My family and I are now living in the beautiful Texas Hill Country, and I am happily married to a wonderful Catholic born-again Christian. We joyfully share our home with our two sons, four dogs and five cats. I am a semi-retired general contractor and Vietnam Veteran who is in love with the Blessed Holy Trinity and Our Blessed Mother, the Mother of Jesus. I have a Spiritual Director with whom I have shared almost all aspects of my spiritual experiences, a journey I humbly attribute totally to the graces of God and our Blessed Mother.
To give you some background, I am a cradle Catholic who was raised in a poor neighborhood on the south side of San Antonio, Texas. I attended CCD at Our Lady of the Angels Catholic Church and our teachers were wonderful nuns dressed in full habits. Something within me needed to know more about this man called Jesus and His Mother Mary, whom the nuns told us was also our mother. As I grew older, I had come to the conclusion that the best way to get to Heaven was to join Bingo, attend Fish Fry’s and be present at Mass on Sundays. By my narrow way of thinking, I was doing God a favor by going to Sunday Mass, thinking I had all the answers and that I could call on God when I got in trouble. I also thought I was a good Catholic and the non-Catholics were going to Hell! (I was ignorant and confused.)
In 1979, at around 2 or 3 o’clock in the morning, my wife woke me up screaming that there was a man dressed like a monk kneeling on the side of the bed praying for me. She pointed to him, but I could not see him. She could not understand why I could not see him, so she turned on the lights and continued to point to this man praying by me. I thought either my wife was going nuts, or some unnatural man (or ghost) was next to me. A few months later, I saw my wife coming towards me looking much shaken, as if she had seen a ghost. She told me that she had seen a holy card of the monk that had been praying for me at the side of the bed. She showed me the holy card, and it was the image of Padre Pio.
I called my Pastor, Father Flanagan, and I explained to him what had taken place earlier that morning. He listened and told me that he would pray for me. I felt something within me that was seeking answers. Father Flanagan directed me to go to a prayer group at St. Henry De Oso Catholic School on Wednesday evenings. When I walked in, I thought that I had entered into the holiness of God. I saw over 300 people raising their hands to heaven and praising God. They were singing in a beautiful language that I did not understand. The room was full of love and joy. My wife and I joined this prayer group, and I could not get enough of the Holy Scriptures. Then, I asked the leader of the prayer group if I could help in some way. He gave me the job of setting up the chairs before the start of the prayer group. After seeing the faces of my new brothers and sisters, I asked God to please give me what they had. Keep in mind that the only prayers that I knew as a Catholic were the Our Father and the Hail Mary. I needed (and wanted) more.
On a personal note, after returning from Vietnam, I was very troubled and traumatized. I had also been unemployed for some time, and was struggling mightily with myself as well as the practical reality of making a living. I felt like giving up and asked God to take me home to Him. One bleak day, as I was sitting down in my backyard, my heart started to beat very fast and I could not breathe. I felt like passing out. I thought I was dying, and asked my wife to drive me to St. Vincent De Paul Catholic Church. I remember the nuns telling us that the best place to die was in front of the Blessed Sacrament in church, and that is what I wanted to do. When we arrived at the church, Father Flanagan was walking a German shepherd dog in front of the church. As I opened the door of the car, I saw the person of Jesus in front of me. I was startled! I looked into His eyes and He stretched his hands out to me, as if He was asking me to come to Him.
I turned around to tell my wife when suddenly Jesus disappeared. I asked Father Flanagan if he had seen a man in front of the Church and he indicated that he had not. I was puzzled. I went inside the church and looked for Him but could not find Him. I prayed to God for direction and help. I remembered that my mother used to light a candled after she prayed in church. I did not have any money, but I lit a candle and made an IOU for $1.00. I did the same thing every day for 7 days and nothing happened. I became upset, and said to myself: if I cannot find Jesus in my Church, I will go to other churches and look for Him. Thus, I left the Catholic Church and went to various non-Catholic churches. I was so desperate that I even went to a witch doctor, visited the Masons and others similar groups.
