I was in a pretty rough time in my life in the 1990’s…my husband had left me and money was scarce. I heard that a woman from Portland, Oregon was organizing a pilgrimage to Medjugorje. The cost was $1200 per person. That is the exact amount I had in my checking account. Well, I thought to myself I have nothing to lose, so I wrote out my check and sent it to her.
A few days later I regretted what I had done for now I had no money left to live on. I called the woman in Portland to see if I could get my money back. She truly felt I was called to go on the pilgrimage, and said to me, “No, you have to go. Don’t worry about the money. You need to go.” So after talking with her I decided to go. I still had very little money to live on and realized that I did not even have extra cash to bring with me on the trip to pay for meals. By the grace of God, a friend gave me $20 so that is what I took with me. As it turned out I did not need to use the money for food, so I bought a statue from Medjugorje with it.
I had arrived to Medjugorje and that evening between 4 – 5 p.m. I headed to the church of St. James. I could see all of the confessionals and there were hundreds of people waiting in line – about 20 – 25 people waiting in each line. I thought to myself, I should to go to confession, but the lines were very long and I could not decide if I wanted to wait that long.
I was standing by the church entrance. Suddenly a man in a brown Franciscan robe with his hood up walked up to me took me by the elbow and started to walk me to the confessional. He asked me, “Would you like me to hear your confession?” He led me to an empty confessional. I could not believe my luck. I was surprised that the crowd of pilgrims from the long lines waiting for confession did not follow us so that their wait time would be shortened.
The confession was simply beautiful. There was a screen between us and I could see the priest as his hood was now down. My confession took about 45 minutes. I told him about how wounded I felt and about the divorce. I told him about my life and my family. I was doubting myself as a good human being. I unloaded my heart to him. Each time he would answer with a beautiful comment like, “You are doing good. Keep it up”. He was very encouraging to me. He was very kind and so compassionate. He kept assuring me that I was a good person and very loved by God.
After I received absolution, I stood up and exited the confessional. There was no one in our line at this confessional. I saw that there was still a very long line of pilgrims waiting in line for the other confessionals. I thought to myself that this was very odd. I waited, but the priest who heard my confession never came out.
I walked back to the church. By this time it was getting dark. A young man handed me a prayer card. As I looked at the prayer card, I realized that it was a picture of the priest who had just heard my confession and given me absolution. It was Padre Pio’s picture on this prayer card.
I have truly been adopted by St. Padre Pio as his spiritual daughter and I will stand outside the gates of Heaven with him until every single spiritual child of St. Padre Pio’s has entered the gates of Heaven. And I'm going to the last place in purgatory and St. Padre Pio and I will work together to get all the suffering souls to heaven and in the end we will shut the door and turn out the lights.