A pilgrim from Argentina, Gisella Barreto came to Medjugorje. Gisella is a very famous person in Argentina and in the other countries of Latin America as well. She won several times at the beauty contests, became TV hostess, and even though she lived in the world of glamour, none of that ever made her happy. She came to Medjugorje in 2010 as a result of her mother’s desire and that is when her world started to change. She does not work in media anymore, she does not live in the world of glamour, but she witnesses instead of that and teaches religion in schools and she said how only now she feels happy and blessed in her life after so many years. Gisella told us that she came here to thank Gospa in Medjugorje.
This time of Advent, time of expecting Chrismtas is always filled with more intensive preparation of parishioners and pilgrims for celebration of the birth of our Saviour. Early Holy Masses are celebrated at 6 a.m. in the parish church of St. James every day except on Sundays. This is the time of Novena to the Birth of Jesus when Rosary is prayed on Apparition Hill every day at 2 p.m. until December23, 2013. The members of Cenacolo community are setting the scene of Betlehem outside the church of St. James which is the part of setting for the live nativity scene that will take place in Christmas days.
Novena to the Birth of Jesus began on Sunday, December 15, 2013 with the prayer of Rosary on Apparition Hill. Fr. Josip Marija Katalinic led prayer on the first day and this prayer will continue until December 23, 2013 every day at 2 p.m. The evening prayer programme begins with prayer of Rosary at 5 p.m., followed by Holy Mass at 6 p.m. and with the regular programme afterwards. Early Holy Masses, with Medjugorje Franciscans as the main celebrants, take place every day but Sunday in the church of St. James. Parishioners have opportunity for confession every morning from 5.30 a.m. to 7.30 a.m. and during the evening prayer programme. The Information Office has registered groups from Italy, the United States, Korea, Spain, Lebanon, Ukraine, Romania and Mexico.
Fr. Mateo Mario is a member of the community of Our Lady Queen of Peace in Sao Paolo in Brazil, and that community is a fruit of Medjugorje. Before he became a priest, he received a degree in Chemistry and worked for few years in chemical factory. His job was good, as well as his salary and he lived a good life according to the standards of the world. Even though he was brought up in a Catholic family, he did not go much to the church at that time. All of that had changed with just one accidental encounter with the Holy Scripture. He came to Medjugorje in 2002, at the time he was in Novitiate.
Early Holy Masses are celebrated in Medjugorje every day at 6 a.m. starting with December 2, 2013 and those Holy Masses are opportunity for parishioners to prepare for celebration of Christmas – the birth of Jesus. Novena prior to Christmas will begin on Sunday, December 15 until December 23 with prayer of the Rosary every day at 2 p.m. The evening prayer programme is according to the usual schedule with Rosary at 5 p.m. and Holy Mass at 6 p.m. Adoration of Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament will be every Sunday after the main Holy Mass at 11 a.m. for the parishioners. The members of Cenacolo community are fixing the scene for the live Nativity performance that will be held during the Christmas time.
We are again in our favorite time of the year, time of the preparation for Christmas, time of Advent. It is the time when we unite our past, our presence and our future. We recall the past because we remember Christ’s first coming when He opened the doors of salvation, doors that were closed and chained due to sin. We look into the future, because we look into Christ’s second coming that will be complete expression of the gift that we anticipate at this time. We look into the presence when we can joyfully acclaim: “Our Lord is coming!” by living presence in the constant anticipation of His act of our salvation and His final coming. That is why present time for Christians is a time when they are directed towards promised eternity in Christ who gives meaning to the time that we live in and turns it into the experience of eternity. Therefore, the lost time is not the time when we failed to do something, but the time when we were not aware of the fullness of the time. That is exactly why we have new opportunity in every Advent to wake up, to open our eyes and to live joy of everyday life. Christian is a man of hope who walks in hope, faith and love in his life.
Advent – time of preparation for Christmas began on Sunday, December 1, 2013. Early Holy Masses are held in our parish church every day at 6 a.m. except on Sundays and those Holy Masses are going to be broadcasted live on radio station Mir Medjugorje. The schedule of prayer programme is the same for Croatian and foreign pilgrims. Parish Office has encouraged all families to pray more intensively together and to participate in the prayer programme that is held in the church and on hills in this special season of Advent. In the following four Sundays of Advent, Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament will take place also after the main Holy Mass at 11 a.m. This is the quiet period for our parish and there are groups of pilgrims from Italy, the United States, Germany, Austria and Korea.
Number of Holy Communions: 66 300
Number of priests that concelebrated at Holy Masses: 1324 (44 per day)
On Sunday, November 24th we will commemorate the 13th Anniversary of Fr. Slavko's death. He died on that date in 2000, after having prayed the Way of the Cross on Cross Mountain. In the honour of late Fr. Slavko there will be devotion of the Way of the Cross on Cross Mountain at 2 p.m and Holy Mass will be celebrated at 6 p.m. in the church of St. James. After the evening Holy Mass at 7.30 p.m., there will be meditation for parishioners in the Hall of the Blessed John Paul II.
