In September 2007, Jorge de Jesús Loria Padilla, founder and leader of the Peace center in Toluca in Mexico, came to Medjugorje. He is organizing pilgrimages to Medjugorje and editing Fr. Slavko Barbaric’s books in Spanish for Mexico.
This is his testimony:
I am coming to Medjugorje since 1989. At that time, the communist regime was still governing this country. I was also here with my wife in 1993, during the war. It is then that I felt the call to bring pilgrims to Medjugorje. From 1996 to this day, I am coming regularly twice a year, each time with about 50 pilgrims. My son Fausto is also accompanying pilgrimages, although at the beginning he told me that he would never work with me, because he was not interested in religion… However, after some time, he felt something in his heart. Three years after he finished his studies, he asked me if he could help a little bit, and now we are accompanying pilgrimages in rotation!
When I came to Medjugorje for the first time, I was in a very difficult family situation: I was in disharmony with my wife, there was much discord in the family, and she finally decided to go away for one year. She went to Rome, and I stayed in Mexico. She went away together with our son. When the year was over, I went to visit her. It was in April 1989. I made to her the proposition to go together to Medjugorje, because I had heard that Our Lady was appearing here. Here in Medjugorje, I experienced a deep inner change. When we came back to Mexico, a new life started for us.
At that time I came to know Luis Siman from Florida who was editing Fr. Slavko’s books in Spanish for the Central and South America. He asked me if I would help him. Initially, I was only distributing books, and then I started to publish them for Mexico. We founded an Association and opened an office. In Bolivia, I met a lady who explained to me how to do it: he took me to her home, showed me a room which served as an office, and she told me: “This is the Center of the Queen of Peace for Bolivia”! Encouraged by the simplicity of what I saw in Bolivia, I started the peace center in Mexico! Now, we have an office of about 100m2 where 4-5 people work full time. Our mission is to publish catholic books – not only Fr. Slavko’s – and we try to bring these books to all people. Once a week (on Tuesdays) we go to our parish church for a prayer meeting. Adoration, Holy Mass, confessions… Every two months we have a recollection day, and once a year a retreat. We organize two pilgrimages a year. This time, five priests came with us.
About 80% of the Mexicans are Catholics, Mexico has 105 millions of inhabitants, but religious practice is in decay. Our politicians are socialists; our laws are in favor of abortion, of the same sex marriages, of euthanasia… not good! 30 years ago, all Mexicans were Catholics. Now, only about 80%, and only about 8% are coming for Sunday Mass. Mexican Catholics do not know their faith any more…
I would like to share with you something that I have experienced recently, shortly before coming to Medjugorje. We first went for some days to Rome. We had an accommodation in an inn run by religious women. As usually on arrival, I was distributing to my pilgrims the keys for their rooms. I have noticed an unknown face, but I thought that it was a young man working in the inn. Distribution of the keys took me about 40 minutes. He was there all the time… he was observing me… When I had finished, I went up to my room, left my things and went back to the lobby to take another suitcase. In the meantime, he took all my things and disappeared. Documents, money… a lot of money for the needs of the group… Police officers came and saw his face and his behavior recorded by the surveillance cameras… Consequently, I had two terrible days: up and down from the Italian Police station to the Mexican Embassy, to get new documents… and in addition, care for the group of pilgrims, and visiting the four major basilicas… I was thinking only one thing: “Very well, it was because of my own fault, because I have not “paid my debt” to the souls in the purgatory!” In Mexico we had published some books about the souls in purgatory, and from the profit for each book, we take a certain amount for Mass stipends. Before going to Medjugorje, I have not done the account I was supposed to do, so I was thinking that the souls in purgatory were reminding me of the priorities…
In Medjugorje, as usually on the first day, we are giving a talk on the theme: Why are we here and what is God expecting from us. Among my things that were stolen in Rome were also my papers with this talk, so I decided to speak spontaneously, from the heart. While I was thinking about what to tell to the pilgrims, I felt that the Lord was telling me: “You need no documents, no papers, you don’t need many things. Abandon yourself into my hands. You have to learn to live and to work while listening to your heart.” I felt that he was telling me: “You think that you are strong because you have documents, because you are educated, because you have prepared your talks… without all that, you have no trust, neither in yourself nor in me! you have to start anew, with a new mentality. You will be important for what I am doing in your life and not for what you are doing!” I began to understand that God was giving me a new orientation. I will have to change many things in life. I am all the time busy with material things and I neglect what God is inspiring me in my heart… For example: am thinking about creating an organization with the name: „Catolicos unidos por Mexico“ (Catholics united for Mexico) I had recorder three hours of radio program on that theme, but it was never broadcasted because the editor refused it. I think that we should create a Catholic Radio!
I am too busy with accounts and I am neglecting spiritual things. I have the impression that I have found a lost treasure. I distanced myself from God. I have to pray more to be sure to do His will. I believe that with these events the Lord is calling me to a deeper spiritual life.
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