After seven months of troubled searching, I found Jesus. I was in my den and praying for direction when suddenly, there was a beautiful presence of holiness around me. I fell to my knees, and started crying because I knew how much I had offended God. I heard God say that I had been like a black onion, and that it had taken all this time to remove the many peels from the onion. The onion peels were my sins. He showed me that as onion peels were removed, one at a time, I was being cleansed until there was nothing left except for my dust. I saw my dust in His hand, and he blew the dust and told me that I was ready to serve Him. The problem was not the Catholic Church; the problem was me. He was only 16 inches from my nose. He dwelt in my heart.
After that experience, I asked Father Flanagan to be my Spiritual Director, and he agreed (he is now a retired Bishop). He instructed me in various ways, and encouraged me to apply to the Permanent Deaconate Program. I was ordained in 1982.
After my encounter with the Lord, my life started to change. I became very involved with the Charismatic Prayer Group. In a Charismatic Prayer Group there is a time for Prayer, Praising, Song and Prophecy. A prophetic word came forth from my lips that I did not understand as I was seeing the Blessed Virgin Mary walking and blessing us in the group. The night this happened, the prayer group leader told me that the Lord had spoken to him and told him that I was to take over as prayer group leader. Dan had been prayer group leader for over 20 years; I tried to tell him that all I knew was to put up chairs for the prayer group. He told me not to worry, but to put my trust in God and ask Our Lady to guide and teach me. Again, I fell to my knees, and could not stop crying because I did not know what to do. The next morning, I called my Spiritual Director, and he told me to pray to the Holy Spirit and Our Blessed Mother for guidance.
As the new prayer group leader, I immediately called the Archdiocese Charismatic Liaison to the Archbishop, Father Enda. I told him that, as the new leader of the prayer group at St. Vincent De Paul, I was offering our help. I read all that I could on being a Christian leader, and sought out Catholic seminars. I found out that in the 125 parishes in the Archdiocese, we only had 5 Prayer Groups. I was invited to a dinner meeting in the evening to meet with the other prayer group leaders and was overjoyed because now I would learn from them. I saw them in prayer and rejoicing in the Lord, but my desire was to learn more about God. Dinner was over, and we said our goodbyes.
As I had forgotten my Bible inside, I went in to get it and encountered Father Enda, who asked me what I thought of the meeting. It was difficult for me to say this to a priest, but I told him that while I had a good dinner, I needed and wanted more spiritual nourishment. He asked if I had any ideas or suggestions of what to do, and I said that maybe I did. He asked if I could meet with him in the morning at St. James Catholic Church.
That night I went home and prayed for direction as to what the Lord wanted me to say to Father Enda. I started to receive directions as to what needed to be done, and wrote them on three 4 x 5 white boards. I was at St. James Church, and met Father Enda at 9:30 am. He greeted me warmly, and we prayed before I presented to him my ideas and suggestions. I started my presentation, which lasted almost an hour, without a response from Father Enda. I assumed that I had messed up. He was quiet for about 10 minutes, and then he got up from his chair, came over to me, took my hand and told me “Welcome, John, you are now the Director to the Charismatic Renewal for the Archdiocese and you will be my assistant”.
Eventually, Father Enda and I were two of 800 people selected throughout the world who were asked to go to Rome for a Renewal Conference. The Archbishop gave us a letter to the Vatican for an audience with St John Paul II; I also had the honor of meeting Mother Theresa
Once again, I was guided to pray before the Blessed Sacrament and asked for direction of what God wanted from me. I asked the Holy Spirit and Our Lady to help and guide me. Something had changed within me. All fear was gone and the Spirit of the Lord was upon me. I received a message that the Lord wanted His children to come together for a weekend in San Antonio. He was telling me to invite both Catholics and non-Catholic Christians. He wanted us to rent the largest arena in San Antonio, Texas. We rented the arena where the San Antonio Spurs played. We had no money, but we knew that God was in control. We formed a Core Group to pray for discernment and counsel. The Lord had given me the Scriptural passage John 23:17: “Father that they all be one as You and I are One”.
