A True Medjugorje Miracle

 The following true story was confirmed as true by Fr. Tomislav Pervan, OFM. We await more details.

 For the Youth Fest in Medjugorje this summer [2010], a family traveled there with their son, Daniel, and his good friend. One day during their pilgrimage they traveled about six miles to visit the well-known Kravice Waterfall. While swimming in the natural pool made by the waterfall, Daniel’s friend noticed that he did not come up. He dove down, found him limp and dragged him to the shore.  Daniel’s father, a medic, was unable to resuscitate him. They drove him to the nearest hospital, one hour away in Mostar. There the medical staff pumped the water from his lungs but were unable to revive him. He was pronounced officially dead.

 During this time and unbeknown to his parents or doctors, Fr. Danko Perutina, OFM, a priest in Medjugorje, announced to the crowd to pray for a boy named Daniel. No other explanation was given to the large crowd.

 The following morning Daniel began to move. He told his mother that he did not recognize her but asked her to pray to Jesus with him. Later that same day, his memory returned.

 The story of this miracle spread in Medjugorje. It was reportted in th local newspaper.

 Jesus cannot be outdone in generosity. Daniel’s father had generously paid for the pilgrimage of the boy who accompanied them and who pulled his son out of the water.

 [This and other stories can be found on www.medjugorjemiracles.com. It was written by Christine Watkins, author of Full of Grace: Miraculous Stories of Healing and Conversion through Mary’s Intercession, a featured book in this edition.]

Youth Medjugorje Experiences - July 2010

After a recent Peace Mass at St. Rita Church in Harahan, LA, several teens who traveled to Medjugorje this summer briefly shared some of their experiences of renewed devotion.  The two main themes of this pilgrimage were prayer and sacrifice.

 Jamie’s sacrifice was praying on her knees, kneeling on the rocks outside in back of St. James Church for an hour in Adoration. She realized that sacrifice can bring love and peace in her heart, that she can bring back that peace to share with others.

 Michael realized that prayer has power and value to do things in his life and in the life of others. He asked God to reveal to him who Mary is and why is she his mother. He received a strong appreciation of Mary as his mother and what it means to lift up sacrifice and pain to the Lord.

 Lydia said that God’s timing is perfect. When it is meant for you to go to Medjugorje, it will happen.

 Kelsy was not raised in a particularly religious family. She realized that it is okay to have a past and that God loves us in spite of our past mistakes. God loves us just as we are. The pilgrimage has brought her into a new appreciation of faith and love for God.

 John realized that obedience is a mortification of the will and can be more pleasing to God than mortification of the flesh.

 Gina realized that whenever you trust in God, you will have joy and peace.

Jessie went to Medjugorje many times. Each time she received numerous graces but came back home to fall in her old ways. This was her fifth pilgrimage. Her fourth trip was when she really allowed Christ to penetrate her heart and began to live for Christ. This trip she was called to step up into a leadership role, and Our Lady taught her how to serve and lead others through love and sacrifice.

Former Saint Tells His Medjugorje Experience
by Danny Abramowicz

 On October 30, 2009, Danny Abramowicz, former Saints football wide receiver and coach, spoke about his experiences in Medjugorje and his love of the Blessed Mother. The rosary has played an important part in his life. He was taught by Dominican nuns and prays the rosary and Divine Mercy Chaplet every day. Through these, Mary intercedes for him.

 In 1986, he wished to go to Medjugorje and during prayer had a conversion experience in Metairie, Louisiana. He declined to take the trip, but his wife, son, sister and brother-in-law decided to go. It made it hard on him, but the Lord gave him a sign in his own backyard, the miracle of the sun. He felt the Lord was saying, “Is this what you want?”

 In the year 2000, Danny lost his job with the Saints team. He had some offers for other jobs, but none felt right. Then Mr. Joseph Canizzaro asked Danny to run the Donum Dei Foundation. This foundation, whose name means “Gifts from God,” came about after Joseph Canizzaro and his wife took a pilgrimage to Medjugorje. There they experienced a tremendous healing of a family problem. They met the visionary Ivan, who prayed with him about the situation.  Soon after, Ivan came to the United States, and he and Joseph became friends.  

Joseph asked Danny to go to Medjugorje with his wife, Claudia, to see what the foundation could do for Medjugorje. They stayed at Ivan’s house. Danny’s first experience was in a room with his wife, Ivan and the Blessed Mother during an apparition. He felt very undeserving of this privilege.
There was no medical facility at the time in Medjugorje. In fact, a priest had had a heart attack and died because there was no defibrillator. The closest facility was in Čitluk. Danny decided that the Donum Dei Foundation would build a medical clinic. The clinic was not just for pilgrims but for local people also. It is located behind the church to the left.

 The school in Medjugorje had six classrooms for 500 children. The teachers taught in two shifts from 7 am until 7 pm with little pay. He was astonished to find that the government-run school had a crucifix in each room and the children had rosaries. Joseph Canizzaro decided to have the foundation build a new wing on the school. In just 14 months, Joseph, Danny and Ivan flew to Medjugorje to cut the ribbon on the new wing. The priest processed in full priestly garments from the church to the school to bless the new wing of this public school. 

The Donum Dei Foundation built a new radio tower to help them broadcast Radio Mir Medjugorje which transmits its program live through a satellite. You can listen to the voice from Medjugorje in Europe, in the Near East and in North Africa.  It also built an adoration chapel behind Ivan Dragicevic’s house and is responsible for putting the mosaics of the Luminous Mysteries of the Rosary behind the church.


A year later, Joseph invited Danny and Claudia to check on the medical clinic in Medjugorje. They brought Dr. Dan Jacobs and his wife. They found that the clinic had seen 5,000 patients in the first year! While Danny did not go to Medjugorje when he initially wanted to in 1986, in less than two years he had visited there 3 times. Danny said, “The Lord does things if we just stay out of the way.” 

Danny ended his talk with the following thoughts: “Do you know how many people’s lives were changed because of Medjugorje?” Danny asked. “How many vocations came from Medjugorje? Why did God pick Medjugorje? God can do anything He wants. It is great to see the sun spin and rosaries change to gold, but the biggest thing is the change of hearts.  You don’t have to go to Medjugorje. He can touch your heart if you are open. It can happen right where you are. Don’t worry about the glitz—just be faithful. Churches are going through hard times; still it is an honor to be a priest or nun. Did God stop calling, or did we stop listening? Ask Mary to open our hearts.”

“It was said that Rome would not fall, that Greece would not fall, that Communism would not fall, and they all did. One thing they all had in common—no God! Think about it.”

Danny Abramowicz is the founder of Crossing the Goal Ministries. He can be seen on EWTN each Sunday at 6:30 pm EST and on Friday evening at 9:00 pm EST. It also streams on his website www.crossingthegoal.com. He wrote the book, Spiritual Workout of a Former Saint, and is co-author of the book Crossing the Goal: A Playbook on the Virtues with the Crossing the Goal team. 

Books are offered through The Medjugorje Star 1-800-625-1981

Mary Leads Us to Bethlehem

by Dominique Monelzun, Jr.

So we went to Medjugorje. Sweet. But is there supposed to be a change in us? I mean, are our days and relationships, prayers and actions supposed to be different since we got back? Come to think about it, what about those shepherds that the angel appeared to and led them to Jesus in the manger on Christmas—I wonder if they were thinking the same thing…

They had seen the long promised Son of God. Ballin’. So going back to work that next day, they must have had a pretty big grin on their faces when their friends asked them how the night watch went. Imagine their faces; they couldn’t contain the joy. It had to explode.

I believe that Mary is also calling us to something we can’t contain. To a God that we can’t place in a neat corner of our messy lives, to a God we can’t just be comfortable with as a weekend hobby. Mary is calling us to a God before whom we tremble in our nakedness and fall helpless to our faces, in terror and awe…and love.  To a God that takes our breath away, to the piercing gaze of our Eternal Lover…

Because I believe that Mary wants us to be more than just shepherds in our hearts, more than just witnesses to the peace and power in Medjugorje. She offers us her gentle  hand to lead our hearts to become another Elizabeth, to cry out in recognition, “And how does this happen to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me?” (Luke1:43). Yet she doesn’t want us to stop there. She wants to lead our hearts even further, to Bethlehem. To form in our hearts, laid bare, a bed of straw gathered from our quiet moments of silent obedience. In that bed, Mary yearns to gently place her only Son, Jesus, born into our surrendered hearts—hearts that cannot contain the beauty and the greatness of this mystery. And with our hearts beating madly in love with the Son, the Father will send through our Blessed Mother shepherds to come to our side as they did 2000 years ago in Bethlehem, to feel the undying warmth of the Divine Love in our hearts—that their hearts are bursting for.

“Do not be afraid; for behold, I proclaim to you good news of great joy that will be for all the people.” Luke 2:10

Praise Mary. Praise Jesus.  

A Second Pilgrimage,  One of Surrender

By Sarah Denny

How can one describe the experience of Medjugorje?  The beauty that I envision whenever I think of Medjugorje is something I will never be able to forget.  It is a place of peace, a place of love, a place focused on God.  I have been blessed to have been able to travel to Medjugorje two times, the first time in November 2006 and the second time in August for the Youth Festival.  Both trips were wonderful, but each was unique in its own way.  This past time I went without any specific intentions.  I decided to just see where the Lord would lead me.  During the months leading up to the trip, the Lord had decided to prepare me by revealing to me so many things about Mary’s beauty, grace, constant faith, and humble submission to His will.

