[Articles, videos and testimony relating to David Parkes appear on numerous websites. Of those, I have read material on www.medjugorje.org and www.queenofpeaceapostolate.com but I have extracted the following article, written by June Klins, from www.ingodscompany2.blogspot.com. It has only been slightly edited by me]:
In June 1988, Irish singer, David Parkes spoke at a retreat sponsored by Gospa Missions of Evans City, PA. “It’s funny how God works through your life,” he said, “in spite of all we do against Him, in spite of how much we kick Him, He’s just waiting for us to come back, standing there with open arms. The story I want to share with you is a very human story. It is one of anger, hurt, guilt but most of all compassion.” David related that his story began in 1977 when he was 27. He was playing soccer professionally in Dublin, Ireland and he and his wife Ann had two children. The little boy, Ken was born with cystic fibrosis. In January, 1977 David won a major talent contest and a bright future in show business faced him. But in April that year, his whole world came tumbling down when he was diagnosed with Crohn’s disease, described by him as “one of the most debilitating illnesses the medical community has to deal with.” In the first six weeks after his diagnosis, David went from 220 pounds to 99 pounds. Over the next decade he had eight major surgeries for this illness.
On Christmas Eve, 1988 he had his ninth surgery and it was unsuccessful so it had to be repeated two weeks later. After an eleven hour surgery, the surgeon admitted that there was nothing else he could do and David had about twelve to fourteen weeks left to live. Eight weeks after this surgery, his band held a benefit concert for him. The tickets said that the benefit was for David’s “funeral expenses.”
At this concert, a man who was a travel agent specialising in pilgrimages to Medjugorje, offered a free trip for David and Ann. David knew a little about Medjugorje because he and Ann had spent their honeymoon in Dubrovnik (now in Croatia) and every time Ann would hear things about Medjugorje she would share it with David, But David was not interested in hearing about anything religious. “I didn’t want any part of it” he said, “because in 1982, you see, God and I parted company. There were two main reasons for this. The first one had to do with Ken. I couldn’t understand how this loving God could inflict such an illness on a newborn baby.” The second reason had to do with himself. As he was getting progressively worse from the Crohn’s, he wondered why God was giving him so many crosses. So David decided to put God totally out of his life. He told Ann and the kids not to go to Mass and not even to pray in the house. He also told Ann to get rid of statues and crucifixes in the house.
Although a religious pilgrimage did not appeal to him at all, he had always wanted to go back to Yugoslavia so he accepted the trip as a “holiday” and not “a pilgrimage.” In April 1989, he and Ann set out for Yugoslavia. David had a few rules for Ann on this trip: she was not to mention religion and was not to pray in his company.
As David shuffled to the departure gate, he became very conscious of a man sitting in the front row. The man had a hood up over his head. The travel agent introduced David to the hooded man, Fr Peter Rookey. As they shook hands, David felt threatened because, in his words, “an aura of love came from Father to me. The last thing you want if you’re away from the Church is an aura of love to come at you, especially from a priest.” So David insulted Fr Rookey. It was so bad that the travel agent considered leaving David behind.
David was in terrible pain, and the three hour ride from Dubrovnik was very hard for him. After a rest stop on the way, the tour director got on the microphone and announced, “We are approximately one hour from Medjugorje and I would like us all to recite the Rosary.” David went berserk. Ann told him to be quiet as he was making a spectacle of himself. The real surprise though came when they arrived in Medjugorje and he found that there were no hotels there and that they had to stay in people’s homes. The house he was staying in was not even fully built — there was no roof. When he protested that the house did not have a roof, the tour director said, “Oh, it will next year when you come back.”
David was so weak at this point that he couldn’t carry any of the suitcases. As they were led into their room, David thought it was the smallest room he had ever been in, and what was worse was that there were only two bathrooms for the house and sixteen people were staying there. “I need a bathroom to myself,” he protested, “I’ve two weeks to live.” He was so angry that he told Ann that in the morning he was packing up and going to Dubrovnik.
The next morning, Ann talked David into going to Mass, which was to be celebrated by Fr Rookey. David ended up giving his seat to some elderly ladies and had to stand in agony for 90 minutes. He said his only interest in Mass was counting the pieces in the stained glass windows. He also counted sixteen candles and fourteen priests but Fr Rookey was not amongst them. He felt he had been conned into going to Mass.
After Mass, Ann told David that Fr Rookey was having a healing service in the graveyard. David did not want any part of it but Ann promised him that if he went, then when it was over, she would pack up with him and they would go to Dubrovnik together. So David reluctantly agreed.
