By Deacon BARRY MELLISH
On Saturday 22 October, some 27 pilgrims left Heathrow bound for Medjugorje. For some, this was the first experience of visiting the places where Our Lady has appeared with such regularity; for others, it was a return to a place they loved.
There were nine of us from St Joseph’s, including Father Tom, some from neighbouring parishes and a few from further afield.
As a first timer, these are the standout memories for me:
- Going to Adoration on the first night and finding some 4,000 people gazing on and praying to Our Lord in complete silence.
- Deaconing at the English Mass on the Sunday in a packed conference hall holding some 1,500 people.
- Praying the Rosary as the group walked up Apparition Hill for the first time.
- Seeing people queue for an hour or more to go to confession.
- The overall feeling of love and devotion that pervades.
- Getting up early to go to Apparition to pray the Rosary with 200 or so other pilgrims led by Ivan, one of the visionaries. As we walked up the hill, the sun rose over the hills. A truly memorable experience.
- Visiting Community Cenecolo and hearing testimonials from recovering addicts and former criminals on the transforming effect that Our Lady’s words have had on their lives.
- Hearing the testimonial of Patrick on how Our Lady changed him from a man whose God was money to someone who is giving all he has for the benefit of others.
- Climbing Cross Hill and praying the Stations of the Cross as we climbed. One of the party was struggling and two people sacrificed their own hopes of reaching the top in order to help her down. This willingness to help others is so typical of Medjugorje. “I” is no longer important; it is of giving to the Lord and to others that is the dominant theme.
- Celebrating Mass in a small chapel in Split a couple of hours before we flew home.
There is so much more to tell, it was a truly blessed experience. All I can say in conclusion is that I am so glad that I went and so blessed that my wife, Julia, was there at my side. I do encourage you all to go. You will not disappointed.
Finally a big thank you to the whole pilgrimage party for being so warm and friendly: to Angela Callan for organising the pilgrimage; To Father Tom for his spiritual direction and guidance; and to our wonderful guide Slavicia who really made it a very special experience.