Testimonies & Conversion Stories

"Testimony of Anna Marie "

When I was a little girl we lived across the street from a church in East Orange, New Jersey. My mother was a devoted Catholic and she attended that church every single day. She had such a strong and beautiful faith, one which would take me many years to discover, after her death.

I was still a youngster in grammar school when my father was diagnosed with a brain tumor. This devastated the family but mother continued to kept the faith. Not long after this my mother found out that she had ALS (Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis) commonly known as "Lou Gehrig's Disease."

My brother was just two years older than I and we have such a difficult time dealing with the terminal illnesses that mom and dad had to face. My bother and I were angry at life but mom always kept the faith. I still have a fond memory of her saying to me, "Some day I am going to walk again," and that bright smile would appear on her glowing face. Though she never did walk again she lived far longer than most ALS patients. I am sure she is walking just as she said she would, in Heaven. Today I am sure it was her faith that kept her going.

By the time I was just 19 my mom passed away and I was left to take care of my brother and father. My dad seldom went to Church but he was a good honest man. He would give you the shirt off his back if needed. He never refused anyone. After my mom's death he said he could never look at another woman. He loved her dearly. He wanted to be buried right on top of her casket and I feel certain he died more of a broken heart than of a brain tumor.

At this time in life after my mother had passed away when I was caring for my dad and brother, I was going through so many different changes. The loss of my mother was agonizing and if caring for the family was not enough, I found out I was pregnant.

I was confused and insecure and my long time high school sweetheart said he was not ready to have children, so we headed to NY for an abortion. At the time abortions were not legal in New Jersey.

I will never forget sitting in the waiting room of the clinic. I felt this inner voice saying to me, "you are going to regret this for the rest of your life." I remember these words like it was yesterday. I don't know why I went though with it but despite this inner voice that spoke to me, I had the abortion.

I married this man but the marriage did not work out when I found he was cheating on me. I was far away from the Sacraments and I had an obsession with stealing. I would change the prices in stores stealing clothing, jewelry, and run out of restaurants without paying.

At one point I tried to reconcile with my husband but I got a sexual transmitted disease. During this time I found I was pregnant again and had yet another abortion. My life was horrible till I met my soul mate and got married. I miscarried, later we had three children. During pregnancy with my third child my husband and I separated and divorced. We reconciled and this time we did it right, getting married in the Church.

I still was not much of a church goer even though my children were raised Catholic. My husband grew up as an altar boy but we seldom went to church together. Not until I was 45 did my whole life change when I had a most beautiful experience.

It was Mother's Day and I was going shopping but had some time before the stores opened so I took a different direction. I had no idea there was a Mass but I found myself at the church. I entered late but stayed for the whole Mass.

I noticed a huge picture of Our Lady of Guadalupe on the altar and after the Mass a nun told me I could leave a petition there, so I did. I touched the Icon of Our Lady and instantly I felt a peace the likes of which I had never known before. As I left the Church heading for my car, my legs shook and tears came down my cheeks. I cried the rest of the day. When I got home I called the Church and this nun told me that I had a spiritual healing. She told me everything about Our Lady of Guadalupe and I felt like I was on fire for Jesus. My whole life changed on a dime.

I took my children, neighbors and friends to see this Icon in the Church. I said the rosary every day. I realized that I was going to Mass every day just like my mother did and I knew in my heart my mother prayed hard for us and Our Lady took special care of me on that Mother's Day. Since this time I have received many wonderful graces.

One thing for sure the voice I heard when I had the abortion was right because not a day goes bye that I do not think about taking those babies lives. I had no right and was too young to understand or care. Jesus knows how truly sorry I am and never want to hurt Jesus and Mary again.

I was unemployed for 5 years when out of the blue an acquaintance Judy said, "There's a ticket with your name on it to go to Medjugorje." I was broke, afraid to fly and was concerned about visa's etc. I was also curious so I called the people planning the pilgrimage and told them why I should not go. They told me that they felt that I would be going anyway and said they would hold the ticket till the end of that weekend.

The acquaintance said I should go, the travel planners said I would go and I was surprised when my husband also said, "Go." I called Judy and she said that her husband was going to pay for the trip! I was excited and shocked but also afraid to fly so I asked Jesus for another confirmation.

Sister Dolaras came up to me one evening and told me about this man who had just returned from Medjugorje. She told me I should talk with him. Someone had paid for his trip too. I did talk with him and found he was sick with bone cancer. I told him I was afraid to fly and he smiled and opened a back pack he had on. He showed me a picture he took while on the plane. As clear as a bell I saw the Holy Spirit under the wing of the plane. He told me not to worry about flying because Jesus is the pilot. I was jumping up and down because I knew this was my third confirmation.

I did not get home till 9:30 pm on that holiday Sunday night. I called the people conducting the pilgrimage hoping to reach them. I was afraid I had waited to long and the ticket was lost. Much to my surprise the girl on the phone told me that she was there working on the final plans and that I was already on the list of people going. She said, "I knew you were going to go." Somehow she knew more than I did.

I still did not know why I was going to Medjugorje, but I went. When I got of the plane I saw mountains surrounding me and felt a peace like Jesus was holding me. It was very beautiful there.

A girlfriend from the U.S. gave me $800.00 to give to an orphan; it was my first day in Medjugorje and I was looking for the right people to get this money to the orphan. I walked in St. James Church and there were many nuns there. I approached the first and she said, "Sorry I do not speak English." Instantly a woman said "excuse me but I speak both languages and I can translate for you." During the translation I found that the first nun who did not speak English ran the orphanage.

We headed out of Medjugorje to a place where there were many buildings being bombed, we prayed the rosary. As we approached the orphan house I saw children running around so skinny with barely any clothes on. I found out that these children had lost their parents during the war. Some priest came out to bless us and I later found he was the head of the orphanage. They really needed this money badly.

There was a young boy between 10 or 12 years old on pilgrimage with us. He would look up at the Cross on the mountain and say he could see it turned colors and spins. No one else saw it just the little boy. I asked Jesus if I could see it too and that Thursday evening around 7 pm Judy and I got lost and we looked at the Cross to get our direction. The Cross was a ball of fire as we watched it change yellow and now orange. What a special gift it was for me and Judy.

One night while walking to the pilgrim house I looked up in the sky and there was Our Lady in a cloud formation. The last three nights there while praying in the Church, I saw Our Lady's silhouette but thought it was a statue until the girl behind me said she saw Our Lady holding the baby Jesus and praying over us. I cried a lot and felt so very blessed for witnessing this. Medjugorje remain in my memory as one of the most beautiful experiences in my life and I hope to return some day.

I use to pray the rosary so fast and now since returning home from Medjugorje I find beauty saying the rosary slowly with all my heart. There are still many problems to face in life but faith keeps me strong. There is nothing greater than prayer and I pray for these daily struggles knowing that God exists and His will be done.

God Bless!
Anna Marie

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