Although the International meeting of priests, which gathered together about 300 priests in Medjugorje at the beginning of July, has ended, numerous priests remained in medjugorje, making use of their holidays for a spiritual renewal.
One of them is Paul Newton from Melbourne, Australia, 36 years old, who is a priest for 3 years now. This is his third coming to Medjugorje. When he came for the first time, when he was 30 years old, his life was completely changed by Medjugorje. His second coming was a pilgrimage of thanksgiving, one year after his priestly ordination. He said: “I will always be coming to Medjugorje, but there is a difference when you come as a priest: you have to give – and not yourself, but Jesus”.
Before he was 30, neither his acquaintances or family members nor Paul Newton himself, could have imagined that he was going to become a priest. He came for the first time with his friends, attracted by “very interesting natural phenomena” that he was hearing about. He went first to Lourdes, where Our Lady had appeared, but it meant nothing to him. He even refused the proposition of his friends to pray the rosary. He grew up in a family, which was neither praying, nor going to Church, nor believing in God, where there were conflicts, alcoholism… This is why, already as a teenager, he wanted to leave his family. In Medjugorje, he met people in whose hearts he found something that he was longing for. He is saying about himself that he was “a hard nut”, and this is why, instead of only a few days, he remained in Medjugorje 4 months, during which he experienced a radical transformation: he received his call to priesthood and ha answered to the call. On Cross Mountain, he felt the call to the priesthood. “I had no reason to refuse”, he said. “I was not thinking about what a priest was doing, but about who a priest was. I was thinking about how God was preparing me for this. Those instants were purifying moments. I felt joy in my heart. It was a gentle call in which I felt that I was going to serve others. I felt familiar with the idea of being priest and of serving”, said Paul Newton. The decisive moment was the comprehension that Jesus was in the Eucharist. It was then that he became open for God’s call.
When he came back home, he was changed, but all around them remained the same. In spite of lack of understanding and oppositions, today, in his third year of priesthood, he says that his parents found their way back to faith, and that he is continuously praying for his sisters, because it is a long process in each family. He says: “If you comprehend who God is, and that He is really real – you cannot remain the same. Prayer must dwell in the heart of each person, and the desire to have the strength to say YES to all that Jesus is asking from us.”