She thinks her first time was in 1960, a year after her parents migrated to Australia with their two young daughters from communist Croatia.
Ten years later, as a 16 year old, she was photographed by The Southern Cross while walking behind the Croatian banner at the procession held on the grounds of Rostrevor College.
“The young ones were pushed to the front for the photo,” she recalled, after contacting The Southern Cross last month for a copy of the article to show her grandchildren.
The mother of three said her parents had attended the procession every year and were devoted to Mary throughout their life.
The story goes that her mum prayed out loud to Our Lady as they fled Croatia by boat, asking her to keep them safe in the rough seas.
“She called out ‘Our Lady do you see us’,” Visnja said.
“They made it to Italy and then went to France for two years before they became part of the mass migration to Australia.
“My parents had a lot of hardships in their life, but they always said they had our Lord…the Church was always number one in their lives.”
Vsinja said prayer had helped her mother get through a long battle with cancer before she died at the age of 88.
Continuing her parents’ strong faith, Visnja is an active member of the Croatian community which celebrates Mass at St Patrick’s Church Grote Street, and sometimes attends Mass at Hectorville and Newton.
Her three grandchildren are involved in the Cathedral parish and she hopes that one day they will join her at the Marian Procession.
Processing this year with her daughter, Ana, Visnja described it as a “lovely day”.
“It was beautiful to be going through the city, and to see all the different priests from the parishes; we’ve shifted quite a bit so I know a lot of them,” she said.
“You feel like you are part of a bigger community.”
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