By Tracey Philippi
This is the short version of my Medjugorje Conversion. The full version would be the length of a book.
It will be challenging to accurately describe what happened to my life almost 13 years ago. My husband Mark and I had two beautiful children. We were Sunday going Catholics. I prayed a Hail Mary and the Angel of God daily. That was pretty much the extent of my Catholic faith. I was on the fast track with my career. I had worked for 5 years as a critical care BSN, RN. I was hired as a cardiac drug research nurse and worked for the Heart Institute of Nevada and Cardiovascular Consultants of Nevada. During one of my drug research assignments, I was offered a position with one of the largest pharmaceutical companies in the world, Merck. I soon found myself traveling the country, and within two years I had been promoted to a senior position in the company. I was making a very good salary, big bonuses, company car, and prestige. My husband Mark was also making a name for himself. He was the head strength coach at UNLV, and started competing on the world stage as a professional athlete. Mark won America’s Strongest Man in 1997. Mark soon found himself as a regular sports figure on ESPN. Our careers and lifestyle were so busy and full that we felt very content on having just a boy and a girl. We believed the God had blessed us with being able to afford private schools, a nanny, housekeeper, and all of our material possessions, what more could we want. We where living the American dream. But inside my heart I felt restless. My heart ached every time I would leave the house, sometimes not seeing my children for days if I were traveling. I had been primed by the culture that a modern day mother does not stay at home. The goal was success and self- fulfillment. This misery I was feeling made me falsely believe that if only I could get that next promotion, make more money, and buy more clothes, I would be much happier. This was the trap I was in. God would not allow me to experience rest in my soul when I was so far away from living the truth and fulfilling my true vocation as a wife and mother. I was blinded. I truly thought that I was doing the right things. I did not know that I needed a conversion. The famous quote from St. Augustine sums it up “ My soul was restless oh God, until it rested in you.” Hopefully you get the picture of where I was in my life.
In the summer of 1999, Mark was competing in the World’s Strongest Man in a country called Malta. I went with him. I did not know at the time anything about Malta. During our time there my heart started to stir. There where beautiful Catholic shrines everywhere on this island. Mark had an event one afternoon and it was very rainy. I stayed in the bus in between events. The bus driver was a very gracious and kind man. He shared with me the history of Malta and how St. Paul on his journey to Rome had been shipwrecked there. St. Paul had converted the island after being bit by a poisonous snake. To this day Malta has remained a Catholic country. I remember contemplating this and realized that I knew nothing about the deep history of my faith. Mark and I returned to Las Vegas but something had happened to me in Malta. A desire that every human heart has, “Why am I here, who made me, and what is truth?” After our return, I was picking up my son at St. Viator’s pre school and started talking to another mom about my trip to Malta. I then asked Angie how she was doing. Angie responded that she had just come back from Medjugorje. I quickly asked her about Medjugorje. Angie had shared with me the story of the visionaries and Our Blessed Mother’s messages. I was stunned and could not stop asking her questions. A few days later, Angie brought me a book on Medjugorje. I was headed off on a business meeting in Santa Barbara. I started reading the book while I was on a plane. I could not put in down! What happened to me that night in the Biltmore Hotel, I will never forget. It completely changed the course of my life. My question why was Jesus sending His mother to the earth everyday was answered. As I read the messages I felt Our Lady speaking right into the center of my heart. I heard her message. I felt the weight of my sins. I felt the horror of where my life was, through the eyes of God, and I saw my place in hell if I did not change the course of my life.
God had in an instant revealed to me that when we go against His laws we put ourselves in grave dangers. I was prostrated on the floor in my hotel room crying out to God to forgive me. I cannot find the words to describe what I was feeling, except deep sorrow over the state of my life, and unbelievable awe that Our Lord was sending His Mother to the earth to warn us and to convert us. It was a real St. Paul like conversion. I wasn’t riding a horse or stuck by lightning but nontheless, in an instant God had revealed to me the state of my soul and the great gift of His forgiveness and mercy.
My life from that moment would never be the same. The journey to where I am today is credited to the great Mother of God and her messages of Medjugorje. I knew that God was calling me to stay at home, raise my children, keeping my marriage open to the gift of life and to learn my Catholic faith. I will never forget telling husband that I would be resigning from my job. It was very difficult and painful during the early part of my conversion. I was totally alone with no support going through a complete 180-degree direction turn in my life. We would need to totally transform our life style and finances. With much credit to my husband, he did not understand what was happening to me, but he stepped up to the plate and worked extra to support us so I could stay at home. My husband, many close family members and friends thought that I had gone off the deep end. This was very difficult for me. I felt the rejection and indifferences from all corners of my life.
