Croatian Dominican Province in association with the youth from the parish of the Queen of the Holy Rosary from Zagreb organised in the beginning of November the spiritual retreat and the youth pilgrimage to Medjugorje. Fr. Ivan Marija Tomic and Maja Maric, parishioner of the parish of the Queen of the Holy Rosary, were the main organisers of this year’s pilgrimage. Young people climbed Apparition Hill and Cross Mountain and also participated in the evening prayer programme in the parish church. Upon their return homes, some of them gave testimonies about the graces they received at this pilgrimage.
On Monday, November 24, 2014, Medjugorje remembered the 14th anniversary of death of Fr. Slavko Barbaric. Fr. Stanko Cosic was the main celebrant of the evening Holy Mass along with 25 priests concelebrating. In his homily, among other things, Fr. Stanko said: “Today, we remember man who united his heart with the motherly heart of the Blessed Virgin Mary and who encouraged men to return to their hearts. Fr. Slavko, with his own example, was trying to pray, fast, celebrate Holy Mass, to confess and to talk, but also to be silent with the heart. As every prophet of his own time, he did not have answers to all of the questions, but he was facing many issues in his search for the truth. Fr. Slavko was discovering that treasure hidden in the depth of one’s heart and he invites us all to search for it as well.” Medjugorje parish also remembered Fr. Slavko on Cross Mountain when many faithful gathered to pray the Way of the Cross. Mother’s Village, the institution founded by late Fr. Slavko also commemorated the death of its founder.
Father Paulo Sergio Correia was in Medjugorje with a group of pilgrims from Sao Paolo in Brazil. This is his fourth visit to Medjugorje. He said that he heard about Medjugorje in the very beginning, but decided to come only in 2012: „Some parishioners were coming earlier and they were trying to bring me to come here. Now. I came to thank the Queen of Peace for all She gave me. I think the most important message of Medjugorje is the message of peace. I thank all for the hospitality I gained here” - said Fr. Paulo.
Married couple Jim and Silvina Curran came from Ireland in the last few days. Their life in the recent years is a journey from Medjugorje, Ireland and Argentina, but the most important is that it was changed completely all thanks to Medjugorje and the messages of Gospa, the Queen of Peace. Silvina said that she came to Medjugorje in 2009 for the first time: “When I first came, I did not know what to expect. But, as soon as I arrived here, I felt peace and something special in regards to this place. I loved Medjugorje from the beginning and we feel this is our home.”
Number of Holy Communions: 200 500
Number of priests that concelebrated at Holy Masses: 4075 (131 per day)
On the Feast of All Saints and All Souls’ Day we all go to graveyards so we would remember and thank our beloved departed ones as well as pray for all of them. On those days, Holy Masses will be celebrated at various graveyards in Medjugorje parish. Many parishioners who are living outside Medjugorje come to their homes for these two feasts, and there are also many pilgrims who came from various countries. The Information Office registered pilgrims from Poland, Czech Republic, Hungary, Slovenia, Belgium, Portugal, Germany, Austria, France, Italy, England, the United States, Ireland and Latvia.
Fr. John Chisholm, the Holy Ghost priest from Ireland, long-time Medjugorje pilgrim died on Thursday, October 23, 2014 in his 93rd year of life as a consequence of a heart attack. Fr. John was ordained as a priest in 1946, and he spent six years in Medjugorje from 2000 to 2006, serving to God, Gospa and English –speaking pilgrims. While he was once with his mother, he heard about the events in Medjugorje and felt desire to come to this place. Soon after her death, he received invitation to come to Medjugorje with a group of pilgrims. In that week, he completely fell in love with Gospa, in love that he faithfully served to until the last breath of his earthly life.
The Third International Pilgrimage for Persons with Disability ended with Holy Mass at the White Dome of St. James’ church and the pilgrimage was held with the theme “In Mary’s School” and gathered around 1380 participants. The parishioners from Medjugorje – 85 families (pansion houses, hotels and family homes) gave free accommodation to all pilgrims that arrived from Croatia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Poland, Ukraine, Lithuania, Italy and the United States. This pilgrimage was organised by the Association “Susret/Encounter” from Citluk, parish office Medjugorje and Mother’s Village. Jasminka Vasilj, the President of Association “Susret” said at the end of this pilgrimage: “I am proud of our parish, everything went well, we had 1380 pilgrims with disability, their parents and volunteers who were here for three days and on Saturday there were around 150 people from the area that joined the pilgrimage.”
The Third Pilgrimage for Disabled Persons “In Mary’s School” that is being held in Medjugorje, gathered more than 1300 participants. This pilgrimage was created as the fruit of pilgrimages of Sr. Rastislava Ralbovsky with the community of persons with special needs from Djakovo. “I am strongly convinced that this is Our Lady’s plan that I was aware of from the beginning. I moved slowly in the process and I can see it is the work of God”, said Sr. Rastislava and emphasised that Medjugorje was in her heart from the very beginning. Magda Kaliterna, volunteer from the church of St. Phillip Neri from Split said that they came for the pilgrimage last year for the first time. “We came last year not knowing what to expect, but everyone from volunteers to parents were thrilled. Some young volunteers who were 18 – 19 years old returned home and told their parents that they had spent the four most beautiful days in Medjugorje. Our volunteers are young people and we would like to form and raise them in the Christian spirit so they would understand that serving is the most important thing in their lives.”
