Mate Bilic has said "everything good in life happens to me because of Medjugorje". Mate Bilic,is a Croatian footballer who currently plays with Sporting Gijon in Spain. In early June he travelled to Medjugorje
In an interview for Radio "Mir" Medjugorje he spoke about his journey through life, family life and about Medjugorje. He stressed that he regularly visits Medjugorje. For him and his wife Emilia, who is from Herzegovina, and their children Mark and Carla Medjugorje is a second home. Even when he goes to Spain Medjugorje is not far from his thoughts : "It is always there, in my heart, and I gladly testify about it”. “Medjugorje is outwardly quite changed, though I feel that the spirit has remained the same”. Even before when I was a child I came with my family, and now I come every year with my wife and children. This is simply a place where people gather strength to go further and it strengthens families. Our values are built into us and we are trying to convey them to our children. It is important that children from an early age learn what is important for us Christians.
Medjugorje and Spain
“In games I regularly wear a shirt with the image of Our Lady of Medjugorje, because all good in my life happened because of Medjugorje. People have recognized this. Many Spaniards are very enthusiastic about this place. My wife was born near Medjugorje, in Hardomilije, Ljubuški . The proximity gives us much greater ability to come every day to Medjugorje when we are in Herzegovina. A few years ago in Spain I was asked to speak about Medjugorje and Marija Bistrica during Holy Week. This was my great honour because I'm a stranger in that country. ( Note: Marija Bistrica in Croatia has an old Marian shrine of the Black Madonna and is a place of pilgrimage visited by hundreds of thousands of pilgrims every year. On 3 October 1998, Pope John Paul II visited Marija Bistrica and beatified Croatian Cardinal Aloysius Stepinac in front of a crowd of 500,000 Croatians)
We have a priest with whom we regularly pray the Lord's Prayer before the game. He recently called me into one parish to speak to students who are preparing to come to Medjugorje in July. On that occasion I spoke about the apparitions of the Queen of Peace, and also of Herzegovina and Croatia, because they were interested in where you travel. I got the impression that the apparitions in Medjugorje are known to students and their teachers. He then spoke about pressures on footballers- big money and all sorts of stories circulating. I believe in God, and we all have moments of crisis in life. The real way out of this crisis is prayer in the family. We are all witnesses to how the family is now threatened, and therefore the Church. We see the threats especially to the family unit. The problem is how to connect the values that give faith to grow the family? We were all kids and we know what we can find on the street. Today young people are pressurized to think that the church, prayer and sacraments are not important and that they are outdated. In fact, those who practice religion in any way are often ridiculed. I try to educate my children in religious life and provide them with moral values. I believe that young people only with God’s help can grow into a moral persons. The difficulties are great and we devote much time to the family. We often call upon Our Lady of Medjugorje to help us.
How do you feel when you finish the pilgrimage?Many of the faithful come here still. The prayerful atmosphere of peace, and peace that I feel in my heart amazes me. I come with many problems, and leave peaceful and blessed. If I do not come for a long time, I feel a longing and need to come. We use mostly every opportunity to come.
Are your fellow players familiar with Medjugorje?
Gijon where I play has a place where Our Lady appeared and they compare it with Medjugorje. ( Note: He is referring to the shrine to the Virgin Mary of Covadonga and the mountain lakes (Los Lagos), near Cangas de Onís: Legend has it that in the 8th century, the Virgin blessed Asturian Christian forces with a well-timed signal to attack Spain's Moorish conquerors, thereby taking the invaders by surprise. The Reconquista and eventual unification of all Spain is therefore said to have started in this very location). Many people thank me because they find peace in Medjugorje and all say that they would return.