I have heard many beautiful stories of Mary coming to a person and pulling them out of darkness in an instant, with her overwhelming embrace of love, and this is perhaps the most immediate conversion I’ve encountered. And, of all ways, it happened through the Internet!
The visionary Ivan and Cardinal Schönborn
Coming Home through the Intercession of Our Lady
Scurrying down the steps, I frantically found myself in search of my gym shoes, which I’d misplaced the night before. I was due at the gym in five minutes to meet friends for a Thursday evening workout. Yes, once again, I was running late. At that exact moment, my phone rang. It was my mother: “Did you get a chance to watch Ivan’s and Marija’s apparition yet?” she asked. Responding impatiently, I replied “No mom, I’m already late as it is. I’ll watch it when I get back.” Sitting down to tie my shoes, I suddenly stopped. Feeling drawn towards the webcast of the Medjugorje visionaries’ apparition, and guilty for being reluctant with my mother, I gave in. It was the evening of September the 23rd, 2010, and my life, as I knew it, was never going to be the same.
My senior picture at Bryan High School in Omaha, Nebraska, back in my "cool" days
Growing up I attended St. Bernadette Catholic grade school. Although tuition was expensive, the sacrifice my parents endured was worth the Catholic-based education my siblings and I received. Their sacrifice instilled in me a foundation I would newly discover later in life. When I was in grade school, we attended weekly Mass, including Sundays. After my eighth grade year, I decided to enroll in a public high school, solely for athletic reasons, and found myself going to Mass on Sundays only. And to be honest, the only reason I went is because my parents forced me and my twin brother to go; if I’d had it my way, I would have slept in until noon.
Life at this time was going as planned. I graduated from high school and entered my first year of college. College was exciting: new friends, new environment, living away from my parents. However, with this newly acquired freedom came the element of choice. I suddenly found myself choosing not to attend Mass. At this stage in my life, I became distant from God and the Catholic Church. I obtained a job working security at a downtown club and started traveling down a dead-end path. I found myself going home with various women whom I met at work. On several occasions, I ended up at strip-clubs until the early morning hours. With after-hour parties taking place weekly, there wasn’t a weekend when I was in bed sleeping before the sun came up. I would drive home intoxicated, past the church I used to attend, observing families arriving at morning Sunday Mass. The devil had me right where he wanted me, and I was only adding fuel to his fire. My life continued on this path for the next several years.
One evening my mother invited me to attend a speaking engagement at our local parish, where a man, having returned from the pilgrimage site of Medjugorje, gave a testimony of his recent trip to the small town located near Bosnia and Herzegovina. I reluctantly went, only because it would make my mother happy. As I sat there that night, I heard the man talk about a place where six visionaries were experiencing apparitions of Our Blessed Mother. I had no clue about Medjugorje, and to be completely honest, I didn’t care and wasn’t really paying attention. I couldn’t wait to get out of there.
Myself and one of God's greatest gifts to me, my twin brother. We were born on December the 8th, the feast day of Our Lady's Immaculate Conception
Time passed until last September, 2010. As a gift, my mother gave me a book that left a great impression on me. The book was titled, Queen of the Cosmos: Interviews with the Visionaries of Medjugorje. I took the book to work where it sat on my desk for several weeks, collecting dust. One day while sitting at work, with an hour or so to spare, and nothing else to do, I did something that would forever impact the depths of my soul. I opened the book and began to read. In this book, the visionaries shared how they saw the Virgin Mary, as I’ve never heard Her described, comparing Her beauty to beyond our comprehension. As I continued to read, I began to fall completely in love with the lady whom they were describing. After reading the book in just two days, I knew nothing but understood everything. This young, pure, loving, vibrant woman was my Mother, and I was Her son. I developed a passion and curiosity for the apparitions of Our Lady of Medjugorje, and this marked the beginning of what I call my miraculous conversion through her intercession.
A week after I’d read the Queen of the Cosmos book, my mother informed me that an apparition would be streamed live through the internet to various parts of the globe; and not only this, but according to the visionary Ivan, special graces would be granted to those witnessing the broadcast of the apparition, no matter where they were located. Although I felt somewhat reluctant to take time to observe the apparition, I was extremely excited to see the visionaries Ivan and Marija communicate with the Mother of God.
