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KATARINA TUTIC:
MY ILLNESS BROUGHT ME CONVERSION

Many people don't come to Medjugorje by accident. God has a plan with them. In Medjugorje they find something new, they heal, convert and start to pray in spite of problems and difficulties in life. Touched by Our Lady's messages they give themselves to God's Spirit, they honestly witness and become Our Lady's witnesses. One of those people is Katarina Tutic from Sisak, who told us a life story of her conversion and her ways of the Cross.

Everything started in 1989 when she was diagnosed with a breast cancer. During the surgery her breast was amputated and with 20 radiation treatments doctors predicted she'd have only six months of life left. Shattered and broken, finding destiny in her soul, she thought everything has perished and she'd have to say goodbyes to her two small children and her family, and she was only 38 years old. She didn't see the future in front of her, the family was her only support. She remembers the moment when she woke up from narcosis very well, realizing it wasn't only a biopsy but an amputation as well. First she said to God: "Give me, God, enough life just to raise my children. I will be eternally grateful." Indeed, through Mother Mary, God did listen to Katarina's prayers. If it weren't so, today she wouldn't be talking to us.

- Everything was pretty good until 1994, when the second breast was diagnosed with cancer. The doctor who examined me in Zagreb Institute told me: "If your body was mine, I would immediately go to the surgery."

Then she experienced another shock. She instantly lost memory of all phone numbers and couldn't call anybody. She came home and started packing for hospital.

- That day my friend has come to visit me and she gave me a medal with the image of Our Lady, which she brought from Medjugorje. She told me not to worry, that everything will be okay and she will pray for my recovery. I thought: "God, someone will pray for me, at least a small feeling of relief. This was the first time that I've received support from a believer. I've put the medal around my neck and went to hospital. It was the fifth month of war year 1994. During the next surgery they found out the cancer has simply vanished. In the same operating room, holding the medal I've promised Our Lady I will come to Medjugorje by Christmas and give thanks for everything.

When Katarina decided to visit Medjugorje she couldn't find anybody to go with, because everybody was indecisive due to war situation. Finally she decided to go alone and out of ignorance she asked Our Lady to prove Her being.

- I've left as I've come. Nothing has changed in me. Next year I went again with my two friends and then changed my opinion about God, faith, and life. I've become a believer in a true sense. But in 1996 another downfall happened in my life - a lung cancer. I thought this time the end is really coming and I couldn't cheat death. I've put all medical papers in my bag and cried. That was Thursday and on Friday I've decided to go to Medjugorje and paid the trip for my daughter and me. That was my wish before I die. My daughter was three months pregnant and she came from hospital with diagnosis of imminent abortion. She said: "Mum, if you're going to Medjugorje, and aren't sorry for your life, then I'll go too." So we went to Medjugorje together.

When they arrived to Medjugorje they climbed on the Cross Mountain. Katarina wasn't feeling good. The next day they went to the holy mass where she was feeling pretty bad. She didn't feel the body, only flickering of heart. When they went back to the room, the daughter wanted to call an ambulance, but Katarina refused. That was the first time in 14 days she slept through the whole night.

- In the morning, I've started praying the first tenth of rosary on the Apparition Hill. Until then I wasn't able to open my mouth so the air wouldn't get into my lungs. This is where my full conversion happened. Then I realized God loves me, needs me to witness Him.

When she came home from Medjugorje in May of 1996, something was telling her to arrange pilgrimage to Medjugorje, but it confused her since she couldn't imagine herself as a tourist guide. Meanwhile she's called Mr. Grga Blazevic, a guide she traveled to Medjugorje with and asked him for help. She started posting posters and gathering the first 40 pilgrims. That happened the first month after her surgery in 1996.

- We visited again in October and our priest Ivan Kovacic from St. Mary parish in Sisak, came along as a pilgrim and our spiritual guide. That lasted for two years until he got transferred. Since then I was in Medjugorje more than 50 times and arranged 46 pilgrimages. There were a lot of converts among them, a lot of spiritual healings and reconciliations in families. People who didn't go to church started going, confessing and taking sacraments.

