Copyright © Muintir Mhuire 2014.
Since 1984 Fr. Donal has regularly visited Medjugorje and observed closely the events taking place there. The growth and development of many new movements for young people within the Church all relying entirely on Gods providence and responding to the needs of today was a source of great encouragement. Having the opportunity there to minister to so many young people, who came searching for something without knowing what, and seeing them finding much more than they expected, faith in a living God who loved them, strengthened the desire to respond to this great need.
In April of 2005 Muintir Mhuire purchased a house in Medjugorje, Bosnia i Herzegovina.
As always with Divine Providence the unexpected happens at a time when one is faced with difficulties. In March of 2005 we were down to a few members. Our work on the old farmhouse that we had purchased the previous year had been stopped by the local Planning Authority who now insisted on us supplying them with a comprehensive plan for the whole development. We had been advised that those who had so kindly loaned us Monacraigh Cottage were now anxious to have it back. This was the situation I was leaving at home as I made my way to the Conference for Leaders of Prayer Groups held in Medjugorje each year.
It was a welcome break from the situation at home and the conference was a lively one with much prayer and good interaction among the participants. I had agreed to stay on and be Spiritual Director to a small group who were coming out from Ireland three days after the conference ended. It was during these few days in between, that in discussion with Fr. John Chisholm that I first heard of the house Europa. He said to me there was a house for sale in Medjugorje and that it would be ideal for Muintir Mhuire. It would be a great help in the parish as there were so many Irish young people coming out there searching and while there were many other communities there, the specifically Irish needs were not being met. Also as Medjugorje now saw thousands of Irish Pilgrims each year it would serve as means of letting people know about our Community. All of this I had no difficulty agreeing with.
However the last thing I needed to be thinking about was property in Medjugorje, I felt I had enough problems at home. Fr. John does not give up easily and I found myself agreeing to go with him to see it. The following day we met at the house with Marinko Zadar, the owner and Dragan Kosina who acted as interpreter. It was truly amazing. I found it hard to believe that such a property could be available. Its location, its layout, all its 15 bedrooms in-suit most of them with balconies it was fully equipped to cater for up to forty people. It had been built as a Hotel fourteen years earlier but never opened because of the war. It was in very good condition and its price was only a fraction of what a similar property would cost in Ireland. But of course we did not have that kind of money, we owed as much back at home on what we already had.
As the day went on I found myself wondering, what is it the Lord was saying to me through all this? At home we really need accommodation, ideally on our own property, yet at the moment every way seems to be blocked, I really needed full plans for our property in Ballybutler and depended on Divine Providence for them. Now I was being tempted to take on a whole new set of problems. Inevitably having a house in Medjugorje would open up our Community to a much wider catchments area while at the same time giving the Community an excellent location to follow a profoundly Spiritual programme. But in of all places Medjugorje! A place surrounded by so much controversy. A place that is constantly under attack and likely to be so for years to come. I could not help thinking that Muintir Mhuire would be much safer at home and have a better chance of surviving at home.
But the temptation would not go away, the more I prayed the more convinced I became that this property was built for us and had been waiting for us all these years. But the money! Where could we go for the money? More prayer and I could see that I was asking the wrong question. The real question was would we take on the house and adjust our plans to the Lords? Were we prepared to say yes?
I celebrated Holy Mass at the Girls Cenacolo on Palm Sunday and returned to Ireland that afternoon I spoke to a few people about the house and asked them to pray that we would do what God wanted and that He would show us His will. I decided to Pray the Divine Mercy Novena for this intention and to spend three hours each day in adoration. It was decision time in relation to Ballybutler; as well I needed plans to submit to the Planning Authority.
On the morning after the Divine Mercy Novena finished the phone woke me and the first donation, a substantial one, was offered. By Friday we were in a position to tell the owner that we would return to Medjugorje with an engineer to view the house and we would buy it if all were in order. We did that within two weeks.
This house has been a great blessing to us and all who have joined us there over the last year and a half. We were only back from Medjugorje when one day Keith arrived and said I have come to draw the plans for Ballybutler. Night and day for the next six weeks he worked on them. Measuring, taking levels, drawing and meeting with the Planners. Until finally at the beginning of July he had produced what was later to get us the full planning permission we needed. He submitted the plans and we left the following day for Medjugorje. There we continued the renovation of Europa. We had already set in motion the conversion of the basement and some of the bedrooms. Now we set about converting the bar and souvenir shop into one large community room. A number of young people joined us there throughout the summer, among them was Josephine, she had her camera and it was only when we were back at home in November and received a dvd from her that we realized she had made a very good record of the work and prayer we had shared together.
Fr. Donal O'Callaghan..