2009 September

*Aug. 31: We travel to Zagreb with Miho, a tour guide, on the new highway between Vrgorac and Zagreb. After a few hours, we stop at a “24 hour hotel” where the rooms are not quite ready but we are there to grab a snack.

Impressive views on the outside —

AND on the inside!



Our apartment in Zagreb is in the town center and is quite comfortable although we did hear gun shots one night around 3 AM!

Sept 1: We are in Zagreb waiting for Mary’s sister, Anne, to arrive from Canada!

So we get to do a little sight seeing!

The Zagreb Cathedral (Cathedral of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary) holds the crypt of Cardinal Stepinac

I know, I know. I should be showing the crypt. But each pew in the Cathedral has its own built in radiator!! That’s a great way to promote healing kneeling.

Cardinal Stepinac died in 1960, a hero of the resistance movement against Communism.

Poisoned while in prison, released to die “within a month” he stayed alive for a number of years. Leeches attached to him by the doctors would drop off and die within a short time because of the poison in his system.

We glance to the left as we exit the Cathedral and we see an entrance to a memorial of the Cardinal. Sister is busy at the computer but then gives all of her attention to us! Mary asks her to speak in English so that I may understand without translation and Sister does so.

A beautiful place, a beautiful devoted nun; we are treated to insights of the life and death of the Cardinal.

Oh oh. What do I do now? four (4) beauties all from the same village; all “cut from the same cloth”.

Ana, Anne, Mary, and Magdalena

Sept. 3: Have you ever gone back to the house you grew up in? Mary and Anne check out their old homestead and it is so different. It has been expanded to the front and is now a hair salon. Darn.

Who is knocking on my window? Who is down there? I know it is not the prince asking me to let down my hair!

It is Mary and Anne! Those two little imps from just down the lane. They used to run to my house to avoid a spanking from their mama.

Come in and see Teta Kata!

Anne, I cannot believe it is you; after forty years!

We make a visit to the cemetery to pay our respects and to see if anyone has been moved. All is serene.

Here if there has not been activity for a time at the gravesite (additional burials) there is the potential of the site to be re sold.

We have been told a number of stories; the latest one is a requirement of $4000.00 for upkeep.

Now a trip to the Mama’s birthplace; still in the family; still actively farmed.

We will see if anyone matches the picture.


Desserts are on the table. Bob pulls up a chair.

The old well is now being used as a potted plant! Is anything sacred?

We go to see another family of relatives. Baja proudly shows that he is still in possession of his only car. Forty years ago it was just the thing for him to drive to Mary and Anne’s village and perhaps all go to the local grocery.

The tires are flat but Baja regularly takes a cloth to the car to keep it “looking good”.

Going home we stop in Sarajevo. Lots of places to see. We try to cram it all in.

We are booked into a pension not too far from the heart of the city. It is quite nice.

Fri. Sept 4: We are going to tour the Catholic Church.No, not that one.

This one.

and the Orthodox Church (even though my school nuns used to tell me the roof will fall in on me)

and the Old Muslim house, Svrzina, an example of the typical architecture from the Ottoman Empire (even though my school nuns would tell me the roof will fall in on me)

and the Old Jewish Synagogue (even though my school nuns would tell me the roof will fall in on me)

and the Old Town!

Fri. Sept 4: In the teeny village of Podorošac, not too far from Jajce, we find a primitive restaurant devoted mainly to fresh fish and home ground corn meal. There is a cave, waterfalls, beer cooling in the streams, outside dining.

Miho Radovan with his son Luka and his father in the background. Miho has a tourist agency in Mostar directly across from the Franciscan Cathedral. We have contracted with that agency to take us North and to bring us back. He did it nicely.MERIDIAN TOURS
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Sat., Sept 5: We are home in Medjugorje, arrived last night. The Feast of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary will be on the 8th!

Sunday, Sept. 6: We are home! We are glad to see our good friend Joseph. We constantly marvel on our getting to early Croatian Holy Mass at 7:30 am and Joseph has already been on the church grounds picking up the paper, the bottles, straightening out the benches, returning the chairs, turning in found articles!

