2009 August

*Aug. 1, Sat: In the later afternoon we are all invited to the wedding at the church in Vitina! Janet has volunteered to do the driving so we are off to the wedding of Danjela and Miroslav.

L to R: the groom’s mother, the bride’s father (Ivan), Danjela & Miroslav, the bride’s mother (Jelka), the groom’s father.

Bob and Mary are so glad that they came for the celebration.

Janet and Jelka share good thoughts.

“So mama, now what do I do? We had to let her go. Tell me how you felt when I left to go to Ivan’s house?”

Also, on August 1: Sat: The Youth Festival is starting today.Before 2:00 we go to pick up the next week’s bulletin so that Mary can translate it and email it to Father and to other interested parties.

We go to do our half hour Adoration to the chapel and an Hispanic Mass is just ready to begin. Wonderful!

Aug. 3rd, Mon.: Another evening procession through the Village: flags of the different countries are being carried behind the Blessed Sacrament. Over 60 countries have registered; some for the first time (Denmark). The crowds for the Youth Festival are HUGE; we hear 80,000!!

Every area is swept clean; the Village is jammed. Banners and flags have been hung. Priests are hearing confessions from morning till the late hours!

Wednesday: Sister tells us that there were 535 priests concelebrating at the Celebration of the Holy Mass last evening!!

Cenacola has built a huge stage further back than usual. They are ready for their evening of singing, dancing and entertainment!

The crowds are gathering for the Wednesday evening celebrations.

490 priests are concelebrants, more than 35 priests are still hearing confessions in the upper area.

Nuns are at the front of the outdoor altar leading the crowd in song and in dance steps and in arm wave patterns!

Medjugorje is really going dramatic! Here a large balloon is released with multi balloons inside of it. It heads for Cross Mountain. Kind of distracting as it is released just before the Gospel. Cannot see the usefulness of this.A more impressive sky display happened on August 2 (during Mirjana’s Apparition) when thousands of pilgrims saw the “miracle of the sun” at the “Blue Cross” location.

And later, a fireworks display!!

After common prayers and celebration were done for the evening we see that many headed for Cross Mountain (Mt. Krizevac). Many no doubt plan to stay the night on the mountain to be ready for the Holy Mass at 5:00 AM.

We opted for the 7:30 AM Croatian Holy Mass in the church: and that was jammed!!

Wednesday’s evening Holy Mass was celebrated by a newly ordained Franciscan priest (Father Boris) from VITINA!!

It was beautiful and the Homily was beautiful. Father talked about the youth and the “gift of love” they bring to the Blessed Mother .

This past Tuesday a Croatian friend, Fabio, stopped by on his walk home. He is the fellow who stands in the back at the Croatian Holy Mass and loudly voices religious responses; generally sings a solo at the end of the Mass. He asked that, as we pass out the bags of food and clothes, we make the Sign of the Cross on each forehead! Good thought but we would rather just show love through charity.

We are told that a month or two ago the Vatican sent a high level representative to Mostar. He met with the Bishop and with representatives from the local Franciscans (not at the same time). He instructed all to “cool it” and to find a common path.

Our Bishop announced on the local Croatian TV station the other day that this year marks the end of the “Mladi Fest” (Youth Festival) at Medjugorje; there will be no more.Perhaps it just means that sponsorship must come from other than the local church.

50 or so “Day Workers” this Tuesday at the lunch; more than we expected. This Sat. is the Feast of the Assumption so we look forward to maybe, 80. We will have to make two trips with the taxi as we have clothes and shoes and school supplies to pass out.

Thurs. Aug 13: Sister Muriel of St. Joseph the Worker is out in the hills again; Tom is driving today and Mary Ryan is the translator!

At one of the houses visited they spot a blue butterfly! Legend has it here in Herzegovina that a blue butterfly means that Our Blessed Mother is present!

One of the ten ladies visited today is particularly happy to see Sister; she exclaimed that “it is not just the food, it is the love, it is the mercy which is shown by your visit”.