Members of the Franciscan Youth from Medjugorje, together with their spiritual assistant Fr. Stanko Cosic, as well as with their regional spiritual assistant Fr. Slaven Brekalo, visited Switzerland from November 7-11, 2013. They visited Croatian Catholic Mission in Zurich and Croats in Switzerland. After they returned, some of them were guests at the radio programme of Radio Mir and they spoke about their journey. While in Switzerland, they played theatre spectacle “Quo vadis fili” and the audience responded well to that play.
Fr. Romano Nardin and Fr. Mario Dall'Arche from the archdiocese Vittorio Veneto in Italy, and Bruna Calesso, group leader who came for 140 times to Medjugorje, were our guests at the radio station few months ago. Fr. Romano came to Medjugorje as a spiritual director of group of pilgrims and he felt that was one wonderful mission for him: “It is a great grace to come to Medjugorje as a priest, because we can witness so many fruits of our faithful. I heard about Medjugorje in 1982 for the first time and came here in 1996. Back then, I also came as a spiritual director and if I am not mistaken, this must be my thirteenth pilgrimage to the Queen of Peace.
The National Seminar of the Permanent Formation of the Third Franciscan Order was held in House of Peace in Medjugorje from November 8 – 10, 2013. This seminar was organised by the Herzegovinian regional fraternity and the theme was “The Gospel and Life”. The leader of the seminar that had more than 50 participants from Bosnia and Herzegovina was Fr. Ante Vuckovic, professor at the Catholic Theology Faculty in Split. National Minister Nives Kanecev, Minister of Herzegovinian Regional Fraternity Marija Brekalo and Zeljko Majnadzic, Minister of Bosnian Regional Fraternity of “Kraljica Katarina”. National spiritual assistant of the Third Franciscan Order, Fr. Ljubo Kurtovic and Fr. Danijel Rajic, national spiritual assistant of the Franciscan Youth were also present.
Marija Puljić, Third Franciscan Order and Franciscan Youth from Bosnian Province
Pilgrims from Italy, France, Portugal, Germany, the United States, Singapore, Canada, Brazil and Croatia were in Medjugorje in the last few days. We had chance to meet Biljana Pesorda, a pilgrim and composer of the spiritual music from Slavonski Brod, who at the same time is a mother to eight children. She said that it is beautiful to live in such a big family and it is a fulfillment of everything she ever wanted. “God was merciful and gave me a big family with beautiful, healthy and smart children”, said Biljana and she added that apart from family her biggest joy is to compose the spiritual music.
Fr. Jamail Samal Lotrivera from Caribbean and Fr. Perkas Danilo Hali from Indian province participated last summer at the General Assembly of Dominican Order that was held in Trogir in Croatia. During that visit they came to Medjugorje and gave interview at the radio station “Mir” Medjugorje. For the last few years Fr. Perkas Danilo Hali works in Rome, in the Roman Curia. He heard about Medjugorje from his brothers Dominicans, who came here three years ago. “They told me I should come to Medjugorje during my visit to Croatia because it was very near. I wanted to see what was attracting so many people to come here and how they lived their faith, and what could we as Dominicans, preachers, learn from all that.” Fr. Jamail said that he was on Apparition Hill and regardless of the fact that they did not have a guide, people still climbed on their own and prayed. “As I sat next to the Statue of Mother of God, the Queen of Peace, I felt peace as well as all the time when I was in the church and at the outside altar. There is some special peace here and I really learned that this is the place of peace.” Fr. Jamail added that he heard about Medjugorje when he was 20: “I read books about Medjugorje and this place was always in my mind, especially when people told me that I needed to come here. I came because I had to and I promised to pray for them. The most powerful message is the one that Gospa loves us, that we need to love other people in the same way she loves us and that is the most important message of the Gospel.”
Foundation “I hear, I believe, I see” from Zagreb, headed by Foundation Administrator Mirko Hrkac, organised a pilgrimage and educational trip of young people and students with disability to Medjugorje in the period from October 18-20, 2013. Apart from Medjugorje they also visited National Park Krka, Sinj and Makarska. After they arrived, Fr. Dragutin Goricanec, their spiritual assistant led the Way of the Cross at the back of the church for the whole group. Young people, especially those with disability, were thrilled to climb Apparition Hill on Saturday, October 19, 2013. They also participated in the evening prayer programme that was held outdoors and they were there for the adoration of the Blessed Sacrament that was translated in various languages. This is what some of them shared with us: “Many pilgrims were around the church and nearly all seats were taken, but even in the silence one could hear the prayer and gentle sound of music, true food and repose for our souls. After the Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament was finished, we all met at the Statue of Our Lady and thanked our dear Mother for the grace of being here and for all of the gifts She gave us.”