SAN FRANCISCO (CWN) - A federal appeals court ruled on Wednesday that a woman fired for leaving her job to go on a pilgrimage to Medjugorje was not necessarily entitled to unpaid leave and was subject to loss of her job.

      Mary Tiano said she received a calling from God in August, 1988 to visit Medjugorje, Yugoslavia, the alleged site of apparitions of the Virgin Mary to six children, that October. She asked for an unpaid leave from her job at Dillard Department Store in Phoenix, but was turned down because the store prohibited leaves during the holiday season which began in October. Tiano left anyway, and when she returned in two weeks was told she had voluntarily resigned.

      A US District Court judge ruled that Tiano had suffered religious discrimination because the store had failed to accommodate her sincere religious belief, and awarded her $16,445 for lost wages. But the 9th US Circuit Court of Appeals said on Wednesday the timing of the pilgrimage was a personal preference and not part of her calling. The court said Tiano had failed to show that she needed to go on a pilgrimage at that particular time.

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March 20-22, 1998 volume 9, no. 57         DAILY CATHOLIC