In 1989, with our children no longer living at home, Our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, with His Blessed Mother, Mary, revealed a renewed mission and a new ministry for us.
On 1/6/89, during a family ski vacation with all three of our children and one friend each, Kathleen tore all the ligaments in her left knee in a near stationary fall on a Vermont ski slope. We had to transport with the knee immobilized for medical opinions and return home. Treatment had to wait for the swelling to go down.
Surgery, required to decide on the best repair technique, was on 3/1/89, followed immediately by the chosen repair. During recovery from a very lengthy knee reconstruction, as Kathleen offered up her pain for our adopted and oldest son, Kurt, who left home in 1985, she received two messages in a sweet, gentle and motherly voice: "I want you to bring pilgrims to my Son through Medjugorje." "I want you to bring pilgrims to me through Medjugorje." Kathleen asked for guidance from Sister Rita, the hospital minister, and Father Dan, our pastoral associate. Both advised her to continue offering up her suffering and to pray for discernment of the message meaning as well as guidance on appropriate activity. The same messages continued to come during her recuperation both in the hospital and at home.
We decided, in prayer, to learn all we could about Medjugorje and do our best to bring pilgrims there. The search was hindered by a lack of willing knowledge in our parish and diocesan offices. We learned that Medjugorje was in the former Yugoslavian Republic of Bosnia-Hercegovina (B-H). This is now the country of Bosnia-Herzegovina (B-H).
In the first weeks home, Kathleen received a telephone call from Kathleen Long in Chicago, IL. The call was based on a piece of paper miraculously arriving on a clean desk in Chicago with no one's knowledge of how it got there. On this paper was our home address, phone number and a note that we wanted information on taking pilgrims to Medjugorje. During the conversation it was further revealed that we should do this in October over the feast of the Most Holy Rosary, which we did not even recognize as being on 7 October based on victory over an overwhelming Turkish Armada in the Battle of Lepanto.
While awaiting pilgrimage information, Kathleen learned to drive her car with the cast on her left leg and to maneuver on crutches to go to physical therapy and to daily Holy Mass. One day at Mass, she was approached by a lady who asked if she could help. In the conversation, this lady offered Kathleen a travel magazine with a yellow highlighted ad for "Pilgrimages to Medjugorje" "Call Michael at 1-800-###-####." We called and Michael, a Croat from Split who had actually guided pilgrims in Medjugorje, was amazed at how we wanted to do a pilgrimage. It was like he had been praying for people like us to call him since everyone else wanted a vacation trip. Michael insisted that we plan to fill 42 seats on the air and land transportation even though we thought the group of pilgrims would be much smaller - just a few close friends.
We actually set up a pilgrimage with Michael to leave on 10/4/89, the feast of Saint Francis of Assisi, and return on 10/11/89 to be in Medjugorje for the Feast of the Most Holy Rosary. Kathleen was to be in a wheel chair or on crutches with a removable cast on her leg. She would have progressed in physical therapy (PT) to a point where, fitted with a special brace, she might have limited mobility but the doctors had planned for at least 18 months of PT before mobility with the special brace was to be the norm. We actually started to talk to people about being pilgrims to a place we had not yet visited. A few signed up to join us in what we then called our "Journey of Faith Pilgrimage to Medjugorje."
On 4/29/89, the 22nd anniversary of the physical adoption of Kurt, we attended a seminar with Sister Linda Kuntz sponsored by the Burlington County Charismatic Prayer Communities at Sacred Heart Parish, Riverton, NJ. Our Living Word Prayer Community members from Marlton and Medford, NJ, prayed with us at the morning break. We felt at peace even though Kathleen was confined to the wheel chair or mobile on crutches only. At the lunch break, the leaders gathered around us to pray. They laid hands on Kathleen, particularly her leg cast. As we prayed, the hands felt heat radiating from the knee and leg through the cast. Kathleen started shaking but was in peace. When we were alone she turned to Keith and said "I have to stand up." Keith told her she had not held weight on her leg in more than four months and should not try now. She stood up without my help and began to walk. Keith stayed close by observing and asking for caution. The leg cast was loose. She walked all around the gymnasium and its full basketball court. We began to praise and thank God like we had never done before. Kathleen spent the entire weekend in praise and thanksgiving, running up and down stairs, swimming, without severe pain. She put the removable cast on to visit the physical therapist for PT on Monday. Keith joined her from work.
