A Mom and Daughter’s Journey of Healing

by Tatianna Gajecky-Wynar
*Previously published in Our Lady of Fatima Newsletter, Spring 2015

Early last summer my daughter and I were at a very low point in our lives. The long illness and death of her father, which caused bitter divisions in our family, left us physically and emotionally drained, and spiritually depleted. We were sick, lost, and depressed…we needed to heal and feel joy again, and so we prayed for help. In a sudden burst of energy and great generosity, Roxolana proposed that we take a trip to Europe. Filled with new hope, we put our heads together and devised an itinerary that would combine a spiritual pilgrimage with an exciting adventure. We were determined to include as many Marian sites as we could manage, to thank our Lady for her help and ask for healing.

There were places that my daughter had been to before and was excited to show me, such as Medjugorje in Bosnia, and Dubrovnik in Croatia, and there were places I had visited in years past and wanted to share with her, such as the wondrous town of Lourdes, in the French Pyrenees, and the Riviera, including Monaco. And there were two places neither of us had yet seen, but always wanted to visit - namely, Fatima in Portugal (to which we added Lisbon) and Istanbul in Turkey, to which we added Cappadocia and Ephesus. Because of the turbulent and scary situation in Ukraine, we strongly felt that we should go to Lviv to cheer our relatives and visit ailing ones; to Hoshiv, to pray at the miraculous Marian site, and to Kyiv, to see the Euro Maidan. And so, our two-month sojourn to seven countries began.

It’s incredible how quickly we started to feel better as we sailed on the Adriatic, every gentle breeze gave us new life, and the warm rays of the Mediterranean sun armed us with the energy needed to explore the many ancient churches and monasteries on the islands, to climb castles, and to hike in the hot deserts of western Turkey, stopping in awe to admire the numerous ornate cave churches and dwellings of the very early Christians. Everywhere we felt the awesome power of God, not only in the ruins of time gone by, but in random meetings with good people. We experienced the tender love and presence of Mary our Mother in all the places where she came down from Heaven to earth: Apparition Hill in Medjugorje, Luminous Mountain in Hoshiv, her House in Ephesus, the Grotto in Lourdes, and the Olive Garden in Fatima.

Our spiritual life began to grow and strengthen with every Rosary we prayed and every Ave Maria we sang in different languages, as we carried lit candles and marched in honor of our Lady, in unison with hundreds or thousands of pilgrims from around the world. We were moved to tears by the hospitality of total strangers who took us in for a night, or the priest and nuns who hosted us for a week in their gracious monastery, nourishing us both physically and spiritually. We were greatly affected by the fresh graves, covered with flowers, of young Ukrainian boys, who gave their lives for their country in an uneven battle with evil, and the emotional services for them, as well as by the memorials built in the capital city for the innocents of all ages, gunned down simply for protesting a corrupt government. We expressed our appreciation and gratitude for overpowering any lingering resentment or unhappiness. Our prayer life became stronger.

As we experienced the unexpected help and generosity of strangers, we began to reach out to others, and the hurts and disappointments of the last few years started to fade away. We became kinder and more loving to each other. We began to feel a closeness and intimacy that was sorely lacking in our lives, and we actually laughed together and had fun. And so, the somewhat grueling trip became a very special time, a time of reflection and spiritual sharing with my daughter, truly the trip of a lifetime! We had a fantastic time and came back renewed in body and spirit.