My conversion story

Childhood and youth

My Christian name is Nedjeljco, (abreviation Nedjo) which means Sunday, Last name Brecic. I got this name because I was born on Sunday 26.09.1952 in the city of Metkovic in Croatia. Many times I made a joke about how I was the only child who did not cry in the hospital when I was born, but later I would add that the reason was because I was born at home.
I was the youngest child in my family Ė the eighth child. One brother and sister died very young, because of the poverty and hard life that we had been living in. My father was the only one in the family who was working. He was unloading heavy cement bags from the ship into the harbour. We were brought up strictly as a Catholic family.
All my childhood was somehow connected to the church. I was serving at the altar, singing ad reading until eighth grade. After that my two years older brother and I were singing psalms. From sixteen to eighteen I taught myself the church organ and I was in charge of the choir. I have another three brothers and two sisters. One brother is a priest. The second one was a seminarian and if he had remained longer, I am sure that I would have gone after him, but after one year, he left the seminary.
I finished business school, not because I liked it, as my dream was to do something mechanical or technical or musical, but my parents could not afford to put me through the necessary schooling. After school I worked one year on the Adriatic coast. After that it was time to do my compulsory army training.
At that time my family was one of the poorest in the area. I was embarrassed to bring my friends home, especially because we had an outside toilet. I wanted to make everything better. When I came back from the army I found a job in the bank. I took a big loan and started to build a house. Everything was going well. Then suddenly in 1988 inflation increased dramatically. Mt home loan was worth U.S. $10, which I gladly returned.
When I look back, I see that Our Lady was preparing me for this time. When the apparitions started, I had lots of money. I had a new car and television and stereo. I made all my dreams come true. Until 1976 I led my life like all my friends. I went to Sunday mass, and that is were my spiritual life ended.
My fatherís death
But all my dreams died in 1976. I was 24. My father was dying from lung cancer. He was like a saint. The family meant a lot to him. He sacrificed everything for us. He finished only four grades of school, but that did not make him less of a gentleman.
One day after Christmas 1976, he died in my arms in the ambulance going to hospital. He died peacefully, without pain. He just fell asleep. That was the first death in the family, but I took it well. Thanks God that my father did not suffer.
My brother Ante was also sick. He had a heart problem since he was a child. When my father died, we tried to keep our sorrow inside, so that my brotherís heart would not fail from sorrow. especially my mother (she died in 1989). We walked to the cemetery, two miles away. My brother walked too, and two men helped him. Towards the end, he fell down. I thought that he was going to die too. I felt very sad. I did not wish to live any more. My brother Ante died fifty days later, at the age of 35. He was married with three children. Their ages ranged from four to ten. He lived with his family in Split. He was a very good man too. He fought like a lion for his family and sacrificed all his life. He raised up his children in faith. A very handsome man, accepted by the people around. He had the voice of an angel, and played the accordion. He loved me a lot and I had in him more of a friend than a brother. He was the ideal person for me. Someone that I wanted to emulate when I grew up.
On he day he died, 15.2.1977, I was working in a warehouse. I felt a strange cold and fear and lack of peace in my heart. Very soon after that, I was told that my brother had died. I was in shock. I loved him a lot and I found it very hard to accept his death. The first thing that came into my mind was who would tell our mother. she was expecting him to come home from hospital that day. She had prepared his favourite meal. I told her the bad news and she was could not believe it.
All the village talked about his death because everyone loved him a lot. He had the biggest funeral I ever saw in my life. On that day, I prayed to God to give me some kind of sign that he is in heaven. I did not get any signs. I felt a big anger in my heart. I tried to drown my sorrow in alcohol, which I do not usually drink. It did not have any effect on me.

My war with God

From that day I did not want to hear anything about God, not even His name. I did not want to go to church any more. My mother cried day after day, and prayed for me because I was obviously falling apart and losing lots of weight, twenty kilograms. I was so depressed I wanted to die. My happiness died together with my brother. My only consolation was reading books, all types of books. I used to go every weekend in Split to spend the time with my brotherís children. I would come back home from Split like a wounded animal, because they would remind me even more of him.
The youngest girl, four year old Alma, loved to play with me. Once she asked me secretly:
"Nedjo, my daddy died. Could you be my daddy?" That made me very sad. Coming back from Split some kind of power drove me to stop at Vepric, a shrine of Our Lady of Lourdes, on the way to Medjugorje. In the silence of this shrine, I asked Our Lady to help me, because I could not continue in this way any longer. I could not pray anything else.
It was strange. I never felt anger towards Our Lady. I was just angry at God. Each week I would stop at this shrine on the way back home.
Five months before the apparitions at Medjugorje began, something strange happened to me. I had the following dream. My father was in hospital, and I asked him how long he would there. He answered 102 days. I woke up unpeacefully., and I was breathing heavily. That dream felt so real. In my mind I understood something, that I often used to give a promise that I did not fulfil.
For example, at school I promised Our Lady to say a rosary if I did not get bad marks. In my mind, I counted how many rosaries I owed to Our Lady. It was about a hundred. When I finished school, I forgot to fulfil these promises. After this dream, I thought that my father was in purgatory, and he needed my 102 rosaries. I started to pray. I did not really pray with the heart. I just prayed to fulfil my promise to Our Lady. But I still did not want to go the church.
My brother the priest recommended that I read the bible. I never got on well with him, but I still took up his suggestion. Even in the bible, I was still looking for something to accuse God for being so merciless. I asked Him why He took my brother. There were so may sinners and blasphemers. Why did He not take them?
I never doubted His existence, but I was very angry at Him. The way I got back at Him was to ignore His church.
Then I read a book about Maryís apparitions at Lourdes. This was the first time that I had read a book about Lourdes. After I read it, I asked our Lady, in heart, what she was waiting for. Should she not do something about this world full of sin? There was no reason for people to exist. I was at that time studying economics at university. I had only one exam left in my first year, but the apparitions in Medjugorje had begun, and I could not listen to stories about the communist doctrine of Marx and Engels any longer. I quit the university.

