Simalon Kohonde, a priest from Benin in Africa who lives and works in missions in France, came to Medjugorje in the last week. He shared his experience with us: “I came to Medjugorje to thank God and Our Lady because without their help, I would not be able to do my work. The reason of my pilgrimage is peace, I need prayer above al. I can say that Medjugorje is the whole world in one place, it is a place where we can pray with the heart.”
A group of volunteers from the academic or student’s church of St. Philip Neri from Split organised for the first time a pilgrimage for persons with special needs to the Queen of Peace in Medjugorje. This pilgrimage was held on Sunday, May 12, and around 180 pilgrims came, half of them were their nurses and volunteers. After the Holy Mass in the parish church, pilgrims continued their programme in the Mother’s Village. The spiritual assistant of the pilgrimage was Fr. Jozo Muzic, and members of the Franciscan Youth of Medjugorje helped some of the persons during their pilgrimage in Medjugorje on that day.
The first International Seminar for doctors, nurses and medical workers, which gathered more than 150 participants from 15 countries finished on Saturday, May 11, 2013 with celebration of Holy Mass. Participants were from various professions such as doctors, nurses, pharmacists, medical technicians, as well as pro-life activists. This seminar began on Tuesday, May 7, 2013 and the theme was: “Spiritual renewal for soul and body”. The lecturers were Fr. Ante Vuckovic, dean at the Catholic Faculty of Theology in Split and Fr. Marinko Sakota, parish priest from Medjugorje. Besides lectures that were held in the morning and in the afternoon, all participants took part in the regular evening prayer programme of Medjugorje parish. They gathered on Wednesday morning to pray Rosary on Apparition Hill and on Friday morning they prayed the Way of the Cross on Cross Mountain.
After the preparation through the religious teaching, thirty children in parish Mejugorje received their sacrament of the First Holy Communion on May 5, 2013. Fr. Slaven Brekalo celebrated Holy Mass and children choir “Doves of Peace” from Medjugorje parish made that celebration even more solemn.
What makes Medjugorje more special is that numerous pilgrims were present at this celebration and they came from Austria, Germany, Switzerland, Brazil, England, Ireland, the United States, Canada, France, Italy, Poland, Lebanon, Hungary, Belgium, Czech Republic, the Netherlands, Korea and China.
Number of Holy Communions: 160 000
Number of priests that concelebrated at Holy Masses: 3232 (107 per day)
Fr. Ivan Matić is a priest from Croatian Franciscan Province of Sts. Cyril and Methodius seated in Zagreb. He was born in Janjevo, came to Croatia, to Zagreb, where he began his Franciscan journey and worked mainly with youth. He studied in Rome at the time Franciscan Youth was founded, and in Assisi, while in 2000, he returned to Zagreb and came to work in the church of St. Francis in Kaptol.
Summer schedule of the prayer programme begins on May 1st. Rosary will be at 6 p.m. and Holy Mass at 7 p.m. while after Holy Mass the regular prayer programme will follow, depending on the day in the week. Adorations on Wednesdays and Saturdays will start at 10 p.m.
Devotion of the Way of the Cross on Cross Mountain is on Fridays at 4 p.m., while Rosary on Apparition Hill is on Sundays at 4 p.m.
Fr. Robert Bahcic, a member of the Slovenian Franciscan Province, was in Medjugorje in the end of April. Fr. Robert spent last seven years living in Rome in the Franciscan General Curia, where he served for the first three years as a guardian priest. At the same time, he was also responsible for the bulletin “Fraternitas” that brings news about the activities of the Franciscans in the world. “I was in Medjugorje on several occasions, but this is the first time that I took some time for myself only. I found lots of faith here. There is something in Medjugorje that attracts people to pray and to meditate; this is where they feel inner peace. This is indeed richness that needs to be spread”, said Fr. Robert.
Magnus MacFarlane-Barrow from Scotland is the founder of the Humanitarian Organisation Mary’s Meals. This global project was initiated in 2002 with the project of providing food for 200 hungry children in Malawi. Mary’s Meals provide food today for more than 730.000 children in 16 countries throughout Africa, Asia, Europe, South America and Caribbean.
Magnus is a father of seven children and they gladly come to Medjugorje on a pilgrimage, because this is where his life was completely changed. He came here for the first time in 1983, as fourteen years old boy, together with his brothers, sisters and cousins. He told us that it was in that week lives of all of them were changed: “We returned to Scotland and made strong decision to live God in our lives. Our parents could see something was different with us and later, they decided to come here with us. Ever since that time, I came here, to Medjugorje on many occasions.”