The visionaries Marija and Ivan at St. Stephen's Cathedral in Vienna for their September 23, 2010 apparition
The date was September 23, 2010, at St. Stephen’s Cathedral in Vienna. As I sat witnessing this live event on the Internet, I felt someone surround me with her presence, as though she had entered the room. I quickly looked up, expecting to see someone standing there. I didn’t see anyone, yet the person’s presence was becoming more and more intense. I describe it as if someone were standing with their face inches from yours, but you’re unable see anyone. At that moment, I felt a love that was not of this world, a love more pure that anything I’ve ever experienced. I was so overcome with the love radiating from this person in the room with me that I began to cry. In my humanity, I couldn’t comprehend the love that was being bestowed upon me. I could feel it radiating off of me. I compare it to someone running a high fever, being able to physically feel the heat emanating from his body. And I knew exactly who was in the room with me. I yelled out, “Mary!” “Mary!” “Mary!” while crying uncontrollably. My heart expanded like fire, “Mary!” I exclaimed. “Mary, I love you!” “I love you, Mary!” This love became so intense I put my hands over my face and continued crying. I asked aloud, “What’s happening to me?” “What is happening?” and cried, “Mary!” “Mary!” “Mary!” in between sobs. Finally, unable to stop my tears, I yelled out, “Show me yourself!” “Let me see you, Mary!” “Mary, please. I know you’re here. Please allow me to see you with my eyes!”
That night of September 23rd, 2010, I was twenty-four years old, still very young, and with my whole life ahead of me. However, after feeling the love of Mary, I was truly ready to die. I never saw her with my eyes, but I felt her with my whole being. Knowing that I could never receive that same love from anything or anyone here on Earth, I was ready to leave this world and go with Our Blessed Mother. It was a love so indescribable that at one point I cried out, “Mary, I’m ready to go. Mother, if you want to, take me with you, I’m ready.” And I meant this from the depths of my soul.
Growing up Catholic, I had received the Sacrament of Reconciliation many times, confessing my sins, not out of sorrow, but due to the fear of hell. As I sat wondering if my tears were ever going to cease, I realized that for the first time in my life, I was truly sorry for everything I’d done. I mean I was truly sorry from the bottom of my heart. I managed to pick my head up, and with tears streaming down my face, for the first time, I looked to God and said, “I’m sorry! I’m so sorry!” And I truly meant it.
After experiencing this miraculous conversion, I did one of the scariest things I’ve ever done in my life. I gave my yes to God; I gave Him complete control over my life. I figured I’d messed things up enough; and by turning the reigns over to Him, I couldn’t go wrong. Ever since giving God and Mother Mary my yes, I’ve been blessed with many gifts. Six months after my conversion, my mother and I flew to Sacramento, California, for a Medjugorje conference. To our surprise, the Medjugorje visionary, Marija, was present there. If you recall, Marija was one of the visionaries I observed at St. Stephen’s Cathedral in Vienna. At the conference, I was able to meet and receive a hug from Marija: an incredible gift from God and Our Blessed Mother!
My Mother and I at the 2011 Sacramento Marian Conference. Here I was able to meet and be present with Medjugorje visionary, Marija Pavlovic, during her apparition with Our Blessed Mother.
My life hasn’t been the same since the evening of September 23, 2010. I have taken Our Lady’s messages to heart: fasting, praying the rosary, receiving the sacraments. I also recently joined a Bible study on campus. I have to laugh because growing up I was always extremely close to my mother. God saw that I was slipping away from Him and knew exactly what to do. He sent His Mother to bring Me back to Him. There isn’t a day or hour that goes by when I’m not thinking about Mary. I love her so much, and I’m so happy to have her as my Mother. I recently heard a man quote a wonderful phrase that I knew directly related to me. He said, “When my time comes. When I die and leave this world and am standing in front of Jesus at Heaven’s gates, Jesus will look at me and say, “Oh yes, My Mother has told Me all about you.” I’m so thankful for Our Lady’s intercession. She saved my life and healed my soul, bringing me closer to Her Son. I can’t help but feel excited, as I sit in anticipation, wondering where this new found love will lead me next.
Adam Holubar (Omaha, NE), edited by Christine Watkins