Young people, members of the Franciscan Youth from Medjugorje, will give their solemn promises during the evening Holy Mass at 6 p.m. on Sunday, February 2, in the church of St. James. The Franciscan Youth is active in Medjugorje since 1995, and it grew out of the prayer group that late Fr. Slavko Barbaric led. The first meetings were held oon Fridays, after the evening Holy Mass and that remained the same in all of these years.
Numerous pilgrims visit Medjugorje every year and their testimonies are like little pieces that form beautiful mosaic, picture of Medjugorje. Married couple, Neli and Igor Kanizaj emphasise that every visit to Medjugorje is for them great joy and new, deep experience. Igor got to know Medjugorje in his young days, while he was a member of the Franciscan Youth, and each of his visits was bringing him something new, primarily peace:
The theatre performance “In the years of the famine”, created by Fr. Ante Maric, and directed by Tina Laco, was held in the Hall of the Blessed John Paul II in Medjugorje on January 19, 2014, before the large audience. This theatre performance is made on the theme of the difficult time of famine in the beginning of the 20th century here in Herzegovina, when one priest, Fr. Didak Buntic, despite many problems and difficulties that he encountered, was able to save several thousands of poor and hungry children.
The members of music group “New Heaven” from the parish of St. Elijah in Zenica, came for their visit to Medjugorje. Music directors are Danijela and Zoran Curic, married couple. Danijela said that her first encounter with Medjugorje took place in 1995, when she was 15 years old. “I was not aware back in those days what this place meant. Now, every time I come here, I feel peace, serenity and that is something that cannot be denied. Every person who comes here experiences something that is absolutely immeasurable.” Zoran told us that Medjugorje means so much to him in his life, and there is something really special for him here:
The International Investigating Commission held its last session on Friday, January 17 regarding Medjugorje
Vatikan, (IKA) – The International Investigating Commission on Medjugorje, presided by former Roman Vicar, Cardinal Camillo Ruini, has held its last session on Friday, January 17, 2014, confirmed on January 18, Director of the Holy See Press Office, Fr. Federico Lombardi. The results of this investigation are going to be handed to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith for the further examination.
According to the personal statements of six persons, Our Lady has appeared in Medjugorje in June 1981, and those apparitions are still ongoing. The Bishop’s Conference in charge for this place, has expressed their restraint attitude regarding this phenomenon and they have forbidden the official pilgrimages into this place.
Vatican Commission has undertaken from the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith in March 2010, the task to investigate this pilgrimage destination. Nevertheless, the centre of their work was not only the apparitions of Mary, but also the spiritual life and spiritual care of pilgrims who are coming to Medjugorje.
The alleged apparitions of Mary have begun in Medjugorje on June 24, 1981. Six children have then stated that Our Lady have appeared to them while they were minding the sheep out in the village. The apparitions, according to six grown up persons now, are still ongoing every day. During those encounters, Our Lady is entrusting them with precise statements about various topics in the church as well as about other issues.
A writer from Rijeka, Diana Rosandic, witnessed for radio station Mir Medjugorje about her journey of discovery faith and peace in Medjugorje. Mrs. Diana was born in the family that lived without the Lord and it was one extraordinary event in her childhood, after which she received the sacraments, got to know about God, but her true faith and peace she discovered only in Medjugorje. “I remember that in my family, we did not go to Sunday Holy Masses, nor we said grace before the meal. Christmas was celebrated only because of family unions. I was very happy after I received all of the sacraments, after which a period of searching for God began in my life. It was then I met one wonderful man that I married later on. He was an artist and writer. At that time he was working on his second novel, where he actually wrote about Medjugorje but in codes. He got sick and we decided to come to Medjugorje in 1995. That was my first encounter with this place where I came with my sick husband”, said Diana and added how she described her experience of Medjugorje in one of her novels. “My husband was not able to climb Apparition Hill. He died afterwards, and that is what brought a wound of Medjugorje to me. I knelt here, prayed and begged for healing and that did not take place. That was my will, but God obviously had some other plans. I was not able to accept that and therefore, I refused to accept Medjugorje for many years. My friends invited me to come and join them for the Youth Festival. I was not willing to do that, and after the initial refusal I came here and this is where completely new discovery took place for me. It was wonderful, full of young people. This is where my wound was healed, wound that I got on my first trip here. I said later on that I need to continue coming to the Youth Festival in the future. This is where I receive my peace, there are no distractions and it is truly genuine feeling of Christian brotherhood”, said this pilgrim from Rijeka.