I have truly found Mary to be my model of everything I want to be.  And why is that?  Mary in the midst of pain and suffering, through the worst of trials and the best of joys, constantly kept her heart focused on God.  She has shown me what it truly means to be a woman of God.  Upon learning that she would become the mother of God, Mary responded, “Behold I am the handmaid of the Lord; let it be done to me according to your word.”  That was it.  She refused to allow fear and anxiety to get in the way of her complete submission to God’s will.  I have seen that anything that I might experience as a woman, Mary has already experienced.  The different stages of her life are models for my own on how to endure and on how to love.  She experienced rejection, suffering, and heartache.  In those times, she humbly accepted God’s will for her and allowed those pains to form her into the woman he was constantly calling her to be.  She also experienced moments of true joy, being blessed to have been the mother of God, the first tabernacle of Christ.  In those times, she once again was humble and referred all praise unto the Lord.  As a woman Mary had her doubts, her fears, her struggles, her mental turmoil as to whether or not she was raising her son, the Son of God, in the right way.  She lost most of her friends, was judged by those who once loved her, and had to be moved from her family for a time, and yet she never lost faith.  She was a silent witness of peace, of hope, and of joy.

Medjugorje is a place where Mary appears to share messages of peace with the world.  Just as she did during her life here on Earth, she constantly directs our gazes towards God.  She constantly calls us back to the precious heart of God.  She never calls us to worship her.  She asks that we look to her Son for our peace, for true peace, which can only come from a heart, which acknowledges its nothingness in the presence of the Lord.  By bringing our hearts to her Son, we are able to see His love for us, his perfect and complete and true love, a love, which no human being can bestow upon us.  Medjugorje is such a beautiful and peaceful place for many reasons.  One of those reasons is that the people there acknowledge Mary as their mother.  They know that they are loved by her.  They live joyously and lovingly under her motherly mantle.  They know that she comes to share with them what she can so that they might constantly look to Him. 

During the youth festival it was incredible to see thousands and thousands of teenagers recognizing Mary as their mother and allowing her to bring them to her Son.  Jakov, one of the visionaries, spoke to us and said something, which touches my heart still today.  It is written in my journal, and I will share it here.  “What does it mean to be holy?  …to have God in your heart and peace in your heart and in your family.  When you feel God in your heart, you will know what to do.  What is more beautiful than saying I surrender my heart and my life to God?”  He revealed to us what Mary had revealed to Him.  And that is that we have been called to surrender our hearts and our lives to the Lord.  We are only secure in His love.  He has made us beautiful and strong.  There is nothing that we have to do to make ourselves more beautiful. 

God has made us each as a unique individual and has a plan bigger than we know of.  So what should we do?  Well, just as Mary showed through her life and even does today, we must completely surrender ourselves to His will for our lives.  Just be.  Sit at His feet and just be.  A beautiful soul is one, which knows its strengths and its weaknesses.  It is one, which acknowledges that God is God, but I am not.  Be confident in knowing that God has you exactly as He wants you in this exact moment.  Let Him lead you, and let Him love you.  With his perfect love, only then can you have true confidence because you are allowing your maker to work through you.  With Him you have true peace, and only with His perfect love completing you, will you ever be able to truly love.  Mary answered her call quietly and with perfect humility.  She allowed God to work through her, and so she had a gentle and peaceful spirit, which radiated the glory of Christ. 

In closing I must add something else, which was shared with us by one of the speakers.  He directed us on how to live by saying, “Regardless of your disposition, may you be a vessel.  Simple or complex, be the vessel in the hands of the Lord.”  Life has its mixtures of joys and sorrows, but through all of it God is molding you into the individual He has created you to be.  Let Him do so.  He is bringing you closer to His heart.  I found myself on this trip because I found God’s heart on this trip.  I desperately threw myself at His feet, and He didn’t leave me there.  He looked me in my eyes, and He loved me exactly where I was in that moment.  He took me into His arms and held me next to His heart.  I can only hope that I might continue to grow every day in His love.  That by following Mary’s example, I might daily decide to give my complete self to the Lord, to the wonderful and loving maker who has made my heart with His very hands and who has a plan for me that is bigger, and more loving, and more joyful then anything I could ever hope for or imagine.  Pray each day that you might be submissive to His will for you.  He loves you and is holding your heart in His hands so you have nothing to fear.  Just be.  Let Him lead you, and let Him love you.  He, after all, will never force himself on you.  He is patiently waiting for your yes, the same yes that Mary gave.  So give him permission and open your heart.  I promise that the joy you find is something that will stay with you forever, and it is a joy, which only He can give.  
                                                                                                           Sarah is 19 years old.

 Medjugorje Reflections

The Run of a Lifetime

by Emmi Aguillard

 In the summer of 2007, I had the incredible opportunity to go on a pilgrimage with a group of teenagers from New Orleans. Little did I know that this would be a life-changing experience, a way to look at life in a whole new way. A place that is unlike anywhere else in the world; where you can truly feel at peace. This place was Medjugorje.

Medjugorje is a tiny village nestled away in the green, serene, rolling mountains of Bosnia-Herzegovina. It is surrounded by acres and acres of ancient yet lively vineyards, as far as you can see, and is populated by some of the holiest and happiest people you will ever meet. It’s not uncommon to find those of all ages, cultures, and continents walking down the road with a rosary in their hands, praying the “Hail Mary,” or “Zdravo Marijo,” in countless languages that somehow all blend together in perfect symphony.

There are so many parts of Medjugorje where God is present.  Everywhere you turn, there are signs of Him, and you can find Him in whichever way is right for you. There is the rocky, pilgrim-beaten Apparition Hill on which Mary first appeared to the six child visionaries, which is why we all go to Medjugorje in the first place. And Mount Krizevac, tall and magnificent, which seems to stand watch over the village, making you feel protected and providing a breathtaking view for the thousands of pilgrims, some of who are old, sick and weak, who climb it in hopes of cures or just to pray. And then there is the powerful statue of The Risen Christ, larger than life, a miracle within itself.

While I was there, the International Youth Festival was underway. Over 40,000 young adults, and some not-so-young adults, from all over the world were crammed into this quaint and holy little village, waving their country’s multicolored flags with pride, speaking every language imaginable, yet all singing and praising God in unison. It would seem that all of this confusion would make it hard to find peace, yet peace was everywhere. It felt as if you could just take a bottle and fill it with peace and bring it anywhere you went.

When at times I did start to feel a bit cramped, I found a solution: running.  Early in the morning, I would wake up before any of the others, by the “cock-a-doodle-doo” of an actual rooster. How much more peaceful can you get than that? The sun was just beginning to peak over the horizon, lighting up the sky, the world. I would dress and head out for my morning run, before any of the mobs of enthusiastic Italians had risen and flocked to wherever that day’s apparition or event would be, making it almost impossible for anyone else to get near to see what was going on. This was a chance for me to explore the city on my own, without chaperones or anyone else telling me where to go; I could go where I wanted, when I wanted, however I wanted.

Most days I stuck to the long, winding vineyards, with the miniature, tree-like grape vines providing a cool and quiet peace. They offered shade in the afternoon, and contrasted starkly to the heat and humidity of summer in Louisiana. The crisp breezes ruffled the leaves, and as I passed through the millions of purple or green, round, juicy grapes just ready to burst, they seemed to be begging for someone (like me) to stop and devour them. There were even wild berries of some sort, nestled in a thorny clove, sweet and delicious. After stopping for a taste, I would turn down narrow dirt rows leading between the vines, ending up in front of a little house, or perhaps on another dirt road, or in the middle of nowhere. Now and then I got lost, but I was always able to find my way back to the main road.

Once I happened to stumble upon a little green, grassy clearing in the middle of a woods, surrounded by old stone walls no higher than a tree stump. The cool winds picked up, swaying the long grass; it felt like the Holy Spirit blowing down from heaven. Nearby was a tiny pigpen, with great, huge, smelly hogs filling it up. Oddly enough, they weren’t repulsing, but actually somehow added to the scene to make it just right.   

When I left the vineyards, I would make my way down into town, past all of the bright tourist shops that have sprung up over the years, and on to The Risen Christ. During the day, the plaza surrounding this larger-than-life statue was crammed with pilgrims hoping to get a drop of the miraculous water that slowly trickled from its side. On my morning runs, though, nearly deserted, this place was mine. This world was mine. This God was mine.

As I made my way back through town, slowly I would begin to see signs of life. Shop owners were beginning to set up for the day, pulling out carts filled with beautiful rosaries and hand-made statues of Mary. In tents, or sleeping in their cars near the edge of the vineyards, pilgrims began to pop out, stretching and yawning. The church bells were ringing. The sound of singing voices could be heard in the distance. The world was not mine alone any longer, yet sharing it with others was half as fun.

Running anywhere else is just a pleasant pastime of mine, but in Medjugorje it became a part of me. It was my time to be able to meditate on all of the things going on around me, with the steady beat of my feet going down the path, not always knowing where it was leading, but knowing that no matter where I ended up, I would be okay.

Emmi is a 16 year-old Junior at Baton Rouge Magnet School.

A Challenging Youth Pilgrimage

by Paige LaCour

Raised in a colorful, Catholic, Italian family, I’ve been enrolled in Catholic schools for the majority of my life. Only recently have I developed a passionate appreciation for my faith. I go by the name of Paige LaCour and I am 17 years old.