This lady has been out in the fields this morning, scouring for edible “weeds”. The plants have matured and the leaves have toughened but are still edible.

I will bet that the lady is thinking; ” I will mix my greens with some of the real food that Sister Muriel has brought to me”.

Blessings come in pairs also! We meet with Annie & Romain from Belgium who were here for a couple of weeks and renting an apartment in the building. A delightful couple.

They pass on to us two nice cooking pots; we pass the pots on to their new homes.

Friday: tomorrow is the Feast of the Assumption! Many in this country express their faith and their love by walking to Medjugorje!

Some will be families, some will be teenagers, both boys and girls. They will come from the outlying villages, some walking for hours, some walking all night.

They will start arriving for the 5:00 AM Croatian Holy Mass nursing their feet, limping their way forward.

Saturday: Holy Masses (Croatian) start at 5:00 AM; we arrive for the 7:00 AM Holy Mass and the grounds are jammed. Families, young people, so many sore feet, some are bleeding, some are limping. What a tribute to our lady!

Some have walked all night! We went to the Immigration Offices in Mostar on Friday and our officer there says he will be walking to Medjugorje after closing time!

A Holy Day today so we serve an extra lunch this week. Joseph will go with us today to help pass out the food and stuff. This morning we cut and wrap two blocks of cheese as a special treat!

Some of the ladies have asked for clothes also. Violet wants pants (slim, petite),

One of the fellows has written a pleading note to us which starts off with “please help in the name of God”; he needs dental work and has kidney stones.

Tuesday 18th: 48 lunch guests today! More than we expected but everything works out. One set of 5 guests were driven to us by their day’s employer. Every so often the local employer will save a few bucks by taking his employees “out to lunch”! At our lineup. We pass out 15 or so clothes and shoe bags today! Our ‘want’ list for shoes is always increasing; we must be 70 or so behind.

Mary tells one of the fellows who is asking for his shoes that she cannot go up to a pilgrim and take his shoes off of him; she just has to wait until someone offers a pair. The fellow responds with “just show me the fellow who is wearing size 43 and I will take them off him”. He was kidding.

Wed. the 19th: we head out to Stolac to touch base with Father Rajko and the two nuns. Joseph joins us as he wants to coordinate the lunch program for the needy school kids with Sister Aloysius.

We have gathered a few school supplies as well as some funds for Sister Slava (diabetes) and for Father Rajko’s assistance to the poor.

Joseph has spotted a turtle around the garden and gives him a lift.

We find that Mrs. Peacock is sitting on her eggs and is really not bothered by whether her picture is being taken.

Daddy Peacock is pacing up and down and is losing his tail feathers worrying. (we take some of the fallen feathers for kids back in Medjugorje).Daddy is joined by his buddy, Bambi.


And in the garden there is the same weed green that the lady was collecting in the fields. We all sample a bite of the leaves. Mary remembers the taste of it from her childhood days when her Mom cooked it for Mary to eat!

Aug. 19 Wed: Liz, Tommy and Geri join Mary Walsh (St. Joseph the Worker) and Mary R. on today’s trip to the hill country.

Liz, Geri, Mary smile as the lady prays with Tommy.

So much beauty to be seen in this area called GABEL; we can see why many of the older generation just want to cling to their roots, to endure the hardships. We can also see that many have no place else to go and have never ventured.

A print from the “Miracles” leaflet.

In the afternoon we taxi north of Mostar. We are joined by an English speaking priest who has been here for a bit. We are heading for Matthew Proctor’s prosthetic project, called “Miracles”, which has been set up as a humanitarian org. to help victims of the war. This is affecting some even now as people (and especially the kids) stumble across land mines and blow off a limb or worse.

Rehab and restructuring and retraining is done at this set of offices. People come here from local areas and from surrounding countries.

We meet with Nihad who has the expertise and been highly trained in this specific field. We take a snapshot of Nihad showing us a mold for a young BiH girl who was born without one of her hip bones.

