In 1984 the MacFarlane-Barrow family from Dalmally went on pilgrimage to a village called Medjugorje (photo above) in Bosnia-Herzegovina after reading reports that the Virgin Mary, under the title Queen of Peace, was appearing daily to six young people. Medjugorje had a profound effect on their lives as it continues to have on the thousands who now visit the shrine each year. After their visit Calum and Mary Anne MacFarlane- Barrow decided to turn their busy guest house into a retreat centre – Craig Lodge Family House of Prayer. Soon after this they invited a group of young people to form a community based on living the messages of Medjugorje. These can be summarised as a call to conversion through prayer, fasting, Scripture, regular confession and the Eucharist. Today the Community includes families and single people as well as young people who still come to live in Community for a year. Craig Lodge Family House of Prayer offers visitors a varied programme of led retreats or just a chance to take time out for a quiet, prayerful break. Visitors often describe Craig Lodge as a ‘home from home’, a place where they can recharge their batteries, join in the prayer life of the Community and enjoy the beauty of the gardens. Many chose to climb the hill behind Craig Lodge that is marked with a Way of the Cross. This climb can make a good day out/ mini-pilgrimage for parishes or church groups. Craig Lodge Community also host a praise and worship prayer group each Wednesday that anyone is welcome to attend. Prayer ministry is usually available.
Another fruit that has its roots in Medjugorje is Mary’s Meals. The brutal war that engulfed Yugoslavia in 1992 shocked and horrified the whole world. Magnus and Fergus MacFarlane-Barrow, felt compelled to do something and the family and their friends launched an appeal for food and blankets for the refugees gathering round Medjugorje. The two brothers then joined a convoy and drove out to deliver the aid. It was never their intention that this simple response to such terrible suffering would lead to a fully fledged aid charity but that is what happened. On their return they discovered a generous public had continued to send in donations. Magnus decided to give up his job as a fish farmer and deliver aid for as long as it was donated. It has never stopped! Today that charity is known as Mary’s Meals, in honour of Mary the mother of Jesus, and through it over 500,000 of the world’s poorest children can rely on a meal each school day. Magnus was awarded an OBE in recognition of the work of the charity in 2011. Mary’s Meals is non-denominational but its values reflect the Catholic faith of its founders. Prayer and fasting are welcomed as a way of supporting Mary’s Meals.