Msgr. Thomas L. Dupre, Bishop of Springfield (Massachusetts, USA) came to Medjugorje at the end of October 2003. Fr. Mario Knezovic spoke with him.
Msgr. Thomas L. Dupre: I come from the city of Springfield, MA, USA. That is where I grew up and that is where I am the bishop now.
Msgr. Thomas L. Dupre: Unfortunately, in our cities, in our country and in other parts of the world, I see a diminution of faith. It is a part of the problem of the modern world, of the modern culture, which – I think – is pulling people away from God, pulling people away from religion. We see that everywhere. That is why we need strong faith, to renew our commitment to God and to His Church. Ultimately, God is not going to force us against our will. We live in perilous times because our eternal salvation depends on our fidelity to God. If we turn our backs on Him, we are risking our eternal salvation. I think we need constantly to get that message across to our brothers and sisters, so that they do not go off and turn their backs to God, which would be self-destruction, suicide for them.
Msgr. Thomas L. Dupre: I have heard from people who have come here over the years. This is the first time I come to Medjugorje. I am coming with a friend, Fr. Henry Dorsch, who has been here five times over the last 15 years. This is his sixth time. He has spoken many times about Medjugorje and he is certainly a very committed, very good and devout priest. He speaks always very highly about his experience here in Medjugorje. So, needles to say, I have been influenced by him, as well as by u number of other people who have spoken about their coming to Medjugorje. It has interested me and I had the opportunity to come this year. I am coming here to see with my own eyes and hear with my own ears, and then to formulate my own impressions.
Msgr. Thomas L. Dupre: I have always been very strongly attached to the apparitions of Our Lady in Fatima ever since I was a little boy. When I was eleven-twelve years old, I already had a very strong devotion to Our Lady of Fatima. I still do and I really believe in that apparition. Lourdes also. When I was ten years old, I saw a movie, “The song of Bernadette”. It told the story of Bernadette and Lourdes. I was very moved by that, it was very important to me. Those two apparitions have been a very important part of my life. Medjugorje is a little different, because it has not yet received a full approval of the Church, and like many others, I await the final decision of the Church. But there is a part of me that wants to believe in these apparitions. I have come to see with my own eyes… I believe that many wonderful spiritual fruits have been produced here. People obviously are very religious, very devout, very fervent, they receive the sacraments, they pray a good deal. I think that we can only be impressed by what we see.
Msgr. Thomas L. Dupre: I am not in the position to make a judgment at this point. I do not have enough information; I do not have enough experience to make my own personal opinion on that. I do believe that this is a place where people gather from all over the world. They come to pray and they have very good experiences. Many are converted, many come back to the practice of their religion, some are converted to the Catholic faith. I have heard about healings, I do not have the evidence myself but I have heard about that. I see much good fruit, much good things, and that is the work of God, the work of the Holy Spirit. There is no question about that. Whether Our Lady is actually appearing here, I am not in the position to say, I do not know that… I am open to that, my mind is open, my heart is open. I do not have a personal conviction to that but I certainly am open for the decision of the Church. I am looking for that answer!
Msgr. Thomas L. Dupre: It is an experience of the Christian faith lived entirely. People here are believers and they life faith. You can see. It is in their heart and in their soul. We are all part of the same family; we are all brothers and sisters. That is obvious here: you meet people from all over the world. Many people from Europe, but also people from America, people of different races, white and brown and black… and everyone is a brother and sister here, everyone gets along well together and everyone has the same faith. We all share in the Eucharist together; we share in our belief in God and Jesus Christ and our love for the Blessed Mother. It is an expression of the universal Church, of the faith that we all share together. That is marvelous.
Msgr. Thomas L. Dupre: I will say what I told you. I will say that it is a wonderful experience, a good thing for people to come here and to pray, to open their minds and hearts, to see if God is calling them. They will certainly gain much spiritually from being here. I think they will be blessed from coming here.
Msgr. Thomas L. Dupre: The important thing about coming in any place of pilgrimage, Medjugorje, Lourdes or Fatima, is the good that it does for our soul, for our heart. It brings us closer to God, closer to the Blessed Mother, it deepens our faith. That is the important thing about it. There are people who come here for personal reasons. They have their personal intentions. Some of them are blessed; they got the answers to their prayers. Sometimes God does not answer our prayers the way we want him to answer, but that is a part of being a Christian too: learning to carry the cross. Every one of us has a cross to carry. Maybe it is God’s will that we carry our cross. We have to be willing to accept that. That is all a part of the will of God. What we need to do and to know when we come to places like this is that we come and surrender to God; we accept His will whatever it may be. Even if our own personal requests are not granted in the way that we expect, nevertheless we are blessed if our faith is deepened, if we grow in our love for God and for his Mother. Then our prayers are answered, because we leave here as better people, as better Christians. That is the whole reason for coming here.
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