Jack, her physical therapist, removed the cast and began work only to notice all sorts of physical differences. He asked Kathleen what she had done over the weekend since he had seen her on Friday. She said she had been "praying." Jack went away in disbelief and came back with his records on Kathleen . He measured and manipulated. He remarked that her swelling was down about 1.5 inches and that her knee cap was mobile. It had been mired in adhesions which they had been trying to break for the past four weeks. Her knee bend had been only 70 degrees on Friday and was now 110 degrees - better than many normal knees.
With tears in his eyes, Jack asked "Where did you pray?" He then admitted that physical therapists and doctors are most difficult to convince of "miraculous" healings. He called the doctor who agreed to come over and address the situation with Kathleen. They decided to continue PT, not to gain what she already had but to strengthen the muscles in her leg, fit her for the special brace which they had already measured her and ordered for her, teach her to use it and observe her. They then planned for about 6 rather than 18 months of PT. We proceeded with the plans for an October 1989 Journey of Faith Pilgrimage to Medjugorje but now felt we would not need a wheelchair for Kathleen. PRAISE BE JESUS AND MARY - NOW AND FOREVER!!!
The events of 4/29/89 will not soon be forgotten. Jesus and His Blessed Mother, Mary, working with Her Spouse, the Holy Spirit, Third Person of the Blessed Trinity, changed our lives forever. HALLELUJAH!
In retrospect, we always had a special place in our hearts for Mary. We grew up with May crownings and rosary before or after daily Mass. Keith's parish from 1949 to 1959 was "Holy Name." The Redemptorists there had a great devotion to "Our Lady of Perpetual Help." Kathleen's parish until 1963 was "Our Lady of Lourdes." She had been active with the Sodality and taken many trips to Marian Shrines in the Midwest.
As a youth in a family where both parents worked, Keith was sent to summer camps with religious settings and great devotion to Jesus and Our Lady. One was at "Maur Hill" along the banks of the Missouri outside Kansas City near Atchison, Kansas, with Benedictine Monks and Sisters. The campers prayed the rosary every night around a statue of Our Lady where we also prayed the "Memorare." Another was on the shores of Lake Okoboji, in northern Iowa, with the LaSalette Fathers and Brothers. While there, many took a "pilgrimage" to the beautiful grotto hand-built, over many years, by a priest in West Bend, Iowa. Keith learned a great deal about Our Lady and her messages for the world. Keith also went to camp close to home, and eventually became a camp counselor, at the "Christ Child Camp" near Blair, NE.
During Lent of 1988, Kathleen and Keith, with their two natural children, Kent and Katherine, visited Mexico as part of a real estate marketing effort. They had a few days in Mexico City where they found our way to Tepeyac Hill and the "Basilica Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe." Being there on Palm Sunday was an awesome experience. They think they understood not only the Cardinal's reading of the Passion but also his sermon, both in Mexican, which we do not speak. Little did they know then that Our Lady was calling them to lead pilgrimages and that they would return to Mexico several times to visit shrines dedicated to her Son as well as through strong local devotion to her visits over the centuries.
As we prepared for our first pilgrimage to Medjugorje and spoke to prayer groups about our call, we were initially disheartened at the lack of interest. We prayed and sacrificed. More pilgrims started signing up after the 4/29/89 healing and our witnessing about it. We went from less than 20 to more than 60 in one month. We had to add a second air carrier to get more seats. Fortunately, we could arrange it so that both groups left NEW YORK within minutes of each other and arrived in DUBROVNIK within minutes of each other. Keith took Pan American World Airways (PAN AM) via FRANKFURT. Kathleen took Jugoslav Aero Transport (JAT) via BELGRADE. We were responsible for a total of 94 pilgrims.
