Earlier this month I had the privilege to travel with Bishop Louis F Kihneman, for his Official Diocesan Pilgrimage to Medjugorje and Croatia. It was an especially important event as it is one of the first diocesan sponsored pilgrimages from the United States to the Shrine of Our Lady Queen of Peace since it was approved to do so by the Vatican in May, 2019.
This spiritual pilgrimage began on the night of September 29, when Fr. Mike Austin invited Bishop Kihneman and the 40 faithful pilgrims to Holy Family Catholic Church in Pass Christian, MS to hear any updated information on testing requirements needed to travel, and to pray for our pilgrimage and begin our Novena to the Queen of Peace, so that the last day of the Novena would coincide with the very day we arrived at Our Lady’s Shrine, October 7, the Feast of the Holy Rosary!
After a long transatlantic flight, a sumptuous welcome dinner and a good night’s sleep, our first Mass in Croatia was celebrated by Bishop Kihneman in the beautiful Church of St. Blaise, the Patron Saint of Dubrovnik. After Mass he and Fr. Mike Austin, and Fr. Mike Snyder, blessed the throats of all the travelers, and Miro, the local guide, recounted the history of Dubrovnik and the stories of how St. Blaise became it’s protector and patron. After a brief tour and time to explore this magnificent medieval walled city we proceeded on to Medjugorje. We arrived late the first evening, and were graciously greeted in the lobby of the Magnificat Center by the visionary Marija Pavlovic-Lunetti. Over the course of the next 5 days, she would visit with the group, invite us into her private chapel for Mass, and even invite us to be present during her apparitions with Our Blessed Mother. During her apparitions, Marija would always recommend all of our intentions and prayers to Mother Mary, and each time, Our Lady would bless everyone present with her “Special Blessing.” Every morning Bishop Kihneman would lead the group
in the Rosary before breakfast and each evening we would pray together with other pilgrims from Croatia, Spain, Italy and Latin America in our respective languages as we awaited the arrival of Our Lady.
Despite some inclement weather, most of the group was able to climb Apparition Hill where Our Lady First Appeared 40 years ago in June 1981, and visit the Blue Cross, a place where many visionaries, prayer groups and pilgrims often pray, and where visionary Mirjana would often have her apparition of the
Blessed Mother on the 2nd day of every month, until March 2020. On the day we were to climb Cross Mountain and make the Way of the Cross, we gathered in the morning and drew wooden crosses from a box, and upon each cross was written the name of a fellow pilgrim, for whom we were asked to pray during the day, and as we made our way of the cross.
The Bishop and his brave priests and deacons lead those pilgrims who were abled, up the mountain, praying for healing and everyone’s intentions along the way, and anointing everyone with Padre Pio and St. Michael’s oil at the top. For those who were not be able to make the climb, I brought them to the statue of the Risen Christ in the field behind St. James Church, where we prayed all the stations as a group. During the course of the day, I came to know the lady for whom I had been praying, and just some of the many burdens
and crosses she had to bear. I prayed to Our Lady to please give her strength and to intercede with Our Lord to give her His Peace. Later that evening we shared our experiences and revealed who we were
praying for that day. It was a very moving and emotional evening. Having been to Medjugorje many times, this was one of the most powerful, healing experiences I have ever encountered. Many tears were shed, and I know many prayers were heard, and answered. It is during moments like this that you realize that you are called to be on that very pilgrimage, and that you were meant to meet, pray and share with the others in this divinely chosen group. You realize that by sharing your intentions and burdens, you may be helping others in the group to grow in faith and heal. We are all brothers and sisters in Christ, here to help each other realize our salvation and share in eternal life together with Our Lord.
Our pilgrimage included many other special moments including being able to hear and witness the power of faith in testimony given by the young men at Cenacolo, a place of healing, where prayer and loving
service has become a source of hope and resurrection for young people lost in the world of darkness, who are sad, marginalized, desperate, drugged. We had Mass and prayed for healing at the Church of Divine Mercy in Sumanci, we celebrated Mass at the Magnificent Shrine of Our Lady of Sinj and we were able to pray as a Universal Church at the International Mass each evening at St. James Church with the local parishioners and pilgrims from around the world.
I believe there are special gifts Our Lady has for each one of us that answer her call. But I also know that she has given us a “Special Blessing” that is meant to be shared with others. This Special Blessing given by Our Lady in Medjugorje,
is an incredible gift and powerful aid for conversions. Our Lady said this about the Special Blessing: The more belief you have in it, the greater the power of the blessing.
In this time of grace, God is giving special graces to Our Lady to give to Her apostles to help in the salvation of souls. Our Lady desires the Special Blessing to be spread.
She said December 25, 1988 – “…Today I give you my Special Blessing. Bring it to all creation, so that all creation will know peace…”
Many may have already made the journey and received this Special Blessing in person, but for those who have not, or cannot, today I would like to share Our lady’s Special Blessing with all of you.
To Jesus, through Mary,
James “Jimmy” Hyland