by Marylou Kirk. June 2004
I'm the youngest of 6 children. My three brothers went to St. John's & Gonzaga College High School and my 2 sisters and I went to Holy Cross. We grew up in Blessed Sacrament parish in the same house my dad grew up in Chevy Chase. My grandfather started Johnson's Flower Center in Washington, DC. When he died in 1971, we heard in the priest's eulogy that he had seen my grandfather everyday at daily Mass. My dad didn't even know that his dad went to daily Mass. My granddad must have been very private about living-out his faith - though he did put all of his children through Catholic school.
In 1988 my dad's company, Johnson's Landscaping, offered to re-do Gonzaga High School's football field. My dad didn't ask for payment but he had expressed an interest in Medjugorje* (also written 'Medugorje' without the middle "j") to the head of the school, Fr. Bernard Dooley.
What is Medjugorje? It's a village inland from the Adriatic Sea in Bosnia-Hercegovina where Mary, the mother of Jesus, had been appearing daily since 1981 to six children ages 10 - 16 (at the start). Much interest had begun to be generated about these apparitions everywhere. Books were coming out, news teams headed overseas to make documentaries, and some were changing the entire direction of their lives just to travel only speaking about the call of Medjugorje.
What does the Catholic Church say about Medjugorje**? The Pope himself has given support to Medjugorje - telling the priests not to discourage pilgrims from traveling there and even convening an entirely new Commission on the Medjugorje phenomenon, in light of the local bishop's hostility concerning the apparitions. The Vatican said that the local Bishop's Commission was not valid and too hasty in it's decision. Thus it appointed a larger International Commission to investigate the apparitions warning the Church officials to remain silent about Medjugorje. By it�s very silence the Church has been giving "cautious support rather than distance". The official position of the Church has not been given since the apparitions are still occurring daily. (Three of the seers have received all 10 secrets and only see Mary once a year - but 3 others - Marija, Ivan and Vicka - are still receiving daily apparitions). However. Medjugorje is considered a place where people are allowed to choose to make pilgrimages and organize
visits - even bring along priests to minister to the spiritual needs of the pilgrims - but the pilgrimages cannot be sponsored by any Church official - ie. organized under the auspices of a diocese. Historically, apparitions are only recognized when they have been concluded. Fatima was not formally recognized until 13 years later, and Guadalupe was not recognized until 200 years after it had ended. Many feel that to ignore Medjugorje for this reason while it is happening would be fruitless since we have the opportunity to participate in the many graces being poured out on believers here and now - today! Some say that if there were no interest in Medjugorje it wouldn't need to be studied, so in fact it is the very explosion of conversions and good fruits worldwide that merit so many painstaking tests and monitoring of the events by the Church.
Back to 1988... When Gonzaga's field had been re-seeded, Fr. Dooley presented my dad with 2 pre-paid tickets to Medugorje through Peace Center Tours. My family was thrilled. I remember getting together with my Mom, Dad & sister, Millie, to watch a video on Medjugorje. I think it was, .�Beyond the Fields�. I was so interested that Mary would bring God's messages to children - now - during my lifetime. I was in awe watching pilgrims' reactions on film to the "miracle of the sun" and other signs and wonders that God has allowed there to capture the attention of millions in order to call the world back to Himself.
Mary says that the world has forgotten God, intellectualized Him until He doesn't "exist" anymore. We have let ourselves be guided by Satan into indifference and even lust after every fleeting pleasure. Greedy for luxuries that never satisfy. She says that God is calling us back to the basic messages of the Gospel. "Come back to God!" How? "Through prayer, fasting, penance, reconciliation and Holy Mass" which will bring back faith and especially peace in every heart throughout the world.
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