What Happened on August 13, 2003: Caritas Silver Jubilee

What Happened on August 13, 2003: Caritas Silver Jubilee

Wednesday, August 13, 2003
Apparition at Dune Haven


Our founder had asked the community members who were coming (see previous date of August 9, 2011) from Caritas the day before to bring with them many, many flowers. Because we would be having the honor of celebrating the feast of Our Lady’s Assumption with Our Lady at the end of the week, when She would be appearing to Medjugorje visionary Marija, we wanted the altar of Our Lady overflowing with flowers for Her honor. Being in a secluded spot in Florida, there were no flower shops or all purpose stores nearby. When the flowers arrived, we realized we did not have enough large vases and there were none in the house. Annette, our founder’s wife, said she would look in town to see what she could find. She came back with a beautiful used angel pedestal that the woman at a local shop said she could buy if she wanted it, along with a large glass blue vase, both of which the shop used for displays. She also went looking for some kind of cloth for the altar but could find nothing except some pretty sheer curtain panels and lace valances.

The whole day of the 13th had been spent arranging the flowers for the altar, amidst playing in the sand and sea, and now, as we approached the time we were to begin to pray the Rosary, we set to work arranging the remaining flowers with what Annette had found. Marija took the angel pedestal and began making an arrangement for it. The curtains were used to form a table covering while ribbon was added to the vases and eventually to all the little girls’ hair. Some of the older girls then decided they too wanted to add a bow, and then some of the adult women, including Marija, added one to their hair as well for the occasion of welcoming Our Lady. All this was going on while other community members were arriving for the apparition.

While waiting for the altar to be completed, our founder suggested that we all write petitions to Our Lady. Because we didn’t have enough pencils and pens and had to share, it took over an hour for everyone to finish. Meanwhile the altar was receiving finishing touches. This somehow added joy in anticipating being visited by our Queen and Friend. It was nearing late afternoon and the sun rays glistened on the water behind Our Lady. Everyone had changed from their beach wear, to fresh dresses and clothing. We had had a fun day in the sun and water, but the thought never left us that Our Lady was coming—and that we would be in Her presence. As apparition time approached, there was a deep, relaxed peace.

This was the first apparition in which our whole community was altogether with Our Lady, outside of the apparition at Caritas. Our founder was inspired to ask Marija if we could present our petitions directly to Our Lady “during” the apparition. We say “inspired” because of what happened as a result of this request. We played music in between each decade of the Rosary. Marija, who had stayed in the back of the room with her husband, Paolo and her children, came up and knelt in front of Our Lady’s statue as it came time for the Rosary to end. There was a ceramic sailboat canister that we had placed on the floor in front of Marija for everyone to drop their petitions in. As Marija went into ecstasy, each of us quietly came up, one-by-one, and dropped our petition to Our Lady in the canister and then returned to our places. It was an indescribable moment, a very beautiful thing, to approach Our Lady in this way. It was the first time that any of us ever dared to stand up while Our Lady was present, so we felt timid as we approached Her, and though we could not see Her, as Marija, we believed in Her presence nonetheless. It took several minutes for all of us to have an opportunity to bring forward our petitions. Marija, all the while, gazed silently at Our Lady. We became excited because it was obvious Our Lady was giving time for the 50 or so of us to walk up and place our petitions before Her. All during this time Our Lady remained, and even after the last person had returned to where they had been kneeling, Our Lady stayed still longer. We were surprised at this.

When Marija came out of ecstasy, she recited the Magnificat and one Glory Be and said, Our Lady Queen of Peace, pray for us. And then Marija told us something that brought the apparition moment into a greater joy. Marija said that Our Lady had given a message. This was an unexpected surprise. While Marija made her way to the back of the room again, and sat on some steps, most everyone remained where they were, in dead silence but with a great desire and in full anticipation to know what Our Lady had said. It seemed like a long wait, as Marija wrote the description and message, but actually it was only a few minutes before Marija described vocally what had happened in the apparition.

Marija said: “The moment of apparition, I recommend all of us and our intentions and Our Lady pray over us and I recommend our special letters and Our Lady smiled and She said,

“I wish to give you graces. Ask for them.”

And She beginning to pray, and She pray and two time She smile during our prayer when She read letters!

Founder: When we put the letters in She smiled?

Marija: “No, after. You immediately do? Marija was asking—Didn’t you immediately put your petitions in? She didn’t know for sure what we had done because once she was in ecstasy she was unaware of what we were doing, but she thought that was what we had planned to do.

Founder: “Yes, we were all around you like little bees.

Marija: “And after Our Lady give us blessing. Go burn these petitions.”

Founder: One blessing or two blessings?

Marija: “Blessing like She gave.”

Founder: She was dressed like normal, was She happy?

Marija: “Yes…We go burn petitions.”

The following exchange was made in play and joy.

