Testimony: Silvia Janine Rusneac
Our Lady is healing the Church in Romania
Date: November 18, 2007
Silvia Janine Rusneac from Romania has the master’s degree in the Roman Catholic and the Greek Catholic Theology. Since 1994, she is organising pilgrimages to Medjugorje. This is her testimony:
My name is Silvia Janine Rusneac from Oradea, a city in the west of Romania. My parents were both Catholics - my mother was a Roman Catholic, my father was a Greek Catholic - but during the communist regime, I was baptised in the Orthodox Church, so I was the only Orthodox in the family! My parents were not practicing. My mother only went some times to the church to pray to St. Anthony… I knew almost nothing about God. I believed that God exists, but for me, he was in heaven, and I was on earth. I was not practicing, I did not go to the church, and I did not know anything about confession… From all the prayers, I only knew the Our Father. For two years, I was studying medicine, but I couldn’t handle the problems connected with suffering, so I had to quit.
At that time, I had great problems in my life, and I wanted to die. I remember that I said to God: “Give me for a second the power to take my life, to disappear from your eyes. I don’t want your Heaven, I just want to disappear in the universe, give me this power.” If He had given me this power, I think that I would really have taken my life... At that time, even if God had told me: “I will give you happiness”, I would have said NO. I was really suffering. This is what led me to Medjugorje…
I did not know that Our Lady could possibly appear on earth
At that time, it was in 1990, I was buying a lot of newspapers, and that is how I heard for the first time about the apparitions of Our Lady. I read an article about different apparitions in the world, and I remember that I knelt down and I said: “O God, I am so happy that you started to appear, because now people will begin to believe that you exist!” I knew nothing about apparitions; I did not know that Our Lady could possibly appear on earth.
When I was a little child, my Greek Catholic grandmother taught me to pray the Our Father. She transmitted to me the awareness that God was powerful, and that He was good. So, in the phase of my greatest suffering, I remembered the God of my childhood, and I told to my mother: “I am going to God”, and I went to a church, to a Catholic Church. From that very moment onward, God was holding me by the hand. I understood this many years later: from that very moment, my whole life was directed to Him. After that, I started to ask people: “Have you heard about Medjugorje?” Nobody knew anything… In the meantime, my mother involved the whole family to pray for me, because she was afraid that I was going to die… my weight was only 43 kg… so we all started to go to the Catholic Church, and we all started to pray. And I started to study theology because I wanted to know more about God.
In the church where I was going, I met a young man who had a contact with Medjugorje: he knew a priest in Budapest, Hungary, who was organising pilgrimages. He promised me to contact him on my behalf. It was in 1991… I remember that I said to God: “If I knew that you were on Mount Everest, on the top of the Himalaya, I would go there walking, I would climb the mountain to meet you and to talk to you!” I wanted to fall into His arms and cry… I wanted to meet God physically! Among all the places of pilgrimage mentioned in the newspaper, I have chosen to go to Medjugorje because it was closest to Romania. I had no money to travel somewhere far away…
The Queen of Peace gave me her peace
In the meantime, the contact with the priest in Budapest was established, and twelve of us came to Medjugorje. All that I had to eat during those six days in Medjugorje were five conserves with meat. I had no money, I had no food, but I did not care! I was here, with Our Lady! I cannot tell you what it meant to me! I thought that this was my first, my last and my only time in Medjugorje… I was trying to keep everything in my memory… I was quite sure that there was not a second time…
Our group leader spoke only Hungarian, so I did not understand anything of what he was saying. I did not know that Our Lady of Medjugorje was the Queen of Peace. The first apparition I assisted to was on Cross Mountain, which meant that I did not have to climb Mount Everest! It was a public apparition. During that apparition, I tried to talk to Our Lady, to tell her my pain, my suffering and my trouble. I wanted to cry and to lament, but I couldn’t! There was something very powerful that came over me, a great peace. It was even within me! I could not go against that peace that overcame me. It was more powerful than my pain, my pride… Since then, I have never suffered as I did before. My suffering used to be destructive. It was killing me. After that day, there was suffering in my life, but it was never destructive. It was suffering that I can support with the grace of God. Many years later, I understood that the Queen of Peace gave me her peace.
Why wouldn’t I organise pilgrimages to Medjugorje?
Two years later, I came again, and then again and again… I did not think that this would ever be possible! I did not consider organising pilgrimages. I was coming for myself, with the Hungarians, because there was nobody in Romania to bring groups to Medjugorje. When I recall those days, I say: it is so nice to be a pilgrim, not a leader! I had a very good spiritual director, a holy man who helped me a lot with his advices. He encouraged me to go to Our Lady.
