One Catholic Mom’s “Surprise” Pilgrimage of a Lifetime to Medjugorje

Editor’s note: For additional information on the Church’s teachings on the official status of Medjugorje, please visit EWTN for a complete letter provided by Archbishop Tarcisio Bertone, penned while he served as Secretary of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, for the purpose of an accurate understanding of the status of Medjugorje as of May 1998. Please note that this article is provided for information purposes only and does not in any way constitute a position outside of the official teachings of the Church on Medjugorje. LMH

Brian K. Kravec

Brian K. Kravec

CatholicMom.com contributor, Brian K. Kravec, was a pilgrim in Medjugorje in March of 2006. He is one of more than forty-five million people who have traveled to this place of heaven on earth since it was reported that Mary, the Mother of God was appearing daily to six visionaries beginning June 24, 1981.

It was in the remote village in the former Yugoslavia that Brian discovered a true love of Jesus by means of repentance, conversion, miraculous healing and spectacular visible signs.

brian1

Brian K. Kravec

Following in the footsteps of pilgrims before him, Brian climbed Apparition Hill and Cross Mountain. He witnessed the spectacular miracle of the sun.

“Our Heavenly Mother anointed me on two occasions with the scent of fragrant roses – a most beautiful and aromatic sign of Her presence.” – Brian K. Kravec

While Brian and other pilgrims were praying the rosary with Fr. Jozo Zovko, o.f.m., the former pastor of St. James Church in Medjugorje, he was miraculously healed of a chronic seven year depression.

“I recall sobbing uncontrollably though, when looking to either side of me, it appeared as though no one could see me in this state nor were they aware of the miracle taking place in their midst.”  – Brian K. Kravec

Six years later, in the summer of 2012, Brian was invited to participate in a special conference call to discuss the possibility of coordinating a Medjugorje conference in northern California. For Brian, the blessing of such an endeavor became the perfect opportunity to say “thank you” to Jesus and Mary for his miraculous healing.

kravec_medjugorje_pass1The Miracles of Medjugorje Healing Conference came to fruition on March 16, 2013 and was attended by nearly 700 pilgrims gathered from three states at St. Patrick’s parish in Merced. Guest speakers included witnesses of remarkable grace, healing and conversion, Fr. Michael Lightner, John Watkins Jr.John Abbate, Michael Crotty, Christine Watkins and Gretchen Harris.

Thanks to a very generous benefactor, each person that registered and attended the conference received one drawing ticket for a chance to win a pilgrimage for two to Medjugorje valued at approximately $6000.00. Olivia Guerrero and her young son attended the conference and found themselves being introduced and applauded after joyfully waving their winning ticket in the air.

Today, we are pleased to share an interview with Olivia Guerrero, who shares how this life-changing pilgrimage played out, and the tremendous spiritual impact that the trip has had upon them.

Trip winner Olivia Guerrero and her son

Trip winner Olivia Guerrero and her son

Q: Please introduce yourself and your family to our readers.

Hello My name is Olivia Guerrero and I am blessed with three beautiful children and a loving husband. My husband Fernando and I have been married for 14 years. My eldest son is 12 hrs old, Emma is 10 and Angela 7 is my youngest child. I am a stay home mom who enjoys volunteering in my children’s class and taking care of my family and home.

Q: Olivia, congratulations on winning an amazing pilgrimage opportunity at the Medjugorje Healing Conference! Would you first please tell us about the Conference? What prompted you to attend and what did you experience there?

Fist I have to share with you how I found the Healing Conference flyer. I don’t know how it got there or where it came from but found it under the microwave! At first glance of the flyer, I felt great sadness because I thought I missed the event but then I looked closer and saw that I misread the date. This is going to be embarrassing to share (but I will anyway!) I started jumping up and down like a child going to an amusement park! I invited my oldest son, sisters, nieces, nephews, aunts, cousins, and friends. I was thrilled that they all said yes! We all went in a big group and sat together. The speakers at the healing conference gave amazing life changing testimonies. My son and I were deeply touched by Fr. Michael Lightner’s testimony on how he was called into the priesthood. He was funny and engaging as he described his experience in Medjugorje. We also heard healing testimonies from Christine Watkins and Michael Crotty.

The highlight of my day was adoration hour, as we listened to and prayed the Divine Mercy Chaplet. During this special time I felt chills and excitement to know that Our Lord was present in the Holy Eucharist. I was praying I thought to my self, “Wow! So many people here today,” and I wondered if God knew that I was there or if he thought about me (a silly thought because I knew the answer to that and YES he knew I was there). Then I thought how wonderful God is, because he is aware of each and everyone of us in this world!

Brian Kravec congratulates Olivia Guerrero upon learning that she has won a trip to Medjugorje

Brian Kravec congratulates Olivia Guerrero upon learning that she has won a trip to Medjugorje

Q: So, you were the big winner of the pilgrimage trip for two to Medjugorje! What did you first think when you were selected as the winner?

My son and I were holding our tickets and as the numbers were being read we were getting more and more excited until they called the last number and they were all identical to my ticket. I enjoyed watching my son’s excitement as the last number was called. We never expected to win the trip but got a big surprise from God.

As we were driving back home I felt like God was letting me know that He did think about me and noticed me even among so many people! My previous thoughts about whether he noticed me among so many people during adoration were answered. What are the chances that my number would be pulled among hundreds of raffle tickets in a rolling cage?!! I felt like it was a gift from God.