One of them was our son, Kurt, who joined at the last minute when three lay sisters had to cancel because of their mother's illness. We had a couple waiting in line but no singles. Kurt's buddies pressured him NOT to miss an opportunity to go to Europe even if it was on PILGRIMAGE. Kurt's was not a particularly spiritual or religious experience but he wanted to return with Kent and Katherine, after school was out.
Our whole family made the pilgrimage in June of 1990 (#3). Kathleen and Keith celebrated their 26th Wedding Anniversary in both Medjugorje and Dubrovnik with all three children, Kurt, Kent and Katherine, as well as a number of other pilgrims.
Kathleen spent seven weeks in former Yugoslavia while coordinating 3 groups of pilgrims over a 7 week period in the fall of 1990. Keith coordinated with her from the U.S. She has coordinated more than 30 pilgrimages to Medjugorje, 15 via Dubrovnik before the airport there was severely damaged in 1991 and the rest afterwards using Split as the primary point of entry and departure. Keith has been physically with her on at least 15 of these pilgrimages but was limited during his employment years by a set number of days of vacations each year.
Kathleen and Keith have coordinated pilgrimages to Ars, Chartres, LaSalette, Lisieux, Lourdes, Lyon, Mont San Michel, Nevers, Paris (Rue du bac and Sacre Coeur), Paray le Monial, Pontmain, Saint Baume and many other shrines or holy places in France; all the major shrines, holy places, or historical sites in the Holy Land of Israel; Assisi, Bologna, Florence, Lanciano, Loreto, Milan, Montichiari, Monte Cassino, Monte Virgine, Naples, Oliveto Citra, Padua, Pompeii, Rome, San Giovanni Rotundo, Siena, Turin, Venice, and the many other shrines or holy places in Italy; Taxco, Tepeyac, and other shrines or holy places in Mexico; Batalha, Coimbra, Fatima, Nazare, Santarem, and other shrines or holy places in Portugal; as well as the following shrines or holy places in the United States of America (USA): Birmingham, AL (EWTN), Doylestown, PA (Our Lady of Czestochowa), Germantown, PA (Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal), Lancaster, PA (Sight and Sound Theater), Philadelphia, PA (Saint John Neumann, Saint Katherine Drexel, Saint Rita of Cascia, etc.), Stockbridge, MA (Divine Mercy), Washington, DC (Basilica Shrine of the Immaculate Conception), Washington, NJ (Our Lady of Fatima), and Worcester, MA (Medjugorje in America, Little Audry Santos).
Kathleen and Keith have trained other PFMC volunteers, i.e Dottie Lyons, Vince and Livia Nocella, and Liz Wisniewski, to act as pilgrimage coordinators and sent them with pilgrims to some of the above listed shrines or holy places.
If you would like to have us coordinate a group of pilgrims on pilgrimage to your favorite shrine or holy place, please contact us at (800) 788-MARY  or (856) 768-9228.
In the fall of 1990, we felt called to organize as a Center for Peace, "Journey of Faith Pilgrimages," and start a monthly newsletter "Journey of Faith Pilgrimage (JFP) NEWS," to promulgate the monthly messages of Medjugorje to our pilgrims. Our list, at that time, included about 300 addresses for, maybe, 400 pilgrims. We started with one page, copied on a donated single-pass table-top copier and mailed first class. Letters from readers were so encouraging we expanded first to a single folded 11"x17" page copied on a donated floor model copier. Then to multiple pages which were collated and folded together. All the copying, collating and folding was done by volunteers usually on First Saturday after Mass. As we approached 1000 and our copiers were dying in the process we had to find a printer. Still we collated and folded by hand.
