In June 2005, Chris Rogers (journalist and newsreader) and Matt Writtle (photographer, winner of several photographic awards) came from the UK to make a photo-reportage about Medjugorje for “The Times Magazine”. For Chris, it was like coming back home after 15 years. Matt came to Medjugorje for the first time. Višnja Spajić spoke with them for Radio “Mir” Medjugorje.
Višnja Spajić: Mr. Writtle, what is bringing you to Medjugorje?
Matt Writtle: I never heard of Medjugorje until a week or two weeks ago, when Chris telephoned me through “Times” and asked me to come with him. He told me a little bit about the story, and I found that it was very exciting. As a journalist, I wanted to come and see. As a non-catholic, I do think there is an atmosphere in Medjugorje. The visionaries did surprise me by their warmth and friendship, especially Jakov, and I did feel privileged to be have been given such access to them.
Višnja Spajić: What about you, Mr. Rogers?
Chris Rogers: I came here when I was 15, and I had a wonderful experience. I was just a schoolboy on a pilgrimage but now, 15 years later, I am back here not just as a pilgrim but also a journalist. I am writing an article for The Times newspaper on how I have changed in that 15 years, but also on how Medjugorje has changed, perhaps more importantly to see if, as a 30 year old young man, if I can have the same spiritual awakening here that I had as a young boy. It’s very difficult to write a story that I am a part of! I am finding that to be here as a pilgrim and as a journalist is very difficult! I have spent a lot of time with the visionary Jakov while I have been here. He inspired me on my first visit because he was a similar age, he was cool and trendy yet so full of love for God and Our Lady and not scared to talk openly about it. Jakov’s faith and the atmosphere of Medjugorje certainly changed my life when I was 15, and it’s doing the same all over again now that I am back here. I suppose I am risking an element of my credibility as a journalist in the UK to write such a personal article about my belief in God and how the events of Medjugorje are having an effect on me, but I felt that I just had to do it. It is not my job as a journalist to say whether I believe in the apparitions, I am simply here to say what I see and what I feel.
VS: Is there a risk because of your belief in Medjugorje, or because of your faith as such?
Chris Rogers: I think there is a risk because of both. I am breaking all the boundaries of journalism to write a piece about something that is very close to my heart. Not just God but also Medjugorje.
VS: Can you be distanced from you own belief when you write something?
Chris Rogers: That is the whole idea of this article. I am writing about my own personal journey as a Christian but also as a journalist. It takes a brave journalist to put himself into the story, but it’s something I want to share. Medjugorje feels like home to me. I’ve been away from home for 15 years and I was scared of disappointment before I arrived. Throughout the week, I’ve been given so many graces, with the visionaries and with Fr. Jozo, and I feel that I am doing Our Lady’s work. My article presents Medjugorje as I see it. With open eyes and an open mind. I will not be preaching, I am just writing what I feel and what I see. And Matt’s photographs, I am sure that they will inspire millions!
VS: Is Medjugorje known in the media in your country?
Chris Rogers: Many, many Catholics in Britain know Medjugorje and have embraced it, but it is not as well known, as you might like to think. This article in the “Times” will reach millions of people who have never heard about Medjugorje, and I think that this was needed in the UK. The readers will be left to make their own minds up on whether they think the apparitions are taking place here, but what I think what will inspire them is what I believe is the most important miracle in Medjugorje. A miracle that is found in the pilgrims that come here. They leave with hope, hope for themselves, hope for a loved one and hope for the world they will return to. I think many readers of The Times will want to come to Medjugorje to find their own hope. I would like to say to those who live in Medjugorje: Keep welcoming people for all the right reasons. It is wonderful how the families receive the pilgrims, but never forget the reasons for that!