Annette: She didn’t come with angels? She was suppose to come with angels, we asked.

Marija: “I do not like ask today. Tomorrow, day after tomorrow. Our Lady say when it big feast day, big grace She give. So day after tomorrow I go ask. So today I say thank you.”

Founder: So repeat this message again now.

Paolo: “I wish to give you graces. Ask for them.”

Ruth: And She smiled twice?

Marija: “Two times She smile during prayer.”

Annette: And no angels? Where are the angels?

Marija: “No angels.”

Ruth: They’re inside there looking at all of us.

Founder: While we were putting in petitions She was just standing in prayer and watching?

Marija: “I don’t know when you put petition in.”

Of course, it was thrilling to receive words from Our Lady and Marija’s description that “She read letters.” What other words could you want to hear after writing down on paper all the graces you wish to receive? Especially when Our Lady said this is Her wish by saying to us, “I ‘wish’ to give you graces. Ask for them.” It was a message we meditated on for the entire time Our Lady was with us during our vacation, and a long time afterwards. This is why we said the request by our founder was inspired. In fact, because we understood that this action of writing out our petitions in some way pleased Our Lady, our founder asked Marija two days later, on the feast of Her Assumption, if we could do this again—and actually live this message in a more profound way that Our Lady had given to us. And again, Marija said, “Yes, we do this.”



Being away from the mission, having our days free to spend them as we please, we could lavish our time on Our Lady and that is where our hearts wanted to be, especially as we sensed through Our Lady’s actions and words to us that She wanted to be with us as well. This moved our hearts to want to please Her, to make Her not just a part of our day, but the focus of our days on vacation! The morning and into the afternoon, many of us worked on putting together flower arrangements from the flowers that had been brought from Alabama by the last group of community members who had just arrived late the night before. It was our delight to do so—especially with Our Lady’s feast of the Assumption in just a few days.

community decorating

Marija and our founder’s wife, Annette, added the finishing touches to Our Lady’s altar. Marija has been arranging flowers for Our Lady for so many years that she acquired the skills of putting together beautiful arrangements, such as what you would see in a flower shop. While Marija was working on making the arrangement for the angel pedestal, she showed the girls the steps to building up an arrangement. Annette, too, has her own creative flare that she brings to every event. Marija once said of Annette that “We are sisters in this.” Marija and our founder’s wife, Annette, added the finishing touches to Our Lady’s altar. Marija has been arranging flowers for Our Lady for so many years that she acquired the skills of putting together beautiful arrangements, such as what you would see in a flower shop. While Marija was working on making the arrangement for the angel pedestal, she showed the girls the steps to building up an arrangement. Annette, too, has her own creative flare that she brings to every event. Marija once said of Annette that “We are sisters in this.”

statue of our lady

An old weathered beach chair added just the right height for a bouquet of flowers in a pretty blue vase, not to mention the perfect touch for our “altar by the sea.” A simple sailboat canister was placed on the floor in front of the altar to hold our petitions as we placed them at Our Lady’s feet during Her apparition to Marija on this day of August 13, 2003.

medjugorje visionary marija

All during the time that the altar was being prepared, the community members were arriving to the house. It was in the middle of the afternoon, during the hottest part of the day, and we were gathering for Our Lady’s apparition. As people arrived, our founder invited everyone to write out petitions to Our Lady. It took some time for everyone to be able to do this because of not having enough pens and pencils to go around. While some were writing, and others were waiting to write, Annette began tying pretty bows in the little girls’ hair and then Marija joined her in this with some of the young consecrated single girls. There was the desire to do this for Our Lady. There was a feeling of festivity in the room, with the beautiful colored flowers and the bright sun filling the room. After all the younger girls received their pretty bows, some of the older girls wanted one too!

annette and the visoinary

Our founder’s wife, Annette, surprises Marija with a bow for her hair too! Our Lady calls us Her “children” and even Her “little children.” She desires us to be as children, not childish, but child-like—playful, joyful, with confidence in their Father, and innocent of heart, among other attributes. This has always been a part of the charism of the community that has come through the influence of our founder, his wife and Marija, herself, who witnesses to us the joy of Our Lady.


Dressed up for Our Lady, topped off with a big bow in her curly hair, little 5-year-old Bridget writes to Our Lady. Our Lady, our Queen, our Mother, our Friend—asked for this community to be established. Since that time we, with our children, have grown up with Our Lady. For the past 25 years, we have enjoyed very intimate moments with Her. Though these experiences are real, often when we ourselves reflect upon them, they seem surreal. What five-year-old has the experience of writing a letter to the Virgin Mary, and moments afterwards, She reads it! Our Lady comes to us as our dearest friend, just as Jesus was the friend of Lazarus. We hold Our Lady in our hearts with deep reverence and we view Her as a Queen, a Mother, and a Friend, as we have experienced Her not only in these three ways, but also as the Queen of Peace. Our Lady said in the Bedroom of Apparitions:

December 25, 1988

“…I am the Queen of Peace…”

It is why we say life with Our Lady is surreal. And if it is that way with us, who have lived it, what will it seem to those in the future, decades or even centuries from now, who read these writings and stories of little Bridget and us whose lives were spent literally growing up in the time Our Lady with Her?


