The Information Office in Medjugorje has registered in the beginning of January groups from Poland, Slovakia, Czech Republic, the United States, Korea, China, Germany, Austria, France and Argentina. We had chance to talk to Blanka from Czech Republic, who came to Medjugorje for the first time. She said that she was very grateful that her great wish was finally fulfilled. She heard of this place and Gospa’s apparitions in 90’s, but never came back in those days. She told us that this was the right time for her to come, that the Queen of Peace invited her and all other pilgrims to be in this place at this particular time.
Fr. Marinko Sakota, the parish priest in Medjugorje parish spoke on the radio station Mir Medjugorje about New Year’s celebration in Medjugorje and also made a little review of what took place in the year 2013. He said that this previous year is more less the same when it comes to the pilgrims who were coming to Medjugorje. In 2013, total of 1 876 800 Holy Communions were given at all Holy Masses, and 38 655 priests have concelebrated in Holy Masses.
63 children were baptized in the parish Medjugorje in 2013, 28 girls and 35 boys. 49 people have died; 29 women and 20 men. 33 couples were married. 30 children received their first Communion on May 5, and on May 4, 90 young people received the sacrament of the Confirmation.
Fr. Stanko Cosic celebrated Holy Mass for the New Year’s Eve in the packed church of St. James in Medjugorje. In his homily he spoke about how Christians need to look forward, how they need to fight against sins and weaknesses in the year that is here ahead of us. Here, we would like to bring his whole homily as it was given in that night:
Number of Holy Communions: 73 000
Number of priests that concelebrated at Holy Masses: 1134 (36 per day)
In the previous 2013 there have been 1 876 800 Holy Communions given in the church, and total of 38 655 priests that concelebrated at Holy Masses.
Apart from many parishioners, thousands of pilgrims gathered in Medjugorje for celebration of New Year and they arrived from the following countries: Austria, Germany, Slovakia, Czech Republic, Italy, Romania, England, the United States, Poland, Lebanon, Korea, Spain, Lithuania, Ukraine, France, as well as many from Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina. Holy Mass of Thanksgiving was celebrated at 6 p.m. with Fr. Svetozar Kraljevic as the main celebrant and 49 priests who have concelebrated. After that Holy Mass, there was live Nativity scene performance of Cenacolo community outside the church of St. James.
The prayer vigil began at 10 p.m. with the Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament and Fr. Stanko Cosic led that prayer and he was also the main celebrant of the Holy Mass that followed after that vigil.
The church of St. James, the Hall of the Blessed John Paul II as well as the area around the church, were full of faithful who joyfully celebrated and praised God. The whole programme was simultaneously translated in many languages and also broadcasted live through radio station Mir Medjugorje, as well as through Internet.
Medjugorje is preparing for celebration of New Year and several thousand young people are expected to arrive for that special event. The programme on December 31, will begin with Rosary at 5 p.m. and Holy Mass of Thanksgiving will be at 6 p.m. Immediately afterwards, Cenacolo community will have live Nativity scene performance outside the church of St. James.
The prayer vigil will begin at 10 p.m with Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament until midnight, when solemn Holy Mass will begin.
The whole programme will be broadcasted in the Hall of the Blessed John Paul II, as well as through the radio station Mir Medjugorje.
The Franciscan Youth from Medjugorje have organised another humanitarian action this Christmas called: "Whatever you did to one of my least brothers, you did to me", all with the purpose of making Christmas beautiful to those who are in the most need. That is how members of creative section of the Franciscan Youth made Advent decorations every single day and sold those on Saturdays and Sundays. The money that was gained in that way was used to help those who are the poorest in the parish of Medjugorje.
The Franciscan Youth of Medjugorje developed out of the group of young people that late Fr. Slavko Barbaric guided. They are now very active and with their singing they make many events in this famous parish even more beautiful.
Apart from the music group, they also have other groups: creative, readers, sports, eco, charity and prayer group.
On Sunday, December 29, 2013, in the Hall of the Blessed John Paul II, Christmas concert was held and along with many participants from parish of Medjugorje there were some famous guests like Croatian singers Doris Dragovic, Zorica Kondza and Ivan Mikulic. Parish office from Medjugorje is organiser of this concert, and co-organisers are parish communities Medjugorje and Bijakovici. Fr. Marinko Sakota, parish priest of Medjugorje parish, had the honour of opening this concert and greeting all of the present, wishing them blessed Christmas. Apart from these famous singers, there were also parish choir from Medjugorje, female vocal group “Smilje”, Franciscan Youth choir from Medjugorje, vocal group “Subrenum”, children choir “Golubici mira”, traditional folk group from Surmanci and their mandolin orchestra, Fr. Karlo Lovric, young poet Ivana Buntic, traditional folk group St. Mark from Vionica, Stjepan Yesseta and vocal male group “Luka” from Ploce. Sanja Pehar and Robert Pehar led this concert, and all participants were invited to take part in the party that took place after the concert. (photos)
Mara and Jure Vasilj from Medjugorje celebrated their diamond jubilee on Saturday, December 28, 2013. They were married sixty years ago, and last Saturday at 2 p.m. they renewed their marital vows before parish priest from Medjugorje Fr. Marinko Sakota. Many members of their family, friends and parishioners were present at this solemn event. They confirmed to one another that after sixty years of love and fidelity, they will continue to respect each another in all of the days of their lives, in good and in bad times. They were married on December 28, 1953 in the parish of St. James. Fr. Jure Zlopasa, parish priest at that time, gave them sacrament of marriage. They continued their life in Sarajevo and returned to Medjugorje in 1987. Jure is also known because he is in charge of gathering collections in Medjugorje parish office for many years.
