Marinko Šušak, man from Siroki Brijeg in Herzegovina who lives in Zagreb and his friend Dragutin Bosak from Krapina left Zagreb on Sunday, June 9 after celebration of Holy Mass in Cathedral of Zagreb and blessing at the grave of Bl. Alojzije Stepinac, and began their pilgrimage to the Mother of God in Medjugorje. Motto of their pilgrimage was: “Salvation is in the Cross!”
They carried huge cross and Croatian national flag and arrived to Medjugorje on the eve of the apparitions, June 24, 2013. Two friends, one from Herzegovina and the other from Zagorje, have filled their pilgrimage with prayer of Rosaries for convicted Croatian soldiers in Haag, for all forgotten and deprived soldiers of Croatian Army as well as for their families. They have blessed their cross one month ago at the place of martyrdom of burnt and killed Herzegovinian Franciscans in Siroki Brijeg. After this pilgrimage, the cross will be given to the Board for Beatification of Martyrs to be kept and protected in the memory of their Way of the Cross that they took for their Homeland and Croatian people.
Medjugorje parishioners and pilgrims from all over the world as well as local pilgrims are preparing for the celebration of the 32nd Anniversary of Our Lady’s Apparitions. The Novena to the Queen of Peace began on Saturday, June 15, 2013 and as a part of this Novena pilgrims and parishioners are climbing Apparition Hill every day at 4 p.m. to pray the Rosary. The evening prayer programme begins at 6 p.m. with prayer of Rosary and continues with Holy Mass at 7 p.m. The Information Office registered groups from Germany, Austria, Italy, the United States, Ireland, Canada, Lebanon, Spain, Slovakia, Poland, China, Hungary and Hong Kong. Each one of these pilgrims has his own story related to Medjugorje. So, Judy Paterson arrived from South Africa and this is her tenth pilgrimage to the Queen of Peace. Among other things, Judy told us: “I came here to thank. I had many experiences. Three years ago I was healed here. I was really sick and doctors told me I have three more months left. I recovered some strength, came here, prayed and returned home healed. It took me lots of time but I was healed. I came to thank Our Lady because my healing came through Her and our Lord. I know it was them who restored my health again.”
Members of the music band “The Apostles of Peace” from the parish of Sts. Vitus and George in Madarevo in Varazdin County, Croatia, were in Medjugorje from June 1-2, 2013.
They were singing at the Holy Mass celebrated on Saturday, and Sunday was the day when they climbed hills in Medjugorje. They were also guests on Radio Mir Medjugorje and they spoke about their journey with God in praise and worship, as well as about their personal experience of Medjugorje.
The spiritual music group “The Apostles of Peace” was formed in the Jubilee Year 2000 and ever since then, they have been motivating the prayer life of youth in their parish and in other places as well. They were guests at numerous prayer encounters.
Number of Holy Communions: 198 500
Number of priests that concelebrated at Holy Masses: 3972 (128 per day)
The Feast of Corpus Christi was solemnly celebrated in Medjugorje on Thursday, May 30, 2013. Many groups from various countries like Austria, Germany, England, the United States, Ireland, Italy, Slovakia, Poland, China, France, Spain, Ukraine and Romania came to Medjugorje, a world famous shrine, on that day. Four Holy Masses were celebrated in Croatian language and eleven more in other languages.
After the evening Holy Mass that was celebrated at the outside Alter of St. James’ church, with Fr. Svetozar Kraljevic as the main celebrant and 48 priests who concelebrated at that Mass, the traditional Procession with the Most Blessed Sacrament followed through the streets of Medjugorje parish.
There were many pilgrims who arrived to Medjugorje in May and among them we had chance to talk to few of them who arrived from Germany: Sr. Jency Naduvilaparmabil and Fr. Mathew Jacob Matatila, and to the group leader Marlis Deutsch. Sr. Jency and Fr. Mathew come from India, and for years they are serving in Germany.
Many pilgrims arrived to Medjugorje in the last few days, but there is one group that was a bit more special than others. It is a group of pilgrims from Slavonski Brod and Derventa, members of the prayer group “The Third Heart”, whose mission is to pray for the unborn, for life and this group has walked to Medjugorje. Their intention was to pray for unborn, for protection of life.
In ten days period, they have walked more than 350 km and told us how they experienced incredible things. “Along with our primary prayer intention, we came to Medjugorje to thank Mother of God for all we received from Her and for all we have, mostly for our families,” they told us.
Fr. Sean Parsons from England came to Medjugorje for the fourth time. This time he arrived with another three pilgrims. He heard about Medjugorje from his aunt, who is nun, and that made him come and visit this place. Four years after his first visit he joined the seminary and came afterwards again to Medjugorje together with his parents.
Fr. Parsons said: “Few weeks after I was ordained, I returned to Medjugorje. This is where one can feel great peace, an immense joy in celebration of the Holy Eucharist and in confessions. It is beautiful to hear the experiences of pilgrims during confessions because we can see that their hearts have changed. When they come here, they all want to reject what is wrong in their lives and to return to Jesus. Pilgrims read Our Lady’s messages, we all read those messages, but how much do we live those - that is another issue. Each one of us should decide to live according to Our Lady’s messages, because Our Lady is tirelessly inviting us, especially to place the prayer of Rosary into the centre of our life so we could be converted in that way.”
Dulcinea Candida De Macedo Von Der Eijk was born in Brazil, and lives in Amsterdam today. She came to Medjugorje because of her great love and devotion to Mary. She is in Medjugorje for the first time and she is very grateful that her desire to come here was brought to reality. She witnessed how she received invitation by Our Lady and said: “I love being in Medjugorje and I am certain I will be back again. Yesterday we climbed Cross Mountain and it is so beautiful to be there, it is so nice to be here and to pray with the whole world.”
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.