About Caritas of Birmingham
There are so many arms to the mission of Caritas of Birmingham that we have people who daily come into contact with one sector of the mission who never discover just how vast and expansive Caritas of Birmingham really is. It can only be explained by God’s grace and Our Lady’s guidance. It’s not a picture easily painted if one wants to gain a fuller understanding of everything encompassed in the life and mission of Caritas. What is perhaps easier to do is to give you pieces of the life here, formed into a mosaic. It’s only after you have all the pieces, each placed beside the others, that you can begin to see a picture emerge.
When you read an article on Medjugorje.com or see a “This is My Time” billboard; when you listen to a Radio WAVE program or receive a Words of the Harvesters newsletter in the mail; when you are welcomed with a smile into the Caritas Mission House in Medjugorje or sign up as a pilgrim for a pilgrimage with BVM Caritas Medjugorje Pilgrimages; when you speak to a Caritas community member on the phone or attend one of the Five Days of Prayer event that Caritas of Birmingham hosts; when you stop by and pray a Rosary in the Field of Apparitions with the Community while passing through to another destination or come to pray in the Bedroom of Apparitions; when you stand at the foot of the Cross on top of the mountain that stands above the Field of Apparitions and stare out over the entire Valley that Caritas of Birmingham calls “home,” you still only get a very small slice of what it is that Our Lady has created “here” through the “yes” of a Friend of Medjugorje, his wife, his family and the community.
1. Caritas of Birmingham is a place uniquely blessed by Heaven.
Many people when on pilgrimage to Medjugorje have said to a Friend of Medjugorje,“I wish I could live in Medjugorje. I would love to move to Medjugorje.”
A Friend of Medjugorje never had that sentiment. Instead, what he said from the beginning was,“No. Go home and make your home Medjugorje.”
That’s exactly what he did. He began to make his home Medjugorje. Hence came the question he asked Our Lady through Medjugorje visionary, Marija, on October 6, 1986, “…we humbly ask that the conversion taking place in Medjugorje be allowed to take place “here,’” meaning in his hometown of Birmingham, Alabama.
Our Lady said “yes” if he… by his life witnesses and lives in humility. Through his decision to follow Our Lady, the Queen of Peace came to his home in 1988; a newly constructed Home that he and his wife began building in 1981, the same year Our Lady began appearing in Medjugorje. Close to 200 apparitions of Our Lady have taken place “here,” primarily in their Bedroom, but also in the Field. Untold conversions were “birthed” from these Holy Sites, and continue to be so.
On February 1, 1994, on Medjugorje visionary, Marija’s, second visit to the Home of a Friend of Medjugorje, Our Lady smiled and said,“I am happy to be here.” Throughout the past 30 years, Our Lady has expressed in many ways Her happiness to “be here,” in the Home of a Friend of Medjugorje, with his wife, with their family, with the Caritas Community, within the mission of Caritas of Birmingham.
2. Caritas of Birmingham is a people set apart, consecrated, for the fulfillment of Our Lady’s plans.
Consecrated means being “set apart,” to be made holy, dedicated to a Sacred purpose. A Friend of Medjugorje consecrated himself to Our Lady. He led his wife to do the same, and they in turn consecrated their family. In their Home, in 1988, Our Lady asked for a community to begin “here.” Individuals heard the call to community life and joined with a Friend of Medjugorje and his family. Caritas of Birmingham became their home as they consecrated themselves to the plans of Our Lady, through the Community of Caritas and the mission of Caritas of Birmingham, with a Friend of Medjugorje as the founder and director of the mission, Caritas of Birmingham, and the Community of Caritas.
3. Caritas of Birmingham is a mission that promotes and spreads the messages of Our Lady of Medjugorje.
The first responsibility of the members of the Community of Caritas is to live Our Lady’s messages in their own personal lives and the life of the Community. Only then is their work blessed to lead hearts to conversion through the mission of Caritas of Birmingham.
The largest Medjugorje center in the world, Caritas of Birmingham is housed in a 65,000 square foot building, constructed with four floors, a full print shop, professional graphics department, state-of-the-art radio studio and audio production center, 800-person capacity auditorium, home to BVM Caritas Medjugorje Pilgrimages, a shipping department that sends Medjugorje materials to over 130 countries around the world. Every square inch of this mission building, named, Tabernacle of Our Lady’s Messages, is entirely dedicated and used for the promotion of Our Lady of Medjugorje, Her messages, and Her plans. Several other large buildings on the grounds support Caritas of Birmingham’s main operations.
4. Caritas of Birmingham is a pilgrimage site, attracting pilgrims from all over the world.
Our Lady appeared to Juan Diego in Guadalupe, Mexico, four times. In Lourdes, France, Our Lady appeared to Bernadette Soubirous 18 times, and in Fatima, Portugal, She appeared six times to the three shepherd children, Jacinta, Francesco and Lucia. In La Salette, France, Our Lady only appeared one time. Even with a relatively small number of apparitions at these well-known apparition sites, large shrines have been built at each one to honor Our Lady and have attracted millions of pilgrims.
