Our Lady continued to appear and give messages everyday to Marija during her stay at a Friend of Medjugorje’s home in Birmingham, Alabama. Marija left for a week and returned to Medjugorje to inform her family about the medical procedures she and her brother, Andrija, would undergo and to assure her worried parents that they were in good hands. The day after Marija returned to the home of a Friend of Medjugorje, on December 13, Our Lady made known in the apparition in the Bedroom that She desired a community to begin through a Friend of Medjugorje. He and his wife were shocked and asked Marija for more details. Marija only said that she thought Our Lady wanted something like what Fr. Gianni started with the Oasis of Peace in Medjugorje, a congregation based in the messages of Our Lady. It was still in its infancy, but it had received the blessing of Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger and Pope John Paul II in 1986. Marija said to a Friend of Medjugorje that it would be good for him to meet Fr. Gianni. The message Our Lady gave on December 15, 1988, further confirmed that Our Lady came with â€œa planâ€ that She wanted to bring to birth:
Marija underwent surgery on December 16 and for the next month, Our Lady continued to appear to her every day, but did not give messages.
While Marija and her brother convalesced after their surgeries, a Friend of Medjugorje and his wife were preparing not only for Christmas, but also to receive their fourth child who was due a week before Christmas. But Christmas came and went, as did the due date, and still there was no baby. Finally, almost two weeks past the due date, on December 28, which providentially was the Feast of the Holy Family, a baby boy was born. Waiting upon Our Lady to give a sign as to what to name their new child, it wasn’t until they were ready to bring him home from the hospital that the sign was given and Joseph Michael became his name. A name dear to Our Lady’s heart.
These and many other events helped to shape and mold the understanding that Our Lady was â€œbirthingâ€ something new within Her plans that started through Medjugorje. As with anything â€œnewâ€ that God begins, there is always resistance, misunderstanding, jealousies and attempts to stop what God has ordained. In the midst of these months with Marija and Our Lady’s apparitions, the family of a Friend of Medjugorje passed through the fire of persecution, loss of friends, rumors, betrayals, threats; all the while in the peace of Our Lady’s presence, in the beautiful setting of Christmas.
â€œBirthâ€ is the reoccurring theme throughout the story of a Friend of Medjugorje, his family, the mission of Caritas of Birmingham, and the Community he was to found in the near future. With â€birthâ€œ there is always labor and pain, but what is birthed far outweighs what was suffered. What was born in the apparitions of November 1988 through January 1989 in the home of a Friend of Medjugorje was â€œa way of lifeâ€â€¦the life of the messages lived in community that would lead to â€œa way of salvationâ€ for multitudes of individuals and families across the world.