On Tuesday, January 21, we will commemorate the twelfth anniversary of death of former Medjugorje parish priest and the founder of religious – humanitarian organization “Medjugorje – Mir”, Fr. Leonard Orec (born in Posuski Gradac, 1928 – died in Zagreb, 2002). Fr. Leonard served in Medjugorje from 1988 to 1991, in that period he served as a parish priest for more than one year. During those three years, he indeed left a permanent mark as a wise and experienced priest, and fervor promoter of Our Lady’s messages of peace and reconciliation. In 1992, he established humanitarian association “Medjugorje – Mir”, with its seat in Split, Croatia. This Association was able to distribute through the friends of Medjugorje dozens of tones of the humanitarian aid to our people during the period of the homeland war. Since 1997, Fr. Leonard was active in the General Curia of the Franciscan Order in Split, until 2001, when he got seriously ill. It was in those last days that he had celebrated his 50th Jubilee of Priesthood and then he died in Zagreb on January 21, 2002. He was buried on January 23, in Posusje.
Choir of Medjugorje parish, led by Sr. Irena Azinovic, and visited Rome from January 3-9, 2014. During this traditional trip, they have first visited Padua and participated in the celebration of Holy Mass in the shrine of St. Leopold Bogdan Mandic that was celebrated by Fr. Donald Markovic. During their visit to Rome, they have visited basilicas of St. Peter and St. Paul, of St. John Lateran and basilica of St. Mary the Great. They have enriched celebration of Holy Mass in the Institute of St. Jerome with their singing, and celebration was presided by Mons. Jure Bogdan, the Rectory of this Croatian Institute. They also visited catacombs of St. Callixtus where they had chance to visit the grave of St. Cecil, patron saint of choir singing. This choir also sang in Monte Cassino in the shrine of St. Benedict and in the church of St. Scholastica in Assisi. Holy Father Francis continues to rejoice many pilgrims throughout the world and members of this choir were also rejoiced when he, during his general audience on January 8, passed close to them on the Square of St. Peter in his papa mobile. They were also in this square during the Sunday Angelus just a few days before that audience. During this trip, the choir has visited also some other Italian towns as they wanted to get familiar to the beauties of this country. In that way, they got to know more about the culture and the mentality of the pilgrims who are coming to Medjugorje in such a great numbers. Members of the choir stayed in the Home of Croatian pilgrims Dr.Ivan Merz in Rome. Slavo Manduric from Zagreb was their official guide and the organiser of this trip was the parish office from Medjugorje with Fr. Marinko Sakota, as the parish priest.
Numerous pilgrims use various means of transport to come to Medjugorje, but one particularly interesting visit took place in the middle of December. Bosco Gorbena, 24-years old young man, arrived by bicycle from Spain to Medjgorje. He travelled for three and a half months, and his pilgrimage was a journey of discovering himself and dear God. “I began my journey on August 28, 2013 after I completed veterinary faculty. My wish was to go to Turkey and to travel through Medjugorje, because I heard of this place and my family was here before. My aunt and my uncle converted here and they always talked to me about Medjugorje. I was not able to come to Turkey, but I came to Medjugorje and that was a beautiful trip. People were always surprised to see me with so many things for trip, they were interested in where I was going and where was I coming from”, said this young pilgrim from Spain who said that he was mostly impressed by the faith in Medjugorje that is evident all over the place.
The feast of the Epiphany was solemnly celebrated in Medjugorje on Monday, January 6, 2014. Along with the parishioners, pilgrims from France, the United States, Italy and Argentina were present. Three Holy Masses were celebrated on that day in Croatian language and one in French, Italian and English language. The blessing of homes in Medjugorje usually takes place during the Christmas and parish facilities are always blessed on the feast of the Epiphany. Priests from the parish of Medjugorje: Fr. Marinko Sakota, Fr. Karlo Lovric, Fr. Ivan Landeka Jr., Fr. Hrvoje Miletic as well as the Franciscan School Sisters that serve in Medjugorje parish, all of them gathered for solemn blessing, prayed and sang Christmas songs. The facilities of radio station Mir Medjugorje were blessed as well, and Fr. Karlo Lovric through the radio, blessed all employees of Radio, all parishioners and all listeners of Radio Medjugorje.
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.