Nova Scotia

Cape Bretoner featured in Apparition Hill, a film about Medjugorje

A film about a pilgrimage to the modern-day site of purported visions of the Virgin Mary will have its Canadian debut on Saturday.

7 people, believers and non-believers alike, selected for journey

A church and a statue of the Virgin Mary in Medjugorje, Bosnia-Herzegovina - the setting for a new documentary that includes a Nova Scotian man. (National Medjugorje Movement)

It's billed as a film about life — and what comes after.

And for a terminally ill man from Cape Breton, it was the trip of a lifetime.

Apparition Hill chronicles the journey of seven strangers to Medjugorje in eastern Europe.

It's a small town in Bosnia-Herzegovina where Jesus' mother, Mary, is believed by some Christians to appear and deliver messages to six local children.

Those children are now grown, but continue to report messages from the Blessed Virgin.

Random pilgrims

The makers of Apparition Hill recruited seven people from around the world this spring to make the journey.

The mission, according to the film's website, was to investigate a supernatural mystery with global implications.

Darryl Bach of Glace Bay, N.S., was diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), also known as Lou Gehrig's disease, in 2012.

Darryl Bach of Glace Bay, N.S., was one of seven people selected to be featured in the film. (courtesy, Apparition Hill)

The disease is slowly robbing him of the ability to live independently. 

Bach submitted a video to the film production company on the advice of his sister-in-law.

He says others in the cast include a woman dying of cancer, a Mennonite, a recovering addict and two atheists.

'It gave me faith'

"I have to admit, going there initially, I was quite a skeptic," said Bach. "Six kids talking to Mary on a hill?  But after you get there, and you meet these people and you see how strong faith is in that little village, and people are so nice and so compassionate, I think it had a profound effect on me. It gave me faith, which in turn gives me hope."

Bach says he hasn't noticed any big physical changes since the journey.

"I didn't have any great physical healing. I did have a spiritual healing."

The film makes its Canadian premiere this weekend at the Savoy Theatre in Glace Bay.

Bach says despite its religious topic, the film attempts to take a balanced look at Medjugorje.

"The two atheists brought that level of curiosity to the movie," he said. "I don't want to disclose too much but there's parts in the movie where they're trying to, not debunk, but scientifically explain away some of these odd events that take place there. 

"There's so many different parts to this movie. There's something for everyone in it."