The unusual pilgrim from Germany, Elijah Maria Thomas Joachim Uhlig, who travelled on his personal pilgrimage called “Pilgrimage from Berlin Wall to walls in Holy Land and Jerusalem”, came to Medjugorje for New Year’s Eve. He began his pilgrimage in 2009, from Potsdam in Germany to Jerusalem where he plans to come this Easter. He decided to take his journey moved by the great suffering of people in Auschwitz and he wanted to ask for forgiveness and reconciliation. He lived close to Berlin Wall and as 14-years old boy who experienced peaceful revolution in 1989-1990 he still remembers people who were protesting peacefully with candles in their hands. Those images of burning candles woke up within him a desire for peace and justice in the world, for goodness that exists in human hearts. During his pilgrimage that lasted for several years, he visited places of the greatest suffering in 24 concentration camps around Europe, including towns and places that experienced great destruction in former Yugoslavia, and he also visited numerous European shrines where people pray to God. After his first year of pilgrimage, he was baptized by Capuchins in Germany and he continued travelling to Jerusalem. He prayed for peace in himself and in the whole world. He usually travels on his feet, sleeps in homes of good people that he meets who usually provide him a meal and a shelter. In that way, he is collecting experiences with people and places that he visits, but he relies on God as the “best organiser” of his pilgrimage.
On Sunday, January 13, 2013, thirty people, mostly young married couples became members of the Third Franciscan Order in the parish of Medjugorje. Fr. Danko Perutina, parish vicar, worked with them and he was preparing them for more than one year for this solemn act. Marija Brekalo, Region Minister of the Third Franciscan Order conducted this ceremony, received their promises to the Order, while Fr. Josip Vlasic, the spiritual assistant of the Region Order, confirmed their vows on behalf of the Church and Franciscan family. Fr. Josip was the main celebrant and in his homily he encouraged new members of the Third Franciscan Order to seek for their strength in Holy Mass and in Holy Communion, to find their rest and relief in the sacrament of confession, their light and inspiration in the Gospel, and their joy and help in brotherly communion. Fr. Marinko Sakota, parish priest in Medjugorje, congratulated all new members of the Third Franciscan Order, and he expressed his joy because of this solemn act. Mila Culjak, Region Leader of Formation, will continue to lead new Tertiaries and she will prepare them in this period of the Novitiate for solemn vows that will take place in one year time.
Our journalists had chance to speak to various pilgrims in the first days of the New Year, and here, we would like to bring some of their testimonies. Tacita Ludivine comes from French Guyana and this is her first time in Medjugorje. “I wanted to come to Medjugorje because I was far from Jesus and this was the way to find God again”, said Tacita who came with a group of thirty pilgrims.
Coming to Medjugorje for many is a chance to search for a miracle, apparitions or some special message. Even theologians question about religious curiosity and wonder whether something special indeed happens there. Theologians, perhaps, even more than the others, always have a certain personal struggle since they have heritage of personal knowledge, discipline, obedience to hierarchy and their personal life with God, who even when He is silent, speaks a lot. Many have asked me how I feel about apparitions in Medjugorje? But, I do not think that it is up to me to decide whether those apparitions are for real and where do they come from. Actually, my faith is not bigger because of the apparitions nor it is smaller. I am waiting for the opinion of the Holy Father who will give the final judgment when the time for that comes. Here, I would like to give the answer on how I feel about witnessing for Christ who is present in Medjugorje, as well as in all Holy Masses throughout the world, really present, so strongly that without saying a word, He moves both soul and our thoughts. Medjugorje has attracted me as a place, in a country dear to me - Bosnia and Herzegovina, as a reality that is completely different than everyday routine in Zagreb, where I live. Sometimes, it is necessary to go somewhere else, to step away from our everyday life, so our thoughts could calm down a little bit and our soul could find a little rest.
Thousands of pilgrims from all over the world have arrived to Medjugorje for celebration of New Year's Eve. According to the Information Office register, there were larger groups from Germany, Italy, Poland, Korea, China, England, Slovakia, Czech Republic, the United States, France, Spain, Romania, Slovenia and Hungary. Along with them, there were smaller groups from other countries as well as well as youth from Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina. Fr. Miljenko Steko was the main celebrant of Holy Mass of Thanksgiving on Monday, December 31, along with 49 priests who have concelebrated.
Number of Holy Communions: 78 900
Number of priests that concelebrated at Holy Masses: 1292 (41 per day)
In the previous 2012 there have been 1 814 900 Holy Communions given in the church, and total of 42 009 priests that concelebrated at Holy Masses.
