Testimonies & Conversion Stories

"Testimony of Jim"

By June Klins (editor of Spirit of Medjugorje)

It has been said that the pilgrims who travel to Medjugorje have been called there by Our Lady. Whether there is any rhyme or reason as to which people she places together, I don’t know. What I do know, though, is that both times I went to Medjugorje, I met people whom I felt I had known for years. Jim and Tillie Ann Kotsko from Flint, Michigan were two of those people. My son Brian and I bonded with them immediately last June on our pilgrimage. Since our return home, we have kept in regular contact with them, and just recently, Jim sent me an incredible story which he has given me permission to share.

On June 27, we were blessed to have been able to hear Father Jozo Zovko’s powerful talk at his parish in Siroki Brijeg. After he was done speaking, Father Jozo invited everyone to come forward and receive a gift, a little plastic pouch containing a white plastic rosary. This is Father Jozo’s special gift to all the pilgrims who visit him there.

Jim related that after having received his gift rosary, something unusual happened. As he was walking away, he felt a tug on his arm, and when he turned around he found himself face to face with Father Jozo. Father Jozo spoke some words in Croatian, which Jim did not understand, and then proceeded to hand him another rosary. Jim opened his right hand to show him that he had already gotten his gift, but then Father Jozo took Jim’s left hand, pressed another rosary into the palm and closed his fingers over it. He again said something in Croatian that Jim could not understand. Jim felt that the Spirit was up to something, so he accepted the other rosary and put both of them into his backpack.

When Jim boarded the bus for the return trip to Medjugorje, he did not tell anyone about his encounter with Father Jozo or the second rosary. So when his wife Tillie Ann suggested that Jim give his gift rosary to a fellow pilgrim who had not gone with us to Father Jozo’s, Jim thought that the mystery of the second rosary had already been solved.

A week later when Jim returned home to Michigan, he resumed his daily meeting with an inner-city group for noon Mass and the rosary. He did not discuss his pilgrimage with the people there because a trip like that was beyond their means. Most of them had no idea that Jim had even been on a pilgrimage to Medjugorje, including a woman named Amelia..

Jim met Amelia a year ago at the noon Mass. She did not attend very frequently, but when she came her presence was known. She would bring bags into church and spread hundreds of pictures of Jesus, Mary, and various saints on the pew in front of her and walk up and down looking at the pictures. As she gazed at the pictures she would pray the rosary so intently that her voice would get hoarse and she would run out of air.

The week after Labor Day, Amelia came in late for Mass one day and sat in the pew in front of Jim. As soon as Mass was over, she turned to Jim and said, “Father Jozo was at my house last night and told me you have a rosary from him for me.” After he recovered from the shock of what he had just heard, Jim told her that he did indeed have a rosary from Father Jozo, but it was at home. He told her he would bring it the next day and give it to her. After praying about it, Jim decided it was the right thing to do. The next day, Jim got to Mass early with the rosary package in his shirt pocket. The church secretary informed him that Amelia had called to say she would not be able to make it that day. Several days later, though, Amelia did show up and made a bee-line for Jim to get her rosary. When he presented it to her, she lit up with joy, tore off the package and hung the rosary around her neck. She kept kissing it and telling Jim, “God bless you,” over and over.

After praying about this for over a month, Jim finally decided to share his extraordinary story with me. When Amelia read the story, she was very pleased, and she told him that she is still kissing her Father Jozo rosary. Jim thinks it no coincidence that he was the one chosen to deliver the rosary to Amelia. After all, his lifelong self-employment has always been in the messenger-courier field!

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