2009 November

All Souls Day Nov, 2nd:
*We have sorted and packed and now we need two cars to take the food and the clothes to the fellows. Joseph volunteers to be the 2nd car so we jam clothes into his car.
We pack Ivan’s taxi with more clothes and food and we are off. 54 fellows today!

We have picked up the roasted chicken, they have been cut in half, wrapped in aluminum foil and bagged separately. They are plump, hot and tasty (we brought some of the leftovers home) and we are very satisfied. The fellows are, of course, tickled and grateful. They love our Holy Days!

Nov. 3rd. A rainy Tuesday: Our regular lunch day. Agnes and John (England) joins us. John packs the sandwiches, Agnes helps prepare them. We have planned for 54, we get 65. The store runs out of bread and chicken salami so Ivan searches, successfully, the neighboring stores for the goods.

A special group is here from Texas mostly. The group includes seven (7) priests serving in Texas but from the country of India. Father Raj of the group is to be the celebrant at the Wednesday Holy Mass. Mary needs to find him where ever he is in the village. We go hunting. Part of the group is staying at the Franko pension so we leave word with Mona (on the left who is from England) who is here with the group also.

Father Raj phones Mary later and all is set.

A November blessing! A group of pilgrims have collected and passed to Alexandra (the music ministry) the sum of 300 euros. They have asked that it be dedicated to feeding the hungry! Alexandra has chosen to pass the funds to us! Our first thought is that this will pay for the chicken lunches (and then some). But then we think, that is already paid for and we should not reimburse ourselves for it.

So many people ( donors, passers and recipients ) will be so happy because of this gift. We will do extra prayers for all.


Remember this lady from our September page? She told St. Joseph the Worker’s Mary Walsh that “I could come today” (to the Retirement Home in Ljubuski).

Well, she was approved in just a couple of days and is so happy in her new home!

She has made many friends and has so many stories to share!


Thurs. Nov 5: Bob has the sniffles so Mary takes his temperature, serves the hot tea with honey (less the needed rakija). Bob stays home.

Joseph, Agnes, John and Mary are off to see Father Rajko, a family in Stolac and a family “just over the mountains” in Hutovo. The trunk is packed.

Sister Aloysius pops in the rectory to say hello and to give thanks.

Father Rajko will be celebrating Holy Masses for all of those who we assist and then one for all of those who assist us.

Joseph just seems to be at his happiest when he is close to the Blessed Mother.

Niki had broken two toes and had the cast removed just the day before. Doctor John does an examination.

Last stop of the day!

A visit is made to Gordon and family to drop off a little bit of food and also an “envelope” that Suzanne has sent over from the States.

The kids get ‘stuff’ also.

“205,000 sick in Ukraine Swine Flu Pneumonic Plague” is the headline on the local TV regarding the Ukraine. We hear that a bus load of 55 Medjugorje pilgrims have been refused entry into Bosnia i Hercegovina and has had to return to the Ukraine. Most of the pilgrims on the bus were Ukrainian priests and their families.

Off to the Immigration Office in Mostar. Before leaving, Mary chatted this morning with Jeannette Jacob of Alberta, Canada who brought such good news that Edgar Cere in Canada is doing well after his heart operation.

A day later Mary meets with Jeannette and Jane after the English Holy Mass. Janet is to join us but we miss her.

Jeannette has brought us vegetable and flower seeds as she brought to us last year also. Thank you so much to Jeannette and to Edgar.

Edgar comes to Medjugorje every year and stays for 6 months or so. Edgar helps all of those in and around the Village who need his help; he has been so patient and loving.

Mary (being a nurse) suggested this past time that Edgar get a ‘stress test’ when he returned to Alberta. Edgar did so and the doctors found reasons to do further testing. He has now gone through a stent operation fine and is scheduled for a second one. We have prayed and are so glad that we hear he is coming along just fine.

Edgar has sent a donation which we are so grateful for and will put to good use to feed a number of families! We know where this is to go.