Our Lady appears at Medjugorje

On June 27, 1981, my mother came into my room and she said, "Nedjo, do you know what people are saying? Our Lady has appeared to some children in a small village, and everyone can hear her voice."
I burst out laughing. All my friends hurried to Medjugorje. One of then called me to go with him, but I did not want to go. I told him that I would go when they came back and had told me what had happened. When he came back, he described to me everything about the apparitions, and how Vicka had stood on her balcony after an apparition and told the people what Our Lady said.
I decided to go the next day to see for myself. I got as far as St James Church with the car, but the communist police stopped me and all the other people there. I climbed Apparition Hill and saw all the people, the mountains, the fields and the plantations.
With my heart I was breathing in this simple life, and my heart started to open up to the truth. I stood ten meters away from the area sectioned off for the visionaries. There was a video recorder ready to tape the apparition, but that was the day when the visionaries were taken in a car by two women in order to distract them from having an apparition. The next day there was no apparition on Apparition Hill because the police had forbidden apparitions there.
But a miracle happened inside of me. I believed. When I came here, I was just planning on how I could help sick people like the helpers at Lourdes that help the disabled go into the miraculous water. I imagined that the same thing would happen in Medjugorje too. I could not sleep all night.
The following day , I went to Medjugorje and the next day and the next. Sometime I would go to work on my fields, but al 5pm I would feel a lack of peace inside of me. I would just have to go to Medjugorje. But today I know that feeling was an invitation for me to go to Medjugorje. The mass time would pass very quickly. I wished that it would last longer.
I saw many signs on Apparition Hill. I saw some kind of fire that would pulse. I saw the pure white silhouette of a woman under the cross on Cross Mountain. sometimes the cross would disappear completely. About a hundred people saw the same thing.
This would effect my inner peace only while it was happening. I was looking for something stronger, but even then Our Lady had something special for me. Some of my friends knew Vicka and they could arrange for me to be present at an apparition, but I did not want to go, because I thought that I was not worthy to be so close to Our Lady. I was punishing myself for being at war with God in the past.
But one night, I was close to Vicka and Jakov who were in a car. I asked Jakov if I could come to the apparition at his house. He said to me that I could always come. That same night I became friends with his family. That night, I felt so unpeaceful. I felt that something was burning in me, some unknown fire. I was just thinking about the following day when I would be at the apparition. At 5pm I was ready waiting for my future brother in law, so that we could go together to Jakovís house.
That apparition for me was like a dream. I did not see Our Lady, but I could feel her presence with my soul and with my body. I decided to consecrate myself completely to her. On the feast of the Immaculate Conception, I gave the vow of purity until marriage. I read about this kind of consecration somewhere.
All my life I was raised to be in fear of the communist police. For them we Catholics were like sand in the eyes. In Medjugorje they stopped me many times when I was driving. I never had any problems with them until one day in December 1981. That night, as usual, we had a meeting at Jakovís house. I used to play guitar and we would sing religious songs all night long. It was very joyful. We had this kind of meeting after the mass. Sometimes I went home at 4am, and I would have to wake up two hours later to go to work, but I was not tired. I was very happy.
At one of these meetings I met my future wife. She was very shy. Very often I caught her looking at me. But I decided to give my life to Mary, and maybe go to India and work with the lepers. That was my dream in my head, but that was not the will of God. Soon after, we started dating. The police started to follow me everyday, but I did not know it. One night after an apparition, my friends and I decided to go out. While I was driving, I saw the police telling me to stop. We got out of the car. For some reason they wanted to check our car, and they wanted to look in the back of the car. On the back seat they found a bag full of soil from Apparition Hill. I had this soil because my mother had a sore leg. That night during the apparition, a woman told me to take her soil from Apparition Hill to give to my mother. In that time, it was forbidden to climb the hill. The police said that I had been on the hill. I told that I was not, and that the soil was dry. That day it had rained a lot.
They took us to the police station. All time I was not afraid. I was confident that God was taking care of us. The officer wrote the wrong information, and he wanted me to sign it. I did not want to sign it, however, and they had to change the text. At the end of the night, I thought that I could give at least this much to Our Lady. In the end they let us go. That night we still out. We met two police in the bar. We wanted to give them a drink, but the waiter said over my dead body. At that time everyone hated the communist police. We sat there and sang Glory Alleluia. All religious songs were illegal, but we did not care.
This whole event had an effect on me during a later apparition, but I cannot talk about this in public. I accept this as a gift from God to me and this helped me to carry in my faith until today. But even this gift did not have any effect on my conversion.
My conversion happened on the first day the I went to Medjugorje on Apparition Hill, when there was no apparition and no visionaries. That was the day of my conversion. That day I felt the love of Our Lady.
On July 4 1982, Our Lady invited us to form our prayer group. My heart was in Medjugorje, but my body and my family were in Metkovic. At that time I was already engaged, and the wedding day was 14 August 1982. My father in law suggested that I build a house in Medjugorje, but we could not afford it. We accepted that we could not have everything straight away. We started to build a house in 1984 and we finished it in 1991. We have had our crosses and sufferings to in this eighteen years. Everything that we earn was through the help of God and Our Lady and with our sweat and sacrifice. May God be blessed in all His deeds, especially through Mary Queen of Peace!


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