What does it mean, then, to have a place where Our Lady has appeared nearly 200 times in apparitions? How much greater will its importance and impact be because these are the last apparitions on earth? What will it mean that these apparitions will be the triumph of Our Lady? When Medjugorje is approved by the Church, which will happen when everything Our Lady foretold comes to pass, then also the sites here at Caritas of Birmingham will become more known worldwide and cherished among the faithful. Already, more than 100,000 pilgrims have visited the Sacred Sites of the Bedroom and Field of Apparitions over the past 30 years and experienced deep conversion. Millions of people know of the events here at Caritas of Birmingham through publications like Life Magazine, Reader’s Digest and National Geographic, through broadcasts such as shown on ABC News 20/20, Unsolved Mysteries and the Arts and Entertainment Network, and through major news outlets such as the Associated Press and Reuters, and even international media outlets. Outside of Medjugorje, there are no other sites that have been especially blessed by Our Lady, in these, Her last apparitions on earth, as the sites here in the Home of a Friend of Medjugorje and his wife, and the Field.
5. Caritas of Birmingham is a window to the future.
A Friend of Medjugorje has often said that the life of the community in living the messages of Our Lady on the sites that She sanctified is a “window to the future.” He believes that what the community lives today will be the normal way of life for the world in the future—small communities, agrarian life, growing your own food, returning to a simpler way of life. A life that revolves around God, Who is in the first place. He believes, like that of the small Christian communities in the Acts of the Apostles, that these small communities based in living the messages of Our Lady will re-Christianize the whole world.
6. Caritas of Birmingham is multi-generational.
A Friend of Medjugorje and his wife, Annette, have been married for 42 years. They were married on January 18, 1975. This marriage is the foundation upon which everything Our Lady established at Caritas is built. They raised their six children in the way of Our Lady’s messages, and the other community families have adopted this witness. From the time they were little, these children have grown up surrounded by the messages of Our Lady. They see the messages lived, hear the messages spoken daily, are taught the messages in their home and school life, and learn how to witness the messages in their own lives. “Schooled” not only in the message, but also in the means and methods to propogate them through the various arms of the mission, they are the continuators of Our Lady’s mission for future generations.
7. Caritas of Birmingham has always been in the highest rankings of financial efficiency.
Charity Watch is an organization that performs detailed analyses of non-profit organizations’ financial efficiency. Their two main metrics for measuring the financial efficiency of a non-profit are “Program Percentage” and “Cost to Raise $100.” “Program Percentage” is defined as the percentage of annual expenditures that a non-profit spends on its charitable programs. The higher the percentage, the more the non-profit is spending on its stated purpose for existence, and the less it is spending on Management, Administrative, and Fundraising expenses, which though necessary to all operations, are not part of the organization’s main purpose. Charity Watch considers a program percentage of greater than 90% to be highly efficient, and the higher the better.
“Cost to Raise $100” is defined as how much it costs a non-profit to raise $100 in donations – basically, how much do you spend on raising money. A company may raise a lot of money and spend a high percentage of those funds on its main programs, but if it costs them a lot of money to raise that money, then the organization is not all that financially efficient. The lower the “Cost to Raise $100” the better, meaning better financial efficiency. Charity Watch considers a “Cost to Raise $100” of below $4 to be highly efficient, and the lower the better.
Caritas of Birmingham utilizes 92.6% of its expenditures on direct mission expenses – our “Program Percentage.” The Mission’s “Cost to Raise $100” is near zero, at just $2.60 to raise $100. These two metrics taken together show that Caritas of Birmingham is in the top tier of financial efficiency for non-profits in the United States. Referencing Charity Watch’s metrics as a benchmark, Caritas’ efficiency rating would be an A+. Visit here to see the graphical history of Caritas’ direct mission expenses.
8. Caritas of Birmingham is among the oldest established Medjugorje centers in the world and the only one that has operated the longest continuously.*
A Friend of Medjugorje was a young husband and father when he incorporated Caritas of Birmingham in 1986. Today, the mission is still vibrant and growing. He began writing the monthly Caritas Newsletter in 1987, and has continued to write all of these years. There is no one in the Medjugorje world who has written more on the messages of Our Lady of Medjugorje than a Friend of Medjugorje. He also started many prayer movements and projects over the past 30 years that continue to be strong and vital to the propagation of Our Lady’s plans throughout the world. At the end of this writing, are some of the spiritual initiatives that a Friend of Medjugorje started years ago, through Our Lady’s promptings. They represent millions of prayers that have been offered up to Heaven for the fulfillment of Our Lady’s plans.
*Some older Medjugorje centers closed, or paused or reopened later.