A testimony: Manuel Reato – a student of theology from Italy
Manuel Reato (23), a student of theology from Torino, has come several times to Medjugorje. Medjugorje has changed his life. Our Lady’s messages have deeply touched his heart and he believes that they are important for the whole world. Manuel is trying to live Our Lady’s message in his daily life. In Medjugorje, he has learned to seek God, here, he has learned how to pray. Although he is in a wheelchair since his early childhood, Manuel feels a call to become a priest.
Huanita Dragicevic spoke with him for Radio “Mir” Medjugorje.
Manuel Reato: I came to Medjugorje for the first time in 1990, when I was only 10 years old. In the depth of my heart, I felt Our Lady’s presence. Although I spoke no Croatian, although it was difficult to follow all that was happening here, the pastoral work of the Franciscans was a real school for me, especially the evening prayer programme.
After my first pilgrimage to Medjugorje, I decided to continue to pray as I prayed in here. I began to pray the rosary every day, I went regularly for Mass and I started to pray for healing as you do in Medjugorje – especially on Fridays, in front of the Cross.
As the time was passing, the desire to come back was growing, so I continued to come every year, even during the war. There was also certain fear, off course, but I simply couldn’t stay far from Medjugorje. One evening, Fr. Slavko said that we should not climb the mountain, because there was a danger of bombing, but the same evening he was the first one to go up. Many followed him. As we were climbing, I was thinking that I could even die, but at the same moment, I felt a voice in my heart. “Do not be afraid, I am here.” I knew that it was Our Lady’s voice. And the fear disappeared. Not only at that moment, but forever. These were my beginnings in Medjugorje.
Each new coming deepened my experience of God and my prayer. Through the Adoration, I learned that prayer was a dialogue with the living Jesus.
The dear departed Fr. Slavko Barbaric is my greatest example. When I felt the call to the priesthood, I got anxious about it, and this is why I am coming every year. Each time, I entrust to Our Lady the coming year, and I tell her: “Mother, help me!” And she has really always helped me. Before beginning my studies of theology, I had to complete my secondary education, and I had great difficulties. I came to Medjugorje and I said: “Our Lady, if you really want me to be a priest, help me to prepare for the seminary.” A year later, I came to Medjugorje with excellent results of the exams that I had to pass in order to study theology. Our Lady gave me the strength to study and to overcome all the difficulties, and I am forever grateful.
When, in 1997, you opened your Web site, I was thrilled! I asked Our Lady to teach me Croatian and – little by little – I managed to learn. A great help is also the fact that I am all the time listening to Radio “Mir” Medjugorje.
Then, I wanted to help in spreading in Italy the news about the beauty of Our Lady, of this church, this shrine, and these people. I started to translate homilies in Italian, because I thought that it was important for people and for priests to understand. What is being thought in Medjugorje is neither strange nor new. Here is only being shown that Jesus is alive. This is why so many young people form the whole world decide here to follow Jesus and to entrust their whole life to him. In Medjugorje, one can really say: “Jesus is alive!” This is in fact all that Our Lady wants to tell us: Jesus is alive.
In 2001, I was surfing on Internet and I found an Italian title: Information from Medjugorje. I subscribed to the mailing list and I saw that many do not really know what is happening daily in Medjugorje. As soon as, in Italy, they realised that I understood Croatian, they asked me to translate. I feel this as a responsibility, as a service for Our Lady and for Medjugorje who gave me so much. I was translating all that I could find in Croatian. The list was growing and the group became bigger. This service fills me with joy. When I translate something about Medjugorje, I feel like being there.
A group called “In love with Mary” existed before this mailing list. The idea was to create a prayer group on Internet. We regularly exchange our reflections on Our Lady’s messages. Every evening at 9 pm we are united in prayer. We share our prayer intentions through Internet, and we send our prayer intentions to Medjugorje, to the official Home page of the Shrine. Sometimes we meet. During the Youth Festival, some of us were here, and we had the opportunity to pray together and to share.
Although I am in a wheelchair since my birth, I would say: “Everything is possible to God.” Here, Our Lady is telling us all the time that God is all-powerful, that he is a Father who loves us. This experience of an infinite, unconditional love of God helped me to live with my physical handicap. I made this profound experience of the love of God here in Medjugorje, through the intercession of Our Lady. Without Medjugorje, I surely would not be the man that I am today. I want to say to all young handicapped people that God is almighty. Do not be afraid of God and do not be angry with him! He is waiting for you, he is reaching out to you, he wants to take you by the hand and make of you an example and a sign for the whole world. When you are in difficulties, just take Our Lady - your Mother - by the hand, and you will see, you will experience the truth of what she is telling in the messages: that she is our Mother, that she is with us, that she loves us and that she intercedes for us.
God is great, Our Lady is great, she is our Mother, the Queen of Peace, and she wants to help us all. She wants us to experience God’s love and to feel his presence in our lives.