Dear faithful readers of my father's Blog site,

It is with a deep sadness that I announced the death of my beloved father on Sunday, December 27th.  He has been dealing with heath issues for quite a long time and died peacefully at home.  He loved Jesus and Our Lady so very much. I will try and keep my dad's Blog site active.

Fr. Edward Sousa, Jr.



Testimony of David Parkes on conversion and healing in Medjugorje

date: 14.12.2020.

After several testimonies of people to whom Medjugorje had changed their lives, and film "Gift of Conversion" on YouTube Channel  ‘Fruits of Medjugorje’, we publish now testimony of David Parkes.

Parkes was professional football player when he got Crohn's disease. Doctors told him he has only two months of life left. He came to Medjugorje. After the miracle of physical healing, the spiritual healing happened too. David continued to build his career in the world of Christian music. From 2001, he lives in Medjugorje working for Marian Pilgrimages. The story on how Medjugorje changed his life, we bring here and his testimony is available on YouTube channel Fruits of Medjugorje. If you wish to find more content, we recommend Facebook page Fruits of Medjugorje, and if you are still unfamiliar with the project ‘Fruits of Medjugorje’, you can do it HERE.


So from that day to this the aches, the pains, the vomiting, the diarrhea with the Crohn's disease had instantly disappeared. First time I heard about Međugorje was in 1989. I heard about it because I was extremely ill at the time and the prognosis wasn't good. And we had a benefit concert to help the family financially and two people were at the concert who ran a travel agency and they invited my wife Anne and myself to come to a place called Međugorje. Yet I didn't want to come because God and I were not partners and the reason for that was that my eldest boy Ken was born with an incurable illness called cystic fibrosis.

And then I was struck down with an illness called Crohn's disease, so I got angry with God and didn't really want to come but as it turned out it was supposed to be my last holiday with my wife Anne. Not really believing I came with a very special priest from Chicago called father Peter Mary Rookey and when I met father Peter Rookey, father Peter reminded me of the old ministers in the cowboy movies, being very loud: Do I hear an 'Amen'? And everybody would say 'Amen' and I was cringing because I'm quite private and, you know, I just thought this was a little bit American.

In 1989 Međugorje was just a one - street town to be really honest with you. The street started from the bridge in Međugorje and ended at the roundabout which, subsequently I learned, were the ruins of the old Catholic Church.

And road left and road right were dirt roads so that impression I didn't want. I wanted to go back to Dubrovnik, I spent my honeymoon in Cavtat so I wanted action, I wanted plenty of action. But for every reason that I had to leave Međugorje my wife Anne always had one reason as to why we should stay a little bit longer. And the ruse was that father Peter Mary Rookey was supposed to be celebrating Mass in the Church of St. James which was a lie.

He wasn't even on the altar and as I left the church of St. James, Anne and I got lost and then I heard Anne scream out:'David David wait, wait' and as I turned around, I saw her coming, running from the door of the church. She said: 'David, father Rookey is having a healing service in the graveyard.'

Now, I turned to her and said:'Well, I hope he has more luck than we had of him supposedly saying Mass this morning. I said: I'm going, I'm too sick, I was in excruciating pain because of Crohn's disease and she said to me: Look, David, on our children's lives, if you come with me to the healing service, as soon as it's over I'll go back to the house and I'll pack the bags and we head off to Dubrovnik.

So, there were the words I wanted to hear so we walked around the side of the church down through the vineyards because the vineyard was right up, close to the church. Down through the lovely grove of trees where the statue of the Risen Lord is and then down to the graveyard.

It was jammed. There were about seven or eight hundred people because father Rookey was so well known that whenever people said he'd be around, people came because he had an extremely beautiful gift of prayer for healing, so we arrived. The place was packed and in the graveyard there's a little paved area in front of the little burial chapel and in the middle of the burial chapel was father Rookey and three Irish priests and he was blessing them as he always did.

And then they dispersed, blessed people and father Rookey came over close to where I was and there was a young adult in a wheelchair and he said, I also remember, he said: Are you prepared to take a step in faith for Jesus? That's stuck with me to this very day and the young adult said 'yes', so he he anointed him and then he went to the next person and he laid hands and then they fainted.

And that's what I would call it. I subsequently found out, it's called resting in the spirit. But I'd never seen this, I thought this was the hocus-pocus pastor doing his thing and he went to the next six people.

They all went down and of course, me being cynical, I turned to Anne and said: Ann, this is histeria! Once one does it they're all going to do it, nobody wants to be left standing, they all have to be seen, to be getting what they're getting on the ground and if they don't, they're going to feel: What's wrong?