Finally, everything and everyone was ready. The community gathered before Our Lady’s altar. Special songs were prepared to play between the decades of the Rosary to bring us deeper into prayer. The sounds and the beauty of nature surrounded us—in the flowers, in the glistening sea, in the sounds of the waves and the calling of the sea gulls, in the warmth of the sun. This was the first apparition in which the whole community was together with Our Lady in the house of Dune Haven. There was such peace felt in this house.

medjugorje visionary marija in extacy

Marija came forward at the end of the Rosary kneeling before Our Lady’s statue, and when her head suddenly tilted upwards, and we knew Our Lady was present, without hesitation those closest to Marija arose, went forward and dropped their petitions into the sailboat canister. Everyone waited in turn to have the same opportunity, hoping Our Lady would stay long enough to receive all our petitions. She did stay and not only stayed, but smiled twice as we did so. It was a different experience for all of us to be moving ourselves—getting up from off our knees, walking to the front of the room, bending over to drop our petitions, returning to our places and to our knees, knowing Our Lady was watching us all. This event, along with many other experiences through the years is why our founder, A Friend of Medjugorje, was motivated to spend effort for you to write a petition and have it in Our Lady’s presence. Read Send Petition (click), Where Does It Go? (click), and Have a Candle Lit and a Rose Placed (click).

medjugorje visionary marija in extacy

Normally, in the short time Our Lady is with us in the apparitions, we kneel the whole time, with little movement at all, wanting to be fully focused on Our Lady. This was something so out of the ordinary for all of us—to have the ability to walk towards Our Lady, seeing Marija in ecstasy the whole time, knowing Our Lady was standing there—it was something too big to grasp, not possible to take in. We all had the awareness that the apparition was lasting longer and longer—and this was so touching to our hearts as we began to see and realize that Our Lady would stay until everyone had given their petitions, no matter how long that took. When the last petition was given, Our Lady did not immediately leave, but stayed, giving time for the community to have this moment impressed upon our hearts forever.

visionary marija and her husband

It was a moment of pure joy after the apparition ended, when we learned that Our Lady had given a message. We remained on our knees and in silence while Marija rejoined her husband at the back of the room, and while sitting on some steps, wrote out Our Lady’s words. When Marija spoke Our Lady’s words, “I wish to give you graces, ask for them,” we were filled with wonder and amazement. We are sinners and deserve nothing, yet we receive so much. How could Our Lady be so good to us? We had spent over an hour writing out our hearts desires—and Our Lady was telling us that She approved of our asking, and to ask for more. Our founder, being inspired to ask this, also guided us before we wrote our petitions, telling us to not write only our desires but in gratefulness and to express our love for Our Lady in our letters. Of course, our lists were not filled up with material wants, but of spiritual desires, and this too was an indication to us that Our Lady was happy not only that we were asking, but that we were asking in a right spirit.

community burning petitions

Marija was very insistent that we immediately go and burn the petitions, stating it several times. She joked with us a little bit when we, also joking, suggested picking out a few and reading them out loud. Marija then led everyone out on the deck where one of the boys started a fire in a charcoal grill. Once the blaze sprang up, the petitions were tossed in. What was written on these pieces of paper was gone forever, hidden in the heart of Our Lady. Some of what we asked for has long been forgotten, but all of us remember some of what we wrote, some of which have been granted—and others, we are still waiting on, but are comforted by the words, “I wish to give you graces…” knowing that everything is always in God’s perfect plan for all of us.

statue of our lady

Never again, after this apparition, would we be able to look at this statue of Our Lady without recalling these special days when She allowed us to have a more intimate experience connecting our time on vacation with Her. With Our Lady, Heaven became so near to us. Our Lady brought us Heaven at Dune Haven.

November 25, 2000

“…Today when Heaven is near to you in a special way…”

For the rest of our lives, these particular apparitions have so much on which to ponder of the goodness of Our Lady. And in the sunset of our lives, what will these memories be to us? Treasures beyond measure.


The ocean on August 13, 2003. The ocean and all of creation is twice as beautiful with Our Lady. While the beach has become a place of sin, depraved immodesty, purely for the flesh, we felt Heaven descend on the secluded, isolated stretch of beach. We witnessed even to Marija that girls should never wear the profane bathing suits that were viewed as “normal” of our time. All community girls and women wear shirts and long gym shorts over a bathing suit when swimming. We had been living this for years. Perhaps this is one of the reasons why Our Lady was so free with us and did so much on our week at the beach!

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