and Križevac [Cross Mountain.] It’s a special grace.
As the late Fr. Slavko used to say, “You have to come and see because, unless you come here, you cannot comprehend what Medjugorje is.”
I know people who have never come, they’ve read every book on Medjugorje, they know everything about it, they believe in Medjugorje, but unless they come, they cannot feel what Medjugorje is.
It’s an inner peace that you do not get anywhere else on this Earth. We all long for that peace. That peace can only come from God. We all have a longing for that, but we go in all directions to find it. We’re human. We live in the world, but it’s only here. That’s what draws people back year after year, because we all need it, especially in these times.