So, Ann told me to shut up and I went off. I couldn't stand and watch this thing happening, so I came back about 15 minutes later and then she turned and said to me David: Why won't you have a blessing? And I said: Whoa, remember I'm the atheist!" But you said, it'll do you good, you've been extremely ill! So I left again and I came back and this thing happened over a period of two hours coming backwards and forwards. And then I eventually said: Listen, you're an idiot, you should have had the blessing two hours ago and you could have been off somewhere else, so I stood in line with about 60 people; three Irish priests were now working in front of father Rookey, they blessed me in turn. Nothing happened and I'm looking at the watch thinking how long more am I going to be here and I looked up for my watch and father Rookey, he called himself the rookie priest, he said: I'm just a rookie priest and he smiled at me.

He said to me: David, there's something you want to tell me and I said: Father, I don't wish to speak with you. I said: I'm extremely ill, the pain is excruciating and the doctors say I maybe have two weeks to live so with that he reached into his pocket and took out a crucifix about the size of my span.

Little black crucifix and that crucifix contained seven relics of the seven founders of the Servite Order of the Servants of Mary. That's where they get the father Peter Mary Rookie, all Servite priests have Mary in their name, so he struck the cross in my right hand, then he dipped his thumb in the oil and he anointed my forehead. Then he put his hands on my head and started to pray and then I remember him going to take the crucifix from my hand and the next thing I remember is lying flat on my back and I had been in that state for 20 minutes.

When I got up off the ground, there was a politician with us from Ireland, not a senior politician, but, we have two Parliaments - we have the senior and the junior one. And they are senators, they're not politicians, so he uses that to great extent in America because a senator in America is high-profile.

So, when I opened my eyes and I'm looking up who's standing over me, only the senator Donie Cassidy. And I met him because he was involved in the music business and the first thought when I opened my eyes is: Oh, God, back in Dublin what is he going to tell all the hard – drinking musicians about Parkes lying on his back in a graveyard?

So, when I got up, when I dusted my clothes down, he said to me: Parks, he said, the Spirit is with you very strongly, you've been out for 20 minutes. But I didn't realize anything that happened except there was a burning heat in my body that went from the top of my head to the tips of my toes. I've never experienced that since Međugorje or ever before Međugorje, so from that day to this the aches, the pains the vomiting, the diarrhea with the Crohn's disease had instantly disappeared.

I was very fortunate to experience a spiritual healing, the greatest of the two miracles, as most people call them, was the spiritual healing.

I'd been very troubled I had no peace in my life, my eldest boy Ken, as I mentioned, was born with cystic fibrosis, I couldn't come to terms with it. When he was born, I was playing soccer professionally, I had the great honour of playing against Pele, George Best, a representative of my country and the thoughts of a highly trained slim, trim, brimful energy soccer player having a child, an imperfect child. Because, that's what I called him. I used to call Ken my cross, I just couldn't come to terms with it.

And that drove a wedge between Anna and myself, so I left Anne twice, but Anne has an incredible ability to forgive, so she forgave me on both occasions and invited me back to the family home. Thank God we are still together. As we speak we celebrated 46 years of marriage and we're still holding hands because if we let go, we'll kill one another.

But what happened after the physical healing was that the desire to leave Međugorje had gone. Međugorje was just on fire within me and the church of st. James was like a magnet, I could not stop going to the church of St. James. So, we used to go to Mass at 7:30 in Croatian, then we go and have breakfast and then we come back for the the German Mass and then of course we had the English mass and then sometimes we would stay for the Italian Mass.

That's how serious things were and we were sitting one afternoon outside the front of St. James, just sitting but not right, we were not talking, I was just reflecting the few days that had gone passed and a lot of people were going past of different nationalities.

The English people talking about the peace and we could hear some Croatian people saying about "mir" and some people were saying, they experienced this incredible peace upon the hill of apparitions. So I turned to Ann, even though I was still very weak after the two surgeries and convalescent, and I said to her: Would you have me to climb this apparition hill where these people are experiencing this peace, not realizing it was Sunday and we would call it now Divine Mercy Sunday.

So we set off in the afternoon and when we got up to the hill, it was packed because the parish of Međugorje climbed the apparition hill. So when we got to the place where Our Lady is reputed to have appeared for the first time, it was full. So Anne and I sort of came back down the mountain and she found this huge big rock and sat on it.

And I just stood there with my back to the hill, but looking directly down into the beautiful twin spire church of St. James and I didn't know what to do. I wanted to pray but I couldn't, I'd forgotten how to pray and I remember saying to myself, you know, I'll say Our Father and that's as far as I could get. And then I tried to say the Hail Mary and all I could get was this Hail Mary and then Anne, who was sitting on the rock, she told me after that she was looking at me and she saw me getting a bit agitated, because I did get agitated, because I couldn't pray and so she jumped down off the rock and when she hit the ground I instinctively turned from looking at the church to her, I extended my arms and I embraced her and I apologized to her for all the hurt that I'd caused her, all the pain that I had caused our children, our family members and our friends and she started to cry and then she threw her arms around my neck and then, because of that little gesture of love, I started to cry.

