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From Zachary to Apparition Hill: A Catholic Pilgrimage

Travel Column Submitted by Deana Meaux Murray

In 1981, The Blessed Virgin Mary appeared to six shepherd children in what was a small communist village of Medjugorje, and has been appearing and giving messages to the world through the visionaries since. Most of her messages urge for the conversion of unbelievers, to pray for peace, and tell the world that God exists.

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“It was such an honor to visit sites around the city that the Blessed Virgin Mary actually appeared,” said Deana Murray, who visited Medjugorje with Deborah Owen, Hubie Owen, and Kristi Ware from April 13-17, 2023.

“After a long hike up Apparition Hill, it was hard to wrap my head around the fact that I was standing in the exact spot the Virgin Mary called those shepherd children to her exclaiming a message of love of her son for the whole world. I grabbed a handful of rocks to take home with me because those rocks were there when she appeared! But what most exceeded my expectations was the fact that people are fighting their way into St. James Church to attend mass!”

Folks attending mass outside because there wasn’t enough seating room inside.

St. James Church offers several masses a day in various languages. So much so,that the parish has an overflow area outside where people can sit and watch on a tv screen.

“There is also an open arena outside of the church that sits 9,000 during a summer youth fest, and I hear that’s also busting at the seams,” said Deana. “How wonderful would it be if our churches needed to be built larger for the congregation.”

In 2019 Deborah Owen, owner of Veranda Horizons, a travel agency, planned a Catholic pilgrimage for she and Deana to Lourdes and Fatima.

Lourdes, France is where the Blessed Virgin Mary appeared to Saint Bernadette Soubirous, a fourteen-year-old peasant girl in 1858. And in 1917, the Virgin Mary appeared to three shepherd children near the village of Fátima, Portugal.

“Shortly after our planning to these two areas, the pandemic hit, so we had to prolong our trip. We decided to visit another apparition site in Medjugorje instead,” explains Deana. “Medjugorje is a place for inner reflection and to become closer to God. However, the beautiful country of Croatia is a few hours away.

Deborah Owen and Deana Meaux Murray on top of Apparition Hill in front of the statue of the Virgin Mary in the spot she appeared to the children in 1981
Deborah Owen and Deana Meaux Murray on top of Apparition Hill in front of the statue of the Virgin Mary in the spot she appeared to the children in 1981.

Deana’s advice for those planning a Catholic pilgrimage: An organized tour is the best! Our nice modern hotel, breakfast, dinner and personal tours were all included, which made this experience more pleasurable. You won’t get the entire experience and the history of the area doing it alone.

Interested in sharing stories of your travels with Porch & Parish readers? Email editor@porchandparish.com.

Recognize Deana? Porch & Parish welcomed her to the podcast booth in 2022 after the publication of her first children’s book “I Just Want to be Me Says Achoo the Bee!” Read more about Deana and her book here.

Listen the the podcast episode here or search Porch & Parish wherever you listen to music and podcasts.

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