Mary is doing her ‘swan song’ announcements for this time period. Mary feels that it has been such an honor to look after God’s priests.

And that means that Father Kevin will be taking back that responsibility.

Mary has had to ‘memorize’ the pages posted behind her. Doesn’t have to understand them, just is instructed to read what is written.

And our three Belgian altar servers (and musicians and singers and good will ambassadors and friends) are here for the week along with their Mom and Dad. The parents are again (for the 7th year) on the ‘Couples Retreat’!So that’s the secret!

Mon. Nov.9: Joseph, Mary, Agnes and John are off to make visits.

First stop is the grocery store as we can never go empty handed.

This is one of our special families. The father has diabetes and is going blind again; another operation is needed. The wife’s mother died a month ago so the girls (4 now at home) and the mother are wearing black.

The father’s mother lives with the family, cannot get a pension and has multiple health problems. The two older daughters were married not too long ago with each having a baby. The oldest daughter at home is the only driver but must take care because she never took the expensive training so does not have a license to drive.

Dragica tells us that over the past 6 weeks she has walked to Medjugorje hoping to find us 4 times! They live about 12 miles out.

She has had one crisis after another. The whole family is so excited about our visit and even more so when they carry in the food gifts.


Laughter, tears, smiles, thanks to the Blessed Virgin.

We spot a ‘Mine Action Team’ truck. So many land mines are still present in this country. So many limbs are still being destroyed!

A stop is made at Jagoda’s house on the way to Jelka’s. This is an elderly couple to whom St. Joseph the Worker has been delivering food for many years.

A bag is brought because one does not go empty handed.

The lady is ‘stuck’ in bed; our arrival is in the nick of time as the stove needs another log on the fire. She did not know how she could do that; the husband is walking somewhere to try to get medicine for the wife. We leave soft food here.


Certainly glad we came, wish there was more we could do. Thanks to the Blessed Mother for St. Joseph the Worker.

And on to one of our success stories! Nikolaj is sawing wood; the family has scoured the hills in search of it. About 10 meters of wood is needed for one winter season.

Jelka and Mario wait eagerly for their food bags. We thank Agnes and John and Joseph for their help on this outing.

We check out the house; they have raised field corn and it is being fed to their two pigs. Earlier Jelka got a loan from us to buy the two pigs and paid back the loan by having it deducted from some of the vegetables they grow for us.

We pick up potatoes and cabbages and now the loan has all been paid back!


Their next planned task was to buy chickens and they were going to negotiate with us for another loan. Instead they get a big surprise because we are able to pass over the funds needed as a gift from Edgar in Canada. Thank you.

We check to see how the two pigs are growing. The pigs seem to say “stop looking at my prosciutto!’



Mary always likes to chit chat about the building behind. This was the hide away for the honey moon of Ivan and Jelka.

Then we are off to the 2 sisters, Anica and Jelka. The gate has been fixed by a pilgrim from Austria who volunteers with St. Joseph the Worker. Sister Muriel and Mary Walsh have been delivering food bags to these two ladies for years.

John carries in some of the vegetables purchased from Jelka to the two ladies; they are really really hungry for potatoes and greens.

They also put in a request for candles and batteries. Their only lighting in that dark room now comes from leaving the stove door open a little crack.

They also put in a request for smoked pig knuckles as they have been told that is good for their joints.

Did the stove come with the House? No, an Irish person funded it and St. Joseph the Worker purchased it a year ago! The ladies do not get to watch Martha Stewart and get her household tips!



One final stop. We have heard that a sign announcing an upcoming ‘SOUP KITCHEN” has been spotted!

It is not too far from the four corner area where we serve lunches to the fellows.

A good sized tent is on the property along with 4 small trailers for the ‘crew’.

A large building is planned and it is backed by the Italians! Great!


and has a diagram of the planned building.

We meet Daniele, the ‘main guy in residence’ and communicate as best as we can. We pick up a brochure, pass over our card and look forward to getting together and seeing where we can help one another. Space for Caritas (Europe’s Red Cross) is given on the plan diagram. Yeh!