So we cried in one another's arms for about ten minutes, but when I stopped crying, I had this most incredible inner peace, inner peace that seemed to allow David Parkes to live with David Parkes. I did not want to leave Međugorje. As the days got closer to departure I didn't want to leave, I was getting too much, I was getting closer to God every minute; my glasses were new now.

I could see what the Lord wanted me to see through my eyes and glasses. So we went to the airport on the day of departure and the flight was canceled. So, I went, I wanted to come back but everybody else, the 165 religious maniacs, as I thought, they would have got a hold of the guide if she hadn't been in for the departure.

She would have been dismembered. And I wanted to go back to Međugorje. And people said: I can't believe her husband wants to go back to Međugorje. At that point in my life I wouldn't be very private especially about the religion and most people knew that I'd been angry because of Ken, but I remember it took six months for my stomach muscles to heal after I had the two surgeries. So when I went back home I still couldn't sing, my muscles weren't strong enough so three days after coming back from Međugorje I went into the band to see them all.

And when I left to go to Međugorje, they had been told that I had two weeks to live so they'd never thought they'd see me well enough. So, when I walked into the room, I was standing up straight now because prior to all this I was crooked over, the pain was excruciating. And there were seven hard – drinking musicians.

Most musicians, you know, if they're fully professional, they sustain their life by drinking, it takes away a lot of pain and so forth. So, when I went in there, they just stood there with their mouths open and just asked what happened. So I told them, they said: Listen, this is a miracle, there's no way, when you left here a week and a half ago, there's no way we would ever think that you would walk in here.

So they went around spreading, I mean, within three days the Musicians Federation were calling me from their office in Dublin. We had the great news, the great story but it's like as if the Lord decided when I was here that he wanted me to do something for him.

Well, when I went back singing roughly six months after; it was all rock and roll music and I did it until September of 1993, but in the whole of September I felt that I had lost the buzz. That's probably the only way I can describe it and I always said to the band: Look whenever I lose the buzz, you know, there's no point in coming because there were seven of us.

And I decided I'd like to do something for the Lord, I just felt that he was, you know, putting little things in my heart that he wanted me to do but how does it manifest itself?

So in June of 1993 this lady, Heather Parsons, who was also a journalist, she wanted to come to Međugorje during the war to do a documentary on Međugorje during the war and she was looking for a volunteer, of course.

Here I am, Lord. And my family were distraught at the thought of going to a war zone to do with a thing on a holy place. So we came anyway and we were shooting outside the sacristy door and at that time father Philip Pavić was coordinating the english-speaking pilgrims. Father Philip, I remember when I was here in 1989, he was the coordinator, he had a lovely voice, always sang, he could have had a Sistine choir here and he didn't matter, he led the music.

So we were doing the piece to camera and right behind was the sacristy door. It opened and of course he came out and with his Chicago accent he says: Can anybody sing here?

I should hope so, but the crew said: Oh, father, he can, he can. I said: I'm sorry, father, I can't sing. I didn't bring my backing tracks with me.

Well, he was a little stoop, but he sort of stood up and said: You don't need backing tracks to sing for Our Lady, so I didn't walk through the door, I went under the door. I felt so small, but at the communion time I sang the Ave Maria a capella and I sat back down and was heading back out to do the shooting when this big tall man about six foot six approached, thin like a rake, and he said to me: Yeah, what are you doing in September? And I said: Who wants to know? And he said: My name is Dr. Sam Worley, he said. I run a Marian conference in Pittsburgh and I'd like you to come and sing the Ave Maria for us.

So that's how the Lord put this whole thing together. So I was invited in September, I sang the Ave Maria, I think probably about twenty four times in three days because whenever there was a break, they'd say: Sing Ave Maria. But there were ten people there who ran ten of the largest Marian conferences around America so I was invited and then over the next couple of years it went from just being a speaker to MC on all of these conferences.

So the Lord had it all planned, you know, all he was looking for was a 'yes' from me to do it. God, I was so delighted, so delighted. I've been working here in Medjugorje since 2001, it was a rather strange episode. I'd been touring America and the world doing Christian concerts from 1993 as I mentioned. At the same time my son Ken was extremely ill, Ken has cystic fibrosis so his lungs were deteriorating over a period of time and there were many times over the years that I would have to abandon the tour and come back because Ken was quite ill.

But there was a gentleman who ran a pilgrimage company, the company I work with now called Marian pilgrimages. And I used to be a group leader so he was to bring groups once or twice a year. And for four years prior to 2001 we would meet every January because he was going to use this new thing called the Internet to promote his business so I would meet him in January and he would say to me: Listen, David, you're going to be in America, is there any possibility you might be able to promote by putting the website, the website never went up so in 2001 in January I got a phone call from Tom to say: When are you off to America? I said: Tom, next... - Oh I need to meet with you before you go. And he said: This is what I'd like you to do. I said: Wait, Tom, I can't do anything for you apart from promoting your website. I said: I have a career. - I know, but you would be able to when you come home, you'd be able to. I said: Tom, I can't do that when I come home.