The Third International Pilgrimage for Persons with Disability is being held in Medjugorje from October 23-26, with the theme “In Mary’s School”. This pilgrimage gathered more than 1300 participants and most of them were from Croatia, then Slovakia, Ukraine, Lithuania, Italy and the United States. All participants were again hosted by families from Medjugorje which again confirmed their great hearts and desire to help and also why Our Lady had chosen this parish in a very special way. This pilgrimage that was organised by Association “Encounter/Susret” from Citluk, in cooperation with Mother’s Village and the Parish Office, began on Thursday with the evening Holy Mass celebrated at the White Dome of St. James’ church by Fr. Josip Vlasic, the parish priest from Mostar parish of Sts. Peter and Paul. The inspiration for this gathering is a pilgrimage that took place for many years to Medjugorje by Sr. Rastislava Ralbovsky that had been coming here with the community of special needs persons from Djakovo. She gave interview on radio Medjugorje and said that today people with disabilities are meeting in Medjugorje so they could find love and protection with Our Lady: “May all of them be encouragement to us, that by looking at them, we may understand ourselves, our wounded hearts. We all carry within ourselves deep desire to love and to be loved: that is what the core of human being is.” The programme is also this year filled with many activities, lectures and prayer meetings.
Seventy seven pilgrims from the parish Brestovsko came to Medjugorje this October. Immediately upon their arrival to Medjugorje, they climbed Cross Mountain while meditation on the stations of the Way of the Cross and praying Rosary and then they went to Apparition Hill. Along with all other pilgrims they participated in the evening pray programme and their parish priest Fr. Damir Pavic was the main celebrant at the evening Holy Mass. One after visiting their parish web site can read some of the testimonies that young people received during this pilgrimage: „It was so special on Apparition Hill. God’s love streamed through me and I felt beautiful. I could not have even imagined that this place is so nice. When I came to the statue of Our Lady I felt something indescribable, something so nice. It was love of God that strengthened me and gave me force to remain strong in my faith. When I receive another chance, I will go to Medjugorje again”, wrote young parishioner from Brestovsko.
The priest Mduduzi McHunu came to Medjugorje for the second time from South Africa. He is a member of the Oblates of Mary Immaculate and in his interview told us that he heard about Medjugorje for the first time after one spiritual retreat in 1999. “I believe this place was chosen in a special way so it would bring us renewal of faith especially in this time. I meet many people in my country who think they can do alone without God in their lives. We call it crises of faith. The experience that Medjugorje offers is Our Lady’s Motherly love and care that She desires to show us so She would return us to our faith and God, to Jesus, Her Son”, said Fr. Mduduzi from South Africa.
All members of one family decided to gather at a pilgrimage in Medjugorje. Mairead Peoples, pilgrim and a group leader from Ireland was able to gather 35 members of her family for a one week pilgrimage to Medjugorje. Mairead said that she has been coming to Medjugorje for many years and came in 1985 for the first time: „Every year I bring pilgrims and I think that I only missed one year -1991. I was able to see in all of these years how lives of people are changing. Faith in our country is very week. I bring pilgrims and I beleive that Gospa has a plan for each one of them and that she does soemthing special for all pilgrims. I really love my family to come over here" said Mairead.
Ollie Clarke, journalist from Ireland was in Medjugorje in the past few days and he works on Christian radio– Spirit Radio Ireland. He said that the job he has is a great gift because he is able to witness his faith. He came to Međugorje in 1995, for the first time and ever since then he was here for 30 more times and said: „Međugorje is my home. It opened my faith and gave me tools that I needed to witness and to enlighten the message of the Gospel in my heart”. The life story of this pilgrim is very interesting and is imbued with God's blessing despite family tragedies and facing with serious illness that he was able to beat thanks to Jesus and Mary.
Our journalists recently had chance to speak to many pilgrims and one of them is a priest Juan Carlos Zapata, born in Columbia who serves in the parish of St. Joseph in Newark Diocese New Jersey and was ordained ten years ago. “I worked in the various parishes in the United States and up to four years ago, I was director of radio Maria, which is still part of my duties, I conduct shows there and I speak about Marian themes and I am also a marriage counsellor. My love to Gospa is so big, I was always aware that the Lord is doing His work with the heart of a Mother. I prayed that He, through Mary, may show me the needs of people. I desired to come to Medjugorje for many years, after I heard about it from my colleagues - priests. I asked Him to answer my prayer and to send me to Medjugorje when mostly needed and that is exactly what He did.”