Mary’s Meals have developed out of the humanitarian work Marcus had initiated during the homeland war in this region.
Fr. Andrea Murabale, Vicar of the Franciscan Province in Congo, was in Medjugorje in the last few days. He told us how the first missionaries in one part of Congo were from Croatia and he especially remembered late Fr. Jozo Vasilj, who left a profound trace in that country.
Fr. Andrea spoke about numerous spiritual vocations in his country, about life in Congo as well as about experience of Medjugorje. “Fr. Jozo did many good deeds in Congo. I remember him as an exceptional person. I met him in 1989, during my time in the Novitiate. The first thing I noticed about him was his intelligence and the warmth and gentleness he had when he spoke to us. He came into the Novitiate in the evening, and already the next morning, he knew the names of all twenty candidates. He was my professor and my educator for full six years and his lectures were so vivid that it was pure joy to listen to him. At the same time, he remembered birthdays of all candidates and students and never missed opportunity to congratulate us on those days.” As he spoke more about Fr. Jozo, who was born in Medjugorje, Fr. Andrea especially remembered his sense for brotherhood and love he expressed towards his brothers, men: “He was man of love. Once, we went together into the prison, and Fr. Jozo, after he saw prisoner that had nothing to put on him, he took off his shirt and gave it to him.” This was Fr. Andrea’s second trip to Medjugorje, and this is what he said: “This is indeed the place of prayer. Franciscans from Medjugorje speak to me frequently about Croatian missionaries, and that is always a wonderful opportunity to remember the encounters that have contributed to wellbeing of my people so much. It is really beautiful for me to be here.”
More pilgrims started arriving to Medjugorje in this period after Easter when weather is so beautiful. The journalists of Radio Mir Medjugorje spoke to some of them.
“My name is Maria Degola and I am coming from Verona, Italy. This is my third time to Medjugorje and I came here in 1990 for the first time. That is when I experienced complete silence during the apparition time, despite the big crowds that was around me. I thought about what made me come there in those days. My second visit to Medjugorje was in 2003, after my husband and my daughter, that was only 34, had died. One of my friends told me: “Maria, you should go to Medjugorje, so God could give you strength to overcome all that you have been going through.” That is what I did. This time, I arrived with my son Francesco who has Down syndrome. We were in Fatima last year and this year we came to Medjugorje.”
In the Franciscan Province of Herzegovina has been designated a new Administration. As Provincial has been chosen our director of ICMM, Fr. Miljenko Šteko. We send ours congratulations to Fra Miljenko and we wish success on its task, the God’s Blessing and the intercession of the Queen of the Peace in the exercise of this service of responsibility.
There were many pilgrims who arrived to Medjugorje this Easter, among them was Fr. Manoj Pathiyil from India, who lives in Germany at the moment where he studies Theology. This is his first visit to Medjugorje. It was in India where he heard about the apparitions in Medjugorje, and after he came to Germany, he heard about Medjugorje again. “In the beginning, I found it hard to believe that Mother of God is personally coming to this place every single day, but after I arrived here, I can see that this is something real and these apparitions are really taking place. It seems to me that people are ready to accept God’s plan. I see that all pilgrims who have arrived here are so happy to be here and to share their experiences of how Mother of God influenced their lives and still influences them.” said Fr. Manoj. (photos)
Number of Holy Communions: 102 500
Number of priests that concelebrated at Holy Masses: 1577 (50 per day)
Many pilgrims gathered in Medjugorje this year to participate together with parishioners in the liturgy of the Easter Triduum. Pilgrims have arrived from Italy, the United States, Austria, Germany, Ireland, Spain, France, Ukraine, Belgium, Slovakia, Romania, Lebanon, Russia, Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina. Rosary on Holy Thursday began at 5 p.m. and solemn Holy Mass of the Lord’s Supper at 6 p.m. that was celebrated by Fr. Slaven Brekalo along with 29 priests. Many pilgrims were climbing Cross Mountain on Good Friday, from the early morning hours and they all prayed the Way of the Cross as they went up. Devotion of the Way of the Cross began at 11 a.m. for parishioners and Croatian pilgrims and Fr. Marinko Sakota, the parish priest, was the leader of that prayer. Rosary began at 5 p.m. and Good Friday Service was held at 6 p.m. with Fr. Tomislav Pervan as the leader. Easter Vigil began at 8 p.m. on Holy Saturday and Fr. Miljenko Steko was the main celebrant.
Holy Masses were celebrated in many languages on Easter and Croatian Masses were at 7,8 and 11 a.m. and at 6 p.m. (photos)