There are few more days left until the beginning of the Third International Pilgrimage for Persons with Disability that will be held in Medjugorje from October 23-26 with the theme “In Mary’s school”. Around 1000 persons registered for this pilgrimage that is organised by the Association “Susret/Encounter” from Ciltuk in cooperation with the parish office and Mother’s Village. The participants will gather on Thursday, October 23, 2014 and parishioners will provide them free accommodation and food. The inspiration for this pilgrimage came from Sr. Rastislava Ralbovsky that had been coming here with a group of persons with special needs from Djakovo. The programme will be filled with workshops lectures and prayer meetings.
The seminar for music groups of the Franciscan Youth Herzegovina was held in “Home of Peace” in Medjugorje from October 12 to 14, 2014, with the theme “Blessed be God forever”. The seminar was organised by the regional brotherhood of the Herzegovina Franciscan Youth and 40 young people participated from 16 fraternities. The seminar was conducted by Fr. Tihomir Bazina and Fr. Branimir Novokmet and the regional assistant Fr. Slaven Brekalo was present as well. The introduction to the seminar was on Friday at 4 p.m. with the evening prayer programme that followed. On Saturday, the programme began with the prayer and workshops followed. The conductors made emphasis on selection of songs for the Eucharistic celebration. The whole seminar was full of songs, music and prayer.
The feast of St. Francis, the founder of the Franciscan Order was solemnly celebrated in Medjugorje on October 4, 2014. The traditional service of Transitus was held after the evening Holy Mass, on the eve of the Feast, at the White Dome of St. James’ church. Fr. Stanko Cosic was the main celebrant and conductor of this service. Many pilgrims were present, among them huge number of Irish pilgrims that traditionally come here in October. Mary O’Farrel came for the first time and she told us that she had been refusing to come here for years: “I always used to say that one day I would go to Medjugorje. My neighbour organised trip to Medjugorje and I had booked pilgrimage to Lourdes. She told me that the pilgrimage was organised specially for me, just to make me come here, and that is how I came at the end. The purpose of this pilgrimage is to pray for inner peace and for my mom who had car accident. I do not know many things about Medjugorje, but I am positive Gospa brought me here for a special reason. I am in the organisation board of pilgrimage for disabled persons to Lourdes and I also organise Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament back home. We had just celebrated the 25th anniversary of Adoration in our parish and I am very proud of that.”
Many pilgrims are arriving to Medjugorje from all over the world in this period, especially since October is a month devoted to Our Lady. The Information Office registered groups of pilgrims coming from Italy, France, Poland, Slovenia, Belgium, Spain, Argentina, Austria, Ireland, Ukraine, Slovakia, Czech Republic, Germany, Romania, Lithuania, the United States, Canada, England, Korea, Lebanon and Malaysia. The journalists of radio station Mir Medjugorje met Hans Theo Müller from Germany who has been coming to Medjugorje since 1986. He stopped counting his trips to Medjugorje a long ago and said that he feels like at home when he is here. He always stays in the same family, always grateful for their hospitality but also for the fruits that Medjugorje brought to his spiritual life. He told us about his first trip to Medjugorje: “I heard about Medjugorje for the first time from one Croatian priest who was in the parish close to ours and he was in charge of the Croatian missions there. He told me that we need to go to Medjugorje together. Soon, the first pilgrims from his parish came here and among them were my parents and my younger brother. As soon as they returned, I could see they were different. I came here in 1986, for the first time with my mother, it was the Anniversary Feast and I was deeply moved by that. That trip to Medjugorje was a turning point in my life.”
Number of Holy Communions: 226 400
Number of priests that concelebrated at Holy Masses: 4706 (156 per day)
Gordan Bule, 57 years old pilgrim from Zagreb, recently made his pilgrimage of gratitude when he walked from Krasic to Medjugorje. Those eighteen days of pilgrimage were indeed special for him, he prayed for his family, friends, soldiers and for his Croatian people. “This was a pilgrimage of gratitude to our Heavenly Mother, for all the prayers that She answered up to now. This was a long journey and I had opportunity to pray for everyone. There were also difficult moments during the pilgrimage, even though the whole trip was not too bad for me, all thanks to the preparations that I took. I received a very rich experience. I encountered many compassionate people who offered their help to me. I thank all of them for sincere welcome they expressed me.
The members of the choir of “St. Cecilia” from the parish of Sts. Eusebius and Polonius from Vinkovci, with their conductor Martin Miskovic, who at the same time are members of Croatian National Association “Matica Hrvatska” from Vinkovci arrived at the end of September on a pilgrimage to Medjugorje, Citluk and Cerin together with their parish vicar Marko Martic. On Saturday, September 27, they climbed Cross Mountain and prayed the Way of the Cross there and also participated in the evening prayer programme that they made more special with their singing. They were led by Dubravka Vukovarac, while Fr. Ivan Dugandzic was the main celebrant with 66 priests concelebrating. Two priests from Vinkovci were there as well, Fr. Marko Martic, their parish vicar and Fr. Ivan Poleto, parish priest of the parish of the Immaculate Heart of Mary from Vinkovci. The evening prayer programme finished with the Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament and many pilgrims from all over the world were there.
