Maria Guzzo / Staff Writer 2016-09-22 02:04:54
MARY SEAMANS THE CATHOLIC ACCENT Jill Mazowiecki sits inside St. Vincent Basilica. LATROBE — For most of her life, Jill Mazowiecki was a devout Mennonite. So, even though she converted to Catholicism, deeply committing to her new religion and sincerely practicing the faith, her experience with Mary remained unfamiliar. “I just did not know what to do with her,” Mazowiecki said. “Growing up Protestant, we honored her and respected her, but she was off to the side. It is a different kind of reverence than what you see in Catholicism.” Apparently, Mary knew what to do. Mazowiecki is featured in a new movie, “Apparition Hill,” which follows seven strangers — two atheists, a skeptic, two terminally ill people, a widower and a recovering addict— on a journey to Medjugorje, a village in Bosnia-Herzegovina that is the site of reported visitations by the Blessed Virgin Mary. The movie will be shown locally Oct. 2 at the Seton Hill University Performing Arts Center, Greensburg. Film organizers are working to draw even larger audiences at AMC Loews Waterfront 22 theater, Homestead (showings tentatively set Oct. 7-13), as one of the steps toward getting the movie nominated for an Oscar. Mazowiecki is the movie’s skeptic. And her journey to Medjugorje started long before she boarded the plane. Mazowiecki first heard about Medjugorje from a speaker at a meeting of the Women’s Group at St. Vincent Basilica Parish, Latrobe. “It was the most uncomfortable I’ve ever been,” she said. “I thought ‘This is the craziest thing I’ve ever heard.’” Months later, she was listening to Sirius XM radio’s Catholic Channel morning show in her car, something she rarely did. The host was interviewing independent movie director Sean Bloomfield about his search for everyday people to be part of “Apparition Hill.” “On Route 30 by the Mountain View Inn, there was a voice as clear as day in my head: ‘You have to do this because you’re going to go,’” she said. Even after this mysterious spiritual experience, Mazowiecki said she tucked it away. As the application deadline approached, she said, “I thought I should probably at least talk to my husband (Michael) about this. He said ‘OK, that’ll be fine.’ He’s very supportive. I always have something going on.” So, like 200 other people, Mazowiecki made a 60-second video expressing why she wanted to go to Medjugorje. “There were some people we knew right away had to go; Jill was one of those,” Bloomfield said. “She had a delightful quirkiness about her. She was obviously intelligent and clearly not afraid to be silly, but her skepticism about apparitions of the Virgin Mary was exactly what we were looking for. She expressed her ‘problem’ succinctly, and we could see that she would make a great investigator.” Mazowiecki declined to reveal how or whether she or others encountered Mary. “Let’s just say I had an amazing experience that completely changed the way I know and relate to her,” Mazowiecki said. She hopes others can encounter Mary through the movie, whose Greensburg showing is sponsored by St. Vincent Basilica’s Women’s Group to benefit its November retreat and scholarships. Additionally, a fundraising campaign on Indiegogo.com seeks to show the movie in longer runs at larger theaters to reach more people, she said. Mazowiecki said the movie was an amazing adventure. A nurse before she and her husband had their four boys — ages 17, 14, 11 and 8 — she said reality TV was not her passion. “Really, do you think a 45-year-old housewife wakes up thinking, ‘I’m going to be in a movie that could go to the Academy Awards?’ Not even on my radar!” she said. “But a daily prayer I say is, ‘I am willing, God. Use me as you know best.’ I just never expected it to be this.” “APPARITION HILL” SUNDAY, OCT. 2, 1:15 AND 5:15 P.M. SETON HILL UNIVERSITY PERFORMING ARTS CENTER, 100 HARRISON AVE., GREENSBURG REGISTER AT WWW.APPARITIONHILL.TV/FIND-A-SCREENING; EMAIL APPARITIONHILLGREENSBURG@GMAIL.COM; OR CALL JILL MAZOWIECKI, 724-261-1657
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