Holy Family parishioner in documentary after winning a trip to Medjugorje

Melissa Williams Brown
Contributing Writer

LATROBE – Jan. 30, 2023 – Never traveling out of the U.S., Latrobe teenagers Emily Bonar, a parishioner of Holy Family Parish in Latrobe and her best friend, Cassandra Hatten, decided on a whim to submit an online video for a chance to visit the small village of Medjugorje Bosnia-Herzegovina. They never dreamed they would win and be filmed in a documentary shortly thereafter.

They entered the contest in 2015 when they were 18 years old for a new documentary called Cross Mountain. Production continued until 2022, showing the continued impact for those who journey to the miraculous village.

Though Hatten is not Catholic, she gained great insights and perspective on the journey and being part of the filming.

“If I didn’t go to Medjugorje, I don’t know where I would be,” said Bonar.

Like Bonar, Hatten is excited to share the adventure with everyone.

A movie screening is scheduled for 6 p.m. February 9 at the Latrobe 30 Theater and Cafe. The teens will be watching it for the first time with family and friends.

“We are so thankful to finally share the film,” said Cimela Kidonakis, filmmaker of Stella Mar Films.

In 1981, six children in former Yugoslavia claimed to see the Virgin Mary and still see her today. Millions have visited the area in search of miracles.

Bonar and Hatten were picked from 200 people who entered the contest. Eight people, including Bonar and Hatten were chosen. Also selected were two men struggling with drug addiction, a seminarian, a musician, a theology major and a skeptic. The film documents their entire journey and surprises along the way.

Bonar and her twin brother, Vince, turn 26 on Feb. 5. Their parents are Theresa and James Bonar. She graduated from Greater Latrobe High School and is finishing her master’s degree in clinical mental health counseling. 

Bonar said the trip changed her life. She said she was lucky to have her best friend by her side. Before she went, she was empty and didn’t have peace or hope.

“I felt the love of God and such joy. I knew God was what I had been missing. Since being back, I have times where I feel close to God and times I don’t, like everyone does, but I continue to turn back to God because of the foundation that I have built since and because of my trip to Medjugorje,” said Bonar.

She recalls one night when the group slept on Cross Mountain waiting to watch the visionary witness an apparition early the next morning. The look in the eyes of the visionary was something I’ll never forget.

“I fully believe that she was seeing Mary. There were many little miracles and moments that happened to me there that I knew could only be God. I saw the miracle of the sun. We took a trip to the Adriatic Sea, which was breathtaking. I loved the simplicity of how people lived there. We went to adoration and worship at the outside altar most nights. I wish I could go back and bring everyone I love.”

Kidonakis said the teens were chosen because they were really comfortable in front of the cameras and were very honest and real in their entry submission and through the process.

“We love the girls. Their different perspectives and deep bond was interesting to us. They have some beautiful and emotional moments on the journey. It’s fun to follow these friends. We filmed those years after the initial pilgrimage so you can see the impact of the journey they made. I really love the way they expressed themselves. They went to this small village with courage and an open heart,” said Kidonakis.


Tickets for the screening of Cross Mountain may be purchased in advance at www.stellamarfilms.com. Filmmakers and stars will attend the screening and will answer questions after the screening. 


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