Our visit to Medjugorje was much more than we anticipated. We went on this Pilgrimage knowing that Mary, as the Mother of Jesus and Queen of Heaven, is the greatest intercessor to her Son Jesus.
Also, Medjugorje is a place where if one opens his or her heart, that person can experience the “enlightenment of the eyes of one’s heart.” Medjugorje is a place of meditation and confession, all of which lead to finding peace, hope and joy.
We went there in hopes of having some of those experiences, but also, we prayed for our family and friends’ health and their intentions, and for the future of the St. John Paul II Life Center and Vitae Clinic in Austin.
We prayed for answers. We prayed that we could proceed with reduced worry and stress, for needed spiritual insight, for the best ways to serve others, and for God’s blessings on our endeavors.
Some of the Bible verses during the days of our Pilgrimage, directly addressed our questions and provided answers.
The various Bible readings assured us that the direction in which we are heading to help the St. John Paul II Life Center with its Capital Campaign is the correct path and that the acquisition of the Marathon Building as our new location to operate the Center and the Vitae Clinic is absolutely God’s plan and the right course to follow— the Marathon Building as our Austin-based National Headquarters—Education and Care—For Life!
Taking a Leap of Faith
To decide to initiate a $10 million dollar campaign for the St. John Paul II Life Center was as one of our supporters said, “a daunting challenge!”
The Center’s dedicated Board, supporters and contributors have been extremely generous as we already have more than $3,500,000 contributed or pledged.
Part of the complexity of the project, however, was starting a $2,000,000 renovation before either closing a purchase or lease of the Marathon Building on January 15, 2024. That day, January 15, 2024, also happened to be the day the Center’s lease at the Jefferson Building (which the Center has leased during its 14 years of operation) would end.
The renovation plans provide for the addition of another physician and nurse practitioner to allow for patient growth and care for more than three times the current clients at the Center and patients of the Vitae Clinic.
Despite dealing with issues caused by Covid, the renovation has progressed but behind schedule. General and economic conditions in Austin have been like those in many other parts of the U.S., where projects are experiencing material shortages and delivery delays along with delays in local government plan approvals and inspections.
Also, the construction work came up against the holiday season, which always slows down a project’s progress.
The impact of these issues became clearer when the construction contractor advised that the renovations would not be finished for move-in until late February 2024.
An extension of the Center’s lease to the end of February was needed. More time was needed to accomplish the achievable $10,000,000 goal of the Capital Campaign — $8,500,000 for the renovated Marathon Building and $1,500,000 for the national education programs and staff enhancements for the Center and Clinic.
Needless to say, pressure began to build as we neared Christmas.
Getting a Breakthrough
The breakthrough came on December 22 when a multi-million-dollar loan approval was received, and later in the afternoon of the same day, an extension of the current Center office lease until February 29, 2024, was obtained.
These then allowed moving the closing of the Marathon Building purchase to late February and move-in for the St. John Paul II Life Center and Vitae Clinic two days later.
What incredible timing for these to happen just before Christmas to allow for a more relaxed, enjoyable celebration of the birth of Christ!
As I was appreciating the relief of the pressures created by these events, Pat said to me, “Tim, I do not know why you were so stressed, you know God is in control of this!”
Yes, I do know that God is in control of this entire effort for the Center, but it is still difficult to accept as we await God’s help in His time.
As Paul Harvey Used to Say, “And Now For the Rest of The Story”
There’s another part of this that I must share. On the last day of the Medjugorje Pilgrimage, as we were finishing the part along the Croation Coast, I had my first extensive visit with Father Phil Schultz, the Chaplain on the Pilgrimage.
Father Phil has only been a Priest for three years and before that he was a successful financial executive for a major insurance company, leading its real estate division and then another major investment firm. I wanted his spiritual insight, and to learn more about his business experience.
We had a delightful visit, and I shared with him some materials about the Center and our building purchase. As we were finishing our visit he said, “Tim, I am meeting with the head of the Knights of Columbus Investment program next Thursday. Would you like for me to mention your project to him?” I said that would be great. Father Phil visited him.
I followed up with the Knights of Columbus investment leader after Father Phil’s visit with him, and after much work providing all the necessary loan information, including letters of support from informed individuals, the Center now has its loan commitment.
With God’s Help Good Things Do Happen
I am convinced that when we open our hearts, ask God for His help, and do our part to be successful, with prayer and faith in God, good things do happen.
Sharing Christmas with Family
I enjoyed Advent as we prayed and waited for the coming of Jesus (the reason for the Season) by reading Cardinal Zen’s Advent Reflectionsprinted by Sophia Press. Really beautiful.
Christmas was wonderful as we were able to separately host each of our four adult children’s families and their children at our home in Austin. It really was great to get to have individual visits with each family member.
The Year of the Eucharistic Revival
We really enjoyed the splendor of the Masses during Christmas — the Nativity scene, the poinsettias, and Bible readings. It really causes us to appreciate how fortunate we are to have Mass every day and the opportunity to receive the Eucharist every day.
Let us hope that in this year of the Eucharistic Revival there will be more Catholics returning to the realization that the Eucharist is, in fact, the Body and Blood of Christ.
Getting Information You Need to Have
Pat and I listened to the audiobook of C.S. Lewis’s Screwtape Letters. Written in 1942, Lewis points out how the devil is a major part of removing “absolute truth” (what the Catholic Church has taught for more than 2,000 years) from people’s beliefs, and the devil’s efforts continue.
I would encourage you to subscribe to Hillsdale College’s Imprimis monthly newsletter as many of today’s most relevant topics are presented therein. Reading a recent issue which explored the planning and organization of the LGBTQ movement since the 1980’s and how it is being used to weaken America and is based on building a form of Communism; I found this quite eye-opening.
An Amazing 18th Anniversary
Pat and I got to celebrate our 18th wedding anniversary at Sea Island, Georgia, and enjoyed a stay at both The Cloisters and The Lodge. They were both fabulous.
While there, we heard a wonderful speech by Brian Kilmeade which focused on the books he has written telling personal stories of the relationship of former U.S. Presidents with a minority individual and how those relationships helped to partially remove racial discrimination and strengthen our country. Yes, the U.S. has had problems, but has made great progress to improve those situations.
America is still by far the greatest country in the world.
Let’s join together to make 2024 a wonderful year and be proud of the country in which we live. May God continue to bless America.
Hope to visit in person during the year.
God bless you, Tim
- Screwtape Letters. by C.S. Lewis
- Hillsdale College’s Imprimis monthly newsletter
- Cardinal Zen’s Advent Reflections
View Articles If you’ve met Tim, you know that his life was shaped by good values that were imparted to him by his parents and he... MORE »