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Community of Caritas Gregory Porto



Our Lady of Medjugorje said that to take up the way of holiness is a path which is bitter but at the same time God will reveal every sweetness to whomever begins to go that way.
 


The Caritas Community was saddened this week at the death of one of their community brothers. Gregory Stephen Porto was 62 years old and had joined the community on December 1, 2003. Though he contributed to Our Lady’s mission in many ways, his primary responsibilities were in the print shop where he worked the collating machine in putting together the books and booklets written by A Friend of Medjugorje. Greg died on June 25, 2009. He was revived and began his purgatory for the next 19 days in the hospital, being unresponsive, when his soul was finally released from its prison, into Heaven, we believe, by the beauty of his death. Within these 19 days fell the Five Days of Prayer with Our Lady and the re-consecration of the United States into Her hands. Medjugorje visionary Marija prayed on three occasions for Greg directly to Our Lady. On the morning of July 6th right before Marija left to return to Italy, Marija again prayed to Our Lady for Greg and two other Caritas community members. At the mention of their names, Our Lady smiled. That smile gave the community confidence that Greg was in Her hands and that She would bring him into eternal life with Her in God’s time. The community took turns watching in vigil over Greg in the hospital around the clock until his passing. Following is an extract from a talk given by A Friend of Medjugorje to the community on July 9th after the days of prayer with Our Lady had ended. He shed light on Greg’s last moments before his heart attack. He refers to these actions without clarifying them immediately in the talk, but as you read on, it will become clear.

 

“We are privileged to do what we do. We’ve been chosen to do what we do. And we have the Mother of God doing undeserved things for us, such as when Our Lady requested only the community in the Bedroom for the apparition of July 5th. I’d rather see it that these graces are given because we need so much help. Nevertheless, Her attention is unmerited. It is a privilege to work for Our Lady. Is it difficult? To be working for Our Lady of Medjugorje does not mean you will not be tired. The soldiers of the Civil War were worn, tried and tired, as were the soldiers in the Revolutionary War. They were fighting a battle. Are we not doing the same? If so, when did the battle begin? Since August 2, 1981. Recall on that day Our Lady of Medjugorje said,
 

“A great struggle is about to unfold. A struggle between my Son and satan. Human souls are at stake.”
 

“You are in a war, a “great” struggle. Not a normal struggle. Our Lady said a “great struggle.” Real war. So don’t feel sorry for yourselves. Feel, instead, what an honor to be at that hospital, laying in that bed, that Greg gave his last six years of his life, in battle for the conversion of the world, of what was declared August 2, 1981, no different than what was declared December 8th, the day that would live in infamy when Japan attacked Pearl Harbor. Except this is much grander and much bigger because it is a great struggle representing two places: Heaven and hell, vieing for souls. Our Lady of Medjugorje enlisted you. She said four times "I need" you or your heart in Her last message,
 

July 2, 2009

 

“Dear children! I am calling you because I need you. I need hearts ready for immeasurable love—hearts that are not burdened by vanity—hearts that are ready to love as my Son loved—that are ready to sacrifice themselves as my Son sacrificed Himself. I need you. In order to come with me, forgive yourselves, forgive others and adore my Son. Adore Him also for those who have not come to know Him, those who do not love Him. Therefore, I need you; therefore, I call you. Thank you.”
 

“So the rewards for us, the gift for us in committing to live and work for Our Lady is profound, very profound. Why? Because the work we have been enlisted to perform requires the sacrifice of our lives. This sacrifice of Greg giving his life, merits in Heaven profound rewards.
 

February 25, 1988


“…sacrifice your lives for the salvation of the world. I am with you and I am grateful to you, but in Heaven you shall receive the Father’s reward which He has promised you…”

 

“You can’t give your life for Our Lady without the notice of Heaven and Heaven responding back.


“It’s a sacred call. It’s a privileged call to serve Our Lady of Medjugorje. Therefore, it is beneath our call to grumble. Who could be here grumbling about serving Our Lady? Who dare serve their Queen, their Mother and then complain? Greg did not! He remained the dignified soldier to his death. I don’t question Greg’s having a heart attack and falling to the ground while with other men carrying the flag pole. His last act after just finishing his hour of prayer in the Field. Greg was so excited about the coming July 1-5 re-consecration of our Nation that he wrote his sister a six page letter about it. Greg was exhausted from the months of giving his life, for six years of giving his life, sacrificing his life as we all were.


