I wanted to give each one of our group a holy card as a memento of the special time we shared with Padre Jozo. I told them that the holy card could be a reminder to them when they returned home. I felt very connected to each person that night and it brought me great joy to give the holy cards away. I even let Padre Jozo choose one. How happy I was!
We went to the conference room where Padre Jozo signed books and photos for everyone and then the lecture began. Padre Jozo had asked the first residents of the Holy Family Institute, 15 young orphan girls, to speak to our group. He asked them to share a little of their family, and how they came to live there. So the 15 girls all lined up in front of the room and shared some of their lives with us. Some of the girls wept as they told of their parents' death. Padre Jozo was wiping his tears as they spoke. The room became very somber, and sad. Many of us were crying as well. The pain they had endured was unbelievable. There was a sadness in the room that we all could feel. And each of the girls was so grateful to Padre Jozo. Even in their grief, they had a strong faith.
Padre Jozo then said if any of us had any comments or questions for the girls, we could ask them now. As we conversed with them, I quickly counted my holy cards and was thankful to Our Lady that I had just enough for each of the girls. I enthusiastically raised my hand and told them I had a small gift for each of them. Padre Jozo just sat there and smiled! I think he may have giggled as well! I gave each one a holy card and they all smiled and said, "thank you". I had just one left and I looked at the girls and asked, "who shall I give it to?" Then I looked directly at Padre Jozo and said, with a smile, "Padre JOZO!" We all laughed as I gave the last one to him.
It was a perfect break from the tears before, and so good to see them smile and not cry. I think they all were happy, especially Padre Jozo. After this, the girls were dismissed and left the room. Then our group began to share our thoughts of the day. As we one-by-one shared, it was my turn. All Padre Jozo did was smile directly at me as I let out a big sigh. As our eyes locked, and our smiles beamed, I said I was so happy in my heart to see him smile, but not just for me, for the entire group to see his warm smile! That each of us was touched, and then everyone began to clap!! And he BEAMED!
It was a moment! I then thanked Padre Jozo for his great gifts of grace and love and how now I could go directly to God the Father for His love and mercy. It was very moving. I am forever grateful for this opportunity.
Then others commented on his smile and warmth, but he became somber at this time. He said some of the children never smile. Then he shared a story of a young girl. He said during the war, an air raid siren went off and this little girl's mother grabbed her and her younger brother. They ran to the shelter, and a bomb exploded with shrapnel going everywhere. It hit the mother as she threw the children down and covered them with her body. There was blood everywhere. The mother died at this moment, with her children under her. The young girl is still in shock today, unable to speak at all. Padre Jozo had tears streaming down his cheeks, so very sad. So many of us were crying. It was very intense. We had gone from joy to sadness in these few hours. This was our last night with Padre Jozo and it was so very powerful for me. This was also the first day of Lent, and I began it with a clean heart. Tomorrow, I leave this place and go into Medjugorje for the first time!!! So much to thank God for, so much to thank Our Lady for.............
(End of Part 12)