This summer [2007], my trip to Medjugorje began with many challenges. An hour before my plane was scheduled for take off from New Orleans to Washington D.C. , I realized that my passport was not in the bags that I had certainly checked and double-checked previously. As I dumped all of my belongings onto the airport floor, searching, digging, and prying, and hoping, I failed to panic. I was confident that, despite my irresponsibility, God's plan for me would prevail.  Fortunately, He wanted me to go; and my uncle was able to rush it over from the West Bank, just in time. When I arrived in Washington for my connection flight, the problems tagged along too. Our flight was delayed for 3 hours. As I waited, I decided to grab a strawberry smoothie conveniently priced with a special airport bonus charge, and some hot Mexican Queso. The smoothie had an unfavorable banana flavor instead, and before I could dip my first chip, the bag of cheese dip escaped my fingers and crashed onto the floor. It was then that we were called to re-board the plane while the flight crew worked through mechanical difficulties. This added an extra hour between Medjugorje and me.

It seems that with all of my unfortunate happenstances, I could have been easily frazzled, but instead, I was graced with a sense of calmness in my anticipation. On this journey of mine, I left no room for doubt; knowing in my heart, that surrendering myself to a will greater than my mind may be able to conceive, can only lead  me to a place past the limits of my imagination.

In 1981 the Virgin Mary started to appear to six young, ordinary, resident children. I admire those visionaries. Like them, I want people to see the love of Christ through me. People from all over the world visit this village to experience the intense presence of the Holy Spirit and to observe the discipline and strong faith that the humble people there exhibit. The village has been through trying times of war and repression, but remained dedicated to our Lord, Jesus Christ.

There was an estimated 35,000 people from all over the world in the village at the time we visited, for a youth festival. The girls and the boys in our Sojourners group lived in separate houses that were surprisingly more modern than we had anticipated, despite their simplicity. Our hosts were an inviting and welcoming family. Each morning and night they graciously served home-cooked European meals. The houses were within walking distance from the church, located in the center of the village.

Here we celebrated daily Mass, sometimes more than once a day, nightly Eucharistic adoration, and even a dramatic play about the gospels.  In addition, we climbed Apparition Hill to pray the rosary at the original site of the apparitions. Some of us also meditated on the Stations of the Cross while climbing Cross Mountain at 2:00 in the morning. At the top of the mountain, as the sun rose, a lively Mass celebration was held. The beauty of it all cannot be justified with words. On Mary's birthday, we processed through the town on a windy night with lit candles. While we sang and prayed, a powerful storm showered us. It was a much needed rain, because the town had been without it for three months. We were able to experience, on two occasions, the visionaries receiving messages from the Virgin Mary. Our Mother asks for pure and unconditional love for God.

I wanted to share something that I wrote while I was in Medjugorje on August 7, 2007

It’s 5:50A.M. as I sit on the balcony soaking up the fresh air. No one in my house is up quite yet; so I enjoy the brilliant sunrise alone.  I listen to the church bells coming from a short distance.  As I do this, I have time to reflect on last night.  It was an amazing first evening in Medjugorje.  Our tour guide briefed us on the history of the sites before we hiked trough the grape vineyard that lead us to a cemetery.  It resembled the cemeteries in New Orleans, even though the people are buried underground.  We learned about the spiritual leader of the visionaries and his life dedication to the Lord. Our walk led us to a giant statue of the Risen Christ. From the leg of the bronze monument was a continuous drip. I was informed that the drip has been studied and is the same chemical makeup as human tears. The scientific evidence was so insignificant compared to the greatness of God’s miracles. I make the sign of the cross touching the moisture to my face, as I silently stand there and pray. Along the path near by, I see some mosaic art that displays the Stations of the Cross. This was built for people who don't have the opportunity to climb the mountain. I admire the details and think of the effort that went into the elaborate, colorful pieces. I notice music playing from the opposite side of the church, and then I walk towards it. As I turned the corner, I see hundreds of people, some on their knees, some with their heads down, and others with their hands lifted. They were all there for Adoration, and the feeling of peace was undeniable. I wish that everyone could experience the thick blanket of happiness that warms the air here. I appreciate such a place that makes it easy to know God personally; the view from this balcony is amazing. I would be ignorant to leave here an unchanged woman.

This love for Mary that has been sparked within me has reformed many of my stubborn ways and taught me Truth. My experience in this simple village has developed my sense of understanding. It was here that I made a connection of my newly-merged school, The Academy of Our Lady. It is clear to me that God really does have a plan for us. Thank God for Medjugorje.

Paige is a Senior at the Academy of Our Lady in Gretna, Louisiana.

Teen Witness

by Katherine Schluter

 “Jesus reigns in this place.”  Those are the only words I can think of when I remember my experience in Medjugorje.  I have never been to a place where so many people worship Jesus with all of their hearts.  I could tell upon exiting our tour bus that our destination was one of extreme holiness.  From the picturesque landscapes to the selfless population, Medjugorje is truly a place that shows the majesty of our King.

            I’ve been to many beautiful places.  I’ve felt cold waves crash against my feet sinking into warm sand, and I’ve gazed upon the snow-capped mountain peaks of Colorado, but never have I felt at such peace with God’s creation as I felt in Medjugorje.  The hills we tread upon were constant reminders of Christ’s suffering on Calvary.  The gorgeous sunrises and sunsets left imprints on my heart as symbols of God’s beautiful and perfect love for us.  During times of intense prayer, the wind, on God’s command, would blow past us, softly whispering words of love into our ears.  Natural floral arrangements (no doubt, arranged by our Mother) cheerfully awaited us in the morning as reminders of God’s happiness with us as we walked on our journey of faith.  God’s love letters were not only found in things like heart-shaped rocks, but also in the broad mountain ranges scraping the bottom of the colorful sky.

            The people of Medjugorje are constantly living the messages of Jesus.  They are all so selfless and willing to serve others at any possible opportunity.  Every citizen showed love and respect to us and for the good reason of it being God’s request.  The smiles to which we awoke were more than enough for beginnings of a great new day living with Jesus and His people.  I’ll never forget the way our hosts went out of their way to give us butter with our bread at dinner.  They quickly obliged as if it were the least they could do for us, when, in reality, they had already done more than enough.

            Medjugorje is centered solely and “soul”ly on Jesus.  Although our Mother appears there daily, she tells us how we can be closer to her Son.  The messages of Jesus are revealed to all visitors of Medjugorje, and the peace found there is unimaginable.  I pray that one day we’ll all be able to experience great peace with our Lord and love, Jesus Christ, whether we obtain it from a pilgrimage to Medjugorje or even an hour with Him in the Blessed Sacrament.

Katherine Schluter is a junior at Archbishop Chapelle High School in Metairie, Louisiana She went to Medjugorje in the summer of 2007.

“Mighty are His Plans”

by Tammy Dupuy

I am forever amazed at the vastness of our God’s love for us and the awe-inspiring way that He turns every little yes into a glorious plan. My journey to Medjugorje began in 1987, when as a young Methodist wife, I began to pray the rosary. My husband and I were trying to conceive a child and had exhausted all means that we considered acceptable. I turned to Our Lady in desperation. I had never had a relationship with Mary nor did I know much about her other than that she was a part of the manger scene at Christmas. But somewhere deep in my heart I felt that she could understand my deepest desire for a child. I purchased a cassette tape of the rosary from a Catholic bookstore I found in the Yellow Pages and I prayed it three or four times a day every day.

Only a few months later my sister-in-law contacted my husband and me to tell us that she was going to Medjugorje and taking my mother-in-law, Jean. She asked if we wanted to be put on the waiting list, and after some time we agreed. I told Mary that if she wanted me to go, I would do whatever she asked. I was, however, very reluctant and not very excited about going. One week before the trip, I got a call that there was one opening. My husband thought that I should go even if he could not … so off I went.

I was overwhelmed by the love and peace that I found in Medjugorje. As a non-Catholic, there was a lot I did not understand, but it did not matter. I KNEW Our Lady was appearing to the children and that great graces were being poured out. On October 10th we climbed the mountain and I went off by myself to pray. I told Mary that I knew she was there, that I knew miracles were happening, but that I needed to know that she knew I was there, that I had been called there and did not just “happen to get on the trip.” At that moment an intense peace filled my heart and I felt like I was wrapped in a warm blanket. My mother-in-law ran up to me and said, “You are going to have that baby.” I smiled and knew she was right. Exactly one year later, October 10, 1988, I gave birth to my son David. I became a Catholic, had my marriage blessed in the Catholic Church and have been in love with the Church ever since.

Eighteen years later a close friend of my son went to Cenacolo in Medjugorje to live in the community. Several of us decided we wanted to go visit him, and I thought it was time for me to bring my 18-year-old back to be presented to his real mother, Mary. Several of us tried to go in August but were told it was not a good time to go see our friend and that we should wait. I was so disappointed, but my son said, “Mom, if that is what is best, then we have to be obedient.” (Don’t you just hate it when your children are wiser than you?) Of course, he was right, and wow, did God show us His better plan. We rescheduled for Thanksgiving and ended up taking 20 teens with us!!! What an incredible, faith-filled journey it was. We were blessed more abundantly than any of us could imagine!  We stayed in Jakov’s home, were able to do the music and readings for many of the English Masses, were each prayed with by Father Jozo, spent time with the visionary, Mirjana Dragicevic-Soldo, spent lots of time with Patrick and Nancy Latta (Fr. Jozo’s interpreter), and, best of all, we were able to be right up front in the church during Adoration. The kids spent endless hours on Apparition Hill praying together at night and grew in faith by leaps and bounds. I was able to present my son to Our Mother on the top of the mountain. And to top it off, I had my precious 16-year-old daughter with me. She had dislocated her knee a few days before the trip and popped her hip out on the trip but climbed the mountain with the rest of us as a prayer. And that young friend from Cenacolo, he had come home and was able to return with us at Thanksgiving! What a gift.