Thank you Joseph.

An Irish priest celebrated Holy Mass this morning; he has cancer, has lived much longer and in better health than expected and was just sharing all of his thoughts and faith with the people. So inspiring and people were in tears. Father Kevin broke down and could hardly get through his closing remarks.

The priest was not scheduled, was asked at the very last minute to celebrate Holy Mass. We give credit to the Blessed Mother for this gift.

Sept. 6, Sunday afternoon: Pizza party time in the “community room” of “our” building;

and soft drinks and figs and cookies and Mary has made two apple pies!

The pizza was really good; needed 8 large at one time and local places were shy about trying to “do too much”. So we head to the S.U.R. Pizzeria in Citluk and are so happy that we did; delicious.

Pizza and pie and then a casual walk up Apparition Hill for Mary and Anne!

And a stop at the Blue Cross towards the foot of Apparition Hill.

Sept. 8, Tuesday: Celebration of our Blessed Mother’s Birthday! Holy Masses are on Sunday schedule. We go to 8:00 am early Mass and then off to Mostar. As we descend into Mostar we see 4 Franciscan nuns making their way, barefoot, from Mostar to Medjugorje in honor of Our Lady’s birthday! At least a 7 hour walk and the hills are huge.

Sept. 8; the combined Croat-Muslim-Serb high school really stands out in this city of Mostar!

We have immigration issues to confront today for a number of us. Ivan has picked up some of the papers from the Opcina in Citluk so we go direct to Mostar. Immigration accepts papers from 3 of us, one more to go! We are given a 1 month extension to see if all checks out. Then off to the court’s translator for a couple of documents.

We see a young Gypsy girl, about 10 years or so, in the middle of one of the street dumpsters holding up a piece of fabric looking to see if something might fit? Sad.

Then onward to the East side of Mostar (the Muslim area) and heading north. We are going to Matthew’s “DIVITA MIRACLES” place to check on some custom shoes. We get introduced to a patient from north of Zenica who is getting a leg replacement. He lost his right leg from a land mine after the war; was fitted OK but there has been wear and tear over the 10 years. Wonderful attitude. He is one of 12 approved recipients for charitable rehab at this time. Matthew has raised the funds! A center has been built and staffed and they specialize in helping those injured in explosions; so much help is needed with this project!


Two of the nicest guys we have ever met.

Wed.: the three of us are off with Mary Walsh of St. Joseph the Worker. We are helping to deliver the food. We meet with a charming 80ish lady piling up brush.

Sister Muriel and Mary Walsh (St. Joseph the Worker) have asked Mary to interview this Croatian lady to see if there is an interest in coming to the St. Joseph the Worker Retirement Home in Ljubuski.

9/09: Thought that no one lives at this place but then we meet the man who calls it “Home” (Kuca).

Respect, appreciation, and affection builds up over time. “If you find it too hard then come live with us”. St. Joseph the Worker searches those women out who have little or nothing, those who have no family to take care of them.

Sept 10,Thursday:

Back to Mostar for immigration issues and other stuff. We peek into the courtyard of the Franciscan main church to see how the repairs are coming along.

We park outside and then walk over the bridge “Stari Most” to the Muslim area.

First time we have been here without it being crowded. 8:00 AM is a great time to tour Old Town in Mostar.

As we walk through the Old Town we decide to stop at the Ali Baba Cave for a cappuccino. It is off to the right and is not marked very well. A real cave atmosphere and it is used as a disco in the night hours.

The john? Sure (“DA”). Work your way down these steps and it is just off to the left.

Lots of un-repaired damage on this side also.

We check out a Muslim grave yard. A few common graves and this elaborate one.

Our plans are made. We will go back over the bridge and have our lunch on the “other side”.

OK we found a place to eat; there might be a dozen restaurants but we can enter at one point and just walk through the restaurants until we find one to our liking. We found one that we had seen from the other side as inviting so we sit.

