During the year 2008, Fr. Juan-Carlos LISA spent ten months in Medjugorje. Shortly before going back to Argentina, he gave his testimony for Radio MIR Medjugorje and for Glasnik mira.
The only son
I am an only son. My father died in 1978, when I was still a child. My parents were married in 1962, I was born in 1970, and my mother never became pregnant either before or after me. I always say that God wanted a priest, and this is why he opened her womb… When I told her that I wanted to be a priest, she asked me if I was really convinced that this was the will of God. If it was, she was ready to sacrifice and to offer to God her desire to become a grandmother…
I also visited other Marian shrines. I was in Fatima in 2000, when Pope John Paul II beatified the visionaries. I was in Guadeloupe – the shrine of the entire America. Both shrines are places of prayer, but I would say that prayer is more alive here, because Our Lady is touching this land every day. In Fatima and in Guadeloupe it happened in the past, and this is a great difference.
They welcomed me as a brother
The ten months and ten days that I spent here are for me a beautiful and rich experience. During the whole year, I lived with the friars, and this life with them is the first beautiful experience. I am grateful to them, because they welcomed me as a brother, although I am neither a Franciscan, nor Croatian.
Daily hearing confessions was very important for me as a priest. Every day, I heard confessions for 2-3 hours. It opened my heart and widened my capacity to understand different cultures, Spanish or Italian speaking people, even Croatians who speak Italian. Independent of the country we come from, we all have a great need for Jesus to hear us, to heal us, to be compassionate towards us, and all this happens through the mediation of a priest.
I wanted a sabbatical year
On a personal level, I wanted a sabbatical year in order to come back to my own heart. I wanted a time of silence, of personal prayer and of prayer with others, and in this sense, this year was optimal. I am grateful to my bishop who allowed me to be here for such a long time. He was in Medjugorje in August. He was also very deeply touched. Our diocese is pastorally very active, close to people. When he saw so many people coming for confession, so many people praying, he was very impressed.
I would like to recall a little anecdote, something that happened in front of the statue of the Risen Christ. My bishop knew nothing about the drop of water coming from the knee. We were looking together towards the statue, where three or four Croatian families gathered. One father was carrying in his arms his child and lifting it up towards the cross. My bishop asked me why they are coming so close to the statue, why they are touching it. He was not impressed by the phenomenon of the drop of water, but by the way, in which that father and that mother were praying together with their children. We understood the spirit of Medjugorje: family prayer, opening to God.
Prayer in solitude
When I am asked about my deepest experience in Medjugorje, I remember my first days, one deep moment of prayer in solitude on Cross Mountain in the month of March. There were almost no pilgrims at all. I understood that Cross Mountain was a place of a strong presence of God, as in the Bible. This is why every week at least once I went up the Cross Mountain or the Apparition Hill. I understood that prayer in the church and on the mountains was essential in Medjugorje.
Interior light of faith
I came to Medjugorje for the first time in 2001, first with a friend, and then with a group of pilgrims. After this, I was coming every year. The year 2001 was crucial for my life as a Christian and as a priest. I do not know how to explain, but I would say that I experienced an interior light of faith. Little by little, I introduced into my parish Eucharistic adoration with singing, Rosary before Mass… Now, I am going back to Argentina and am taking over a new parish, St. Joseph’s parish, and I am very glad, because they have every Friday a 24-hour Adoration. They pray Rosary every day. It will not be difficult to continue to live in the spirit of Medjugorje. Thank God!
To be a priest in the modern world
It is a real challenge to be a priest in them modern world. It is not easy, there is not a formula, but I am convinced now that the secret is prayer, the intimacy with Jesus and Mary. A priest, young or old, who understood that the secret is the intimacy with God, can live at any time.
I believe that I will be coming back to Medjugorje with groups of pilgrims, but I do not believe that my bishop shall let me go for a sabbatical year so soon again! When I return to Argentina, I have the intention to live deeply with Our Lady’s messages, but without much talking about Medjugorje. Prayer, sacraments, conversion, God at the first place – this is essential. People will surely ask me what I have experienced here, so I shall surely have the occasion to speak about this place of peace. I am happy to go back to my sheep!
Višnja Spajić and Lidija Paris