Sunday, July 26, 2015



The so-called apparitions at Medjugorje are not now, have never, and will never be my thing.

If they're your thing, fine.

But they're not my thing. And until further notice, they're not the Church's thing.

In fact, as of October 23, 2013, the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith directed that bishops be advised that “clerics and the faithful are not permitted to participate in meetings, conferences or public celebrations during which the credibility of such ‘apparitions’ would be taken for granted.”

In other words, whatever our stance on the "apparitions," until further notice we're not to participate in public conferences sponsored by those who assume they're true.

Enter a woman from Scottsdale, Arizona, who a year or so ago invited me to speak at a "Marian Conference" that's to take place August 21-23, 2015.

"We'd love to hear your conversion story," she said. And I love to tell it. So I said I could come Friday evening, speak as early as possible Saturday, and leave after my book signing.

So far so good. I have tons to say about Mary: fierce, tender, courageous, long-suffering, noble.

As the time drew near, however, I wanted to make sure the info I'd put down on my Events page was accurate. So last month I googled "marian conference scottsdale" and what came up, to my horror, were two main sites: and

The website for the Arizona Peace Center, the organization claiming to back the "Marian Conference," has a whole tab for Medjugorje. Here's a representative paragraph:

"Gospa has appeared every day since June 24, 1981. The visionaries say she appears to be 18 to 19 years old, is beautiful beyond description; she has dark hair, blue eyes and rosy cheeks. She always comes with twelve stars around her head and hovers above the ground. Sometimes she is accompanied by angels."

In other words, however the conference is styled, the apparitions at Medjugorje will be 1) prominently featured and 2) taken as true.

I told my contact I was troubled that the conference had been represented as a Marian conference when there is no Marian conference site, but rather direct links to sites with the word Medugorje in the address sites that are aimed at and focused exclusively upon those who subscribe to the truth of the apparitions at Medjugorje.

She assured me that the conference was in full compliance with the Church and that the local bishop was giving the introduction. She was professional, courteous and responsive.

Nonetheless, I returned my 50% deposit. I removed the conference from my Events page. I told her, "I do not want my name associated with the conference in any way" and asked her to remove my name from all promotional materials.

Unfortunately, in some instances it was too late to do so.

Either way, the whole incident makes me uneasy. I'd hate to think even one person was encouraged to go to the conference with the expectation of hearing me speak. I'd hate to think someone was encouraged to disobedience, and to listen to a talks based on apparitions that may or may not eventually be accepted as authentic by the Vatican on the strength of my name.

So just for the record, I am not connected with, nor will I speak at, nor do I support the "Marian Conference" to take place August 21-23rd in Scottsdale, Arizona.

There are millions of useful, interesting, thought-provoking things to reflect upon vis-a-vis Mary. Why, out of all those, would we focus upon a facet on which the jury of the Church is still out?

Why, bathed in the light of truth, would we ever have to disguise, hide, double-speak, dissemble, masquerade?

More to the point, why would I go halfway across the world to see an "apparition" when, right outside my door, are a mockingbird, a palm tree, a cloud?



  1. Props to you for acting in integrity, Heather. What a swampy situation.

    From Guardini's The Lord:

    "And literally, every step the Lord took towards fulfillment of his godly destiny Mary followed -- in bare faith. Comprehension came only with Pentecost. Then she understood all that she had so long reverently stored in her heart. It is this heroic faith which places her irrevocably at Christ's side in the work of redemption, not the miracles of Marianic legend. Legend may delight us with deep and gracious images, but we cannot build our lives on imagery, least of all when the very foundations of our belief begin to totter." (Italics mine)

  2. Not about medjugorje, but I really like your final comment about the trees and birds outside your door. I feel that way so often. Look around at the amazing manifestations right before you; don't necessarily obsess with traveling to see wonders. (Usually I am thinking of such things as national parks as opposed to the wooded trail in my own neighborhood.)

  3. Your obedience is such a blessing. It's on top of God's list of "Things My Children Need to Do."

    Beautifully written. Love the new cover of "Stripped." I'm guessing that's not your hair!

  4. I went to Medjugorje awhile back and I have to say I loved it because it was so beautiful and so were the people. I went with friends who had invited me and since I love to travel and had FREE plane tickets I thought why not?

    But I agree that staying true to the Church is thee most important objective here. I didn't know then and wasn't so into my faith.

    Many good fruits came out of that trip for me. One was learning about Communita Cennacolo.

    All in all a beautiful place in the world wether it's true or not I loved the place and honestly could care either way.

  5. I hear you but I keep thinking that maybe you should have gone anyway.

  6. The Church doesn't object to private pilgrimages to Medjugorje and I certainly don't object on principle (nor does the Church, to its everlasting credit) to miracles, visions, apparitions. My question about miracles (the word comes from the root word "to see") though is always, To what end? How has the "miracle" transformed the way we act and think toward others; how we see and move through the world? To me any miracle worth its salt would lead us to become MORE humble, grateful, obedient, not less.

    Otherwise, a "miracle" becomes a mere oddity; and having experienced/seen one becomes somehow about us, not about something greater than us...The greatest miracle of my existence is that 28 years ago the obsession to drink was removed, through absolutely no virtue or merit of my own. From that, the entire point of reference of my existence shifted--and as I stay sober and try to help another alcoholic stay sober, continues to evolve and grow. So that's the kind of miracle that interests me.

    But the operative point here is not my personal preferences/natural attraction toward a certain kind fo "miracle."It's that the Church has forbidden us from holding or participating in conferences that take the apparitions as Medjugorje as true. And it's that some people in Scottsdale are holding a Medjugorge conference, which is first, a form of disobedience, and holding it out as a Marian conference, which is second, a lie.

    As such, I hope that I'd refrain from participating in it no matter what my feelings/beliefs about the "apparitions."

  7. Hmm, I haven't noticed that our bishop [Olmsted] here is warning us against this so-called Marian conference. I'll have to dig a little deeper. Thanks for rebutting me. I appreciate it. I wouldn't have gone myself, anyway.


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