And then he came back at me four or five times and I always had an excuse and the only way I thought that I was really going to shake him off as I said: Look, Tom, Ken is on a transplant list for new lungs and if he gets a transplant, I am gone. It doesn't matter what I'm doing and I don't know how long I would be away. I said: We'll cross that bridge when it comes. So I left him and I drove back home, five minutes drive and when I arrived Anne said: What happened to you? I was so perturbed by it all, overwhelmed and she said: What do you mean? She said: Did you have an accident? I said 'no', I said: I think I'm about to be off for the job. And she said: Where? And I said: In Međugorje.

Well, she jumped up off the seat in the kitchen, it was like as if she'd won the lotto. Now, in the family room Ken had just come out of hospital on the Friday and he was sort of immobile, he could only maybe get from the sofa to the bathroom if he needed. When he heard all this excitement, he came out to the kitchen and he said: What's going on, what's going on? Anne said to him: Your dad is after being offered a job. Ken said: Where? And she said: In Međugorje.

So he walked over to me and stood right in front of me, he looked me straight in the eyes and he said: And you are taking it, aren't you? I often question myself: Why are you here? I love to sing, I would really love to do a concert every night because I felt that I was healed here in Međugorje, because of the gift of the voice that the Lord gave me and particularly one beautiful song which started my whole ministry, a beautiful song called 'Let me live'. And there are times... Working with the public is different, really, it's difficult because particularly nowadays where they're very, very demanding, as a group of people we want everything instantly and there's no tolerance.

The one thing that I would find from working here is that people arrive here with no hope, absolutely no hope. What was right when we were young is now totally wrong. What's black is now white and so it's very difficult. And the reason I think that the Lord has me here is that I'm very vocal about how generous He is and very vocal about His forgiveness to us and I'm very vocal that we need to stand up for the Lord. We can't be passive anymore, we really need to be his footsoldiers, we really need to walk the walk, no longer talk about it, there's no point, talk is cheap.

So we have to nail our colors to the cross and say: Listen, I'm a Catholic!

Because you go to any other faith whether it be Muslim or Baptist and whatever churches around the world and they are vocal, they're in your face. And yet we Catholics, we have everything and yet we don't tell people. Now, I wouldn't be one that would be knocking on everybody's door, but I would let, I would always try and let people see that the Lord is present in me.

Because I do think that we have the ability to entice people to the faith but equally we've got this ability to turn people away just by what we say or what way we do it. So, for me it's just the greatest gift that I could ever be given, to be part of this amazing place that has changed millions of people's lives, millions of people's lives. And just to be able to see, as I would often say, when we meet with the pilgrims I see me every week coming.

I'm always in the front seat and angry and disruptive and then within two days I see a blessed Mother has taken them along, taken them along as she took me so gently to be with her son Jesus. I think people return to Međugorje because they experience the peace of the Lord, they also experience the love of the Lord. As I said I'm 68 years of age, when I was young all we were hit with in school was the fear of the Lord.

We were terrified of the Lord but when I came in '89, one of the first things I learned was the love of the Lord, how much he loves us and it doesn't matter how far you've been away from him. It doesn't matter what you've done against him. Because I often felt I was a bit like St. Paul.

When I was growing up I was a choir boy in a church called the Church of St. Paul in Arran Quay and as a 11 - year old right behind the high altar was this huge big mural of St. Paul falling off the steed and never realizing that for a couple of years I was like him. I persecuted people and then when I came here, I realized what love of the Lord can do for you and I really think that's why people come back.

We would have to hear people saying: You know, I'm coming back for a fill-up of peace, I'm coming back to to get the peace that the Lord can give me and I suppose that's the greatest compliment that we could pay. One of the wonderful things that, it presses the wrong word to use, but there's nobody here in Međugorje who pushes it upon you.

There's nobody who says this or that asking one: Do you believe me? And I always remember the guides when I came here first. I remember talking the story about young Jakov coming to father Jozo and telling him what Our Lady said but he didn't say to father Jozo: You do believe me?! And that I think is the greatest testimony, you know, I'm telling you this, you do what you want with it.

And my youngest son Gary, when he came, he was terrified coming in here because he thought it was some sort of a machine that you're put in and you are zapped. He came over, I call it the medji - heights, but it's just that you feel loved here.

And the friends that you make here in Međugorje if you're on a pilgrimage, even though you might not meet them again, but it's a friendship that's true. You remember what they said, you remember the hurt, you remember the pain that they had and I suppose most of the miracles that would take place in Međugorje would be around the dinner tables in the houses.