Nice ambiance, nice view, the waiter alerts us when the diver goes off the bridge, a zillion cats waiting for a hand out. The meat is tough, the waiter apologizes, no sympathy from the cook who says “he thinks it is ok; he just bought it this morning!”


Lots of stairs; lots of nooks and crannies.

9/11: Today we join a group of mostly Irish pilgrims who are going to Holy Mass at St. Joseph the Worker’s retirement home “Stari Dom”(consecrated by the Bishop so all is OK).

This is our “exit” picture! We attended Holy Mass, we interacted with the elderly residents, we sang and we danced and we listened with them.

Mary checking to see whether she recognizes any of the ladies from food delivery times.

Sister Muriel interacts with one of the oldest residents.

Laughs are shared.

May I have this dance, madam?

The two residents are giving their renditions of songs from their youth. They were not shy. The lady to the right was a phenomenal whistler; she was amazing! I will bet that the sheep came running when ever they heard that!


The oldest resident at 96 and still singing boisterously!

Four of our stars! The Irish fellow was a great singer and a great dancer; he was the leader!

The lady on the right is a resident. During Holy Mass Mary and I started singing the “Medjugorje Hymn” in Croatian; this lady (and others) just beamed.

The fellow (sorry I did not get his name) was the primary vocalist for the rest of the Holy Mass and did just beautifully.

He also led the residents and guests into a fast paced procession dancing; from one end of the hall to the other and back again!

OK let us just take a breather and find someone to lean against.

I have my wall.

Sat., 9/12: Today, a visit to Father Slavko’s grave site.

Larry, Mary Anne and Mary Lou will be having taste treats at Ivan and Marina’s (and we are invited too!),

A visit is made to the Chapel at Cenacolo.

At the bottom of the painting, blackness, the darkness, the past. Graduating towards the top is the light, the salvation, the present representing the recovery process.

One of the out door rock chapels at Cenacolo.

Our Lady of the Sacred Heart.

This is also known as “The Castle” and Nancy and Patrick are the owners.

9/13: Jim Lightner has returned along with mother, Joyce, and a group of pilgrims. Wonderful to see them again.

JOYCE McCANN has brought a suitcase of running shoes, shoes, sweat shirts!! And EXTRAS! We get tooth brushes and paste!

We thank Joyce and all who may have contributed to this gift.

First on the left at the altar is our friend, Jerome from the States. Jerome was here for 6 months or so a little over a year ago. We were so happy to see him back in Medjugorje.

Jerome had the music ministry here for most of his previous stay and did wonderfully.

9/15: We grab some “volunteers” and go feed the fellows as well as pass out bags of clothes and shoes.

66 fellows today. Lots of sad stories, lots of not so sad stories. Food has not been distributed in this picture, the fellows gather to try for clothes or shoes. We feel guilty in that we have not been able to come up with a pair of 48 extra wide running shoes. We stopped at quite a few shoe stores in our recent travels but no luck. We have found no shoe stores that have any knowledge of a measuring device so we hoping to import that from the States via a pilgrim.

Anne just makes it to the talk given in the yellow building by Ivan (one of the visionaries).

and then an afternoon meal at the “GARDENS” restaurant. This is located on the right side just before you get to the corner where you turn left to get to the main post office..

The restaurant has a second floor which, we hear, is nice enough but we enjoyed the outdoor seating at the back. Delicious meals. Excellent service.

Friends are staying at Ivan’s so we go there to interact some.

The “Pieta” at the home of Ivan, the visionary.

Anne wraps up her day by getting an invitation to attend the apparition at Ivan’s.

A trip is made to Mother’s Village (MAJČINO SELO). Here Anne discusses the program with one of the instructors. The environment is wonderful. Anne has worked in pre school education for many years in Canada so can appreciate what Medjugorje has here. The school will accept local and non-local residents also. We heard that it is a free program but then we hear that there is a charge of 175 KM a month. Perhaps some can pay and some cannot.

