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“They think that they can do it without directing their thoughts to the Heavenly Father, who illuminates – to my Son, who is always with you, anew in the Eucharist and who desires to listen to you” – Our Lady Queen of Peace’s Message to the visionary Mirijana, 2nd August 2018

This year, I travelled to Medjugorje on pilgrimage for an annual youth festival, with a group of my closest friends and other young people from all over the UK. Medjugorje, a small town in Bosnia and Herzegovina, was the home of six children, to whom the Queen of Peace is reported to have appeared to since 1981. After spending many beautiful summers in Lourdes with Lancaster Diocese, I had high expectations from Our Lady for this trip.

My relationship with God began with a prayer I made in the grotto in Lourdes. There, I was filled with a peace that I had hoped to find again as I began my pilgrimage in Medjugorje. But, our God is a God of the unexpected, and peace was not the principle gift that I was to receive in this little town. Despite the reverence that encircles Medjugorje, this place felt different. I felt that Our Lady was working here now, and her message was urgent. Whilst in Lourdes as a 16-year-old girl, God had told me, ‘its all going to be ok’, here I could hear him telling me ‘perhaps it won’t always feel okay, but what does that matter? I am with you anyway.’ It was once I accepted the message of this pilgrimage, that I allowed God to work his wonders in me that week.

Whether it was dancing to the praise-music of the festival, the Croatian woman that hugged each of us as she said “peace be with you” or watching the sunrise in the middle of Mass, you could feel the joy of the Holy Spirit working throughout this town; a joy that has lasted long after I stepped off that return flight into rainy Leeds. As my friends and I spoke of this pilgrimage, we knew that this joy had been kindled throughout the group and couldn’t just be kept amongst us. It felt impossible to leave Medjugorje without feeling as though something needed to be done. Daily, the visionaries share a new message from Our Lady, to tell us that something in our lives needs to change. If we only listen to her message, a message of such powerful peace, then this change can become fully alive in the world.