You know, there could be the quietness of people sitting. They've been quiet all week and then maybe the day before you go home they relate a story that's just so mind-boggling and you realize that she's the reason that you're here. You never met her before, but she has the answer that you've been looking for from the Lord. So, Međugorje never ceases to amaze me every day.

There's something new, there's an extra increase of grace and blessings from here.


I'm Here Waiting For You Every Day

 Featured article from February's Spirit of Medjugorje

I'm Here Waiting For You Every Day

By Jane Monica Spurrier

St. Charbel     In 1987, on my third trip to Medjugorje, I purchased a book called Modern Saints by Ann Ball, and therein was a story about St. Charbel. I loved him instantly and discovered, lo and behold, he was canonized on my birthday, October 9th.
     I lived in New York City at the time, and my church was Notre Dame on the upper west side by Columbia University. Daily Mass was said in the grotto of Our Lady of Lourdes each day at 8 A.M. One particular Saturday, I woke up late, and was so hungry I ate my oatmeal.....but didn't leave myself enough time to fast before Communion. I kept praying, "Oh Jesus, what miracle could allow me to receive You?" I knew I needed one hour of fast time. This kept on, and when the Consecration occurred, I did not have the required one hour to receive. During this time, a rather odd looking old man entered the side door. He was dressed like a monk, but didn't look like our Franciscans. I was rather annoyed by his appearance, since I thought he was some psychotic New Yorker.
     After Mass ended, I stayed in the grotto to pray. I noticed to my right I could see into the sacristy and there was the priest who just said Mass changing out of his vestments and the "odd" looking monk changing into vestments. The little monk was coming out to say Mass! We never have a second daily Mass, but this visitor was going to say one, and this would give me the chance to receiving Our Lord! I was overjoyed.
     During the Mass, the monk was praying in a language I didn't understand. It wasn't Latin, because I know Latin, but I couldn't decipher what language it was. I was the only one there, and during the Consecration, the monk looked at me and his eyes said, "Do you want to receive?" I eagerly nodded back "Yes!" We both could understand each other without saying a word.
     When Mass was over, I went in to thank the pastor (the first priest who said Mass and functioned as the altar server for the monk). I said, "Father, you don't know what a great miracle this was, that I got to receive Communion!" The monk smiled with a look of abundant joy, happiness and humor – the look of someone who laughs a lot and is very happy. The pastor didn't seem to get my point.

St. Charbel

     The next day I went back again. I saw the pastor and couldn't stop telling him what a great miracle it was for me. Then I said to him, "Father, by the way, who was that priest?" "I don't know," he replied, "I never saw him before." I couldn't believe my ears! What priest would allow another one to say Mass without knowing who he was?
     Several months went by. I opened my book of Modern Saints again. I turned to St. Charbel and honestly, almost had a heart attack when I saw his picture. HE WAS THE MONK!!! He had appeared to say the Mass for me. Can you imagine? I later found out he has appeared numerous times since his death. I was glad I didn't know at the time who he was or I would have had a stroke. St. Charbel had a great devotion to Mass and the Blessed Sacrament.
     Anyway, I haven't seen him since, but I know there is a picture of him in Charlie's store in Medjugorje. I've asked those brothers to sell me the picture, but they declined because it was a gift given to them. I thought the miracle of St. Charbel was so awesome, and then today a voice inside of me said, "But I'm there waiting for you in the Eucharist every day, to show you how much I love you. I sent Charbel so he could carry Me to you…that's how much I wanted to receive you, too."
     Jesus waits for us every day in the Mass. He performed the greatest miracle on earth when He created the Eucharist. A small piece of bread, blessed, transformed into HIS presence, waiting for us. The graces we receive at Mass are incalculable. Don't miss this opportunity to meet Jesus in person...
     Editor's note: This story is a reprint from our October 2003 issue. Jane told me her story while we were on a pilgrimage to Medjugorje in 2002, so I asked her to write her story for us. I was excited when my granddaughter picked St. Charbel as our patron saint this year and wanted to share this beautiful story again.



“Dear children! This is a time of love, warmth, prayer and joy. Pray, little children, for little Jesus to be born in your hearts. Open your hearts to Jesus who gives Himself to each of you. God sent me to be joy and hope in this time, and I am saying to you: Without little Jesus you do not have the tenderness or the feeling of Heaven, which is hidden in the Newborn. Therefore, little children, work on yourselves. By reading the Sacred Scripture you will discover Jesus' birth and joy, as in the first days, which Medjugorje gave to humanity. History will be truth, which, also today, is being repeated in you and around you. Work on and build peace through the Sacrament of Confession. Reconcile with God, little children, and you will see miracles around you. Thank you for having responded to my call.''



Fr. John Boughton: I came to Medjugorje as a Protestant and I became a Catholic priest

date: 30.10.2020.

