Pilgrimage exceeded my expectations

Pilgrimage exceeded my expectations
Niamh Harley describes her experience of Medjugorje



At the start of last year, I was picked to go on a pilgrimage to Medjugorje as part of a school group. We decided to go as we had heard very good reports. Medjugorje was described as ”a place like nowhere else”; not sure what this meant, but we went to Medjugorje with very high hopes, yet worrying that it would not meet our expectations.

Medjugorje was everything people had said and more. A unique experience that we will remember forever; the places we saw, the people we met, and the feeling of peace that we experienced throughout the week.

It was such a fun-filled week. During the week we attended daily Mass, confessions, adoration, talks, prayed rosaries, listened to the visionaries, climbed Apparition Hill and Cross Mountain, visited homes and addiction centres, had sing-songs, and enjoyed free time with our group — who were all strangers to one another at the start of the week, yet so close at the end.

We also learned about the story of Our Lady in Medjugorje, which was told by our guides.

While in Medjugorje, we also had a chance to experience how people live, we saw lives so different to ours.

People with very little or nothing, building homes from scraps, and desperately trying to get food. Although it was a sad experience it made us aware of how lucky we actually are, and gave us a sense of appreciation.

Medjugorje made us realise how prayer in our lives is so important, and although we did pray before we went, we didn’t fully understand how important prayer actually was. We learned that no matter how busy our lives are, we should always make time for prayer.

I enjoyed the entire week of Medjugorje, the people, the places and the activities. But for me the highlight would have been climbing Apparition Hill. It was a tough climb but very much worth it; no matter how tough the climb, there was always someone there ready to help you along.

Apart from the enjoyment of climbing the mountain along with our group, I enjoyed just sitting at the top of the mountain in peace and silence leaving all my worries behind. The top of Apparition Hill for me is a place to remember forever.

It has changed my way of life, as prayer is now very important, especially the rosary, and I have learned not to take what I have for granted. I would tell anyone and everyone to go to Medjugorje, young or old, little faith or lots of faith; your faith will grow as a result of visiting Medjugorje.

There is a lot to be gained through going on pilgrimage; I know for me, the memories will always last forever.

Our tour guide David Park said: ”Pray hard and laugh hard”, both of which we all definitely did. It was a unique and an unforgettable experience that cannot be explained by words.

Niamh Harley is a student in Holy Trinity College, Cookstown, Co. Tyrone.