WOW! WHAT AN INCREDIBLE WEEK!
Our “Wayne Weible Memorial Pilgrimage” to Medjugorje was, without a doubt, one of the most grace-filled weeks I have experienced. Firstly, I flew to Medjugorje with my very good friend, Diann who came on our pilgrimage last year and with Wayne’s goddaughter, Kimmy. Soon, Christine and her husband, Alex, joined us on our adventure. Christine hosts the radio show, “A Light in the World” on Radio Maria. She had interviewed me earlier in the year, after Wayne passed away, and had decided to join us on pilgrimage.
Our group traveled into Medjugorje from Split, Dubrovnik and Sarajevo, originating in the countries of USA, Australia and England. As you can imagine, we didn’t actually get to meet each other properly until the morning after our arrival.
Milanka, president of 206 Tours, decided to join our pilgrimage and I was thrilled she was coming. She loved Wayne very much, as did our Medjugorje guide Slavenka, and it was only fitting that we would all be together for this Memorial Pilgrimage. It was such a privilege to have Milanka in our group, as she met the pilgrims and shared so much with us. Thank you Milanka.
Fr. Ed. Serena joined us last minute as our spiritual director when Fr. Ed. Chalmers had to cancel due to health reasons. Fr. Ed was a wonderful addition! He tirelessly led us in prayer, Holy Mass and heard confessions every evening, making himself available to our group whenever he was called upon. I cannot thank him enough. The Holy Spirit had definitely put him on this pilgrimage but I will let you hear that story from Milanka later in this newsletter, in the article titled, “There are no coincidences with God”.
Our first morning started on November 1st with an orientation meeting on the grounds of St. James Church. It was All Saints Day, which is a public holiday both in Croatia and in Bosnia Herzegovina where Croats are the majority. The following day, All Soul’s Day, is traditionally celebrated by visiting the graveyards of loved ones, laying flowers and lighting candles. Holy Mass is celebrated in every catholic graveyard either on All Saint’s Day or All Soul’s Day. It was a treat to witness such love and respect for the dead.
The next day was the day of Mirjana’s apparition, which takes place at the Blue Cross on Apparition Hill at about 8:00 am. Determined to give the group a chance to witness Mirjana’s incredible facial expressions during an apparition, I invited those that wanted to join Diann, Kimmy and me, in getting up at 3:00 am to walk through the fields to the mountain and to sit on the rocks for four hours, to join us. Surprisingly, about ten pilgrims decided to come! (The apparition is attended by several thousand people and so one must get up very early to be anywhere near Mirjana). Slavenka, our guide, escorted the rest of the group up to the hill at 7:00 am for the apparition.
We prayed the rosary and sang for the entire time, waiting for Our Lady to come! In the words of the pilgrims, “One of the greatest moments on the pilgrimage was getting up at 3:00 am, to be sure to have a great spot for Mirijana’s apparition, sitting on a hard rock praying, singing, meditating in the still of the early morning. I could talk for days just about the apparition...”
On Friday evening my father arrived from England. My parents actually divorced when I was a one-year-old baby and so I have never really got to know my father. He came to support me for the memorial service but not being catholic or religious, I was a little nervous about what he would think of Medjugorje. However, my fears were quite unfounded as he was very touched the next evening during the Eucharistic Adoration service and was amazed by the kindness and friendliness of the people of Medjugorje and the pilgrims.
The next morning, we climbed Apparition Hill as a group, silently, and then praying the rosary together at each station. In the evening, we went to St. James for Eucharistic Adoration. As we walked towards the church we could see people from all directions heading towards the church. By the time we arrived behind St. James there were thousands of people sitting in almost silence waiting for the service to begin. Once it started you could almost touch the grace that filled the air. The Holy Spirit was so powerful, the presence of God so apparent it was like a cloud hovering over the altar and the huge congregation. I sat/knelt on the concrete ground as there were no seats left and normally I would have been terribly uncomfortable but when the priest stood up to repose the Blessed Sacrament, I didn’t understand what he was doing as in my mind the service had just begun. I had no concept of time and couldn’t believe it was already over; I didn’t want it to end. For me, this was one of the highlights of the pilgrimage. All the pilgrims had a similar experience and when we returned to our hotel, spirits were high. I went to bed, thinking, “this pilgrimage can’t get any better!” but the graces kept coming...