The Feast of St. Francis of Assisi, the founder of the Franciscan Order will solemnly be celebrated in Medjugorje on Saturday, October 4 at the Holy Masses at 7.30 a.m., 1 and 6 p.m. Holy Mass at 7.30 a.m. will be for the members of the Third Franciscan Order. The traditional service of Transitus, embodied in the liturgical service, will take place on Friday, after the evening prayer programme. Parish office is inviting all parishioners, especially all those who are members of the great Franciscan family, all religious sisters and members of the Third Franciscan Order and the Franciscan Youth to come for these celebrations.
Carmel Kelly, 79-years old pilgrim from Ireland recently brought her 100th group to Medjugorje. She came here for the first time in 1997 and she came only because of her husband. This is what she told us about her first trip to Medjugorje: “I used to go to Lourdes every second year until 1997. I did not know anything about Lourdes. My husband, who never came to Lourdes and never wanted to come to any religious destination, once read about Medjugorje and told me that he would like to come here. Since he expressed desire to go on the pilgrimage for the first time, I booked seats for two of us for May 22, 1997. In the beginning of March that same year, he began to feel chest pain and doctors were treating him for severe chest infection.
Marin Čilić, the winner of this year’s US Open, came to his birth place Medjugorje on Tuesday, September 16. He was welcomed by many parishioners and pilgrims who congratulated him on his victory and the success he had achieved. Marin was also welcomed by the Franciscans from Medjugorje and the parish priest Fr. Marinko Sakota who had congratulated him as well. Marin took part in the evening prayer programme that was held at the White Dome of St. James’ church with the Rosary at 5 p.m. and Holy Mass at 6 p.m. that was celebrated by the parish priest with 67 priests that concelebrated. The celebration was even more beautiful thanks to the singing of the Franciscan Youth, choir Friends and the parish choir of the Queen of Peace. After the Holy Mass there was special programme held in honour of Marin, who thanked everyone who were his support in these days.
On Sunday, September 14, 2014, four brothers of Herzegovina Franciscan Province: Fr. Augustin Cordas, Fr. Ivan Maric, Fr. Alen Pajic and Fr. Ivan Penavic gave their solemn life vows. The solemn Holy Mass began with the procession and it was celebrated by the Provincial of Herzegovina Franciscan Province, Dr. Fr. Miljenko Steko at the White Dome of St. James’ church with 87 priests concelebrating. The singing of young seminarians conducted by Fr. Stanko Mabic made it even more beautiful. The Provincial expressed his joy because these solemn vows are being given in Medjugorje, place of Our Lady, in Her vicinity which was the choice of brothers who gave vows. He especially emphasised the Feast of Exaltation of the Holy Cross that was celebrated on Sunday: “What does this Feast here in Medjugorje, parish with Cross Mountain say to us?
Many pilgrims are arriving on daily basis to Medjugorje and in the beginning of September, according to the Information Office register, there were groups from Italy, Austria, Germany, Ireland, the United States, France, Poland, Netherlands, Spain, Slovakia, Latvia, Japan, Hungary, Lebanon, Argentina, Czech Republic and Malta. Among many pilgrims from Italy, we had chance to speak to Giorgio Dal Molin from Italy, who came to Medjugorje around 200 times so far. “In the beginning, I used to come as a pilgrim and now I bring groups of pilgrims here. I heard about Medjugorje in 1988, after I was moved with everything that was happening here, I decided to go through that spiritual experience. My first pilgrimage was all about the curiosity. I came from Italy so I would come and see what was happening in a place that was important for the Church and the whole world. I was very surprised by the faith that I found here and it was the faith that was reflected in pilgrims, but above all in parishioners. I was able to deepen my spiritual journey here. I used to come to Medjugorje as a pilgrim until the beginning of the war and afterwards, I became a pilgrim that mostly helped people here who were in difficulties at that time”, said Giorgio who emphasised that he was mostly moved by the inner feeling that all pilgrims experience during the time of prayer on the hills in Medjugorje.
Medjugorje parish celebrates the Feast of Exaltation of the Holy Cross on the first Sunday after the Feast of the Nativity of Our Lady. That celebration will take place on Sunday, September 14. The solemn Holy Mass will be on Cross Mountain at 11 a.m., and other Holy Masses in Croatian language will take place in the parish church at 6, 7, 8 a.m. and 12 and 7 p.m. The Cross on Cross Mountain was built in the Year of Jubilee of Christ’s Death – 1933, and until June 24, 1981 it was a place of prayer of parishioners and faithful from other parishes. The night before this celebration, the theatre performance will be held at 8 p.m. at the foot of Cross Mountain titled “How Cross Mountain came to be”. The play will be given by Croatian National Theatre from Mostar.
Change in time of the evening prayer programme takes place in Medjugorje on the first Monday after the celebration of the feast of Exaltation of the Holy Cross. That change will start from September 15, 2014 and Rosary will be at 5 p.m., Holy Mass at 6 p.m., Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament on Wednesdays and Saturdays will be from 9 to 10 .m. Rosary on Apparition Hill on Sundays will be at 2 p.m., and Way of the Cross on Fridays at the same time. Croatian Holy Mass at 1 p.m. will only be celebrated on Saturdays.
Number of Holy Communions: 364 500
Number of priests that concelebrated at Holy Masses: 7652 (246 per day)