We decided to incorporate as a non-profit organization. The legal side of this is not nearly as complicated as the accounting. Approval of applications for tax exempt status recognition is made most difficult by the televangelists who defraud their donors. We became the Pilgrims of Faith Marian Center (PFMC), A Religious Association, Inc. in September 1991. Prior to that time we had been operating under the PFMC banner with the intention of incorporating. The next year involved much correspondence with the Internal Revenue Service until they finally authorized 501(c)(3) tax exempt status. We changed the name of the monthly periodical to "The PFMC NEWS."
We started using BULK MAIL as a business and then went to non-profit rates. BULK MAIL is a pain with keeping the label sort by specific groups of ZIP CODES but it sure saves on postage costs. What we saved on postage was put into covering higher printing costs. As our donations became more regular, we expanded both the address list and the number of pages. BULK MAIL processing allows us more than 3 ounces for the basic cost which equates to about 32 pages. We changed the name of the monthly periodical to "The PILGRIM" at the beginning of 1994.
At one point in time we had more that 5000 addresses in our mailing list and were receiving donations sufficient to meet the cost of mailing a 32 page periodical to all those addresses. Many factors have contributed to a sorting out of those who actually receive mail every month based on contact from those on the list. Currently we print about 2400 copies and mail about 2350. Our mailing list expands or contracts by about 50 addresses per month depending on the incoming mail and contacts from our members. We must hear from members every year or we are forced to drop them from the mailing list for fear they have moved and not given us their new address. We try desperately to conserve the Lord's precious assets provided to us through His Divine Providence.
Printing, collating and folding into a book form with staples is currently being done by a leased copier monitored by volunteers who also stuff them as appropriate, bag them, seal the bags, label the bags, bundle the bags and prepare the bundles for BULK MAIL delivery to the U. S. Postal Service (USPS).
If you would like to volunteer to help with "The PILGRIM", please call (856) 768-9228.
If you would like to receive a BULK MAIL copy of "The PILGRIM", please send a note to the PFMC, 61 Cooper Road, Voorhees, NJ 08043-4963.
Many prayer groups were not able to maintain first class mailings to their members on a monthly basis so they turned their mailing lists over to us for monthly message and reflection coverage while making infrequent mailings on their own. Probably the largest group to join us was the "PRAYER PARTNERS for PRIESTS" who had over 2000 names in card files in Minnesota and New Jersey. Working with them, Keith was able to sort all names in computer files and resolve some duplication. By supporting them in some first class mailings we have come up with a number of address changes. Many of their members have found "The PILGRIM", to be supportive of their prayer efforts. For years, we tried to have a monthly article for the "PRAYER PARTNERS for PRIESTS." Now it appears that they have gone back to mailings for themselves.
The PFMC attempts to maintain a list of local Delaware Valley sites of perpetual and nocturnal Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament.
We also try to maintain a listing of local Delaware Valley prayer group meetings, particularly those oriented toward Mary, Blessed Virgin Mother of Our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. such as the "MARIAN MOVEMENT of PRIESTS" and "QUEEN of PEACE" cenacles.
We mail "The PILGRIM" to a large number of prayer group leaders and encourage them to have their members sign up for their own copy of "The PILGRIM". We prefer individual sign-up so that there is no accusation of sending material that is not wanted.
If you would like to receive a BULK MAIL copy of "The PILGRIM", please send a note to the PFMC, 61 Cooper Road, Voorhees, NJ 08043-4963.
As we update the above mentioned lists, we will post them with links from this page as well as the home page.
If you participate in a Prayer Group or have a favorite site for Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, please send us a note with the correct information listed. A copy of a note from a parish bulletin or a highlighted portion of a page from a parish bulletin would be most appreciated. Send these notes to the PFMC, 61 Cooper Road, Voorhees, NJ 08043-4963.
Once we get the pages posted, any corrections of the information shown would also be appreciated.