But Our Lord did not stop there. Mighty indeed are His plans. Word spread among the teens in the New Orleans area, and Mimi Kelly (director of The MIR Group) and I quickly realized we would be going back with more teens. This August we took 50 teens and a total of 70 people back to Medjugorje for the International Youth Prayer Festival! These young people have been a powerful witness to the love and mercy of Our Savior and continue to bring others closer to Him. They have formed a prayer group called Sojourners of The Burning Heart and come together to worship and share their faith with others. Several of them have gone on to college to major in theology, a couple are discerning vocations to the priesthood or religious life, some are helping area schools and the archdiocese put on retreats. They have joined retreat teams in various capacities, put on Adoration services in some parishes, go to Adoration and Mass daily, become active in pro-life ministry, speak in parishes, and are studying and learning every day about the richness of our Catholic faith. I am amazed at their faith and what God has done with so many of them. In a world where we hear so many negative things, they have given me so much hope for our future. I can see the new springtime of the Church in these young leaders.

Medjugorje is more than just a retreat or even your average pilgrimage. It is a place of grace, a place of deep conversion. Our Mother calls us there to know her Son, to draw closer to Him. And when we do…God can do so much and reach so many with just one tiny “yes.”  Next June we will be going back to Medjugorje with more teens and we would love for you to join us or send a friend or family member. Open your hearts and say yes. You will be amazed at the miracles He will work. How great is Our God!!!

Tammy lives in River Ridge, Louisiana with her family

"Medjugorje Brought Mary Back into my Life"
by Gerry Cancienne

     Because the pilgrimage to Medjugorje in November 2006, with a teen group was so incredible, Mimi Kelly asked each member of the group to write a testimony.  The witness below was e-mailed to her by Gerry Cancienne, one of the adult pilgrims.  Gerry and her new husband, Herman, joined the group from Texas.  As an introduction to her testimony, Mimi revealed another part of her beautiful story.  It’s a God made love story. 

     Herman grew up on the Westbank of New Orleans and lived there all of his life.  He married and was very active in his church there.  Gerry also grew up on the Westbank, however, she married and moved to Texas.  Much time passed. They’ve had children and grandchildren.  They’ve gone through the pain of deaths in their families and now they both were single again.  God began his plan to bring these two together (again).  You see, Gerry and Herman had dated when they were teenagers.  Herman was Gerry’s first kiss.  As she told us her story on pilgrimage, she said even back then she just knew that Herman was just too sweet a man and she knew that anyone that kind was surely going to wind up getting hurt.  So, they broke up after a few months.

     It’s now 50 years later.  A mutual friend dies and Gerry returns to New Orleans from Texas for the funeral.  At the funeral, some good friends, Jim and Mary, remembering that these two were a couple all those years ago, asked whether they had seen each other yet.  This put into motion their finding each other again, and the rest is history. God used good friends and life’s circumstances to bring these two beautiful people together again.  Surely it was part of the plan to have them join that group on pilgrimage to Medjugorje that wonderful November. 

 This is Gerry’s testimony:

     “I have been meaning to write and started a few times, but words never seemed to express how our pilgrimage changed me.

     I hadn’t really talked to the Blessed Mother since I pleaded for help to endure the pain of watching my young 30 year old son die.  When I got back to my son, Scott’s, room from the hospital chapel, he was clutching a holy picture of Our Lady and refused to let it go and he died still holding it.  I have no idea where it came from and neither did anyone else. She had to show me she heard my cries for help. I felt her help then, but as the years slowly passed and the pain turned to wonderful memories of him, she became a part of the rosary I said now and again.

     Being in Medjugorje brought her back into my life completely.  I’m not sure when exactly – was it being with the wonderful, innocent teenagers or the church filled to overflowing night after night with the townspeople; was it the music that made tears run down my cheeks or was it being so near to her and to all the people who loved her so completely?

     I watched the old and young climb those rocky mountains barefoot, on their knees or carrying babies.  They all had understood the message of Our Lady and were telling us.  I watched a tiny four-year-old girl teaching a two-year-old how to make the sign of the cross.  I saw taxi drivers saying the rosary as they waited for a fare. 

     Our beautiful Mother was everywhere.  But you know I know all these things brought her in full view, but somehow I feel she touched my heart by just being so close to her, I could feel her warmth, her love and her sweetness.  She is my mother holding me close and telling me all will be OK now.  Whatever I will face, I can be strong.  She was with me and helped me to be strong as my youngest son just had his cancerous kidney removed last week.  We can talk as one mother to another now. 

     In this Holy Week I feel her pain so deeply, as she felt mine so many years ago.

When we got back home to our quiet home in the woods, I felt so homesick for Medjugorje, but I’ve brought her love back with me; and it is so, so wonderful to have my mother with me.  I now start my day with the rosary and smile knowing I can face the day under her mantle of love.

     Thank you, Mimi, for making our pilgrimage a visit of love,


Mary Is That Perfect Mother

Sarah Denny is 18 years old. She went to Medjugorje as a senior from Archbishop Chapelle High School in Metairie, Louisiana, with a group of 18 teens and 11 adults during the Thanksgiving holidays, November 2006. The following article is a result of her Medjugorje experience.

I had always been fascinated as a child by the stories of “those children who had seen the Blessed Virgin Mary.”  I remember always hearing stories about Medjugorje, but to me it was just this far-off place that I would never actually see for myself.  Through the incredible grace of God, I was given the opportunity to travel to Medjugorje, and countless little miracles helped pave my way to that wonderful place.       

This trip to Medjugorje came at a perfect time in my life.  I had been facing some challenging times as of late and so went there with a heavy heart.  To be honest, I was desperate for some kind of peace, any kind of peace.  Now I see that it was only the peace of God which could calm my heart.  The first two days there were the hardest for me.  I found myself doubting what was really true.  It is my nature to build up walls whenever I experience pain.  I would rather keep it all in and pretend everything is okay.  I can convince everyone, including myself, that everything is fine.  But God knows our hearts’ true desires, and for me, He knew that peace was what I needed.  Those first two days forced me to let down those walls and let Him in. 

What I found in Medjugorje can never be lost.  I found a newfound love for prayer, especially the rosary.  God was working on my heart the entire time, and I realized there how truly amazing and powerful God really is.  But I also learned how truly amazing Mary, our mother, is.  I prayed to her constantly for peace in my heart.  I have come to realize that Mary is that perfect mother.  She is always there for you and just wants to cradle you in her arms and take away your pains.  Our earthly mothers try so hard, but they are human.  In my current situation I found that I could relate so much to Mary.  She had so much to go through and suffer, even losing her friends and being judged for her supposed actions.  But through it all, she kept her eyes and, most importantly, her heart fixed on God.  She is my model of all that is real and pure and true.  I wish that everyone, especially the women in our society, would strive to be like Mary.  She has always been described as beautiful, and the visionaries have even said that no real painting has ever captured her perfect beauty.  The visionaries once asked her why she is so beautiful.  She answered them by saying, “Because I love.”  Our world is in such need of true love, pure love, not lustful, abusive “love.”  She is such an example to all of us of how we need to love.

While in Medjugorje, I experienced her love for me.  The people there have followed her example and love as she does.  They welcomed us with open arms and open hearts.  It is such a peaceful, beautiful place filled with peaceful, beautiful people.  I have learned that the greatest things in life can’t be seen with the eyes but are felt with the heart.  That is why faith can be such a struggle at times.  You can’t see it with your eyes, but you can feel it and must believe it with your heart.  And that is why I believe Medjugorje is such a wonderful place.  You can feel the peace and love of God envelope you in its nature and in its people. 

We were told as youth to bring Medjugorje home with us.  I believe that everyone can experience Medjugorje even if they are never able to travel to the physical place.  I learned so many things that I want to share with others.  Most importantly, I learned that all you have to do is open your heart to God’s love and mercy.  In even the smallest way, every person can be a beacon of light and peace to others.  Pray hard and realize that God accepts you no matter who you are or what you have done.  Love your family, love your friends, and love your enemies.  Always love.  And in that way you will find true peace as I did.  You will find God.  You will find love, and with all of that, you will have found your Medjugorje.

"Medjugorje, the most beautiful thing I could never describe"

The following article is from Rachel Varisco, she's 18 and a senior. Archbishop Chapelle High School. She wrote this article to encourage others to go to Medjugorje.

           Try to picture a place… a place where you are the happiest you have ever been.  Think of a place where you feel just as much at home even when you’re far away.  Think of the most peaceful place you could imagine.  Think of a place where there is a boundless amount of hope instilled in the fact that you are able to celebrate your spirituality in the way you are most comfortable.  Have you thought of it yet?  Does such a place exist?  I have the answer.  For me, this place is Medjugorje.

