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How Friends of Mary’s Hands Came About, and Why You Can Trust Us

by Veronica Raymonda

The idea for Friends of Mary’s Hands:

When I heard from a friend of mine (Emilio Ferrando) about the situation in Medjugorje, I knew immediately that I wanted to help. I asked if there was a way to accept PayPal, Venmo, or if they had a “GoFundMe” site where I could make a donation. My friend explained that in countries that are not part of the EU, government fees are outrageous, and they can’t add platforms such as PayPal. Since I own a company in Oakland, California, I knew of the difficulties dealing with banks during the pandemic. It’s hard to set appointments for any major transactions. I could not imagine anybody wanting to go through all that trouble for a small donation. As I was thinking about this, I could not even imagine how difficult it must be for Jakov’s volunteers to see people in need and not have enough money to help them. Being at the mercy of sporadic donations has to be beyond stressful. I started thinking about creative ideas to help. I knew that pilgrims who visited Medjugorje would always want to help such a holy place if they knew how. That’s when I came up with the idea of reaching out to pilgrims, like myself, and letting them know that it was time to help. Medjugorje needs us. But I had to find a way to make it easy. I figured that if there are 30 million pilgrims who have visited Medjugorje in the past 30 years (or 1 million per year), I should be able to invite a few thousand to donate the equivalent of an hour or two of work earnings per month.


My Company, Quantum Research:

As I said before, I own an organization (Quantum Research) in Oakland CA with two locations downtown. One office is on Broadway and 11th street, and the other office is on Telegraph and 17th. We have been doing research and evaluation for major universities since 2003 and return on investment (ROI) and percentage of contribution (POC) for the transportation industry. In other words, I look at numbers all day long, and that’s the bottom line: numbers tell you a story. Always. Even the most fascinating stories can be explained with numbers. Some may look at a number and simply see a figure. For me, as an engineer, numbers always describe an entire situation. Increases and decreases in numbers, even by the smallest percentage, always say something. And when numbers drop to zero, we have a problem.


Finding a solution:

More and more, I thought that the only solution would be the ability to provide a steady cash flow. No company can set short or long-term goals without an annual budget, let alone solve a present crisis. I thought that starting a non-profit organization for this purpose would take too much time, so I took advantage of my company and simply added a dedicated account to help Jakov Colo’s Mary’s Hands Organization. People could donate easily from home, using either a computer or a phone app, and then I could wire the money in one or two transactions per month. I started compiling a database with names of pilgrimage organizers, but I wanted to go bigger. Broadcasting would be better. At that moment, I thought of Christine Watkins. Let’s just say that I’d never met Christine, but for some bizarre reason I felt like I knew her. Maybe because I’d read many of her books and knew she was from Berkeley. Berkeley is my home. I came from Buenos Aires, Argentina to study in Berkeley. My three children were born there and went to school there. Maybe because Christine was a performing dancer, with San Francisco ballet, and my daughter is also a performing dancer with Berkeley Ballet Theater. So even though I don’t know the reason, I knew I had to contact her. I also knew she loved Medjugorje and she had a radio show, so in my mind, it made total sense.


Contacting Christine Watkins, Catholic author, radio-show host, speaker, and founder of

I’m not a good writer, and I procrastinate when I have to write something that does not have numbers in it. Yet that Sunday, I felt compelled to send her an email. Not only did I send an email to a complete stranger, I had the audacity to expect a phone call. That’s the honest truth. I read emails all day long, and I don’t pay much attention to my phone. I don’t care much about texting, calling, or checking my voicemail. Yet, that same Sunday, I turned up the ringer (I always keep it off) and kept the phone with me. (I tend to lose my phone). I was eager for Christine to call me, and just as expected, she did! The rest is history. I called Emilio and told her that Christine was interested. He immediately put me in contact with Silvia Maric, an interpreter and friend of Jakov. Silvia called me the same day. I told her we needed to learn more about the situation, and we needed to interview Jakov. Would he accept? Of course. He had to. There was no other choice. We have all been called to stand by our Mother Mary and help Medjugorje.


Just to play devil’s advocate, since, Christine asked me during her phone call: “How would you respond if people wonder, ‘Why is Mary not helping them?’” She knows there are many skeptics, when it comes to Medjugorje, and perhaps some would have this question. My quick answer was that we all have to carry our crosses; but later, I thought: “Mary is helping them. She is calling us to assist.” When I say “us,” this means not just the five of us. It means every person listening to this story.


That same night, when I listened to the Sunday Mass, the Gospel was: Matthew 25:34 “For I was hungry and you gave Me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave Me something to drink…” I took it as a sign.


Marijine Ruke (Jacov Colo’s Medjugorje charity called Mary’s Hands. Click Here For the Marijine Ruke Website:

I believe that Marijine Ruke, the charity organization founded by Jakov Colo, is an extension of Mary’s hands and desires. Our Mother needs us, and she entrusted Jakov with her ideas. I want to be part of that. I am happy to do what I can to help Jakov’s organization and Mary’s plans, and I believe, knowing how generous Americans are, that people who find out that our dear friends in Medjugorje need us, will extend their help. This is not just “one more charity,” this is the one founded by the same person the Virgin Mary chose to spread her messages. I can’t think of any other organization I would feel prouder to be part of. We need to hear the call. And She is calling us to help her children. We cannot turn our backs.


As Our Lady said in her May 2, 2007 Medjugorje message:

“Dear children! Today I come to you with a Motherly desire for you to give me your hearts. My children, do this with complete trust and without fear. In your hearts, I will put my Son and His mercy. Then, my children, you will look at the world around you with different eyes. You will see your neighbor. You will feel his pain and suffering. You will not turn your head away from those who suffer, because my Son turns His head away from those who do so. Children, do not hesitate.”


Ways you can help:

There are so many ways to help. I think that it’s good to donate money, but I also realize that many people might not be in a financial situation to help right at this moment due to the pandemic. But you might consider a very small amount because there is no such thing as too small a donation. That is something I’d like to make very clear. Even if you cannot help financially, perhaps you can help us spread the word. I pray that every pilgrim who has visited Medjugorje contact each person who was part of their group and invite them to help. Most of us are at home and can connected online, through emails or Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, YouTube, Tiktok, and such. This appeal should go viral in no time.


You may be wondering, “How much is truly going to the people I want to help?” The good charities usually advertise “only 10% for administration costs.” Well, we can say 100% go to the people in need and 0% goes to administration. Jakov has 90 volunteers who work for free. I don’t know of any other organization that does that.


Thank you so much for consideration, and know that God and Our Lady of Medjugorje will not be outdone in generosity. Thank you to my daughter Emma, who helped me from the day one to make this possible. God bless you.


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