We agreed that I would visit all 125 parishes and speak to each group. I was amazed but not surprised that the Holy Spirit and Our Lady were leading us. Our convention was to take place on Pentecost weekend. We had no idea who was going to show up. We had 800 volunteers from all the 125 parishes and other non-Catholic churches. We were amazed as to what took place. There were many healings, conversions, miracles and reconciliation with fallen-away Catholics---on the day of the conference, 18,000 people showed up!
There were many other miracles, revelations and visions that were taking place in my life to prepare me for was to take place in the future.
I shared the lengthy testimony above to show the context of the revelations I am about to share:
Places of Refuge
When I attended the prayer group at St. Henry the Oso Catholic School, I was asked to attend a Life in the Spirit Seminar. I happily agreed. It is a seven day seminar that teaches us about our Church, Our Lord and the Holy Spirit. When hands were laid on each person attending to receive the Holy Spirit, all the participants received various gifts as indicated in 1 Corinthians 12:1-11. I did not receive anything.
There was a tremendous joy among all of the attendees, but I was disappointed in thinking that I did not receive one of the gifts of the Holy Spirit. I was still happy but somewhat puzzled by this.
After the seminar, the following morning, an event took place within me that took me on a dramatic turn in my spiritual life. It happened in the fall of 1979, between Comfort, Texas and the Texas Hill Country. I am a construction contractor, and the morning after the Life in the Spirit seminar, I had an appointment at the VA Hospital in Kerrville, Texas. As I was driving and praising the Lord, all of sudden I began to pray and sing in a strange language. I felt a tremendous peace and love all around me. It seemed like someone else was driving my truck and I was just along for the ride.
The Lord then spoke to me, and showed me a vision of the future, a revelation of coming events. Most of what was shown to me on that day I did not fully understand. The Lord told me that the Hill Country in Texas was going to be a “Refuge” for the future, and that I was going to play a part in His Plan. He indicated that it was Our Blessed Mother and the Holy Spirit who would be preparing these refuges for the time of horror and death that was coming. He said that many people would come from the East, the West, the North and the South. It would be a place where no sin would exist, and that his Holy Presence would be our protection. The area was very large, and thousands of people would be guided by Our Lady and the Holy Spirit to gather in this area for sanctuary and for protection. He indicated that there would be many refuges throughout the earth to save God’s people from harm and to prepare for the coming of His Son. He said that there would be seven persons that he had selected for the preparation of this place of refuge, and those individuals would be selected and anointed by God himself. He told me that, if I looked for these persons, I would not find them. At the unfolding of His Plan, I would know them by their Spirit. The Lord also told me that I would be moving to the Texas Hill Country in the future, and that one of my Spiritual Directors, Fr. Enda, would also be sent there.
Through a series of God-incidents, we have indeed moved to the Texas Hill Country as has Father Enda.
There is much more to share, but I was told not to disclose certain revelations until I am told to do so. The Lord said that I would walk alone for many years, and that I must be like an ordinary but helpful brother to my brothers and sisters in Christ. He indicated that the coming times would be similar to the time of Joseph, but much worse.
Later, as I was praying in front of the Blessed Sacrament, Our Blessed Mother appeared to me in a locution. In prayer, I was lifted up into the sky. It seemed like I was in space or near the moon; I could see the earth completely black. I asked Our Lady why the earth was completely black. She responded that the BLACKNESS was the SIN of man covering the earth. As we were dropping down towards the earth, I saw a few small, white lights in various parts of the earth (The largest was in the Texas Hill Country). She told me that these white lights were Refuges that she was preparing to protect God’s children from all the evil that would surround us, and added that the black areas would be destroyed; the world had to be cleansed before the coming of her Son
The refuges were for God’s people that were to enter into a new era of peace. She showed me the “new world”, and continued to explain what was needed to prepare for the Refuges.
There are many other revelations that I have been shown, but was told to keep to myself until given permission to disclose them.
The words and messages that I was shown/ told are developing in our age. We have encountered other people, including pastors of various denominations that have received the same or similar messages, and have moved to this area.
I have a deep feeling that the Holy Spirit and Our Lady are telling us to come together, and share with each other what we sense and know is coming. My sense is that we need to establish a central point of contact and information for the coming times. May all praise and glory be to God, and may Our Blessed Mother continue to pray and intercede for us.