            I went on a trip to Medjugorje this past November [2006], and I can honestly say that it was a trip that will affect me for the rest of my life.  Being able to experience a place of tranquility and hope in the midst of this chaotic world we live in gave me a better outlook on how to continue my religious life back at home.  Being there with the group of teenagers that went was enough of an amazing experience in itself.  I was always able to share my faith with those around me, but knowing I have so much support from those people has made me even stronger and more able.  The things that you are able to do in Medjugorje make it so worthwhile as well.  Nowhere else can you go to receive the Eucharist twice a day, celebrate Mass (the greatest prayer there is) with people from around the world despite any language barriers, climb a mountain, witness the miracle of the Risen Christ statue, visit with visionaries, or go to the castle of the Queen of Peace.  My trip to Medjugorje taught me so many things.  I learned just how widespread God’s love is and that, no matter where you go, it always follows.  I learned how powerful God’s love is and how many peoples’ lives were changed by such a holy place.  I learned to see God’s amazing beauty in all of my surroundings and that if you just let go and let God be the center of your life, you can experience such a peace that you never even thought was possible.  Here is a passage that I wrote in my journal at the top of Cross Mountain:

           “Medjugorje—the most beautiful thing I never could describe.  If I sit at the top of the mountain and close my eyes, I can still feel the beauty.  That’s how strong it is.  That’s how powerful it is.  It is a beauty so deep that you can’t even see it all when you look with all of your might.  The feeling you get here surpasses any sense you could feel or anything you could see with the naked eye.  If you look around and think you see how amazing it is—think again.  Multiply the beauty you see by one thousand and that doesn’t even begin to describe it.”

          The words that I write cannot even begin to describe Medjugorje, either.  It is truly an experience you must live through yourself.  Through prayer and guidance in such a holy and remarkable place, I was blessed with so many incredible gifts during this trip and I am able to more clearly see how I can be used as God’s instrument to others.  I truly believe that if I had not gone on this trip, my life would not be the same as it is now.

           I have the opportunity to go back to Medjugorje in August, and excitement does not even begin to describe how I feel.  I know that this is another opportunity for my faith to grow even deeper.  Many people who did not have the chance to go on the last trip will be able to make it on this one also, as long as we are able to raise enough money.  I truly believe we will be able to get them there by the grace of God and through lots of prayer and hard work.  I cannot wait to see what more God has in store for us on this next trip.  I cannot wait to see what amazing blessings others’ lives, as well as my own, will be touched with.  I hope everyone who goes will be able to come back with a more restored faith than what they had.  There is no doubt that a trip to Medjugorje provides you with more than just memories.  It gives you many lessons, graces, and blessings to last you a lifetime.

The Most Amazing Thanksgiving Day of My Life

The following testimony is from Alex Lorio, 18 years old, senior at Archbishop Rummel High School in Metairie, Louisiana.

Shunning the traditional belt loosening and football watching Thanksgiving that most people enjoy, I accepted an opportunity to spend my November holidays among the rocky hills of Medjugorje, Bosnia-Hercegovina.

I joined 18 fellow teenagers and 11 adults on what was planned to be a weeklong pilgrimage to the very holy European village of Medjugorje.  Since 1981, the small town has been home to daily apparitions of the Blessed Virgin Mary and has become a place of spiritual retreat and conversion for thousands of visitors.

Among the teenagers in our group were six fellow Raider seniors: David Dupuy, Roy Maffe, Joey Pistorius, Glen Bougieous, Lamar Edwards, and Peter Gibson.  Having so many friends around made being away from home for Thanksgiving a much more tastier pill to swallow.

After over 15 hours of traveling, we finally arrived in Bosnia on Saturday, November 18.  Our group stayed in the visionary Jakov’s home, where we enjoyed two meals a day of unique Croatian cuisine.  It’s been a few days since the trip, and I’m still missing the soup and bread dipping before meals that are staples of Croatian dining.

On our first day in Medjugorje, we visited what I believe is a spiritual phenomenon.  The Resurrected Christ statue was oozing water from Christ’s knee.  The bottom half of the statue (where the liquid trickled from) is packed with concrete, and reports are that the water oozing out has been tested to be the same contents as human tears.

Praying before the statue was a powerful experience and a sampling of the peace that I would feel throughout the week.  Each day we were blessed with the chance to attend two daily masses, one in English and the other in Croatian. 

Throughout the week we grew closer in our relationships with God through prayer, talks, and meetings with numerous joyful people.  The noticeable thing about Medjugorje, well, other than Mary’s appearances and the picturesque landscape, is the town’s residents.  Never have I met more peace and joy than in the people of Medjugorje.  God was so evident in their love, in their generosity, and in their daily lives.  Seeing their peace was a witness to God’s love for me, as well as an incentive to know God more fully.

The power of the rosary and a relationship with the Blessed Virgin was often preached.  We learned of the importance of prayer, Reconciliation, and fasting, to our lives.  I realized that our true place in life is honoring and revering God.  We are all called to different methods of glorifying God, whether a priest or a fireman, a nun or a librarian; in whatever we do, we are called to exalt God. 

Putting God in the center of my life during the pilgrimage helped me grow closer to Christ and His love.  When I opened up to Him, I felt an overwhelming peace and joy that I hope to bring back to my everyday life.

Arriving in Medjugorje, I was intensely skeptical of the apparitions.  Coming away, I feel certain that the Blessed Virgin has in fact appeared to the six visionaries.  Numerous scientific studies have been completed concluding that the visions are supernatural.  The visionaries were stabbed with pins and sharp objects during the apparitions and did not react in any way; sensors were placed all over the body, and results proved that they were witnessing something supernatural.  I am convinced.

After numerous flight cancellations and a stay in Frankfurt, Germany, we finally arrived in New Orleans late Tuesday night, November 28.  While I may not have witnessed a Dallas Cowboy victory, and while I did not digest turkey on Turkey Day, I managed to have one of the most amazing Thanksgivings of my life.

 Ivan’s Visit to New Orleans

by Kay Mule

Since Katrina, visionary Ivan Dragicevic has visited New Orleans several times. His talks always energize us to continue to renew the messages of Our Lady in our heart. His last visit was December 6, 2006, at St. Francis Xavier Church. Holy Mass was first, followed by Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament and the rosary. At 6:40 pm Ivan had his daily apparition. Shortly after, he spoke to us through an interpreter. The following is a summary of his talk.

Ivan is always happy to pray with us, but he finds it very hard to leave Our Lady. Each apparition is so special and it is so hard to describe a meeting with her. This night she came to Ivan so happy and greeted him with her usual greeting, “Praise be Jesus, my dear children!” She opened her arms and said three words, “Mir, Mir, Mir.” She said to pray for peace in the world and in families. Then she prayed with hands extended, blessing us with her motherly blessing. She prayed for all those who are sick and for peace.  She leaves in the sign of light of the cross and says, “Go in peace, my dear children.”

Throughout these 25 years, Our Lady has asked so many times for us to pray for peace and to renew prayers in our families. She introduced herself as Queen of Peace, so who can possibly know more of the peace we need, especially in these times we live. She said, “Dear children, with prayer and fasting you can stop wars.” She wants to lead us on the way of peace, to bring peace to today’s youth and to our tired Church.

She wants to bring us hope, to make us stronger and to console us.  “Dear children, today more than ever the world is going through a crisis—the biggest crisis is the lack of God in the world.” Today humanity is going into the future without God. Today’s parents are not praying with their family. There is no more faith in marriage, so many broken families and so many youth living away from the family. Only with prayer in the family can we build strong families.

Today’s humanity has to heal spiritually. Our Mother comes to bring us Godly medicine to heal our wounds and our pain with so much love, so much tenderness and so much motherly warmth. She said, “Dear children, I want to bring peace to you, but I need you. I can achieve peace only with you. Decide for good and against sin.”

She repeats so many times and does not get tired. Is there a mother so happy that she says something only once to her child and her child listens?

Our Lady did not come to scare or criticize us. She did not come to talk of the end of the world or the second coming of Christ.  She wishes to bring hope to the world and families. The world has a future, but we have to change and put God in first place. We are pilgrims in this world. We don’t know when Jesus will call us to Him. We have to be prepared and to live the way God calls us to live.

 Our Lady is calling us to make Holy Mass the center of our lives. She says if we have to choose between seeing her and going to Holy Mass, go to Jesus. She also calls us to monthly confession, adoration, to pray the rosary with the family, to read Scripture, to forgive others, and to love others. She said, “If you only knew how much I love you, you would cry for joy.” These messages are for all because we are all her children. Everyone is important because she does not have any discards.

The most important message is to pray with the heart. To do this we must pray with love, with all our being so that our prayer becomes a talk, a meeting, a rest with Jesus. After prayer we feel refreshed and happy. How can we concentrate on prayer and not let our thoughts wander? She knows we are not perfect. She wants us to persevere and be patient. We are in the school of prayer and, remember, there is no weekend! If you want to pray better, pray more. We think that time is always the problem, but time is not the problem. The problem is love. If you love something, you will find the time to do it. If you want to pray better, you have to pray more. To pray better is a grace given to those who pray more.

Why is Our Lady coming so long? What is she looking for? We have the Church, sacraments, and the gospel. Yes, we have all that, but do we live it?  She is coming to awaken us from a spiritual coma, to make us stronger in faith and love. She asks us to decide to continue spiritual renewal in our families, to decide for God. Only in God is our real, true peace.

A Man of Hope Faces Hostage Situation

 By Kay Mule

About 11 a.m. Friday morning, June 16, 2006, we received a call to pray for a friend, Cliff Lala, who was being held hostage in his home just a few blocks from our house located in River Ridge, a suburb of New Orleans, Louisiana. The first thing my husband, Hubie, said was, “I’ll bet Cliff is trying to convert the man.”  This is a story of what a man of strong faith can do in an unexpected, dangerous situation. Would that we all could have such faith and peace in such a circumstance.

