Beyond My Wildest Dreams
By Author Frank Stoppa

As a Roman Catholic I have grown up believing in apparitions of Our Lady so it wasn't a big deal when I first heard that She was appearing in Medjugorje. The problem being I was skeptical because it was in a communist country and to the best of my knowledge at the time, everyone who lived there was a communist. For that reason when I was invited to go on a pilgrimage in 1984-85 I had no desire at all. I could have cared less.

By the time the war started I had so totally forgotten about the apparitions that it didn't register that Medjugorje was even in that part of the hemisphere, let alone the now warring country of then Yugoslavia.

Sometimes I think God can be a little sneaky in the way He grabs us because it was at that time that my daughter Shawn received her calling. All she could talk about was Medjugorje and the apparitions. I still had no desire but brought her together with some close friends who had already been there. Besides fueling her desire even more so because of their strong belief in the apparitions they gave her Wayne Weible's book, "Medjugorje, the Message". That was the clincher.

She began trying to get me to read it, but I wouldn't. My wife did, totally believed it, but for certain reasons still did not have the desire to go. Eating breakfast one morning, out of curiosity I picked up the book, opened it randomly, and began reading. Interesting, but time for work. This happened for three consecutive days and on the third I got "zapped". I now had to read the book from the beginning, and by the end, I not only knew I was going to Medjugorje but that I was actually being "called". It's hard to put into words for those that have never experienced it, but it's not just saying "I'm going", but a tremendous burning and longing as if something is missing in your very being. And please do not think for a moment that the thought makes you feel like you are someone special. On the contrary, it is a very humbling experience of wondering why.

There is a saying that "If Our Lady calls you; She will provide the way" and nothing could be more true. From the moment I felt the calling things began falling into place, however, not without minor roadblocks such as the war. Not wanting to go all those years and now feeling called I was dismayed to learn that all pilgrimages had stopped because of the war. "Divine Retribution?" As they say in Croatian, "Ko Zna?" (Who Knows?) but for whatever reason it looked like God was not going to allow me go.

Again after having given up on the idea Our Lord and Our Lady had not. A few weeks later I received a newsletter from a friend about Sandy Tobin and the Pilgrims Peace Center in Clearwater Fl. She was putting together a humanitarian pilgrimage because no one else was helping Medjugorje at the time. I became excited until I saw that they were leaving the next day. What a let down! I really began to get paranoid and believed that God was just toying with me; so again I just put it out of my mind.

About a month later another newsletter arrived describing the previous successful trip and the plans for an upcoming one. Before allowing myself to become overly excited I checked the departure date and found that I had time. However when I made the call to Sandy to tell her that I was going, she informed me that there might not be room. Was this a conspiracy or what? After one week of begging, crying and trying to make every kind of deal possible with God, He relented, still however not without minor inconveniences. But at least I was going.

It was on that first trip that I met Dr. Christopher and Judy Chapman from Bethlehem, Pa. and Gilbert Norstrom from Twin Lakes, Wis.. We found that all four of us are bound in a unique way by the "Blessed Mother". The result of this tie, and what we consider one of the "fruits of Medjugorje," is the Catholic Medical Foundation, a humanitarian organization that delivered more than fifty million dollars worth of medical supplies and food to central Bosnia during the war; and was recognized by Vatican for our work.

I ended up making seventeen trips to Medjugorje during the war and delivering medical supplies and equipment through out Bosnia and into Sarajevo. All this took place before the peace agreement was signed.

At the beginning we generally stayed at Vicka's house but as we accumulated more vehicles we had to stay elsewhere. Whenever we stayed at Vicka's we were invited to be present during Our Lady's apparition. We were also invited a number of times with Ivan and on one of his trips to America he stayed at my home for two days.

I can't begin to tell you what Medjugorje has done for my family and myself. I know to date the Vatican has not "officially" approved the apparitions, but it has not "officially" disapproved them either. When dining with Bishop Ratko Peric of Mostar he told us that although he confers with the Bishops Council that the apparitions were false, he is still not telling people not to come or to come. However, he did say that if Rome declares the apparitions to be true then he would be the first one there.

I too would never prejudge our Church or it's rulings, but from my heart, I can only say that from the time I started going to Medjugorje the blessings and gifts given to me and my family had to be a result of Our Lady's presence and calling in some way.

Since I had no idea that I would ever make more than one trip I kept a letter/journal for my wife to read when I got back. I ended up doing this for sixteen trips and even when I didn't want to, and said as much to my wife, Gil and the Chapmans, I was compelled to continue writing. After all these years and at the urging of friends and relatives my journal has been published. It not only chronicles our trips and introduces you to the people in Medjugorje and Bosnia that took part in their country's fight for independence, but is also interspersed with my thoughts as to what was happening and why. The book also contains the gifts and blessings (including pictures), however large or small, that were associated with my trips to Medjugorje.

If you would like to contribute to a wonderful Catholic organization and order the book, as all royalties from its sale are being donated to the CMF, you may view the cover and brief description by going to www.trafford.com/robots/02-0446.html or clicking directly on the following link. Beyond My Wildest Dreams

The Chairman of the CMF is Bishop Thomas Welsh (retired) of the Allentown Pa. Diocese and the Vice Chairman is Msgr.. Anthony Muntone (retired). Dr. Christopher Chapman is the Medical Director.

Since the end of the war the Foundation has been providing funds, along with a matching Papal grant, to help rebuild the Catholic hospital in Sarajevo for Cardinal Vinko Puljic. They have also been helping in the Sudan and Siberia. Requests come from the local Bishops.

There have also been articles about the Foundation in the following magazines: The Liguorian Magazine (Oct. 2002), Pennsylvania Medicine (June 1996), The Catholic World Report (Feb. 1996), Lehigh Valley Magazine (Feb, 1996), The National Catholic Register (Mary's People section--Sept 24, 1995), Family Circle (December 20, 1994), Catalyst (Oct. 1994), The Medical Mission News (summer 1993), as well as a number of local newspapers and Dr. Chapman and 2 other doctors (board members) have appeared on Mother Angelica Live.

For more information about the Foundation you may contact Dr. Chapman at the following address

Catholic Medical Foundation
3555 Santee mill Road
Bethlehem, Pa. 18017

Ph. (610) 865-5437
Fax (610) 865-6324

If you would like to write Medjugorje USA