Fr. Liam Lawton from Ireland grew up in a big family with five children and he was ordained as a priest in 1984. He said how he was moved by the faith of the local people when he first arrived to Medjugorje. Fr. Liam comes from the family of musicians and his desire was to live music at the same time with priesthood. The crucial moment for him was encouragement he received after confessing before Fr. Slavko Barbaric who invited him to sing few songs during the Holy Mass that same evening. After singing during the Holy Communion he also accompanied Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament with his music. That was the beginning of the Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament that we have today in Medjugorje.
The traditional procession with thousands of young people from sixty different countries took place on Sunday, August 4, 2013, after the evening Holy Mass, as a part of the 24th International Youth Festival. Procession started from the church with Our Lady’s statue and candles in the hands of participants and followed the main road towards the Apparition Hill, Cross Mountain and ended with the prayer outside the White Dome.
Fr. Stanko Cosic celebrated the evening Holy Mass on Friday, August 2, 2013 along with 515 priests that concelebrated.
Fr. Slaven Brekalo gave a homily and said to youth: “You have come here, but we cannot all stay here, we need to return to where we have come from. That is exactly what God wishes for you so you would witness what you have experienced here. You should never forget Holy Scripture. The Gospel is joyful news and not some tyranny, it is not some condemnation but it is joyful news full of grace and love. Gospa invited you here but She sends you further because that is God’s logics, God invites and then He sends. He has no one else to send but you. Be holy!” (photos)
Among young people from sixty countries who participate in the 24th International Youth Festival in Medjugorje we met Tatjana who came from Slovenia. This is Tatjana’s twelfth visit to the Youth Festival. She briefly told us: “I come because of homilies, Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, testimonies and Holy Masses. It is good for us to be here with the Queen of Peace. It is crowded, but we do not have problem with that.”
Young people from Slavonija, region on north of Croatia, arrived to the Youth Festival in the great number. We spoke to Sanja Stivanovic and Darko Ilijasic from Slavnoski Brod. “Medjugorje is alwas a special event for us, we always bring something beautiful from here. As we look at such a great number of young people that were gathered here by Gospa, that is indeed experience that changes every one of us.” Darko came for the first time and said: “I was extremely impressed by such a great number of young people at one place. So much joy and so much sincere and open love.”
Medjugorje is all about youth in these days since this is the week when the 24th International Youth Festival is held with theme: “Faith working through love.” The official beginning of the Festival was on Thursday, August 1 at the White Dome. Rosary was led by Fr. Antonio Sakota and Holy Mass at 7 p.m. was celebrated by Provincial of Herzegovina Franciscan Province, Dr. Fr. Miljenko Sakota along with 470 priests who concelebrated at Holy Mass. At the beginning of this Holy Mass, young people from Medjugorje greeted all young people from all over the world, and then every country had opportunity for short introduction. Young people from 60 countries came to participate. (photos)
Marija and Andrea Šuštar, Branko Uljan, Uroš Karadžija and Boštjan Hari came to the International Youth Festival from Slovenia. They shared their experiences with journalists of radio Mir Medjugorje and said: “Medjugorje is a special place and prayer and confessions are the most beautiful for us. We are all one here, we are all friends.” They also told us that in Medjugorje one can feel strongly God’s vicinity and they are all joyful and happy because of new friendships and deepening of their faith.
Jasna Mihelić and Klara Ćurić from Požega, and Vanja Bajivić and Ana Antolić from Virovitica came by bicycle on July 31st to Medjugorje so they would participate in the 24th International Youth Festival. Their journey was 700 kilometers long and it took them seven days to come here. They first prayed at the Statue of Our Lady so they would thank Her for safe and blessed journey. “We are happy to be here and we will most probably repeat this pilgrimage again.” Klara decided to do this because of penance and to thank God for all she has in her life. “I was also moved to come here like this because my father also came to Medjugorje nine years ago by bicycle to fulfill wow he gave to Gospa. He was seriously ill and he said that if gets better, he would come to Her by bicycle. I hope to come here next year again with my dad so we would celebrate 10 years of his first pilgrimage.” Klara came here couple of times before by bus and this is her first time to be here for the Youth Festival.
Number of Holy Communions: 143 400
Number of priests that concelebrated at Holy Masses: 5003 (166 per day)
Medjugorje, August 1 – 6, 2013
Faith working through love
Wednesday, 31. 7. 2013.