The next day was Sunday. We climbed Cross Mountain in the morning, lead by Fr. Pat from Wilmington, North Carolina. This was a deeply spiritual time for each person to carry their own cross up the mountain, along with Jesus, and then leave it behind at the top. After the climb, we had a private mass for 206 Tours pilgrims at a small church close by to the village. It was truly beautiful. Upon leaving the church, we announced to the group that we had a special treat for them, we were heading straight to the visionary, Marija’s house for her evening, private apparition. The pilgrims were overjoyed! We entered the room and prayed the rosary while waiting for Marija. She came out and kneeled in front of our group, directly in front of me for the apparition, which lasted about four minutes. I knew Wayne was working from Heaven, blessing me in a special way and our group.
After the apparition, Marija repeated what Our Lady had said during the apparition and told us that she had blessed each of us present. Marija then gave us a short talk. Upon finishing, she showed us how Jesus and the Holy Mass was so much more important than an apparition by announcing we would have mass right away, right there in her retreat house. Exhausted as we were, we all thought this was a perfect end to the day and so Marija had me set up the altar for Holy Mass, while the priests scrambled to vest for mass and find a book with the readings in English.
Monday was an emotional day for me with the happiness of the pilgrimage mixed with the sadness of missing Wayne and having his memorial service. Upon arriving at St. James for the service, I met David Parkes. As many of you know he is an Irish, Catholic singer with an incredible testimony, I have shared with you later in this newsletter in the article titled, “The Physical and Spiritual Healing of David Parks”. David was kind enough to sing “Ave Maria” at Wayne’s service and it was incredible! Wayne would have loved it!
After the service, we all headed to the “Yellow Building” for a talk by Fr. Leon who is the parish priest in Medjugorje in charge of the English-speaking pilgrims. He gave a superb talk, embellished with his usual humor but right on the mark! What a gift he has for speaking!
After the talk, we headed to Grace Hotel for Wayne’s memorial service reception. Grace did a lovely job placing Wayne’s photo over the mantle with a candle and providing a fabulous spread of food. The guides and I offered short reflections on Wayne and it was a great time to share stories about him and all he did for Medjugorje and each of us.
“Our week was also filled with a visit to Community Cenacolo, the drug rehab community and a visit to Tihaljina to see the statue of Our Lady of Grace. We also had daily mass, two additional evenings of Eucharistic Adoration and an evening of Veneration of the Cross. Each day at 5:00 pm, David, one of our pilgrims, would lead us in the rosary, pausing at 5:40 pm for the time of the apparition. Almost all the pilgrims would gather around for this special prayer time together. On the last evening, Fr. Ed. even added a healing service.
Slavenka worked diligently all day, everyday and long into the evenings to make this pilgrimage an incredible experience for each and every pilgrim. I cannot imagine a pilgrimage without her, thank you, Slavenka, for all your hard work; it doesn’t go unnoticed.
No pilgrimage to Medjugorje would be complete without mentioning Viktors restaurant! Each lunchtime, most of our group would gather at Viktors for what I consider to be the best cuisine in Medjugorje. With its new location overlooking St. James, it is a great place to take a breath and some nourishment between activities. Great sharing, bonding, love and laughter took place at Viktors during this pilgrimage.
Lastly I have to mention our pilgrims. They were wonderful! Each and every pilgrim had a story of what had brought him or her on this journey to this miraculous village on the other side of the world. Each pilgrim added something special to the group. Thank you for being such amazing grace-filled people, each one ‘A Light in the World’; just like the title of Christine’s radio show!
God bless you all and hope to see you on next year’s pilgrimage!
Because of the huge success of this year’s pilgrimage and the strong desire of the group to return next year, we have started advertising 2019’s pilgrimage already. If you interested in joining us, please call me at 1-877-896-6061 or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 206 Tours at 1-800-206-8687 and speak to Sandra or Katherine, email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org. (When calling 206 Tours be specific that you are interested in joining the “Weible Pilgrimage to Medjugorje in 2019”.)
Review: “This trip is a must!!! We are so sad to be back home. Our hearts belong in Medjugorje. Judith and Slavenka make the extra magic happen! God is good. We will be back again and again!” Angela
Review: I have one word for everyone, "GO” a local resident here in NB that came from Slovenia nearby Medugorje, Bosnia-Herzegovina said this to me and the 10/31-11/7/18 pilgrimage was life changing! Rita