NOTRE DAME — “To Jesus through Mary” might well be the theme of each annual Medjugorje Conference held at the University of Notre Dame. Beginning with a Eucharistic rosary procession across campus to the grotto on the first evening, this three-day event is entering its 24th year and will be held May 11-13. Religious and lay speakers from many walks of life will share their experiences of Our Lady and her role in bringing them closer to Christ. Described by many as a retreat of sorts, daily Mass, Eucharistic Adoration and ample opportunity for Confession are also made available.
While the speakers include a Franciscan priest from Bosnia-Hercegovina, a doctor from Chicago who converted from atheism and a world-class musician who founded the Faith and Family Foundation, the conference has a local flavor as well.
Dr. Joseph Bagiackas, a member of Corpus Christi Parish in South Bend, has a doctorate in systematic theology from Catholic University of America. His talk is especially timely for those wishing to counter secular attacks from the media as well as from those who are just misinformed. Bagiackas will speak about loyalty to the Church and the importance of knowing our faith well in order to defend it.
Cathy Nolan attends St. Matthew Cathedral in South Bend, and is co-founder (with her husband, Denis) of MaryTV, a lay apostolate dedicated to using modern communications technology to promote the call of Our Lady. MaryTV has streamed live video from Medjugorje.
The Nolans are in their third year of praying the rosary, live, via the Internet, and consecrating that same Internet to Mary’s Immaculate Heart. They are joined in prayer by people from around the world using computers, iPads and all varieties of smart phones, no app required.
“Judging from the emails we receive,” says Denis Nolan, “only the continent of Antarctica has no one praying with us!”
He believes MaryTV is responding to an appeal made by Pope Benedict XVI three years ago: “Without fear we must set sail on the digital sea facing into the deep with the same passion that has governed the ship of the Church for 2,000 years.”
The Nolans plan to travel to Medjugorje this summer to work with technicians to get the long-awaited broadcast facility there operational. In addition to helping build a Catholic television station for Our Lady, Cathy Nolan is the mother of eight and for the past 13 years, writer of daily reflections based on the Blessed Mother’s messages.
“Over the past 25 I have grown increasingly aware that Our Lady’s words are filled with the Holy Spirit,” says Cathy Nolan. “It is the Holy Spirit who makes those words fruitful. So that every time I think about, pray over, or write about those messages, the Holy Spirit shows me the abundant life that is flowing through them from Him. It is a gift from God for us in these days when the world seems to be falling deeper and deeper into darkness. It is light penetrating that darkness.”
Deacon Brian Miller of St. Anthony de Padua in South Bend heads up Queen of Peace Ministries, and is the primary organizer of the conference. He says Friday evening’s rosary procession truly helps set the tone for the weekend.
“It is a symbolic way of showing our honor of Mary who leads us to Christ,” explains Deacon Miller, emphasizing the Eucharistic element of the procession. This year, instead of candles, Deacon Miller says the hundreds of people expected to participate will carry flowers to the grotto to present to the Blessed Mother. Those flowers will also be placed near the altar for Sunday’s Mass in honor of Mother’s Day.
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