Testimony of Fr. John Boughton was recently put on YouTube channel ‘Fruits of Medjugorje’. Testimonies of Sofia Gamiz and Fr. Johannes Rothärmel, as well as documentary film ‘Gift of conversion‘, were shown on this year’s Youth Festival. Recently this testimony was added of a priest who was born as a Protestant. He was studying medicine, later on he read a book on Medjugorje and decided to come here and that visit changed his life. He converted to Catholicism and became a priest.

Here, we give his story on how Medjugorje changed his life in fulness, and you can also watch his testimony on YouTube channel Fruits of Medjugorje. For more of the similar stories, please check our Facebook page Fruits of Medjugorje. If you still do not know about this project, you can find out more HERE.


I heard of Međugorje the first time in 1991, in the fall. I came in February or March of 1992 as a Protestant. I was studying to be a medical doctor, I was 28 years old and was going back to the university. A friend of mine from Texas, also a Protestant, I was raised protestant, saw the conversion of this other man, Jeff Reed who runs St. David's Relief Foundation now. He saw a change in Jeff and he said, he said literally, he went up to Jeff and said: Jeff, what happened to you? I want it! Because Jeff had this peace about him that Jeff had never had before.

My friend Robert and I were at his ranch in Colorado and talking and and he said: John, I don't know what to do about this, but I see this radical change in my friend Jeff and he gave me this book on Međugorje by Wayne Weible. Read it and tell me what you think. And so that's the first time I heard about it.

We grew up together, we were best friends all our lives, we never talked religion, we talked, we chased girls together, we hunted together, we drank together, but we never talked religion together.

We were even altar boys at the Episcopalian Church together, but never talked religion until he handed me that book. And he didn't know that at that moment I was asking the big questions at 28 years old. You know, why do I have such a big hole in my heart? Why do I have all the things the world promises and I'm on my way to medical school, why do I feel so empty?

And what's, what's happening here? And when he handed me that book, wow, it was a great beginning and we began to talk further about it and he said: What do you think?

I said, it's one of three things: it's either of the devil, they're crazy or it's real.

And I have a little bit of a military background; I was a naval officer in the reserves and I said, militarily speaking, it can't be of the devil because he would never tell his enemy, tell us to go to his enemy by going to confession, by going to church, by praying the Rosary, something I didn't know how to do. He would never tell us to do these things, so it can't be of him.

There's six of these kids, how could they all be crazy, that doesn't make any sense either. So it must be real and Robert looked at me, goes like: Dadgummit, I think you're right. That's what I thought, too.

We have to go! I was like: Okay, let's go! I can't say that I came with expectations because I really had no idea of what to expect. I'd read this book by Wayne Weible and all I knew was It was a very strange time to come as well.

It was early 1992 so it was like February, March of 1992 and Jeff Reed had said: Okay, well, let's go, but father Svetozar is asking if we can bring some medical supplies along because at that point in time he knew the war was coming.

And so we, with Jeff in a group of Mexican charismatics from West Texas, all gathered a bunch of medical supplies and carried them in suitcases through Belgrade down to Sarajevo and into Međugorje. So, basically we were smuggling, not basically, we were smuggling and it's an interesting story, we got caught but my friend Robert and I saw the power of the rosary worked that day.

And though they had Robert thrown in a holding tank ready to throw him in the jail, somehow that rosary worked, we saw these little "abuelas", these little grandmothers from Mexico and Texas, praying the rosary and the guard's boss came down and saw this letter written in English with a stamp that was raised; raised seal stamp saying in English on the letterhead of a veterinarian that we had permission to bring in these medical supplies and she ran her finger over that stamp and then lifted her finger and yelled at her her compatriot for holding us.

That was the first introduction to the power of the rosary, like there's something to this. I don't know what it is and then we came in to Međugorje. After a couple of days and of other stories, but it was an amazing experience to see, to see what the rosary does, to see, to meet, meet our Lady because as a Protestant we didn't know Our Lady.

But we, we got to know her there. And then to meet Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament because they had adoration going on. Though there were hardly, I think we were the only pilgrim group at all in town.

There was still adoration and father Slavko was there and father Svetozar. Despite the fact that the threat of war was happening, it was a very peaceful place and you could note the difference. I came on that first pilgrimage asking God what he wanted me to do with my life, I was on my way to medical school, I was back in University studying, but I realized I needed to ask God and quit telling him what I wanted to do but asked him what he wanted to do and there was a particular moment upon Podbrdo where I finally just kind of signed a blank cheque to Jesus and said: Okay, Lord, I'll do whatever you want me to do, I'll even become, and I thought of the craziest thing I could think of, I'll even become a Franciscan in Bosnia, I don't know what they are, I don't know what they do, I just met one the other day but I'd even do that if you wanted me to.