A garden has already been planted and one of ‘our guys from the 4 corners’ is working in it. He cries out “see you on Tuesday”!

We leave the two in deep conversation. Wonder how they are communicating and whether our fellow understands Italian?

Ralph (pictured) and Wolf are here this week.

Again, another rainy Tuesday. We have picked up cabbage and potatoes from Jelka. We also have figs from Dragica. This day we press Ralph into service. He helps pack the food bags in the basement garage and then helps with the food distribution.

Planned for 60+, we get 41 fellows. We will see the numbers dwindling because the main field work has been done and the fellows have fewer chances of a day job. Some have gone back North already.

Eso shows up to claim his size 15 wide running shoes; we have been transporting them back and forth waiting for the happy day. Mary wants him to try the shoes on as 4 or 5 fellows are waiting as plan B. A pair of socks is passed to him from the bag (his own has so many holes). They fit! He grabs Mary for a big hug. The fellows are smiling too because this size has been so hard to get. Eso had no laces in his current shoes and they have fallen apart. We thank everyone who had a part to play in giving us these shoes! I hear that this is Eso’s first pair of new shoes since before the war!

Ralph later sent us an email saying “I didn’t get a chance to tell you about the look of love and gratitude on that Muslim man’s face when you gave him that pair of shoes; the other men were stunned–they could not believe their eyes;”

Cathy, Mary, along with Jo Ann and Deacon Jerry Buyck from the States. Delightful people!

Janet, Jane and Jeanette all great helpers to the poor!

Bob, Jeannette (Canada) and Mary in the front row; Agnes and John (England) in the back.

Nov 12: Our good friend, Michael Stanton, has arrived and we spend a good portion of the afternoon checking on each other’s happenings.

The girl, later that week, was at the Divine Mercy gift shop and pointed to a picture of Saint Faustina exclaiming “that is the lady I saw. Who is she!”.

Divine Mercy in Surmanci last month, Father Petar (Peter G.), a Polish priest comes each year with a family to celebrate the healing of their epileptic son (seizures of as many as 100 times a day) seven years ago here in Medjugorje as Father was praying over him. Father is from Jersey Island in the English Channel. A few months ago, Father Petar celebrated the Divine Mercy Mass and prayer at the church in Surmanci and , during the services, prayed over each of the attendees. One pilgrim, a 13 year old girl on crutches, was physically healed at this time.

The girl says that she saw an image with a dark veil, felt warmth, saw a light, then was physically healed. She says that she heard Jesus tell her “stay close to me”.

The documentation was left at the parish of Medjugorje (Surmanci is in the Medjugorje parish)..

On Friday, Sept. 18, 2009 Vienna’s Cardinal Schönborn hosted Marija Pavlovic at a large Medjugorje Prayer for Peace at St. Stephen’s, where he made some comments in favor of Medjugorje. The Cardinal has a history of affection for Medjugorje.

His eminence, Cardinal Schönborn is to visit Medjugorje. He is due to arrive on December 8 (feast of the Immaculate Conception) and expected to remain until January 4.

Nov.13: Immigration again! Today three of us received our renewal of our year residence permit!

We celebrate by going to a really neat restaurant in the heart of Mostar!

There it is! Right at the end of the path!

We decide not to eat on any of the outside verandas even though it would be so nice to sit by the stream!

Later, back in Medjugorje, Ivan , our taxi driver, brings a fellow over who has a trunk full of mens winter jackets. We cannot pass up the opportunity. We buy 25 jackets at 9 KM ($7.40) each! We will pass them out to the day workers on the next Holy Day.


Mon.: we are on our way to visit some needy people. This is a neat spot to stop and do a photo shoot!

We did not know that Vitina had a water fall!

Returning we stop for lunch at the new Herzegovina Winery Center. Our waiter greets us in English recognizing us from where we have eaten in Citluk at the Hotel Brotnjo. He worked there previously. A great meal!