In very short time period, I went from being a full time working mother with a successful career to being a full time stay at home mom. Yes, there where many days that this transition was challenging. I had to make many adjustments. My soul was experiencing much need transformations. I could not get my hands on enough Catholic books and resources. I would spend hours at the Divine Mercy bookstore. Soon I found EWTN and Catholic radio. I was like a kid in a candy shop. I was awakened to a world that I did not know existed. Our Lord had infused a thirst in my soul for truth, a thirst to follow Him. I immediately started to the best of my ability following the instructions of the Blessed Mother. Going to Confession, praying the daily Rosary, fasting, reading the Scriptures and going to daily Mass and receiving the Eucharist. This is the remedy to a godless world. What gifts our God has given to His Church.
Within 8 months, I conceived our third child, and have been blessed to have 3 more children. I have been a home schooling mother for 12 years. How I came to home schooling is a whole other story. It wasn’t something that I ever imagined that I would be doing. In fact is something that I at first I did not want to do. To make a long story short, I knew in my heart God was calling me to do this. I had to respond and trust that He would give me the graces I needed to home school. It has been one of the greatest blessings to our family.
The Lord knew that I was going to need some support and direction. With in months of my conversion (1999) I found a parish in Las Vegas that had 6 pm daily Mass. It was the parish of Holy Family. I would drive every night over to the eastside of town with my children. Our Lady was leading me to a holy priest, Monsignor Ben Franzinelli. During this time Monsignor Ben preached and taught with vigor about our Blessed Mother’s messages and God’s call to living a holy life. I learned so much from Monsignor Ben and will be so ever grateful to him and his love for the Church and Our Lady. The Lord provided all I needed to be strengthened and nourished during this time. Being alone on my journey was very difficult and lonely. But at the same time the joys and happiness that my soul felt I cannot describe. God had also heard my prayer and my lamenting for my husband’s conversion. My husband Mark was Confirmed in the fall of 2003. He also has responded to Our Lady’s call, and leads our family of seven in the daily Rosary.
My prayer is that all people hear and responds to the call of Our Blessed Mother. Our Lord has been sending His Mom to the earth everyday for over 30 years from a small village in Medjugorje, Bosnia to six children, now adults. The message is urgent. We are living in a world that is self-destructing. Our hearts have grown cold to the voice of God and His Holy Catholic Church. I lived most of my life following the culture of death. The culture of death is one that is self-centered. It is closed off to the gift of children, and does not respect God’s laws. It encourages immodest fashions that promote sins of the flesh, modern secularism, pornography, feminism, relativism, and indifference to the Catholic Church’s teachings on contraception, divorce, and the holiness of marriage between a man and women. Blessed John Paul II called it the culture of death.
It pains me to know that there are many people who have chosen to disregard the messages of Medjugorje. They fail to see the awesome gift that God has given us through the loving care of His Mother. Many times I hear people say that the Church has not approved them. Most people do not understand that the Church cannot officially approve an apparition until it has ceased. The apparitions of Medjugorje have been ongoing everyday since 1981. They are the longest ongoing public apparitions recorded in the 2000-year history of the Catholic Church.
I can only give you my testimony on what Our Lady’s messages did for my life. She led me into the heart and soul of her Son’s Catholic Church. Our Lady led me to Confession, the Holy Eucharist, prayer, penance, and conversion. I beg all who are listening, please respond to Our Blessed Mother’s call. She is showing us the way to live a holy life and how to attain Heaven for all eternity praising and worshiping the Blessed Trinity. She wants us to love her Son and to do His will, for His will is the will of Our Heavenly Father, who has given us life. Praise be Jesus Christ! the center of our lives. In my family we try and go to daily Mass to receive Our Lord in the Eucharist. The Eucharist is the Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of Jesus Himself. Jesus Himself said, “Unless you eat my flesh and drink my blood, you will not have life in you.” This is why going to Mass everyday is a wonderful way to get all the help Jesus is offering to us.
These are all the things that I have learned from Our Blessed Mother’s messages from Medjugorje. They are the same things that Our Lord has always taught us through His Holy Catholic Church. Our Blessed Mother is helping to remind us and encourages us to listen to her Son Jesus. http://www.lasvegasmariancenter.com/