In this peace descended upon me at that moment, I didn't think I was going to become a Franciscan, but in time when I went back home after that pilgrimage, I began to realize through spiritual direction that was indeed a real call to give my life completely over to the Lord, but I wasn't convinced of the Catholic Church yet.

Well, the first struggle was realizing that, being called to the Catholic Church, that I would have to give up my girlfriend if I was gonna really be a priest there. Like before I was Episcopalian, I'd think: Well I can do both things.

So this is a little bit more serious, but when I realized, I needed to act on the truth, then I said:  Okey, that's what you want, Lord, let's go! And by God's grace the Catholic Church and its wisdom doesn't allow new convert to come into any religious order or diocese for at least two years.

And by God's Providence and through our Lady's hand I spent that time, most of these two years, here in Međugorje running convoys during the war with the St. David's Relief Foundation, so I was under the tutelage of father Svet and father Slavko for almost two years here.

So my first two years as a Catholic were spent in this parish. And it was a beautiful thing because I could see literally day by day, sometimes multiple times in a day, the fruits of heaven and hell, side-by-side. We would leave this peaceful little envelope of Međugorje and hit the borders of Mostar and go all the way up as far as Zenica and Tuzla and points in and around and beyond Sarajevo and see the fruits of hell and then come back and see the fruits of heaven.

And then I watched as the Friars just operated through all this. One of my heroes, father Leonard Oreč, God rest his soul, I remember the day the Muslims and Croats had a peace treaty signed and that day he called me up and said John: Load up all your trucks and get some more, we're going over to the East side of Mostar to the Red Crescent and we're going to give them supplies and we're gonna show them we're about peace.

And I remember standing in East Mostar with father Leonard in his full brown habit and this little boy grabbing my hand because I was, you know, a civilian, going: This guy's crazy, there are snipers around here all over the place and he's in a habit!

This is... and it dawned on me, this is what friars are about and so this really formed me greatly, to see that spirituality. I had no idea what religious life was supposed to be about from the inside, had no concept of any of it, but I just knew in my heart that I was called to be a friar. I was invited to join the Province here, was honoured by that invitation, but I also knew in my heart somehow that I was called back to the United States. I had no idea where, so father Svet mentioned this bunch and as the war began to wane and dwindle down near the beginning of '95 we knew we were going to pull out, there was no need for us to be here anymore and I said:"Father, where should I go, you know..

And I know I'm not called to stay here. He says: Why don't you look at this little strange bunch of friars in the Bronx? And so that's how I was introduced to the community I now belong to. Anytime anybody says "yes" to Jesus through Our Lady, it breaks open a space for God to be able to act in their hearts and to move.

My theory, which is not so humble because I'm not so humble, but my theory is that Međugorje has a charism that our Lady is giving marching orders for her troops and placing them around the world to be able to do what God wants to do and be lights of the love of Jesus Christ in a very dark time.

And she's playing chess and she invites people and she gives them a job and that person can open their heart to that or not. And when they do, great things happen. A Dominican priest I know, father Giles Dimock from the United States, once said about Međugorje, he said and this was maybe 15 to 20 years ago, he said this to me: You know, Međugorje has got an interesting thing, 80% of the people who are active in the parishes, they're all, they've all been touched by Međugorje.

He said: And they also have another thing that's interesting, they seem to be scandal proof, they seem not to be devastated when they encounter the humanity in Jesus's Church. Boy, isn't that what we need in these times! People who work and people who can weather a storm, that's what I see, I've seen it in so many different ways. I could give so many different anecdotes of how it's happened, but that's what I see as particular graces of Međugorje.

Everybody needs to work on applying their faith, you know we're not given the gift of faith we're not given the tools of faith, the various things Our Lady invites us to do, the rosary, the confession, living the Eucharist, reading the Scriptures, fasting... We're not asked to do these things and to say: Oh, look what I do and hang, you know, it's like hanging a trophy on the wall.

Look at this, isn't it nice what I do? No, they are tools, they are weapons, we're intended to use these things and to go into the spiritual fight and to fight. And if anybody looks around and sees what's going on in the world right now and thinks there's not a fight, they've got their eyes closed and their ears shut.

We need to be active, we need to get out there, we need to proclaim the truth and love, the things that our Lady invites us to do. These five stones as father Jozo famously speaks of. They're tools with one goal in mind, to make space for Jesus Christ, to be put into the first place in our hearts so that we individually can, whatever way the Holy Spirit inspires us to do, go out and bring that light of Christ to other people.

For no other reason. If not, it's burying the talent in the soil and doing nothing with the gift that God has given us. We have to be active! As an individual coming home, getting a hug from mama is always much appreciated and needed. Coming back to the home base where it all started and remembering, we need to remember where God brought us from to hang on.

