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.
Medjugorje is preparing for celebration of New Year and several thousand young people are expected to arrive for that special event. The programme on December 31, will begin with Rosary at 5 p.m. and Holy Mass of Thanksgiving will be at 6 p.m. Immediately afterwards, Cenacolo community will have live Nativity scene performance outside the church of St. James.
The prayer vigil will begin at 10 p.m with Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament until midnight, when solemn Holy Mass will begin.
The whole programme will be broadcasted in the Hall of the Blessed John Paul II, as well as through the radio station Mir Medjugorje.
The Franciscan Youth from Medjugorje have organised another humanitarian action this Christmas called: "Whatever you did to one of my least brothers, you did to me", all with the purpose of making Christmas beautiful to those who are in the most need. That is how members of creative section of the Franciscan Youth made Advent decorations every single day and sold those on Saturdays and Sundays. The money that was gained in that way was used to help those who are the poorest in the parish of Medjugorje.
The Franciscan Youth of Medjugorje developed out of the group of young people that late Fr. Slavko Barbaric guided. They are now very active and with their singing they make many events in this famous parish even more beautiful.
Apart from the music group, they also have other groups: creative, readers, sports, eco, charity and prayer group.
On Sunday, December 29, 2013, in the Hall of the Blessed John Paul II, Christmas concert was held and along with many participants from parish of Medjugorje there were some famous guests like Croatian singers Doris Dragovic, Zorica Kondza and Ivan Mikulic. Parish office from Medjugorje is organiser of this concert, and co-organisers are parish communities Medjugorje and Bijakovici. Fr. Marinko Sakota, parish priest of Medjugorje parish, had the honour of opening this concert and greeting all of the present, wishing them blessed Christmas. Apart from these famous singers, there were also parish choir from Medjugorje, female vocal group “Smilje”, Franciscan Youth choir from Medjugorje, vocal group “Subrenum”, children choir “Golubici mira”, traditional folk group from Surmanci and their mandolin orchestra, Fr. Karlo Lovric, young poet Ivana Buntic, traditional folk group St. Mark from Vionica, Stjepan Yesseta and vocal male group “Luka” from Ploce. Sanja Pehar and Robert Pehar led this concert, and all participants were invited to take part in the party that took place after the concert. (photos)
Mara and Jure Vasilj from Medjugorje celebrated their diamond jubilee on Saturday, December 28, 2013. They were married sixty years ago, and last Saturday at 2 p.m. they renewed their marital vows before parish priest from Medjugorje Fr. Marinko Sakota. Many members of their family, friends and parishioners were present at this solemn event. They confirmed to one another that after sixty years of love and fidelity, they will continue to respect each another in all of the days of their lives, in good and in bad times. They were married on December 28, 1953 in the parish of St. James. Fr. Jure Zlopasa, parish priest at that time, gave them sacrament of marriage. They continued their life in Sarajevo and returned to Medjugorje in 1987. Jure is also known because he is in charge of gathering collections in Medjugorje parish office for many years.
At the last daily apparition to Jakov Colo on September 12th, 1998, Our Lady told him that henceforth he would have one apparition a year, every December 25th, on Christmas Day. This is also how it was this year. The apparition began at 3:07 pm and lasted 8 minutes. Afterwards Jakov transmitted the message:
Little children, today in a special way, Jesus desires to come to dwell in each of your hearts and to share with you your every joy and pain. Therefore, little children, today in a special way, peer into your hearts and ask yourselves if the peace and joy of the birth of Jesus have truly taken hold of your hearts. Little children, do not live in darkness, aspire towards the light and towards God’s salvation. Children, decide for Jesus and give Him your life and your hearts, because only in this way will the Most High be able to work in you and through you.
On Tuesday, December 24, 2013 we are celebrating Christmas Eve, and that is the day of fasting. The last early Holy Mass will be celebrated at 6 a.m. and there will not be Rosary on Apparition Hill since Novena has finished on December 23, 2013. The evening prayer programme will begin at 5 p.m. with Rosary, followed by Christmas Eve Holy Mass at 6 p.m. when all of the priests will concelebrate and that is why confessions will only take place from 4 p.m to 5.30 p.m. After the evening Holy Mass there will be live Nativity scene performance of Cenacolo community. The prayer vigil with Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament will begin at 10 p.m. and last until midnight when Midnight Holy Mass will begin.
On Wednesday, December 25, we celebrate Christmas, the birth of Christ. Holy Masses in the parish church of St. James will take place at 7, 8, 9.30 and 11 a.m. and at 6 p.m. After the main Holy Mass at 11 a.m., the parishioners will come for traditional gathering in the parish facilities. Holy Masses in the branch churches in Vionica, Miletina and Surmanci will be celebrated at 10 a.m.
On Thursday, December 26, 2013 we will celebrate feast of St. Stephen, the first martyr. Holy Masses will be celebrated only in the parish church at 8 and 11 a.m. and at 6 p.m. On that day, one of our parishioners, Fr. Goran Azinovic, will be ordained as a deacon in the church of St. Stephen in Cerin. Bishop Ratko Peric will ordain him during Holy Mass at 6 p.m.
On Friday, December 27, we will celebrate feast of St. John and Holy Masses will take place at 7.30 a.m. and at 6 p.m. in the parish church. The blessing of homes will take place on that day in our parish.
On Saturday, December 28, 2013, we will celebrate the feast of Holy Innocents and apart from the regular prayer programme there will be Holy Mass at 3 p.m. for children and their parents. Again, after this Holy Mass, community Cenacolo will have live Nativity scene performance.
Christmas concert of Medjugorje parish will be held on Sunday, December 29, 2013 in the Hall of the Blessed John Paul II.