Cliff’s house was the final focus of a massive manhunt for a fugitive who had wounded a policeman, killed another, and led police on a wild chase through New Orleans and Kenner. John Lee Cheek, age 31, had crashed a stolen car in River Ridge and then broke into Cliff’s house while he slept. Around 7 a.m. Cliff woke up not knowing that Cheek had been in his house for 4 hours.

Eighty-one-year-old Cliff has a strong spiritual life. “I have been close to the Lord for a long time,” he said. He and his beloved wife, Betty, gave their lives to the Lord in 1976 through the Catholic Charismatic Renewal. The peace that comes from the Lord gave him the presence of mind to be calm throughout this ordeal. We have known Cliff for many years. He was a sacristan, reader and Eucharistic minister in our parish. Though he never went to Medjugorje, he was very involved with the Medjugorje Peace Masses we had in St. Matthew the Apostle Church. He set up the altar and played songs on his guitar during the mass. Our Lady’s messages of peace and hope found a permanent place in his heart.

He had no idea what was going on as he walked into his living room to face a man with wild eyes holding an AK-47 and a pistol. “Is anyone else here?” Cheek asked.

“No, I am alone. Can I do something for you?” Cliff calmly asked. “No,” the man answered.

“Do you need money?” Cliff asked. “No, I have money,” he replied.

“Do you know me?” Cliff asked. “Yes, I’ve been here 4 hours while you slept.”

“I am a Christian,” Cliff informed the man. “I can see that,” he answered. There is a 2 ½ foot statue of Our Lady of Guadalupe, a plaque of the Holy Family and a picture of his wife receiving the Order of St. Louis award from Archbishop Hannan in the living room, a cross with Jesus the High Priest and a Last Supper picture in the kitchen, a picture of the Sacred Heart of Jesus and Immaculate Heart of Mary in the adjacent dining room. The bedroom altar has a large picture of the Sacred Heart, a crucifix, statues of saints, angels and the Pieta, votive lights, a picture of the Divine Mercy and Pope John Paul II, Cliff’s “hero.”

“It can’t be so bad, want to talk about it?” Cliff asked. At first Cheek said no, but later he confided that he had killed a man. They heard helicopters overhead and Cheek decided to sit Cliff in a chair and tape his hands, feet and mouth with package tape. He had a distraught look, but he was gentle. “Sorry you have to go through this,” he told Cliff. Cliff thought to himself, “God is with me all this time. If it is my time, I’ll go. I am a man of hope, so I will wait it out.”

Cheek looked out the window and saw a SWAT tank. He was afraid they would kill him. The police broke through the front door and when they saw Cheek with two guns standing behind Cliff, they backed out and shouted, “He has a hostage!”

Cheek wanted to move to another room, so he gently removed the tape from Cliff and they went into the bedroom. Cheek sat next to the altar, where Betty used to pray on her knees for hours for peace. Cliff began to talk to him about his triumph over his illnesses of the past three years.

“I can relate to you,” Cliff told the fugitive. “No one wants to listen to you. I’ll tell you of my life of the last three years. I’ve had by-pass surgery, two hernia operations, and several weeks of ‘sea-dip’ diarrhea. I was moved three times during Katrina. I almost died; my two kids were very stressed. But by the grace of God I am still here.” 

Cliff’s testimony had an effect on Cheek who then decided to call his mother. He used Cliff’s cell phone as he had ripped the wall phone out earlier. “I love you, Mom,” he said. Then he called his dad who encouraged him to surrender. Cliff heard him say, “I love you, Dad.” Cheek’s father spoke to Cliff and said to keep cool, that the officers will tell him what to do.

The troopers sent in a cell phone via a robot. They were assured that Cliff was all right and began careful instructions that Cliff relayed and that led to Cheek leaving the house on his own at around noon.

“I think God sent him here,” Cliff told me. “All those wonderful people were praying for me. I have gotten so many hugs—from people who just nodded before. We have to realize that God is in everything. We think we are in control, but we are not. It is a mystery that we can’t understand. The proof is in the fact that the man left the AK-47, pistol and knife and walked out of here on his own. I can’t judge the man. Only God can judge. I was never mad at the man.”

Cliff and his wife, Betty, had such a good relationship. They were both sacristans for our neighborhood church, St. Matthew the Apostle. Betty died 2 years ago. She suffered with Alzheimer’s, which was hard for the family, but Cliff looked at it as a test. He always tried to bring joy and hope into the situation. His 6-hour experience as a hostage was also a test and Cliff passed with flying colors. Perhaps his testimony of peace and trust in God in the face of danger will bring peace to us in our daily trials.

From the Heart…“Bagasse!

by Hubie Mule

On August 29, 2005, our lives were changed when Hurricane Katrina hit the New Orleans area. Shortly after in mid-September, Hurricane Rita compounded the matter. As a husband and father, I made a huge mistake during the storms by not evacuating my family. An integral part of faith is obedience to God in people whom He allows in authority over us; Faith without prudence can be dangerous. 

Everyone has a “Katrina Story.” Here is mine. A voluntary evacuation was strongly encouraged. In all honesty, I was so sick with a four-day migraine headache that I couldn’t have traveled if my life depended on it … and, in fact, it did.  My wife, our daughter Celeste and granddaughter Abigail Marie Mule bravely and, fortunately, without incident rode out the storms. 

On the second day after Katrina, I rode my bicycle to check the store. This was the only way I could navigate past fallen trees and downed power lines along the way. My daughter Celeste accompanied me until we were about 6 blocks from the store. The water was getting higher and she did not want to go farther. She did not want me to go on either. “But you don’t understand,” I told her, “I have to go.”  In my heart I know my trust is in the Lord!

As I surveyed the scene of water up to the window sills of houses, the scene looked very bleak. A Vietnamese man approached me and said, “It looks scary, doesn’t it?” I replied, “Yes.” “Where are you going?” he asked.  “To the Catholic bookstore down the street,” I replied.  “I know that store,” he said. “Wait just a minute and I will go with you.”  He went into his flooded house and came out dressed in shorts and no shoes. He said he had spent the last six months remodeling his house and had finished it just before the storm. On the way down the street, we passed three houses that were burning. A fire truck came but was unable to do anything as there was no water pressure. They burned to the ground. 

We were about a block from the store when the water was over the seat of my bicycle and I could pedal it no more. I set it on a high spot and walked the rest of the way next to the man. We entered through the side door as the front doors were boarded up. I was surprised and relieved to find that water had not entered the store. Our floor had perhaps the only dry carpet in the area. I could have kissed the ground, like the late John Paul II used to do. 

Water had backed up in the bathrooms, and when I got the mop to clean up the mess, the man took the mop from me and proceeded to clean and disinfect the floors. I was truly thankful for the help this man gave me, whose name I do not know. We left together and he went back to his house. I saw him only once again a few days later in a line to receive food and water.  I have not seen him again and could never figure out which house he came from. He was truly a gift from God. 

We were very fortunate and survived with only wind damage to our home and retail store.  I give all thanks and praise to God because many years ago I built the foundation of the building up a couple of feet higher and further back than the buildings next to it.

My heart is saddened with all the devastating stories of friends, relations and customers coming into our religious store. All I can do is listen and express my concern and prayers. Now is the time for our law-makers to step up to the plate and help our people in their insurmountable battle to move on with their lives.

I didn’t realize for several days after Hurricane Katrina passed that our local officials called for a mandatory evacuation of the drainage pump operators. This resulted in the loss of compressed air into the discharge tubes which prevents lake water from back flowing through the pumping stations.  This back-flow caused sewage from street drains and toilets to cause a great deal of flooding to houses and businesses on the East Bank of Jefferson Parish. Many houses flooded before Katrina even hit. 

The levees bordering the canals that pump the “below sea level water” out of the New Orleans area were built many years ago and in some cases were reconstructed after Hurricane Betsy destroyed them in 1965.  The levees were constructed by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and to quote our own U. S. Senator, David Vitter-R, Metairie, “There were gross design mistakes made by the U. S. Army Corps of Engineers.”  

As reported at our parish Holy Name Society meeting by our Jefferson Parish councilman, the foundation of the metal sheet piling was driven into a by-product of sugar cane called bagasse. Bagasse is the dry refuse left over after sugar cane is processed. It was used to make particle board; however, it was replaced by wood chips and glue as it was not strong enough. When it got wet, it fell apart. The pressure on the poor foundation caused the pilings to give way and the levee to be breached. Another interesting aspect is that bagasse is like a candy store for termites, a serious plague in the New Orleans area. 

For this reason it is my sincere prayer that all victims affected be compensated. Contrary to popular opinion, I feel our politicians did the best they could during the storm as they faced life-threatening circumstances and destruction, the worse catastrophe in United States history.  The Lord puts people in positions of leadership and we must pray for them. He also puts good people around us in times of trouble, people that encourage and help us through difficulties that seem insurmountable. Through the eyes of faith we can recognize these humble people and give thanks to God for their presence. Jesus, I trust in You!

Hvaljen Isus I Marija!
Praised be Jesus and Mary!

Seven Sorrows of Mary In Relation to Hurricane Katrina

by Kay Mule

Many years ago we learned that Our Lady encouraged the Medjugorje visionaries to pray the Seven Sorrows of Mary every day. Since then, nearly every day on my way to work, I pray the “Sevens.” Since Hurricane Katrina struck our area, I have come to realize how much those sorrows parallel our own sorrows. Perhaps, I can share some of my thoughts and reflections relating the Seven Sorrows to the sorrows Katrina has caused.

