2009 July

*July 3rd: We taxi out to pick up some veggies and make some house calls. Here the onions have been picked and Tata is busy peeling the outer skin to make them fresh for the buyer (us).

Danjela, the daughter, is to be married on the 1st of August. The bride goes to the house of the groom. We have gathered a microwave, a prosciutto and an envelope for the newly weds.

Vince has contributed an envelope. Janet, Joseph and we will go to the church for the wedding.

July 4th: The annual Medjugorje Priest Retreat is taking place this week. Many of the Ukrainian priests are staying at the Castle, courtesy of Nancy and Patrick. Villages in the Ukraine can be very poor, many of the priests and their families are in need. This comes under the Byzantine Rite which is under the Pope in Rome. Marriage is permitted in this Rite.

We have assembled 6 bags of clothes and medical supplies etc. and have brought them to the Castle for the priests to stow away on their busses.

Mary has discussed the bags with Father Petro, one of the Ukrainian priests, and he will be our liaison. Yes Mary converses in Ukrainian also! Email addresses are exchanged.

Many priests, many seminarians; the retreat lectures are given in the yellow hall.

The Franciscan Corpus Christi has been installed in the rotunda. The Cross was donated through the courtesy of a Florida, USA pilgrim.

July 7, Tuesday: A good crowd (40) at the lunch today. We first passed out some “clothes bags”; mostly used of course but some new. The father who signed up for and brought his two teenagers got a tote bag with some neat stuff; we had a regulation soccer ball, two pairs of new sandals, t-shirts and other things.

We had two new ladies; they had a list of items wanted (canned foods, staples) and items not wanted (sandwiches and veggies); they would take “extra” cans in their place. They want clothes and gave us sizes of the families. They each got their food bags and then called for a taxi to take them back to the hills where they “hit up” the pilgrims. We find later that they are from Ljubuski. We will do what we can without giving preferential treatment.

July 11, Sat.: Bakery lessons today! The girls have brought flowers so Mary will not be too hard on them.

Each of the girls will make a dessert to share. Bob is all set to be the judge!

July 13, Monday: Today we concentrate on brightening the lives of two elderly sisters out near Vitini. We have reported on them before; St. Joseph the Worker (StJW) has been delivering food to them for more than 10 years! Pilgrims have helped StJW with this by donating funds to buy a stove and fund a fence gate.

The two have asked for a number of items, a thermos, cabbage, fresh water, chairs, a little table, slip ons, wood cutting, weed cutting, veggies etc.

No room for Bob so he is left to work in the garage assembling clothes bags for tomorrows lunch program.

“angel” Joseph W. has collected a crew of two lads to chop and weed; Mary has gathered goods and so a group of 5 are spending the day at the 2 sisters place.

Only one snake was seen and captured, a biggie!

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It is Monday (wash day) so the crew did not interfere with that.

Tuesday, July 14: OK we have 2 crates of tomatoes, a crate each of potatoes and of onions; another two crates of assorted peppers, apples, cucumbers, plums etc. We figure on 40 possible with the food bags but today we only get 24; that’s fine; that means more of the fellows are working today.

One of the new ladies is seen and we have a clothes / shoe bag for her.

We have a lot of places to take any left over food etc. so we do that before we head home.

Wednesday: Mary is off to Mostar.

This is the newly remodeled Mostar school; a school uniquely holding Catholic, Muslim and Orthodox students. The school sits at the “Spanish Square”; named in honor of two Spanish soldiers who were killed at this location during the war in the 1990s’.

A sad reminder; there are so many similar scenes in Mostar.

Father Ante, the administrator of the two facilities is under Bishop Rajko.


We get to see the “Holy Family” facility. Holy Family provides 24/7 and also day care for the disabled.

And the “Nazareth House” is right next door. Nazareth House provides psychiatric care for the disabled. Both of these houses / resources are provided for by Caritas. Caritas is the European version of the Red Cross (no connection to Caritas of Birmingham). Caritas is headed by the Mostar Bishop, Bishop Ratko. It is good to see and hear the bright side.

These two places service around 80 of the people in need.

They can always use medicine and diapers in assorted sizes.

A display of Crafts made by the resident handicapped; some neat stuff for sale!

A nice environment for the handicapped; I have to find out more about the motif on the wheel.

Medjugorje is really hurting with the world wide recession. Some pensions report a big drop and many cancellations. We hear of one driver in the taxi line-up; there from early morning, second in line, gives up at 2:00 PM and goes home with out a single fare!

Other drivers spending an 8 hour day without a single fare.

7/15: We are heading for the beach!!! Janet driving and we are the pampered ones.

It will take an hour or so on the local road before we reach the new Croatian thruway.

We are so astonished at the new toll road; when finished it will go from the other side of Dubrovnik through Split and then on up to Zagreb and across to Srbia! Constructed by a German Co. it is every bit the equal of many of the better roads in North America that we are familiar with!

Refinements such as sound barriers but those barriers are interrupted by glassed barriers so that we can still enjoy the country side!

Good looking signage, loads of information.

Omiš turns out to be an interesting area; flower shops, farmers market, food stalls; lots of strollers, lots of color.

We made it! The beach at Omiš! We rent three lounge chairs and an umbrella but Bob manages to get a good sun burn by day’s end. Typical guy says Mary. It will take at least a month to full recovery.

July 19: Sister Mira (aka the Sacristy Sister) and Bob. Yesterday was the Sister’s Feast Day so we all take turns congratulating her.

I see that Bob tries to edge Sister out of the camera range.

July 21, Tuesday: We have really been gearing up as if we had a high volume operation going. We buy the produce from a deserving family in Vitini and some from stalls at the Farmers Market. We place it so that each hungry person can select their own.

We help the Mini Mart slice the bread and to slice the meat for the sandwiches. We have already bagged the milk, cheese, fruit and staples. We pass out the 2 bags and then they aim for the tomatoes and stuff.

One of the fellows (a Croatian Catholic brought up at Mother’s Village) has brought along a prized possession of his just to share it with us. He does not want to sell it, just show it. It is a natural piece of wood but shaped so that it resembles an angel!

July 25, Sat.: Holy Mass for the English speaking is in the Yellow Hall this morning. The locals are having a special services for the St. James Feast Day in the main church and will be processing across the street to the site of the old church and then returning to St. James church.

A Nigerian group is in the music box today; they have come here from England which they have made their new home.

Two Nigerian priests are with the group.

The group dances and sings to the front of the altar for the Offering! Such joy is seen in their faces!

Sister is a wow on the drums; others in the group also accompany.

The Bishop in England had contacted the Bishop in Nigeria commenting on the Nigerian influx of parishioners but worried about losing the Nigerians to other religions as there is not the degree of warmth and brotherhood in the stoic English churches, What to do?

The Nigerian bishop sent two Nigerian priests to minister to the flock and to establish more familiar services.

One of the priests celebrates Holy Mass today while the second will celebrate tomorrow in the main church.

A beautiful inspiring voice from this nun. We give thanks.

St. James has been brought forward from his usual spot all this week as we celebrate this parishes Feast Day.

A new banner has been added for St. James (Sv. Jakov).

Requests for men’s running shoes over the past few weeks have climbed to over 80; we have fulfilled some but can do only a few per week. Men’s clothes are in demand and we try to satisfy some of that.

We have the “Tuesday group” enter their sizes in our note book. Reviewing the book this morning we see requests coming in for school supplies and school clothes as well as book bags.