Marie's Story- Volunteering at the Blue Container
The story of Marie, Mary's Meals volunteer in Medjugorje.
I first went to Medjugorje in 1984 and in the early days followed the story of Magnus MacFarlane-Barrow and his work with Scottish International Relief. I returned to Medjugorje a few times over the years and when I heard about Mary’s Meals I started to support it financially.
In 2018 I came on pilgrimage again and looked for the Mary’s Meals information point only to find it had moved. As it turned out, the Mass that evening focused on the work of Mary’s Meals and it was mentioned that a visiting bishop would be blessing the new information centre (situated in a blue shipping container) after Mass. I decided to follow the group to find out where this new centre was and found myself whisked up with the crowd onto the decking area outside the container and standing next to Magnus. As the bishop turned to bless Magnus with holy water, I received the blessing at the same time! Somehow, I knew that I was being called to get more involved too. When I went home, I looked on the website and registered as a volunteer. I was given training as a Mary’s Meals Community Ambassador and started responding to requests for talks. I also decided to turn my beekeeping hobby into a fundraising effort by selling the honey they produced and donating the money to Mary’s Meals. It was lovely to think that the proceeds of every three jars of honey would feed a child for a whole school year!
Speaking to my local coordinator about my desire to go back to Medjugorje she suggested that I might like to apply to be a volunteer in the blue container for a month. This would have been difficult during the beekeeping season but the bees would be prepared for winter and could be left from the middle of September. This timing worked out well for the local team as the Mary’s Meals family pilgrimage and International Conference were both happening in early October so they knew they would be busy then.
As I write this I am coming to the end of my stay and I have had an amazing time. I met Magnus, his lovely wife Julie and their family and felt truly welcomed into the global family of Mary’s Meals staff and volunteers. It has been a joy to meet visitors in the centre and share the Mary’s Meals story with them. The response is almost always positive and enthusiastic. My hope is that I will be able to bring a little of the spirit of Medjugorje back with me to renew my work with Mary’s Meals when I return home.
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