First Sorrow of Mary—Prophecy of Simeon

Simeon prophesied that swords of sorrow would pierce Mary’s heart. She did not know when that would happen, so she held his words in her heart. Simeon did not live to see his prophecy fulfilled.

For as long as I can remember there have been many predictions about the flooding that would result if a serious hurricane came up the mouth of the Mississippi to the city of New Orleans. Some 40 years ago my Dad went to see the levees being constructed in areas around New Orleans after Hurricane Betsy hit us. He predicted that the levees would fail because the ground at the base was unstable and was not properly prepared. Also, the sheet pilings were not strong enough. He was a welder, not an engineer, but had an intuitive sense about construction. He did not live to see his prediction come true and the damage that resulted from failed levees.

Second Sorrow—Flight into Egypt

When they knew that their child’s life was in danger, Mary and Joseph fled from their home. They became refugees in a strange country among strangers.

When the impending risk of Hurricane Katrina threatened the lives of people along the Gulf Coast, many fled to other states. Some of those rescued from the flood were sent to unfamiliar areas as far away as Idaho, Michigan and the state of Washington. While they were not refugees in another country, they lived through some of the same experiences as the Holy Family. They were surrounded by strangers and in many cases had to depend on the generosity and kindness of people they did not know. They had few clothes and even fewer belongings with them. In a matter of hours, they had become poorer than they had ever been.

Third Sorrow—Loss of the Child Jesus in the Temple

For three days Mary and Joseph searched for their missing Son.

In the turmoil of mass evacuation from flooded areas, many families were separated: husbands from wives, parents from children. The sorrow and distress they experienced were the same as that of Mary and Joseph. One televised reunion of a father and son was so emotional that the child could only cry for joy. There are still some children whose parents do not know where they are. Hopefully, one day soon, they will have that joyous reunion also.

Fourth Sorrow—Mary meets Jesus on the Way of the Cross

Imagine the sadness of Mary as she met her Son carrying His heavy cross and seeing all the pain He had to bear. He had no place to call home and no place to rest His head.

As news filtered from the flooded city, residents began to experience their own cross. While it was not a physically painful cross as Jesus’ was, it was a painful cross in other ways. Many people lost the entire fabric of their lives—all their memories were washed away or covered in muck. Some houses were completely washed away while most were so flooded as to be unlivable. Entire communities have no place to call home again. However, the heaviness of these crosses has been eased by the kindness and generosity of others who have taken into their own homes those who had no place to rest their heads.

Fifth Sorrow—Jesus dies on the Cross

He was condemned by men who had no idea of what they were really doing.  As Mary and John stood at the foot of the cross, Jesus expired. Mary did not leave then and she does not leave now.

The number of dead from Katrina continues to rise. As of this publication, 1,073 lives have been lost in Louisiana alone.  Those people died for a different reason, but in a sense they were condemned by men who did not really realize what they were doing. A city expanded into an area of wet land that should have remained marsh; canals were constructed which caused accelerated erosion; levees were built as protection but they also prevented the land from building up.

Sixth Sorrow—Jesus is placed in His Mother’s arms

The Pieta scene evokes such a sense of loss not only to Mary but to us. Mary consoles us in our grief.

As the deaths became known, families grieved over loss. It seems that nearly everyone in the New Orleans area knows someone who lost their life in the flood—either a loved one, a friend or an acquaintance. We, personally, know of two distant, elderly cousins, husband and wife, who drowned when their house was inundated by flood water.

Seventh Sorrow—Jesus is placed in the tomb

It seemed so final when Jesus died, yet Mary did not lose hope. Her faith carried her through to the Resurrection and to Pentecost.

The hurricane entombed many areas of the city and the Gulf Coast in a watery grave. After many weeks, when the water was pumped out, everything appeared brown and gray. Plants were dead and a dingy, gray film covered cars and houses. But there is hope that the area will rebound, not as it was before but better. We pray for our leaders to have the vision to bring us into a resurrection of a better and safer place to live. Hard decisions will have to be made. May the Holy Spirit guide them, we pray!

What is God trying to tell us through this natural disaster? This catastrophe has caused us to reflect on what is really important in life. Pip Brennan, a wise person who lost every material possession during the flood, said the experience has caused him to realize that God gave him what he needed, not what he wanted. We will never be compensated for all the suffering we bear in this life, yet suffering is of great value. By uniting our suffering to Christ we participate in His saving work for the sanctification of the Church and the good of all men. Illness or suffering “can make a person more mature, helping him discern in his life what is not essential so that he can turn toward that which is.” Often it can “provoke a search for God and a return to Him.” (Catechism of the Catholic Church)

Like Mary, as our Mother and Model, we proceed in faith, in humility and in simplicity by trusting and obeying her Son. We may never comprehend what she experienced, especially her sorrows. Yet all her suffering was not for naught. She merited a glorious crown and now reigns as Queen of Heaven and Earth. Mary knew that she would be with her Son again; we must have faith that in our sufferings in life we will be too.  In Medjugorje, she teaches us that God exists and that she has “come to earth to teach you how to listen out of love, to pray out of love and not be compelled by the fact that you are carrying a cross. By means of the cross, God is glorified through every person.” 
                                                                    November 29, 1984

On November 30, 1983, she gave the following message to the prayer group in Medjugorje: “I am your mother full of goodness, and Jesus is your great friend. Do not fear anything in His presence. Give Him your heart. From the bottom of your heart tell Him your sufferings, thus you will be invigorated in prayer, with a free heart, in a peace without fear.” This message is for us this day, also.

[Praying the Seven Sorrows of Mary is an old custom in Medjugorje. To say this chaplet, pray the Our Father, Hail Mary and Glory Be for each sorrow. Add the Apostle’s Creed at the end. The visionaries asked Mary if this was a good prayer and she told them it was. It is always recited after the evening Croatian Mass in Medjugorje.]

 TMS Survived Katrina

by Kay Mule

We survived Hurricane Katrina with relatively minor damage to our home located next to the Mississippi river levee, about 15 miles up-river from downtown New Orleans. This was the storm we hoped would never come. During our bout with Katrina I could not help reflecting on our second pilgrimage to Medjugorje. It was extremely hot that September of 1987, and water was rationed in the village. At 2 am in the morning the mother of our house was able to get the water we needed for that day’s washing and drinking. The village was jammed with busloads of pilgrims on September 14, for the Feast of the Triumph of the Cross. Everyone was in prayerful unity.

Fast forward to August 2005. Powerful Hurricane Katrina hit southern Louisiana. The weather was very hot and running water was no longer available. Drinking water had to be rationed and bathing water was scarce for those who had a place to stay in the environs of New Orleans. Our house was intact with relatively minor roof and tree damage. We had no electricity and when running water was restored, it was not drinkable.  Had not Our Lady prepared us for such conditions years before?

I remember the pleasant experience of taking a hot shower for the first time after that pilgrimage. After taking cold showers during Katrina, my first hot shower was just as pleasant!

The strong wind from the storm not only uprooted and snapped an unbelievable number of trees but also stripped the leaves of the trees that remained standing. It blew pine cones with such force that it sounded like bombs were hitting against the house. When Katrina moved away from us, the silence after the roaring of the storm was striking. There were no birds singing in the morning. As we emptied our freezer of defrosted food, we threw some bread on the grass for the birds. The next day the bread was untouched! The birds were gone there were none to eat the bread. Katrina had chased them away. Everyday we watched for the birds to return, but the sky was quiet.

However, the nights were not quiet. The frogs croaked so loud as if to make up for the lack of birds’ songs. At night it seemed that all the stars of the universe were visible in the deep darkness of the unlit sky. We experienced a different body rhythm. With no lights to keep us awake, we became very sleepy as soon as it became totally dark. We prayed the family rosary by candlelight and fell asleep early.

There were no newspapers, no mail delivery, no groceries or malls open, no TV and only one broad-band radio station that kept us informed through a battery operated radio. After two days the phone service stopped. Even though we had not evacuated, we felt so separated from family and friends. A week before Katrina, I recalled thinking about the flight into Egypt by the Holy Family. I remember thinking how I could not identify with being a refugee as that situation had never been close to us. Now, after Katrina, I knew the feeling of separation as our family and friends were all scattered in different directions and unable to return.

The silence after the storm did not last. Around the fourth day, helicopters of every size began to rescue people trapped by rising water. All day long and into the night they flew missions, passing overhead sometimes in pairs. There were Black Hawk helicopters and some with guns. We were under martial law with a dawn to dusk curfew yet we did not feel fear. The police patrolled day and night with help from a group of New York and New Jersey police and later the National Guard.

We prayed in thanksgiving for the volunteers and workers from the Louisiana Agriculture Department who help us by distributing bottled water, ice and food. We prayed for all the displaced families and for all those who suffered so much during this catastrophe, the likes of which we have never seen. We prayed in thanksgiving for the many people who opened their hearts to those in so much distress. Their kindness is such a blessing. We also prayed in thanksgiving that the Medjugorje Star and our religious store was spared destruction. 

One day a song bird returned. His lone song was a much welcomed sound. Soon a few more birds came. Their return brought hope. A relative whose house is in St. Bernard Parish went to check on her residence. The flood waters destroyed 99% of the area. Everything is misplaced. Cars were on roofs and on top of other cars, trees were down everywhere and everything was in complete disarray. Yet the statues of Our Lady in yard gardens were still standing. I could not help but think that Our Lady did not leave us! In part of her message of September 25, 2005 she said “…I do not leave you alone.”