What a difference between this class room and the regular school in Medjugorje. Sad.

St. Francis Garden is a must see; here the horses (and donkeys) are housed. Pleasant places to walk and for the kids to play.
The Chapel at Sister Josipa’s Orphanage. They have about 110 children all year round.

This orphanage is under the name of Sister Josipa Kordič. Sponsored and highly favored by the Italian community. This is the entrance to the Chapel.

This home for unwed mothers is called Majka Krispina and currently serves more than 21 women and children. There is also a day care for children under two.

9/16: Today we are off to Stolac. First stop is to see Father Rajko. The peacocks are gone! A dog has gotten into the pen and has killed both! Sad. Then we visit Janja and Teresa and Niki. Teresa and Niki won their disability checks a year or so ago but now all disability checks have been stopped. The county must do a verification check up.

It will cost Teresa and Niki 95 KM each to apply for a verification check up. That will take many of the recipients off the rolls. After payment the county will come for a visit within an estimated 20 days. Sad.

We stop by the old grave sites.

Then we stop by Gordon’s family to visit and to drop off some stuff. Life is looking up for this family. Gordon has put in a concrete walkway to the front door!

Overcast but the sun is trying to shine through. The stage and speaker system are still in place from the celebration of the Mass of the Exultation of the Cross this past Sept. 14th. The Cross is illuminated for two weeks prior to the Exultation and then the lights are turned off.

9/18: Heading to Dubrovnik, we stop for a bit at the village of “STON”. Neat place with walls to climb (if you want) and to eat “the finest tasting oysters in the world” (if you have a mind to).

The old church in STON is boarded off so perhaps repairs are to be made?
Dubrovnik from the mountains.

We “scoot” past Dubrovnik heading in the direction of the airport so that Anne can catch a 6:30 AM flight tomorrow. We will stay again in Cavtat at Villa Bella Vista. The owner, Luka, will take us to the airport.

But then we go back to Dubrovnik and enjoy the city for the rest of the day! This is LOVRJENAC FORT to the west of the Old Town; this was for the defense of the city and to protect one of the entrances to the Old Town.

Used now for celebrations, concerts, folk plays.

We ooh and ahh at one of the huge cruise ships in the harbor.

We tour the Dominican Monastery Museum inside the walls.

We sit for a while in the church.

Sept. 21, Mon.: Father Kevin takes a sabbatical for a month or so. Mary is to do the announcements and scheduling of the priests for the English Holy Masses. Lots of interaction with priests, pilgrims and tour guides. I know that Mary feels so humbled and honored especially after a priest confessor has told her that our Blessed Mother has selected her to look after His shepherds.

Here Bishop Gustavo Garcia-Siller from Chicago is celebrating English Holy Mass.

9/22, Tuesday: We take food up to the four corners area but only 3 fellows and 1 lady today; we load them up because we have extra food. They tell us that many fellows are picking grapes and some have gone back to their home area to celebrate the ending of their holy month.

Sept. 28th: Agnes and John are driving to Stolac, Jane, Sandra and Mary are passengers. They are to visit two families today; the first will be Janja, Teresa and Niki. Everyone is bringing something for the family!

John has spotted the grapes! The family want to give them to us. Bags are filled, thanks are given and the lucky second family is so glad to have them. All works out.

The dentist in Zeneca has started work on one of the fellows who wrote us such a beautiful note asking for help.

9/29 Tuesday, 23 men & women showing up for lunch today; we have extra potatoes, peppers, cucumbers, figs and grapes.

9/30, Wed.: Mary is off with St. Joseph the Worker’s Mary Walsh to do translating. Destination is the village of Sovici-Grude and Crveni Grm. Purpose is to do assessment for some ladies who may want to come live in the retirement home.

This candidate is anxious to show that she can walk (albeit with the help of a cane), that she is ok mentally, that she has no one who can take care of her, that she has no or an extremely small income. This lady says that she is alone so much and has no one to talk to, to pray with. “I could come today”.