Tue., Nov. 17: Big day today! Alexandra, our music director has just left for a one month (or so) hiatus in the States. Bob and Mary will kind of take over her job. However we find out yesterday that English Holy Mass will move to the small chapel!! Good news for us! More informal, not to worry about a projector; Bob will print up some music pages and we will try to simplify and standardize. PLUS?? Mary has talked to the German and the French nuns here and they will be glad to support and join us in the chapel. We are so lucky!! Not every day but some days.
The music is working out well. I (Bob) do not always put up the correct slide when we are in the church but we get through it. We bounce between the chapel and the church because the ‘painters’ say they are coming (but that does not usually happen).

We have been visiting and delivering food to a few of the needy families.

Tues. the 24th: 22 at lunch today but they were really hungry. Some have not worked for 5 or 7 days. One hit us up this past Sunday before Holy Mass; said he just could not make it until Tuesday so Mary took him to one of the mini marts. Today there were a couple of new women; one asked for clothes for her 4 sons and brought along a picture. Six or so of the fellows remained to ask for bus tickets to Zenica (28 KM) to go home for their Friday Holy Day, Eid Al-Adha. And they asked for clothes (and always shoes).
Well, after we returned home and go back to making preparations for this Thursday (Thanksgiving Day in the States). We have ordered a turkey but had to settle for turkey parts (which are soooo good here). We have our pumpkin and we have our apples and we have stuffing and everything. We are expecting to seat 10 (including 3 of the priests); guess we had better count the chairs).
But then we kept thinking about the fellows who want to go home but can’t. Mary called Joseph. Bob and Joseph went to the ATM machine but that gives out only 100 km bills. But we got those bills and went to 5 different places in the village and were able to change them into 10’s and 20’s and coins.

We arranged a meet with the guys, packed food bags for their trips, took each a jacket and a pair of trousers and little goody bags with their bus fare in it.

Mary slipped in aspirins and ointment and a little bit of candy.

Thank you, Joseph, for your help.

Wed., the 25th: Bob catches up on some computer work, Mary is off to another village to pick up the turkey and things. At 3:00 we go to the chapel for a half hour. We are walking home but are intercepted by a Muslim fellow; he would also like to go home and has been walking the Village since 11:00 am trying to find us. We give in and we go pack a suitcase for him and funds. On our return, a young Muslim fellow has joined him. We recognize both so we go and pack again. They both leave happy.

Thanksgiving and the meal is at our place. Three of the priests have been invited plus Lucy & Joseph & Janet & Greg & Dian & Agnes. Two tables are set up. A beautiful meal.

Newlyweds are here on their honeymoon. Sister Marie has been long acquainted with the bride. Here we have Father Kevin, Sister Marie-liesse, Maria, Matthew & Father Wally (from Scotland, he will be here till the middle of January).

Mary and Janet go out to visit Dejana and family. Janet has been helping this family for quite some time. Father, mother, 3 children. Father has some psychological problems from the war, mother has cervical cancer. The house finally has a usable bath room but the entire house is situated up against the mountain with water percolating through the blocks of the house. Stained and moldy home.

First question from the kids to Mary “is mama going to die?”


Dijen & Janet. Janet has helped arrange an operation in Zagreb. Dijen will travel by the 9 hour bus ride on Tuesday and will have the operation on Wednesday. Janet has brought a cell phone so that the family can keep in touch while mama is in the hospital. Mary has brought toilet paper, wipes and other needed items for the hospital stay. The kids have not been forgotten. We have also brought goody bags for Mama to sort out now and put together so the kids will have something on St. Nicholas Day (Dec. 6th).

Dijen, too, is apprehensive to think that far ahead.

A family picture (which did not come out too well) at the cutting up of the pig.


We just had to put this picture out of Mik (from Australia) because it is such a good picture of him. He has been helping Nancy and Patrick at the Castle for a number of years and loves it there.

And writing about great photos!. This was taken on the same day, First Sunday in Advent, and is just such a beautiful picture of Janet!

I should of had my picture taken.