TESTIMONIES
Photos from Past Pilgrimages
My Medjugorje Journey

I never expected to be a pilgrim.  I have a strong faith in God, but I have always kept it fairly private, feeling a
little embarrassed to be considered too Ďreligiousí amongst my friends and family many of whom are very
secular. For a long time I had felt an ever stronger calling to open my heart to God and deepen my faith,
however it was a call that I consciously resisted.  Making a decision to leave my four young children at home
with my husband to go on a pilgrimage with 26 strangers was quite a radical one for me personally, and I
found it a very difficult and almost tortuous one to make.

For me it was much more than just saying "YES, I will go on a pilgrimage to Medjugorje". I was really saying
"YES, I will make my faith more public", "YES, I will be prepared to stand out from the crowd", "YES, I will begin
a new life of putting God in the first place where He belongs", and begin to really accept the call from God and
Our Lady to lead me and take control of my life.

Arriving in Medjugorje I discovered a beautiful new upside down world where God was the number one
priority and He was adored and honoured. Faith was the first topic of conversation. Mary and Jesus were
words commonly on peopleís lips, and you were more out of place if you were walking around without your
rosary beads, than if you had them hanging around your neck. Instead of feeling always the pressure to
conform and be molded to the secular and materialistic world, I was in a place and amongst people where I
was free to be myself and express my faith in God and this gave me a deep sense of relief and joy.

I loved having hours to meditate and to pray.  I loved going to beautiful masses, with the church full of people
who really wanted to be there, who sang and prayed and responded with joy and pride in their faith.  I loved
being surrounded with people who loved God, and wanted to talk about Him and their experience of His love,
and I had many wonderful and inspiring spiritual conversations with new friends in my group.

I had wondered how I would feel if I arrived in Medjugorje and felt somehow that the apparitions werenít real
and Our Lady was not here at all. I felt my whole trip would have been a complete waste of time.  Six days in
Medjugorje though, led me on an unexpected spiritual journey to a destination that surprised me.  I had
hoped and expected to feel or perhaps even see, signs of Gods love for me. I had presumed that in
Medjugorje of all places I would be flooded with a special sense of heavenís love and comfort. But nothing of
that sort happened to me, and at first I became discouraged as everything I craved to feel continued to elude
me. But it was in those few days of feeling apart from God, at times almost desolate, that my own personal
little miracle occurred.

I finally realised what FAITH really means.  It means believing in God without seeing Him, sometimes without
even really feeling Him. I realised that faith would be easy if we were constantly nourished with lovely feelings
of comfort and that what God was asking of me for now, was to love Him through faith and not feeling. It was
only after this revelation hit me, that I finally felt the pure and intense peace that so many feel in Medjugorje.
I understood Maryís constant urgings to us not to focus on the apparitions or the visionaries, or supernatural
signs but to listen instead to what she is saying, which is to pray, open our hearts and allow her to change
us.

Since coming home from my pilgrimage I have endeavored to keep saying yes to God. I said yes when asked
to speak to classes at the local Catholic secondary school about my pilgrimage.  I will say yes to God if He
wants me to start up or join a prayer group, and Iím sure He will have other challenging plans for me as well
but I believe with his help I can conquer anything.  The easiest and yet the most difficult part is that very first
YES!

Angela De Grandi
Melbourne, Australia
A Wonderful Pilgrimage

Dear Kathryn,

I would like to thank you for organising that wonderful trip to Fatima in May this year. My 79 year old mum
loved it and I also really enjoyed seeing all those places.

As you know it takes a while to settle down again after seeing and experiencing such holy and spiritual
places.

My favourites were Montserrat , Fatima and Loyola. Fatima was lovely. Fancy having mother's day on Our Lady
of Fatima's feast day not many Aussies get to do that. I had never heard of St James story and that town
Santiago de Compostela was very interesting.
We were very well looked after by the bus hosts and all the accommodation people and I would highly
recommend your agency to others wanting an unforgettable experience of a lifetime.

Take care, Sincerely yours
Anne McGown and Mary McGown
A Big Thank You

I would like to say a big THANKYOU for your apostolate to the Sacred Heart of Jesus and the Immaculate
Heart of Mary, it has made it possible for many people to travel to these Holy places which would otherwise
be quite difficult and I shall pray that your good work may continue to grow even stronger.

Love from,

Clydella
Ten Out Of Ten Trip

Dear Kathryn,

We had the most wonderful time the whole journey, especially the reinforcement of our faith was amazing.  All
the activities we did and participated in led us closer to Our Lady and through her to Jesus.

Our guide was very special I'm not going to try and spell her name but I will call her sneezie, as Pip had a
habit of doing.  And what about Fr. Gerard Ryan?  He was a true spiritual adviser.  He worked tirelessly to
make sure we were all in the right place, as did yourself.

So sorry we missed you at Dubai.  Sibenik and Zadar were lovely.  Just the whole atmosphere of all the
people practising their faith was so special and uplifting!  We as a family rate the trip as a ten out of ten!

The calendar and DVD are so special. We all hope God continues to bless you and your pilgrimages.

Kevin, Pride, Pippa and Tammy

PS: the scenery was amazing.
A True Pilgrimage Apostolate

I am a four-time pilgrim with OíConnor Travel World pilgrimages. Pilgrims leave home airports from all
over Australia, New Zealand and Indonesia to join together at a major airport hub before proceeding
onwards as a pilgrim group. Each pilgrimage is planned to include the major sites that pilgrims would
typically like to visit and each of those trips have extra visits to lesser known places of worship and
interest - but always of surprising beauty or relevance to the major locations. This for me has made
them endlessly interesting, especially when Holy Mass was celebrated in these extra places in extremely
beautiful chapels or crypts making these daily events one of the highlights of each trip.

Kathrynís knowledge and experience of how the travel world operates has resulted in her very excellent
choice of local tour guides, local tour agencies and people on the ground, and her capacity to negotiate
very good prices for air fares. Her local tour guides have extensive knowledge of history and culturally
relevant facts which totally enriches the pilgrimsí overall experience of the places visited.

Accommodation ranges from better than average to sometimes staggeringly fabulous! Meals in the
hotels are always great and different food requirements are catered for. Sometimes the location
activities require walking which might be too much for anyone with some physical difficulties, but these
people are considered and options are always given so that everyone has a full and wonderful
pilgrimage.

Tour groups have a carefully chosen coordinator which means any eventuality which can arise while
travelling is swiftly and discreetly dealt with. Chaplains are appointed to spiritually accompany the
pilgrims with daily Mass, Reconciliation, etc. The Rosary, Divine Mercy Chaplet and other prayers are
prayed as a group, often in the bus while moving from one location to the next.

These are pilgrimages - not shopping trips. If you wish to visit traditional places of importance in the
Catholic church history and come home enriched and enlivened in your Faith then you should book with
Kathryn.

Mary Syme
Inc. Pilgrimages Australia & NZ
SPIRITUAL JOURNEYS, NOT TOURS
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