A Very Different Thanksgiving

 by Kay Mule

This Thanksgiving Day was cause for reflection on the first pilgrimage our family made to Medjugorje during Thanksgiving week of 1986. My husband had read a book about six children who had apparitions of the Blessed Mother and was determined to go the “the place where Our Lady appears.” I was a very reluctant traveler that year. After all at the time Medjugorje was behind the “Iron Curtain.” I remember telling him that I would rather stay home. He replied, “You can stay, but I am taking our three children with me.” I decided that I did not want to stay home and eat turkey alone so the five of us joined a group of 48 pilgrims and trekked across the Atlantic in what seemed like an endless journey to the village between the mountains. There were very few other pilgrims there except for a group of Italians.

 I barely knew the story of Medjugorje. On the plane I hurriedly read about the apparitions to get some background about our destination. I remember being so tired as we ended the long bus ride at night. Our pilgrims were housed in homes of villagers along a dirt road that was about a half mile from the Church of St. James. It was well into the night yet the family had a wonderful dinner prepared for us. They could not speak a word of English, yet they communicated their sincere love to us. That dinner was just the beginning of their hospitality to us. 

 There were 14 of us in this not too big house. One day as I was walking to the dining room, and, as I passed one of the bedrooms, one of the eight family members walked out of the room. With that brief view into the room, I realized that all of them slept in one room, most of them on the floor, so we could be comfortable.

Tt the dinner table one day I could see the grandmother in the adjacent kitchen throwing something over and over again. After dinner of stuffed peppers, pork chops, cabbage and cake, I decided to see what she was throwing. She was feeding a small wood-burning stove with sticks and small pieces of wood. The women prepared dinner for us on this small stove.

 Our dinners were usually late at night because we attended the evening mass and healing service afterward. And after dinner we sat around the table and talked about our day. Little did we know that the family did not eat until we were finished. They ate what was left.

 We did not have turkey that Thanksgiving, but we received many reasons to be thankful. These villagers were very poor by American standards, yet shared their home with total strangers. They laughed with us as we tried to understand them, and prayed with us. One evening after dinner the mother of the house stood up with her rosary in hand and led the first decade in Croatian. We responded in English. Then she pointed to our priest to lead the next decade. She and her family responded in Croatian. I will never forget that shared experience. It was a very different Thanksgiving but one that made a lasting impression.

Medjugorje is Responsible for this

by Fr. Donald Calloway, MIC

Fr. Donald Calloway, M.I.C, was the main speaker on Friday night, November 28, 2003 the opening night of the Marian Conference in New Orleans.

The October 2003 issue of The Medjugorje Star presented some of his testimony. There is much more to hear of his conversion. He went through about everything a young man could go through, beginning at the young age of 11 doing drugs -- using opium, heroine, crack, LSD - every day!  By the age of 14 he was committing felonies. By the age of 20 he had experienced all the sinful sides of life.  He wanted to satisfy everything sensually and if that meant sleeping with a different girl every night, so be it!  He was living a life cycle of death!  At the time of his conversion he not only wasn't a Catholic, he didn't even know there was a Blessed Virgin Mary!  He had no idea who Jesus was.  He thought Jesus was like Santa Claus, something to make the kids happy!  One night he made a 180-degree turn and gave his life to Our Lady. After ten years of study, he was ordained a Catholic priest.

Fr. Donald Calloway, who is the Assistant Director of the National Shrine of the Divine Mercy in Stockbridge, Massachusetts, made his first pilgrimage to Medjugorje in September 2003. His amazing testimony included his experiences in Medjugorje as a dream come true. After having been converted at the age of 20 from hedonism (seeking pleasure as the only source of good in life) as a result of reading a book about Medjugorje, he had been trying to get to Medjugorje for 11 years. He said, "I never imagined that it would be like it was.  That place is blest and consecrated as a source of renewal in the Church and in the world!"

The little known story of
Our Lady of Laus

by Kay Mule

Benoite Rencurel was born in 1647, in a small French village high in the Alps, near the border of Italy. Benoite, a poor illiterate girl, became a shepherdess for a well-to-do family when her beloved father died when she was only seven. She was a gentle girl who devoutly prayed the rosary often but had a firm will and determination to do good. On the other hand she was quite an ordinary girl.

Benoite often led the flock to pasture at the Vallon des Fours (Valley of Kilns). There, one day in early spring of 1664, she noticed a beautiful lady with a child by the hand. Since they were near the limekilns, she asked the lady if she wished to buy lime. After a while, without answering Benoite 's questions the Lady disappeared. The beautiful lady appeared for two months without speaking.

Benoite was so happy just to see the lady. Even if she was told to be humble and meek she couldn't hide what was happening to her for long. Very soon the authorities too got involved and curious people asked for an explanation. Her employer forbade her to go to the valley because people said it was not good for grazing. Although Benoite obeyed, the sheep went to the valley anyway! The employer decided to see about it himself, went to the valley and tried all day long but could not get the sheep out!  Then he noticed that the sheep were as healthy as could be so he let Benoite take them there.

Eventually the judge of the district told Benoite to ask the lady who she was. The following day the apparition answered, “I am Mary, the Mother of Jesus. My Son wishes to be honored in this valley, but not on this spot.” Then she vanished and did not appear again for a month.
A month later, while she followed the Avence River, Benoite beheld a dazzling light on top of the Pindraux rocks. She crossed a rustic bridge but the light disappeared. A delicious perfume pervaded the spot. Following the scent she found a little thatch-covered chapel of Notre Dame de Bon Rencontre (Our Lady of Happy Meeting). When she entered, she saw a bright light with the Virgin standing over the altar. Seeing the dust lying on the altar, Benoite began to remove it with her apron; but Mary stopped her saying, “Soon nothing will be wanting here – neither vestments nor altar linen, nor anything necessary for divine worship. On this spot I wish a church built, a privileged sanctuary, wherein many sinners will repent. Here I will often appear to you. Means will not be wanting, despite the poverty of the country people around you.”

Every day Our Lady came to Benoite and guided her giving her the exact dimensions of the future shrine. But Laus Valley stands high up on the mountainside, entirely surrounded by wild and rocky hills up which no horse can climb. Mary, however, had said it was to be; and, with hardy good will, the pious peasants carried the stones up the mountain. And increasing numbers of pilgrims came to help. Some people donated building stones, others donated money. One day a roll of gold coins was found in the donation box even though the slot on top was not large enough for the roll.

As soon as the church was begun a miracle took place – the cure of a young man, son of a doctor of Gap, who had been ill from birth. During the first summer as many as 60 cures were recorded by officials. Stillborn infants when placed on the altar came to life and received baptism.Laus became a pilgrimage site for people coming from far away. 

Our Lady continued to appear to Benoite every day for fifty-four years. Often Our Lady appeared with the Infant Jesus; and many times she beheld the Divine Child in the Sacred Host. Our Lady showed Benoite heaven, and she received the gift of discovering all kinds of sin by the sense of smell. The hidden secrets of many lives stood out clear as daylight before her. She was thus able to warn sinners who were encouraged to repent and to receive the sacrament of Confession.
While many believed Benoite, some sought to discredit her by accusing her of pride and hypocrisy. Strange as it may seem, her most bitter enemies were priests. Some of these went so far as to imprison her; but, after fourteen days spent in fervent prayer and without tasting food, Benoite was released. Her persecutors declared their doubts unfounded, -- the prison cell having been filled with the most heavenly perfume during all that time.

She became a Dominican Tertiary and suffered the stigmata for twenty years. No illness preceded her peaceful death which occurred on December 28, 1718. Despite the snow-covered mountains and Alpine glaciers, people from far off villages somehow knew of her death and flocked to the funeral.  She was buried in the church at the foot of Our Lady’s altar.

Seventy years after her death, a workman repairing the sanctuary dropped a marble tablet on the tomb. The tombstone was raised and a portion of the wooden coffin was found broken. The splinters caused a wound on Benoite’s cheek from which issued blood as fresh and red as if she were still alive. When the lid was removed, the body was perfectly preserved.  In 1854, the coffin was again opened, and Benoite’s habit found intact, though of her precious body nothing remained except the bones.

On September 7, 1871, Pius IX declared her Venerable, the first step to sainthood, and in 1893 the church was declared a minor basilica by Pope Leo XIII.

French Bishop Describes Laus Visionary

In 1995, Bishop Georges Lagranges from Gap, France visited Medjugorje for a week. He was asked, “What does the fact that the apparitions are continuing this long mean to you and does it surprise you?” The bishop answered, “No, not in the least because this happened to us 300 years ago in my diocese. The Blessed Virgin appeared to a young girl who was only 16 years old and those apparitions lasted to the end of her life. She died at the age of 72. No one ever counted how many times she saw the Blessed Virgin! Our Lady began speaking to her by teaching her how to be a patient little shepherdess. She continued and ended with mystical visions of the crucified Christ and his sufferings in which the visionary herself participated. It is interesting to note that Our Lady led the little girl to a place of abundant water. She told the girl that a house for priests had to be built there where they could receive pilgrims who would come to be reconciled with God in the sacrament of penance. That's how the Marian Sanctuary of Our Lady of Laus began.

I want to say that there exists today numerous conflicts between religions and nations and they have become especially prominent in these regions. I believe it is exactly for that reason the Blessed Virgin chose Medjugorje as a place of complete and sincere reconciliation."

References: The Apparitions and Shrines of Heaven’s Bright Queen by William J. Walsh, T. J. Cary Co., 1904;  Rev. Dr. Rocca Paolo, www.maria.org. ; Medjugorje Press Bulletin #13, May 24, 1995.

last updated 12/26/09