All of this makes Ms. Katarina very happy and she isn't ashamed of publicly saying what she was suffering from, what inspired her on pilgrimages, because her only goal was to help other pilgrims, to give them what Jesus gave her: "I will heal you and you be my witness."

I could never give Jesus what he gave me. I lived up to see my four grandchildren and I am looking forward to every day of my life. I remember when my mother and sister were going to Medjugorje in 1982 and I was unfair to God and them, when I was laughing at it. Today I really regret that. I believe God has forgiven me because there wasn't a real faith in me at the time. I got married when I was 20 years old and left Moslavina, Catholic place Gornje Jelenske where weren't any Orthodox families, and went to Orthodox Muslim town with virtually no believers. I couldn't go to church except when visiting my mother and sister. Although over 80 years old, my mother still prays rosary each day by radio Medjugorje and is happy person.

Between two surgeries from 1989 to 1994 I lived as every unbeliever. Only after conversion in 1994 I've realized that God is love in itself and I became Our Lady's witness by spreading Her messages.

Mrs. Katarina finished seminar for volunteers in helping women with breast cancer surgery. Every week she visits women in Sisak's hospital to give them psychological support and always tells them: "Believe in doctor and God. Doctor will operate you and God will heal you." The old medal that she got from a friend she doesn't wear around her neck anymore, she swithed it with a new one. But the old one has its place in the house and she often takes it in her hands and thanks Our Lady for bringing her to Her Son, which wouldn't be possible without Her. The healing of Mrs. Katarina wasn't the isolated case in her family.

- My five month old grandson, son of my older daughter, had a very serious allergy on milk. When I went to Medjugorje I took his shirt for blessing. During the prayer for healing of soul and body, I said: "Jesus, I'm not worthy because I'm too sinful, but heal Sebastian who's got life in front of him." In that moment my Sebastian and I have recovered. When I returned with the blessed shirt, Sebastian went to hospital for testing and there was no trace of any allergy. To confirm the results, they told my daughter to give him two to three spoons of fruit yogurt to see his reaction. On the way home the child drank fruit yogurt in the car. It was the first time he'd eaten something like that. Through the shirt Jesus gave my grandson a blessing. My daughter, who had a risky pregnancy and was with me in Medjugorje when I was condemned to death, gave birth to a healthy baby. So all three of us got blessing from Jesus.

My conversion had started in Medjugorje in 1994 but that was more out of thanks to God for my healing. At that time I still haven't experienced a true faith and this is probably why He called me in 1996 during my illness so I would experience a real faith, true love and faith towards God. When I saw death in front of me without a way out, I've embraced God in full sense and faith means everything to me ever since. Each place in Medjugorje means a lot to me. In front of church, in the church, on both hills. Looking from the distance at the way of the Cross wakes everything in me, and just a thought of Medjugorje while I am in Sisak fills my heart with love. This is why I regularly go to the holy mass, the confession, just to get stronger in my faith because I don't want to lose it ever again.

My life consists of ups and downs. In the beginning of 2001 I was waiting for my medical results again, but this time for liver since they thought I've had cancer. At that time I've said: "If my results come clean, I will go to Medjugorje." There was a terrible storm and blizzard, but nothing could've stopped me and during Candlemass I found myself at Krizevac. I've stayed there for five hours with my thoughts and prayers, and I wrote five poems. Next day I went to the Apparition Hill and then I wanted to ask Vicka for some explanation. I was disappointed because I couldn't find her. I went to the village and looked at Krizevac. Right next to the cross the Sun was coming down, but in especially beautiful green color. To be sure in what I was seeing I've asked three German passer-bys if they saw a green Sun, but their answer was negative. Than one red tunnel from the Sun landed in front of me. This is when I've realized that I've made a mistake and shouldn't have been searching for witnesses when Jesus is here. I should have listened to my heart and believe in God.