18.00 - Rosary
19.00 - Holy Mass (general rehearsal for the choir and the orchestra)
20.30 - Prayer for healing
21.00 - Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament (general rehearsal for the choir and the orchestra)
Parish office Medjugorje and local communities Bijakovici and Medjugorje have organised Symposium on Fr. Stanko Vasilj’s work and character that was held on July 23, 2013 in the Hall of the Blessed John Paul II in Medjugorje. Fr. Stanko was born in Medjugorje on July 20, 1920 and he died in the Clinical Hospital in Split on June 30, 1993.
Various Franciscans, historians, lawyers, musicians and writers spoke about Fr. Stanko, among them were: Fr. Tomislav Pervan, Fr. Ivan Dugandzic, Fr. Robert Jolic, Ivica Sarac, Josip Muselimovic, Snjezana Vrbanec, Kreso Sego and Fr. Marinko Sakota. (photos)
The feast of St. James, patron saint of Medjugorje parish, was solemnly celebrated on Thursday, July 25, 2013. Holy Masses in Croatian language were celebrated in the parish church at 7, 8 a.m. and 7 p.m. and main Holy Mass was celebrated in the garden close to Medjugorje church by Fr. Ivan Sevo, Deputy Provincial of Herzegovina Franciscan Province.
Councilours of local communities carried the statue of St. James from Medjugorje church and the procession started at 10.45 with singing of litanies. Choir of Medjugorje parish led by Sr. Irena Azinovic made this celebration even more beautiful. Finally, parish priest Fr. Marinko Sakota, welcomed all who came for this feast and invited all to stay at the end for traditional music and dancing that was performed by folklore groups from parish of Medjugorje. (photos)
Family Cindric from Cakovec in Croatia, members of music group “Children of Love” came to Medjugorje this July. They spoke about their family and music activities. Father of the family, Darko told us that he heard about Medjugorje in the first days of the apparitions and already next year he came on pilgrimage with a group from Slavonski Brod. “We’ve been following events in Medjugorje and we like to come here to the embrace of our Mother. So many times we were witnesses of Her love for all those we carry in our hearts. This is our second home”, said family Cindric who came here with prayer group Totus Tuus.
The Meeting of the Spiritual Vocations from Brotnjo Deanery is traditionally held in the various parishes of Brotnjo Deanery. This year, the Meeting was held in Medjugorje on Monday, July 22 with 50 participants. Fr. Marinko Sakota, parish priest from Medjugorje, spoke about the parish of Medjugorje and the pastoral work in this parish. Dean of Brotnjo Deanery, Fr. Mate Dragicevic greeted all present together with Mayor of Citluk municipality, Ivo Jerkic.
Holy Mass was important part of this Meeting as well. Deanery of Brotnjo has 116 vocations, and among those are nuns who are members of various communities, priests, seminarians and novitiates.
Three Holy Masses were celebrated in less than three weeks in the parish of Medjugorje: Fr. Filip Pavlovic on July 3, Fr. Mario Ostojic on July 7, and Fr. Josip Serdjo Cavar on July 21, 2013. Fr. Josip Serdjo’s motto for the First Holy Mass was a verse from St. Paul’s letter to Ephesians: “What a joy in His invitation!”
Fr. Marinko Sakota greeted and welcomed everyone at the beginning of the Holy Mass and congratulated the newly ordained priest. The homily was given by Fr. Danko Perutina who thanked God for the new vocations that arose at the base of Apparition Hill and Cross Mountain. He emphasised the message from the Gospel, how Fr. Josip Serdjo needs to be both Mary and Marta, he needs to pray and to work. The Provincial of Herzegovina Province, Dr. Fr. Miljenko Steko, congratulated the newly ordained priest and his family. At the end, Fr. Serdjo thanked his family, all of the priests, seminarians, nuns, professors and all who were present there. Fr. Josip Serdjo was born on December 15, 1986. He was ordained as a priest on June 29, 2013 in the church of Sts. Peter and Paul in Mostar.
Journalists of radio station “Mir” Medjugorje spoke to many pilgrims in the last days and we would like to bring one interview with pilgrim from Mexico. They spoke to Theresa, who came to Medjugorje for the first time two years ago. She came out of curiosity, after she received statue of Our Lady of Medjugorje. “Everything was amazing; I had time for confession, Holy Communion, prayer, adoration and Holy Mass. During one Holy Mass I felt Our Lady touching my heart and She was inviting me to conversion. After I returned home, I read a lot about Medjugorje and I felt that was what I needed to do. Here I am again, I came to our Mother.” Theresa also said that Our Lady’s messages helped her understand Medjugorje. “I like being here because this is a special place where one can spend time with the Lord in silence, leave all burdens and just listen to God without saying anything to Him.”