“At age 62, Greg would not stop to rest even when he could go home to rest. He didn’t want to go to sleep when everyone else was continuing to work often until two or three a.m. in the morning. He was exhausted as we all were exhausted. A great grace for Greg was his final act in this life after just completing his hour of prayer at 5:00 a.m., the morning of June 25, 2009, the 28th Anniversary of Our Lady’s apparitions in Medjugorje. As the sun rose from behind the mountain, who could have known it would be Greg’s last. It had been planned the night before that after 5:00 a.m. morning prayer the Caritas community men would take the flagpole that had been raised on July 4, 2008 for last year’s consecration for Our Lady to heal our land and carry it out of the Field to be repainted for this year’s re-consecration. It was during this act that Greg’s work ended. Several times Greg was told he could drop out, let go, that the other guys would handle it. He would not let go and this no doubt contributed to his heart attack, whose heart was worn from the work schedule and exhaustion. But it was Our Lady who said,
 

 

November 30, 1988

“…You do as Jesus did. He died out of love for you…”
 

 

“It was Our Lady who just said, do you remember the exact words? I want you to be like My Son. Sacrifice your life. Also, Our Lady said, “Sacrifice your lives for the salvation of the world.” That was February 25, 1988. Greg lived for this because Our Lady of Medjugorje asked for this. You have got to know and understand what you are a part of. If you don’t know yourself and you don’t know your enemy you will lose everything. We need to understand who we are, that we are a blessed community where Our Lady has come to the earth and touched and moved our hearts in a special way. At the same time, we can’t be boastful or egotistical or we’re something special or we deserve something. We don’t. And I tell you we are going to be rewarded in the end for our life and the way we live and our social life and what kind of village we are going to have here. It’s going to be a great treasure.


Our Lady in Medjugorje said,

 

July 2, 2009

“Dear children! I am calling you because I need you. I need hearts ready for immeasurable love—hearts that are not burdened by vanity—hearts that are ready to love as my Son loved—that are ready to sacrifice themselves as My Son sacrificed Himself. I need you…”
 

 

“We could think Our Lady’s not really asking for us to die. I believe at Greg’s judgment there will be many, many regrets throughout his whole life. But I don’t think any of those regrets will be from the last six years in the way he spent his life. Think about that. Greg has six years of joy that he’s presenting to Christ at his judgment that I can just see him doing the fish dance*, thanking God he spent his last six years doing this. So if you do 25 years of this, where are you going to have regrets, unless here, you didn’t push yourself and you didn’t do what you know you were supposed to do. And you know in your heart what you are not carrying. You know if you’re not pushing, if you’re not giving, you’re not there where you need to be in prayer. You’re not praying from the heart. Those will be your only regrets.


“But I would say as far as Greg, I don’t think he will have that. Greg pushed himself. Greg pushed himself beyond what he was able to do. And he sacrificed his life, as Her Son did, “…that are ready to sacrifice themselves as my Son sacrificed Himself.” He gave himself, even carrying the cross of that flagpole. Can you imagine that his last act was carrying a cross? The sign we lift up to honor all the bloodshed for this country, to hold that flag up. What a way to die. You tell me what you think Greg’s going to regret. And I know he had his bouts on the machines in the print shop, he had his bouts here, and he’s atoning for that now. We are privileged and we are honored to do what we do for Our Lady. Don’t let any grumbling encroach in you or beliefs or any biases build in your mentality or thinking that this is too much, it’s too much. Sometimes it may be too much for you. Sometimes I may say go home, take a rest. But we will be the most happy in the end. We are never going to regret this. We’re going to miss this. In fact, we’re going to miss this if we don’t do our all before Our Lady’s gone.


“There will be no bitterness when we finish, just as Greg finished with a reward beyond what we can contemplate. May Greg our brother, our friend’s soul delight in his heavenly reward while his flesh rests on this sacred ground until we all rise again as a community in the final moment of the earth when Christ comes shining forth from the east, in a second judgment that we pray will be our second great joy.”
 

From a Talk Given by A Friend of Medjugorje to the Caritas Community on July 9, 2009


 

Services for Those Who Wish to Attend


For those who wish to be in prayer with the Caritas Community for Greg, or for those who would like to attend the services, the following information is provided:


On Friday evening, July 17, the wake will be at Caritas of Birmingham in The Tabernacle of Our Lady’s Messages at 5:30 p.m.


On Saturday morning, July 18, the Funeral Mass will be at Blessed Sacrament Church in Birmingham, at 8:30 a.m. Following the Mass, Rosary will be prayed in the Field back at Caritas at 11:00 a.m. followed by the burial.
 

Gregory Stephen Porto was born on July 19, 1946 to Anthony and Irene in Hays, Kansas. He entered Saint Lawrence seminary at the age of 13. He was married to Johanna(Jo) Pecha on May 10, 1975. After Jo’s death in 2000, and after a period of discernment and prayer he joined the Community of Caritas on December 1, 2003 and was a member of the Single Consecrated Men’s house, dedicating his life to the service of Our Lady of Medjugorje and Her messages.


Greg is preceded in death by his wife Jo, his parents Anthony and Irene, a brother Jeffery, and 2 sisters Antonia and Mary. He is survived by his son Jay, 2 brothers Martin and George and 3 sisters Edith, Mikey and Ceal and their spouses. The family would like to express their thanks and gratitude to all the pilgrims who visited Caritas, July 1-5, 2009, and those others who offered their prayers for Greg and his family.
 

 

*This past May one of our youth graduated from the 12th grade from the community’s “Our Lady of Victory’s School”. At his graduation party some lively music was played and different members of the community took turns making up dance steps. Some were more creative than others. But Greg stole the show when out of the blue he did a rendition of the “fish dance.” His joy that night was something that touched everyone, and was one of our fondest memories of Greg in these days of having to let him go.




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