But then as a priest, you know, and as a layman coming to Međugorje going to confession is always so powerful. Now being on the other side of the confessional and being able to participate in that intimate way of Jesus's work in the souls, soul after soul, it's humbling, it's mind-blowing, it's energizing, it's an amazing thing to see.

People, a lot of big fish, as they say, you know, the little fish are the ones that go to confession every week or two. The big fish are the ones that have been away for 50 years. A lot of big fish coming here, you know. And what is that? It's that grace of conversion that's being pumped out over here in torrents.

It's beautiful! So as a priest it's energizing and it gives you hope. You see so many young people coming and giving their lives over to the Lord and hopefully signing a blank check and saying: Do with me what you will and obviously letting our Lady co - sign that check because none of us have enough in the bank accounts, but giving everything over to the Lord so I see that as I talk to young people and then the veterans who've been here many times.

And it's not just a vocation to religious life, it's secondary vocations, seeing as a priest, hearing people ask: How can I go back to my parish and get active; what can I do back home? They can fight all that and so again it confirms what I've seen the charism of Međugorje to be: It is Our Lady giving marching orders to her troops on every level sending them out.


15 Encouraging Saint Quotes to Give You Peace, Hope, & Strength in Difficult Times

Public Domain / ChurchPOP

The saints had so much wisdom!

During this stressful time in our country, I’d like to provide 15 saint quotes to help give your heart peace through anxiety.

Here’s 10 encouraging saint quotes to help provide peace in difficult times:

1) “Lay all your cares about the future trustingly in God’s hands, and let yourself be guided by the Lord just like a little child.”

– St Teresa Benedicta of the Cross (St. Edith Stein)

2) “Do not look forward to what may happen tomorrow; the same everlasting Father who cares for you today will take care of you tomorrow and every day. Either He will shield you from suffering, or He will give you unfailing strength to bear it.

“Be at peace, then, put aside all anxious thoughts and imaginations, and say continually: ‘The Lord is my strength and my shield; my heart has trusted in Him and I am helped. He is not only with me but in me and I in Him.'”

– Saint Francis de Sales

3) “Don’t spend your energies on things that generate worry, anxiety, and anguish. Only one thing is necessary: Lift up your spirit and love God.”

– St. Padre Pio of Pietrelcina

4) ”And of what should we be afraid? Our captain on this battlefield is Christ Jesus. We have discovered what we have to do. Christ has bound our enemies for us and weakened them that they cannot overcome us unless we so choose to let them. So we must fight courageously and mark ourselves with the sign of the most Holy Cross.”

– St. Catherine of Siena

5) “Do not have any anxiety about the future. Leave everything in God’s hands for he will take care of you.”

– St. John Baptist de La Salle

6) “Lord, help me to live this day, quietly, easily. To lean upon Thy great strength, trustfully, restfully. To wait for the unfolding of Thy will, patiently, serenely. To meet others, peacefully, joyously. To face tomorrow, confidently, courageously.”

– St. Francis of Assisi

7) “Pray, hope, and don’t worry. Worry is useless. God is merciful and will hear your prayer.”

– St. Padre Pio of Pietrelcina

8) “Do not be troubled or weighed down with grief. Do not fear any illness or vexation, anxiety, or pain. Am I not here who am your mother? Are you not under my shadow and protection? Am I not your fountain of life? Are you not in the folds of my mantle? In the crossing of my arms? Is there anything else you need?”

– Our Lady of Guadalupe

9) “Do not look forward in fear to the changes in life;
    rather, look to them with full hope that as they arise,
    God, whose very own you are,
    will lead you safely through all things;
    and when you cannot stand it,
    God will carry you in His arms.

    Do not fear what may happen tomorrow;
    the same understanding Father who cares for
    you today will take care of you then and every day.

   He will either shield you from suffering
   or will give you unfailing strength to bear it.
   Be at peace,
   and put aside all anxious thoughts and imaginations.”

– St. Francis de Sales

10) “Oh, if only the suffering soul knew how it is loved by God, it would die of joy and excess of happiness! Some day, we will know the value of suffering, but then we will no longer be able to suffer. The present moment is ours.”

– St. Faustina

11) “Live in faith and hope, though it be in darkness, for in this darkness God protects the soul. Cast your care upon God for you are His and He will not forget you. Do not think that He is leaving you alone, for that would be to wrong Him.”

– St. John of the Cross

12) ”Who except God can give you peace? Has the world ever been able to satisfy the heart?

– St. Gerard Majella

13) “My Jesus, if you uphold me, I shall not fall.”

– St. Philip Neri

14) “The secret to happiness is to live moment by moment and to thank God for what He is sending us every day in His goodness.”

– St. Gianna Molla

15) “Live in faith and hope, though it be in darkness, for in this darkness God protects the soul. Cast your care upon God for you are His and He will not forget you. Do not think that He is leaving you alone, for that would be to wrong Him.”

– St. John of the Cross