I believe that God wanted us to get to know His Mother Mary better and gave us the gift to go to Medjugorje. It’s a funny coincidence to me because I had just started the process of my consecration to Jesus through Mary by the help of a book written by St. Louis De Montfort. When I first started my consecration I wasn’t sure if it was a calling for me and it sounded like something that is done only by nuns and priests. Now I know that consecrating oneself to Jesus through Mary is not only for the religious but for any one that wants to get closer to Him and wants to do Gods will and is willing to put Him first before anything. I learned that Mary as our Mother knows what graces we need and is happy to intercede for all of us so that we can get to know her Son better.

Q: Tell us about your trip. When did you travel and who did you take with you?

I didn’t have to ask my son Alan if he wanted to go because he automatically included himself. I was ecstatic that he was interested in getting to know Our Lady and her Messages of love and peace.

As I was sharing with family about our trip to Medjugorje , my parents decided that they would also go. My 13 year old nephew Alejandro who also attended the healing Conference begged his parents to let him go with us and my sister finally gave in to him. So now we were a group of five going to Medjugorje! We decided to travel to Medjugorje during the Youth Festival in July 29 through August 8th.

Even though the trip from California to Medjugorje was long, it was worth every minute because in the end we knew it was going to be a great experience. My family and I enjoyed traveling on Austrian Airlines from Washington to Vienna the most because they provided good service and my son and nephew enjoyed the screen touch TV on the back of the seat. They watched the latest movies, listened to music and played unlimited video games and the 8 hour flight went by quickly.

Q: Please share some of the experiences you had on the pilgrimage.

When we first arrived to Medjugorje I automatically felt at home! Everyone was so warm and welcoming to us. Medjugorje is a beautiful little town with streets that run up and down a hill. The houses are rustic with decorative curvature iron bar balconies and with planters hanging off the windows.

We loved walking to church everyday through a 20 minute trail path. Along the dirt path many Croatian families set up tables and sell their hand made rosaries, bracelets, doilies and among so many other religious items. My heart would melt when I would buy items from them and then to be given a gift from them! Croatians are some of the most giving humble people I have ever met.

As we walked down the trail many other pilgrims were walking among us singing Ave Maria or praying the rosary in many different languages. I felt chills of excitement and hope to see so many young people with so much devotion for Jesus and Our Lady of Peace.

The evening festivities started with testimonies followed by the rosary then singing dancing and then we celebrated Mass and finally holy Adoration Hour which ended at 11:00 pm. Even though the day festivities were long, it seemed to fly by fast because we were enthralled in every moment.

I loved seeing more than sixty different counties waving their flags during the event! It’s amazing to see so many people (sixty thousand) from all over the world speaking different languages and yet sing and praising to one true God! I felt so much peace and love especially during adoration hour. I felt God’s presence as I shared my deepest thoughts. Before this I was able to confess with an American priest and I had the best confession ever in my life because this priest took his time with me, listened attentively for 30 minutes and even gave me book recommendations, saints for intercession, and a Miraculous Medal for me and my husband! He gave me so much good advice and all I could do was cry! He was so understanding. My parents’ son and nephew also went to confession and excitedly participated in all the events.

Olivia’s Medjugorje Photo Album

click each photo to view in full detail

Q: What are some of the treasures and memories that you will take away from this experience?

One of the most treasured memories I will take with me is when we climbed apparition and cross mountain as we prayed the 15 Stations of the Cross and reflected at the end of each station. One of the things my priest suggested I do during confession was to carry my own cross up that mountain to the foot of the cross and if God willing and sees fit we would provide for me and I did just that and can see the fruits of it in my life today! Now I remember that when ever I’m having problems or are in a difficult situation I accept my cross and know that God is helping me carry it. What ever problem I have I put it in Our Lady’s hands so that she can intercede for me. I learned that what ever pain I am experiencing at the moment I can offer it up for my sins, for the sins of others and or for the poor souls in purgatory. In doing this my pain is not in vain and I can accept the moment as is. Soon the pain goes away and I know God is with me at every moment.

Another treasured moment was being able to attend a special interview with Mirjana at her house. She is simple, humble, and down to earth. It was exciting to hear her testimony in person and being able to ask and hear questions.

Q: What would you say to encourage someone who has never traveled to Medjugorje?

As I come back from Medjugorje my life is definitely NOT the same. I came back with peace in my heart and with a new energy to make that change in my life and am determined to grow in my faith and prayer life with Our Lady’s intercession. I know that all of the blessings we received in Medugorje will spill over to my family and friends. My son and nephew had the time of their lives and say they will never forget this trip. My parents are planning to take another trip to Medjugorje in the near future and this time they say will travel to Rome and the Holy Land.

I will definitely go back to Medjugorje but this time with my whole family. I will take Our Lady’s messages of love seriously and am determined to live out her messages of love. If you are looking to get closer to Jesus, Medjugorje is the perfect place to renew your faith and or strengthen it. You can feel God’s presence in Medjugorje and the people who live there because their lives revolve around Jesus Christ. You get inspired when you see the thousands of pilgrims visibly devoted to our God through his Mother Mary. I can still hear and sing the song we sang every day during the Youth festival! I have traveled to many other beautiful places but can definitely say that Medjugorje is at the top of my list not only for it’s natural beauty but it’s effect it has had on my spirit. Experiencing deep healing within my soul and the feeling of true happiness and peace is worth more than gold!

Q: Are there any additional thoughts or comments you would like to share with our readers?

We would like to thank Trinity Pilgrimages for making this trip special and memorable to my family and me. Jim Benzow was the best guide and provided us with so many special experiences we will never forget. I would definitely recommend traveling with Trinity Pilgrimages. We traveled with a great group of pilgrims. We made many friends and learned so much from each other. We would also like to thank from the bottom of my hearts St. Patrick’s Parish in Merced for the trip to Medjugorje.

Copyright 2013 Brian K. Kravec and Lisa M. Hendey

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