At the last daily apparition to Jakov Colo on September 12th, 1998, Our Lady told him that henceforth he would have one apparition a year, every December 25th, on Christmas Day. This is also how it was this year. The apparition began at 3:07 pm and lasted 8 minutes. Afterwards Jakov transmitted the message:
Little children, today in a special way, Jesus desires to come to dwell in each of your hearts and to share with you your every joy and pain. Therefore, little children, today in a special way, peer into your hearts and ask yourselves if the peace and joy of the birth of Jesus have truly taken hold of your hearts. Little children, do not live in darkness, aspire towards the light and towards God’s salvation. Children, decide for Jesus and give Him your life and your hearts, because only in this way will the Most High be able to work in you and through you.
On Tuesday, December 24, 2013 we are celebrating Christmas Eve, and that is the day of fasting. The last early Holy Mass will be celebrated at 6 a.m. and there will not be Rosary on Apparition Hill since Novena has finished on December 23, 2013. The evening prayer programme will begin at 5 p.m. with Rosary, followed by Christmas Eve Holy Mass at 6 p.m. when all of the priests will concelebrate and that is why confessions will only take place from 4 p.m to 5.30 p.m. After the evening Holy Mass there will be live Nativity scene performance of Cenacolo community. The prayer vigil with Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament will begin at 10 p.m. and last until midnight when Midnight Holy Mass will begin.
On Wednesday, December 25, we celebrate Christmas, the birth of Christ. Holy Masses in the parish church of St. James will take place at 7, 8, 9.30 and 11 a.m. and at 6 p.m. After the main Holy Mass at 11 a.m., the parishioners will come for traditional gathering in the parish facilities. Holy Masses in the branch churches in Vionica, Miletina and Surmanci will be celebrated at 10 a.m.
On Thursday, December 26, 2013 we will celebrate feast of St. Stephen, the first martyr. Holy Masses will be celebrated only in the parish church at 8 and 11 a.m. and at 6 p.m. On that day, one of our parishioners, Fr. Goran Azinovic, will be ordained as a deacon in the church of St. Stephen in Cerin. Bishop Ratko Peric will ordain him during Holy Mass at 6 p.m.
On Friday, December 27, we will celebrate feast of St. John and Holy Masses will take place at 7.30 a.m. and at 6 p.m. in the parish church. The blessing of homes will take place on that day in our parish.
On Saturday, December 28, 2013, we will celebrate the feast of Holy Innocents and apart from the regular prayer programme there will be Holy Mass at 3 p.m. for children and their parents. Again, after this Holy Mass, community Cenacolo will have live Nativity scene performance.
Christmas concert of Medjugorje parish will be held on Sunday, December 29, 2013 in the Hall of the Blessed John Paul II.
A pilgrim from Argentina, Gisella Barreto came to Medjugorje. Gisella is a very famous person in Argentina and in the other countries of Latin America as well. She won several times at the beauty contests, became TV hostess, and even though she lived in the world of glamour, none of that ever made her happy. She came to Medjugorje in 2010 as a result of her mother’s desire and that is when her world started to change. She does not work in media anymore, she does not live in the world of glamour, but she witnesses instead of that and teaches religion in schools and she said how only now she feels happy and blessed in her life after so many years. Gisella told us that she came here to thank Gospa in Medjugorje.
This time of Advent, time of expecting Chrismtas is always filled with more intensive preparation of parishioners and pilgrims for celebration of the birth of our Saviour. Early Holy Masses are celebrated at 6 a.m. in the parish church of St. James every day except on Sundays. This is the time of Novena to the Birth of Jesus when Rosary is prayed on Apparition Hill every day at 2 p.m. until December23, 2013. The members of Cenacolo community are setting the scene of Betlehem outside the church of St. James which is the part of setting for the live nativity scene that will take place in Christmas days.
Novena to the Birth of Jesus began on Sunday, December 15, 2013 with the prayer of Rosary on Apparition Hill. Fr. Josip Marija Katalinic led prayer on the first day and this prayer will continue until December 23, 2013 every day at 2 p.m. The evening prayer programme begins with prayer of Rosary at 5 p.m., followed by Holy Mass at 6 p.m. and with the regular programme afterwards. Early Holy Masses, with Medjugorje Franciscans as the main celebrants, take place every day but Sunday in the church of St. James. Parishioners have opportunity for confession every morning from 5.30 a.m. to 7.30 a.m. and during the evening prayer programme. The Information Office has registered groups from Italy, the United States, Korea, Spain, Lebanon, Ukraine, Romania and Mexico.
Fr. Mateo Mario is a member of the community of Our Lady Queen of Peace in Sao Paolo in Brazil, and that community is a fruit of Medjugorje. Before he became a priest, he received a degree in Chemistry and worked for few years in chemical factory. His job was good, as well as his salary and he lived a good life according to the standards of the world. Even though he was brought up in a Catholic family, he did not go much to the church at that time. All of that had changed with just one accidental encounter with the Holy Scripture. He came to Medjugorje in 2002, at the time he was in Novitiate.