In the beginning of February 2006, a group of a hundred students from the Catholic Franciscan University in Steubenville (USA) came on pilgrimage to Medjugorje. Fr. Dave Pivonka, TOR, a Third Order Franciscan, and Vice-President of the University, accompanied this pilgrimage. Fr. Pivonka came to Medjugorje and brought his students here because he believes that Medjugorje is authentic, that one can feel a special peace here, and that it is helping young people to live their faith. According to his testimony, Medjugorje is one of the most Christocentric Marian shrines; it presents the opportunity to pray in silence and in solitude, and to encounter Jesus. He believes that the true aim of Catholic Education is to teach young people to live with Jesus and to give witness with their lives. When one person becomes holy, it influences others. Whoever wants to change himself will change the whole world, and Medjugorje is helping to bring this about. Mary appeared to a group of young people here, and they are sharing the experience with the whole world, and this in turn is influencing the whole world.
This group of students is spending one semester in a monastery in Gaming, Austria, and during the semester, pilgrimages are organised to different shrines all across Europe. This part of the University programme is organised by Peter Drag from Poland in conjunction with his wife Nicole Lungaro-Mifsuo from Malta.
In Medjugorje, the students took part in the prayer programme in the parish church, they prayed the Rosary on the Apparition Hill, and they also made the Way of the Cross on Cross Mountain. Amanda Godfrey and Danielle Castellucci told us that they came to Medjugorje because they believe that the Mother is calling them. Thanks to their experience in Medjugorje, their families are now asking new questions, they are also changing and they also want to live the will of God. For some students it was their second visit to Medjugorje. They believe that one can come to Medjugorje several times, and that each time it will be different: The first visit is something new, a discovery, and the second and each subsequent visit deepens the experience.
In Steubenville, there are about 2,200 students, and many of them study theology and prepare themselves to give service to the Church. The mission of the Catholic Franciscan University in Steubenville is to expose young people not only to knowledge, but also to the practical experience of living the catholic faith in their daily lives and in their future professional lives, and to direct them towards holiness of life. (See: http://www.franciscan.edu)