In summer 1994, I was walking on the street in Romania, and all of a sudden, without thinking about anything, one idea came to my mind: Why wouldn’t I organise pilgrimages to Medjugorje? My spontaneous reaction was: no, no, this is not serious! But the thought remained in my mind, and I spoke about it to my spiritual director. He said immediately: “Do it!” I knew what it meant on the practical level: first I had to go to Budapest and ask the Hungarian priest to take me free of charges, then - in Medjugorje – I had to ask father Slavko for a written invitation, etc… So, without hesitation, together with a friend-interpreter, we went hitchhiking to Budapest to visit the priest who was organising pilgrimages to Medjugorje. We asked him to put our names on his list, and trembling, we told him that we had no money… He asked us: “Why do you want to go to Medjugorje?” I said: “I really want to meet Our Lady!” This was my fourth pilgrimage, with a very precise goal: to get an invitation from Father Slavko for the first group of Romanians.
In Medjugorje, when I saw father Slavko, I asked him to give me “only two minutes”. I was quite scared because I thought that he would consider me too young to organise pilgrimages… I was 28 years of age… and in my fourth year of Theology… Father Slavko was very friendly, and he helped me a lot. He explained to me what to do with the pilgrims. I got the invitation, and when I brought the first group, he organised for us lodging free of charge. The same with the second and the third pilgrimage… he helped us a lot! He introduced me to everything that was happening in Medjugorje. I will never forget his words… Sometimes he was very demanding. He knew how to tell us what NOT to do in Medjugorje…
I wanted to share with the taste of heaven that I had touched in Medjugorje
This is how I continued to organise pilgrimages. I counted until 1.000 pilgrims, I came more then 18 times, and I stopped counting.
I remember one special pilgrimage, the most beautiful pilgrimage I ever had. I brought 28 orphans from Romania aged 14 to 18. These children were not used to prayer, they did not know prayers. I wrote for them everything on a paper, but they did not want to pray. They were refusing everything. With us came a priest who was used to work with children, so we did not force them. In Medjugorje, we stayed in Domus Pacis, free of charge. Father Slavko took care of everything. Different people came and spoke to the kids, played music for them, played ball with them… the way they like it. In the bus, on our way back, they were competing who will pray more!
I remember another trip: I had to take care of seven buses! When I look back at this, I am amazed how I dared to do such a thing, to take 350 people, all alone! I was also translating… Later, I got a helper, a theology student who is a priest now.
Once, an orthodox priest came with us and father Slavko organised for him to celebrate the orthodox liturgy in the chapel.
One year, at the end of the Youth Festival, we spent the night on Cross Mountain. I remember an Irish guy playing guitar and singing… you could hear people breathing. Total silence and only his voice, singing to God… it was like heaven… I wanted this moment to last forever. It was like eternity, a moment lasting forever. I wanted to share this with others… the love of God, the hope that He is giving, His beauty, His lasting joy… this is why I started organising pilgrimages… After all these years, I understood that I wanted to share with all my friends, and then with other Romanians, the taste of heaven that I had touched in Medjugorje…
The greatest gift of my life is Medjugorje. I have no words to explain. It takes a lot of courage and a bit of unconsciousness to organise pilgrimages… I am very grateful to Our Lady, and also very grateful to Father Slavko, who has helped me a lot at the time when I was quite lost. He really was a holy man. He said we should keep Medjugorje authentic, not adding and not taking away anything; we should avoid spiritual tourism, we should avoid spreading things that have nothing to do with Medjugorje, because it may lead to confusion, and the pilgrims will lose from sight what is essential. This is what Father Slavko told me, and I think it is very important to keep it in mind.
God gives us a lot; he is training and preparing us
One thought is coming to my mind: this is what can happen when a person says YES to God. This YES becomes a big three... I like what is written in the Talmud: “If you save one single person, you save the whole world”! I am happy. Our Lady’s messages are now spread in Romania. I think that God was preparing me for this since my childhood. My mother is French, born in Paris, so my first language was French. In the school I studied English; at the University, I studied Theology… God gives us a lot; he is training and preparing us. The only thing we have to do is to say YES. Sometimes I think: what would have happened if I had not said YES at that time? Maybe somebody else would have started to organise pilgrimages, but maybe much later… maybe it would have been somebody without any theological knowledge and culture… Who knows? It is very important to spread the messages…
In the Medjugorje prayer groups in Romania, the Greek Catholics, the Roman Catholics and the Orthodox are united
In Romania, we have Greek Catholics, Roman Catholics and Orthodox Christians. The Roman Catholic Vicar general from Oradea came to Medjugorje and saw for himself. Some Catholic bishops are really in favour of Medjugorje. Many Orthodox are also coming to Medjugorje because they have a great love for Our Lady. They are not coming because of the Roman Catholic Church, but because for Our Lady. When they come to Medjugorje, I try to explain to them things that they did not know. Something very special in Medjugorje is Adoration. The Orthodox love it, they say that they feel like in Heaven. Nowhere else you can find something similar. We do not want anyone to change their religion; it would cause enormous difficulties in our situation in Romania, which is already very complex, but everybody can come here freely and meet Our Lady. She is changing lives.
In Romania, we are trying to do something like the Medjugorje Evening Prayer programme. Our Lady is healing the Church in Romania: the Greek Catholics, the Roman Catholics and the Orthodox. All of us are Our Lady’s children. In the Medjugorje prayer groups in Romania, all these Churches are united!