35 Years of Grace




The date of June 25, 2016 marked 35 years of the Blessed Virgin Mary reportedly appearing in apparition daily to six chosen visionaries. Such an act of grace is beyond normal comprehension. It calls to mind a special prayer line I add each time I pray the second mystery of the Joyful Mysteries, which is the Visitation: “Who am I that the Mother of my Lord should come to me?”

Come back in time with me as I recall my second pilgrimage to Medjugorje in June 1986. I had returned at the request of Father Svetozar Kraljevac to assist him in writing a new book on the apparitions. He had asked me near the end of my first visit in May. I was overwhelmed. And absolutely sure that there was no way I could return just a month after my first visit. But it happened and there I was back in the village a couple of weeks before the fifth anniversary celebration. Only later would I realize it was an act of grace that would change my life and put me on a special mission.

As was common with Fr. Svet, plans changed at a moment’s notice. After we had worked for several days, he informed me that he had to leave and would not be back for two weeks - and could I possibly wait for his return so we could continue the work? I was stunned and could only mutter a weak okay. Now my thought was, what am I going to do here for two weeks? There were no English-speaking pilgrims there and no guide to direct me.

It took a while for me to figure out that all things concerning Medjugorje happen for a specific reason; this next two weeks would be no exception. It was a time of learning for me through deep, silent prayers and acceptance of the unforeseen. It was, to be blunt, a time of formation for the mission that would unfold over the next thirty years.

It was also yet another grace as I was there for the fifth anniversary of the apparitions. As if that was not enough grace in itself, I was invited to be present for the daily apparition the next day - which just happened to be my birthday! The fact that I was a journalist was the reason for the invitation; but as with Heaven, there was more.

Father Svet did return in two weeks and we did continue work on his new book. Plans were made for me to return in November so that we could put the finishing touches to the manuscript.

I returned to the little village in November for my third trip in six months, very much looking forward to working with Fr. Svet again. But then things changed again. As we were driving back to Medjugorje from his parish in Konjic, me in my rental and he in his little car, he suddenly motioned for me to pull over. We should stop for lunch, he said, as he had something important to tell me. I followed him down the road a ways to a small restaurant.

As we settled in at the table and ordered, he said to me: “I must change our plans concerning my new book. It is to be set aside for now and I am to help you with your book.”

Once again, I was shocked. He assured me that it was meant to be and that we would begin upon our arrival in Medjugorje.

Fr. Svet’s new book was never finished. Without his assistance, my first book, MEDJUGORJE: THE MESSAGE would not have been the huge success it was and continues to be. It is, as all things connected to Medjugorje, another grace.

During these thirty years of direct involvement with the apparitions, I have seen the graces in a thousand different ways with thousands of individuals. I have seen the fruits of grace bring about more than 7,000 vocations to the priesthood. More than 50 million pilgrims have been transformed spiritually. Physical healings abound, as well as spiritual healings.

The primary question is: how much longer will the Mother of Jesus be allowed to appear and speak directly with us? A secondary question is: when will the Church officially make a statement on the apparitions? I add a question of my own: do the answers really matter?

Here is the singular grace of the apparitions of Medjugorje: God is in charge. It will end when it is time. In the meantime, we are to add to the grace by living the messages as best we can.

The peace, GRACE and love of Jesus be with all of us.