Mons. José Luís Azcona Hermoso, O.A.R., a religious of the Augustinian Order, born in Spain in Pamplona, bishop of the diocese Marajó, which is a mission area in Brazil, was on a private pilgrimage in Medjugorje for the Feast of the Nativity of Mary.
He was ordained a priest in Rome, where he obtained a doctorate in moral theology. He was the provincial of the Augustinian Order twice, and since 1987, he is a bishop in the Amazon area. The diocese-prelature Marajó is as large as Portugal. There are about 260.000 inhabitants, among whom about 230.000 Catholics, but only about 15 priests.
To the question about when and how he heard about Medjugorje, Mons. Azcona answered: “I know people from the north of Brazil, professors and industrials, who were atheists, and who were converted in Medjugorje some 15 years ago. Now, they go every day for Mass and are very active in the Church. There is a big difference between pilgrims who come here, and those who go somewhere else. The experience of Medjugorje is an experience of conversion. About other places, pilgrims speak in a different way. Here, lives are changed. I see the authenticity of the conversions of Medjugorje. The reason for my coming, my hope and the grace that I desire to receive here, is my personal conversion, the deepening of my personal conversion.”
About his attitude towards Medjugorje, towards Our Lady’s messages, Mons. Azcona said: “I think that the first message is conversion. Everything is proceeding from the conversion: the transformation of the society, peace with God, with out neighbour, with the nature, with the environment. The eternal life. Jesus is coming. Let us prepare ourselves! As a priest, as a bishop, the successor of the apostles, I wish to say: my dear Catholics, grab with force and joy the cross of Jesus, because there is salvation and joy. This is what Our Lady is asking from all of us. The Council is saying that true devotion to Our Lady leads to Jesus, to Jesus crucified, and so to the love of the father.”