We have come for some orthopedic help and Matthew has volunteered to assist us. Matthew Procter is the head of the Mission called “MIRACLES” here in BiH.

Mary has gotten to know and think very highly of Nihad. So Mary puts him to work on a task. The Muslim fellow pleading with us to help with his teeth infection lives in Zenica. So does Nihad (and Nihad’s sister works in the hospital there)!

We pass on the name and number of the Zenica dentist who has looked at our fellow. The dentist is called and an appointment is made for Monday, the 31st after verifying with our fellow. We cannot give funds directly but maybe we can have something done this round about way.

Monday the 24th: the Immigration Day. There are four of us this year seeking mostly renewals of our residence permits for another year. We have had our medical and psychiatric exams this past week and have paid the required first fee; we have mostly gotten letters from our local banks to show that we have enough to be “shipped out”. We have agreed not to be a burden to the country in any way.

We head to Mostar to turn in our first sets of papers & to find out exactly the next step we are to take.



Tuesday and we do a taxi to carry the food and then another trip to carry the clothes, school supplies and shoes!

Violet (in the lunch lineup) is thrilled with her white capri pants, and the fellows excited about their running shoes and stuff. Lots of emotion.

Thank you and many prayers for all who have helped make this possible.

Our “gang of six” wind down towards the end of the day. Mary has agreed to be the photographer and us guys have agreed to the shot.

We (Bob, Joseph, Father K., Matthew & Ivan) smile with anticipation of the coming nachos and entrees!

A Mexican restaurant in Mostar! Near the Mercator 3 story shopping center in the middle of the town we go for “outdoor dining”. Great shade trees, a neat garden atmosphere and we all are pleasantly surprised at the great taste and selection of the food.

We would go again.

We receive a wonderful announcement card from our local friends who have made their new home in New Zealand.

Katerina Grace has arrived and now we have three lovely friends. We miss Hara and Ellie so very much.

Lots of blessings; lots of problems in this country of Herzegovina.

The national government is calling for and enacting a 10% cut in pay for everyone! Some workers do not make that much and this will be a further hardship.

Local problems (Mostar) where the vote for Mayor is still undecided and contested (Catholic vs Muslim vs Orthodox) so no one has been signing local government pay checks. Now many workers are striking.

School will start shortly but the teachers are planning to strike.

It is difficult to grasp the idea that cutting all the workers income will boost the economy here.

Cathy has come with 4 sons; the family has brought 4suitcases of shoes!

We have had so many “quiet miracles” happen to us this past week. What a place to live. It is as though the Blessed Mother is our next door neighbor and we just need to run next door and pick up the sugar.

We had given away all of our running shoes last week and then we get an email from a family near Philly that they are coming to Medjugorje and will be bringing us “many shoes”! We read that and both of us start crying.


How could anyone expect to get through to this area of Bosnia & Herzegovina with so many shoes?

Ian, Michael, Matt and Gabriel have managed to do what we thought would be impossible! Thank you so much and thank you Cathy.

The family is staying at the house of Ivan (the visionary) so they were able to attend the apparition in the chapel there. There were a number of guests and priests who also attended that Thursday. As every one exited the chapel a miracle of the sun occurred. How marvelous that these young fellows have this experience at this stage of their lives!

Still Friday & Mary is at the Citluk government offices to have more immigration papers processed (there are 4 of us going through this process now). Bob (me) is sitting in the coffee shop having a cappuccino. I look across the street and I see Mrs. Beljo (one of our families we have been helping) waving at me. I wave back and start looking for an exit strategy. I succeed.

Saturday and Mary is off to Siroki Brjeg to do translating and assessment. We have discussed the Beljo family and decide that we should have given her an envelope; she needs some funding for the kids school books. Mary delivers that but is asked also for flour and oil and stuff. So then Mary goes on a grocery shopping trip for them and all will be peaceful for a bit.

Our hearts go out to Mrs. Beljo and all that she has to do to enable her family to survive.