As he approached the little graveyard behind St James, he could see about 600 people on three sides and Fr Rookey and three other Irish priests in the middle. David watched as the first person got blessed. Fr Rookey anointed him with oil, traced the Sign of the Cross on the person’s forehead and then placed his hands on the person’s head. Immediately that person fell to the ground. The same thing happened with the next person and the next five people. David wondered what was going on.
He left for a bit and when he came back he described the area as looking like a battlefield, with bodies lying all over. “Ann, this is hypocrisy,” he said, “those Franciscan priests should not allow this to happen.” Ann asked him to have a blessing. He said, “Remember, Ann, I’m an atheist. I don’t believe in God.” But Ann retorted, “It will do you good.”
David left and came back twenty minutes later and Ann pleaded with him for two hours before he finally submitted to having a blessing.
As Fr Rookey approached David, he said, “David, there’s something you want to tell me.” David looked him straight in the eyes and said, “Father, I don’t wish to speak with you. I’m very ill and the doctors say I’ve maybe two weeks to live.”
Fr Rookey reached into his pocket and pulled out a black crucifix containing seven relics of the seven founders of the Servite Order, the Servants of Mary. He placed the crucifix in David’s right hand and anointed him with oil on his forehead. Then he placed his hands on David’s head and began to pray. The next thing David remembered was that he was lying flat on his back. When he opened this eyes a famous politician from Dublin was standing over him. Embarrassed to be in that position, David said, “Who hit me?” The man said, “Parkes, the Spirit is with you very strongly. You’ve been out for twenty minutes.”
David felt an intense burning heat from the top of his head to the tip of his toes. “I’ve never, ever had that sensation before, prior to Medjugorje or since Medjugorje but from that day, all the pains and aches associated with Crohn’s disease have disappeared.”
Two days after returning from Medjugorje David had an appointment with the surgeon, who got the surprise of his life. The David Parkes walking into his office was not bent over in pain, but now walked upright and was four pounds heavier.
The surgeon said, “David, whatever you’re doing, keep doing it.” The surgeon sent him for a week’s worth of intensive testing which confirmed that there was no sign of Crohn’s anywhere in David’s body.
“I also had an incredible spiritual healing,” David declared. “At this time in my life I was very troubled.” Ken’s disease weighed heavily on his shoulders and caused tension in their marriage. In August, 1987 David left Ann and the kids and got involved with another woman. He went home but in January, 1988 he left again. he had even contemplated suicide. In June of that year he went back home.
After the physical healing, the desire to leave Medjugorje was gone. “All of a sudden this little village began to take on something very special,” he said. Ann helped him climb Apparition Hill. As he sat there looking at the twin towers of St James, he had the urge to pray but he couldn’t remember the words of the prayers. He was agitated that he could not remember the words and Ann sensed something was wrong. They embraced and he began to apologise for all the hurt he’d caused Ann, their children and their parents. Ann started to cry and then he did too. They cried in each other’s arms for about ten minutes. When they stopped David said, “I had the most incredible peace, an inner peace that seemed to allow me to live with myself and I honestly feel that if we don’t have that inner peace within us, it is impossible to converse with anyone else.”
David continued, “The graces that I received in Medjugorje have stayed with me till this very day and you know, if Jesus came beside me and said, ‘I want to put you to the test. I’ll put you back in the mental state you were in, in 1989, and I’ll inflict a physical ailment on you, then I will offer you one healing, which one is it to be?’ There would be no hesitation. I would jump in and say to Jesus, ‘I will have the spiritual healing. I could accept any form of physical ailment You want to give me, because I would accept it as a form of penance — penance for the wrongs I’ve done in my life.’ But I could not be without the love of Jesus. It’s given me a whole new meaning to life, a whole new will to love life, but most important of all, a will to live the way that Jesus would want me to live life, not for David Parkes to live in David Parkes’ old form of religion.”
“That’s my story. From that day on, my whole life changed. In September, 1993 I gave up my secure job with the band, a band I had played with for fourteen years. I decided I wanted to do the work of the Lord. I am the most surprised person in the world to be standing here before you talking about God, talking about His mercy, talking about His love.”
David is now an international Catholic recording artist. Since his healing, he has travelled extensively telling his story and giving concerts. At the present time, David is working in Medjugorje as Pilgrimage Director for Marian Pilgrimages which is based in Dublin, Ireland. If you are ever in Medjugorje, try to find out which day he is giving a free concert in the yellow building behind St James. You won’t regret it.