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Something wonderful happened to me last month. My family on the Weible side had a reunion in Loveland, Colorado and more than a hundred family members attended, including me. It was, to say the least, personally overwhelming, creating a bizarre mixture of joy and trepidation with good and bad emotions brimming over.

The reason for the trepidation was centered on the traumatic childhood I experienced in California, before my father’s brother Fred (Fritz) and his wife June rescued my sister, Lola and my brother, Jack and me. They brought us to their home to live with them and their three children in the little town of Lewellen, Nebraska. The joy was the realization that if not for them, who knows where I would be or what I would be today.

The fact is, Uncle Fritz and Aunt June were the least able financially to take on the raising of three more children; but, no one else in the family was willing to do it.  Many family members   went so far as to make every effort possible to convince Fritz and June not to get involved with our problems. It was as if we would be nothing but trouble. However June would have none of it. Within a matter of weeks, we became a family built on pure love.

The reunion was the first time in decades of seeing many cousins, uncles, aunts, nephews and nieces and a myriad of in-laws I never knew were part of our Weible family. However, the highlight of the gathering for me was seeing my father’s baby sister Aunt Rose, who is now 93 years old. Rose was a twin. She and her sister Rita, who passed away some time ago, were absolute angels who never said anything about others that might be hurtful. Specifically, Aunt Rose saw the frightened state I was in when we first arrived and took it upon herself to be my caretaker. I remember falling asleep in her lap on the first day of arrival. Rose and her twin sister Rita, and Aunt June were the builders and conveyers of love in our family. For that I will be eternally grateful to them.

The other major highlight of the reunion for me was seeing my first cousin Barbara who is the daughter of Aunt June and who became a “sister” to me. She, her sister Juanita and little brother Freddie all became immediate family. We had a ball growing up together. We had nothing in the way of material goods but we had everything in the bond of family love.

A good, solid family life built on sincere love is the goal for most families. However, we have “other families” that are critically important to our development and fulfilling our mission on earth. Number one is our Church family; all of those throughout the world who share our faith become family members.

A close second for many of us is the family of Medjugorje, where we are related to millions who have found spiritual conversion through this most incredible and long-lasting apparition that continues to occur daily to three of the original six visionaries. The predominant numbers of Medjugorje family members form a nearly unbreakable bond with others who have made pilgrimage to the site. We view the visionaries as close members, knowing about them in great detail. We are “at home” when we go there and we want to return as often as possible.

I am about to make my 131st pilgrimage to Medjugorje in our annual November trip (Oct. 30-Nov. 7), and I am as excited as I was on the first. This particular pilgrimage is extremely special in that we have more than 65 pilgrims signed on at this point, with another month and a half to add more. When we return home, we will have added numerous new Medjugorje family members!

The bottom line is this: It takes effort and sincere affection to build a family on love. The alternative of no real affection is a long and lonely existence with little left in the way of a personal footprint to show your time on earth. The more a family loves and supports one another, the larger the footprint.

The peace, grace and love of Jesus be with each of you!


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