Several thousands of young people from all over the world have arrived this year to Medjugorje for celebration of New Year. The prayer programme will begin at 5 p.m. with prayer of rosary. The evening Holy Mass of Thanksgiving will be at 6 p.m. and after that community Cenacolo will have live nativity scene performance in front of the church. Prayer vigil will begin at 10 p.m. with Adoration oft he Blessed Sacrament and then, Holy Mass will begin. The whole programme will be broadcasted in the Hall of the Blessed John Paul II behind the church, as well as on the screen at the back oft he church. Radio Medjugorje will broadcast the whole programme as well.
The traditional annual meeting of scholars of “Fra Slavko Barbaric” Association was held in Medjugorje on Saturday, December 29th. Meeting started at 3 p.m. and hosted 229 students from various universities who were greeted by the President of the Association Dr. Fr. Miljenko Steko, who thanked all members for cooperation and to all benefactors for their generosity. Vice-president of the Association and Director of Mother’s Village, Fr. Svetozar Kraljevic, spoke about the Culture of Good Deeds.
And indeed, from His fullness we have received grace to grace, for He is our peace!
With desire that God’s peace reigns in all of the hearts, all of the families, all of the countries and in the whole world, united in prayer with all of the friends of Medjugorje throughout the world:
MERRY CHRISTMAS AND HAPPY NEW YEAR!
May this Christmas be for you day of joy and peace. May Jesus visit you in your families and may he be born in the hidden place of your heart!
Parish Office of Medjugorje
Information Centre “Mir” Medjugorje
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 2:15 pm and lasted 10 minutes. Afterwards Jakov transmitted the message:
Dear children, give the gift of your life to me and completely surrender to me so that I may help you to comprehend my motherly love and the love of my Son for you. My children, I love you immeasurably and today, in a special way, on the day of the birth of my Son, I desire to receive each of you into my heart and to give a gift of your lives to my Son. My children, Jesus loves you and gives you the grace to live in His mercy, but sin has overtaken many of your hearts and you live in darkness. Therefore, my children, do not wait, say ‘no’ to sin and surrender your hearts to my Son, because only in this way will you be able to live God’s mercy and, with Jesus in your hearts, set out on the way of salvation.
On Sunday, December 23, 2012, there will be Christmas concert in the Hall of St. Joseph in Mother’s Village at 8 p.m. after the evening prayer programme in the church of St. James. The concert is organised by the parish office Medjugorje, Mother’s Village and Local Communities of Bijakovici and Medjugorje.
Early Holy Masses at 6 a.m. are celebrated since Monday, December 3, and those Holy Masses are opportunity for parishioners to prepare for celebration of Christmas, the birth of Jesus. Novena is going to begin on Saturday, December 15 with prayer of Rosary on Apparition Hill at 2 p.m. every day and will finish on December 23. The evening prayer programme is according to the regular schedule, Rosary at 5 p.m. and Holy Mass at 6 p.m. Confessions take place every morning from 5.30 a.m. and in the afternoon at 4 p.m. Every Sunday after the morning Holy Mass for children at 9.30 a.m. there is Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament. Members of community Cenacolo have been busy in the last few days preparing setting and scenery for live manger that will take place in Christmas time. We had our first snow this winter on Monday, December 10, 2012.
Stephane Galbert comes from Martinique. This is his first time in Medjugorje. He said how many people in Martinique know about Medjugorje since many of them came on pilgrimages in the last few years and they witnessed about what they experienced. They were saying how every Christian should come here. “I always felt close to Our Lady, ever since I was eight I had Our Lady’s statue and I was always connected to Our Lady. When my mom told me about Medjugorje and invited me to come here, I accepted her proposal immediately and I realised this was Our Lady’s home. We usually see Mary with her opened hands because that is her mission, She is inviting us to come to Her.”
On Saturday, December 08, 2012, we are celebrating the Feast of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Holy Masses are at 6, 8, 11 a.m. and 6 p.m. Holy Masses in other languages are like on Sundays and feast days. The evening prayer programme will begin with Rosary at 5 p.m. and then solemn Holy Mass will follow with regular evening prayer programme that finishes with Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament from 9 to 10 p.m. On Sunday, December 9, 2012 there will be annual concert of parish choirs from Herzegovina. All choirs will be singing together during the Holy Mass at 6 p.m. and after Holy Mass every choir will perform two songs. The whole event is going to be broadcasted live on radio Mir Medjugorje.
Anton Guanaratnam is a pilgrim from Canada and he heard about Medjugorje six years ago. He said how his friend had a brain tumour and he wanted to be able to say to her that God exists. “She was not baptised and I was trying to explain to her that God exists. Then, I heard about Medjugorje and I started to return to my faith. After hearing about messages, I started loving Our Lady and God more. This is where I have been coming for the last six years and I want to spread Our Lady’s messages to the world. Our Lady has done so much for me. I felt great peace here on Apparition Hill. I love to listen to homilies during Holy Masses. I find Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament really special since so many people are adoring Jesus and everything here is so peaceful and that is why it is so special”, said this pilgrim from Canada.