New Holy Father is Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio, S.J., Archbishop of Buenos Aires, Argentina, a 76 year old Jesuit, who has been elected to be the 265th Successor of Saint Peter in the conclave. He has taken the name Francis. This is the first time in the history of the Church that one Roman bishop has taken that name, the first time that one Jesuit was elected as Holy Father and the first time that Holy Father comes from Latin America.
He was born on 17 December 1936 in Buenos Aires, and comes from a family with five children, his father being and Italian immigrant. He gained degree in chemical technology, and later joined Novice of Jesuit order on March 11, 1958. He gained title in Arts in Chile, and in 1963, after he returned to Buenos Aires, he received degree in Philosophy at the Faculty of Arts “San Jose” in San Miguel. He taught literature and psychology for the next two years at the Faculty “Immacolata” in Santa Fe, and until 1966, he taught same courses at the Faculty “Salvatore” in Buenos Aires. He was ordained for the Jesuits on 13 December 1969 during his theological studies at the Theological Faculty of San Miguel.
Among participants of the 20th International Meeting of organisers of pilgrimages, leaders of peace centres, prayer and charity groups leaders related to Medjugorje that was held from March 3 to March 7, we are emphasising participation of Hubert Lepherr who has started Peace Walk in 1992, along with his 300 friends from all over the world. “I have received many blessings from Heaven through Medjugorje, I am trying to change my life every day even though that is really hard. Ever since 1987, I have been coming to Medjugorje and I’ve been bringing groups from South German, from Stuttgart and Munich, each year 800 to 1000 pilgrims.”He said how he was coming to these seminars from the very beginning in 1991 when these encounters were held in Tucepi. (photos)
On Sunday, March 3, the 20th International Meeting for organisers of pilgrimages, leaders of peace centres and Medjugorje prayer and charity groups began. There are participants from 17 countries: Italy, England, the United States, Ireland, Canada, Lebanon, Poland, France, Belgium, Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Latvia, Russia, Ukraine, Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina. The meeting is held with theme related to the Year of Faith: “Increase our faith”. Participants, apart from lectures and sharing of experiences with lecturers, are also participating in the evening prayer programme in parish church in Medjugorje. (photos)
The 20th International Meeting for Organisers of Pilgrimages, Leaders of Peace Centres and Međugorje Prayer and Charity Groups will be held in Medjugorje from the 3rd to the 7th of March 2013. The theme of the gathering is:
“Increase our faith” (Luke 17, 5)
Number of Holy Communions: 45 500
Number of priests that concelebrated at Holy Masses: 1212 (43 per day)
“Joy of communion” is a title of pilgrimage that was held in Medjugorje from February 22 to February 25. Among many pilgrims we were able to meet Ms. Bernardova from Czech Republic who told us that she was receiving invitations from various people for the last year and a half to come to Medjugorje. “Finally, I decided to come now. My daughter is sick and she needs to have serious surgery and that was my main intention while coming here. I have not seen that many things in Medjugorje, but I feel such love at this place.”
Around 4000 pilgrims will stay in Medjugorje from February 22 to 25, 2013. These are the pilgrims that will stay in Medjugorje for free - parishioners will provide accommodation and full board service for each one of them. This is one of the many actions that parishioners undertook in association with the Parish Office as a part of the new evangelisation and their own response to Holy Father’s invitation. This was the opportunity for pilgrims from East European countries such as: Hungary, Romania, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Poland, Ukraine, Latvia, Lithuania, Russia, Albania, Serbia, Monte Negro, Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina to come to Medjugorje for pilgrimage. All those pilgrims due to their low incomes and numerous families were never able to come to this place in the past. Medjugorje parishioners have once again shown that they have great hearts and have confirmed once again why Our Lady had chosen this parish in the special way.
On Monday, February 18, the meeting of Definitories of Franciscan Provinces of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia and Slovenia began in Medjugorje. This is the second meeting organised by the Conference of Provincials of the Franciscan Order, according to the decisions made with General Minister and his Definitory held in Split in 2011. This meeting will last until Wednesday, February 20, 2013. Fr. Ivan Sesar is the host as well as the President of the Conference. Besides the working part of this meeting, the participants will be able to take part in the liturgical life of this place of prayer.
68th Anniversary of Martyrdom of Herzegovinian Franciscans was commemorated in Siroki Brijeg from February 4 to February 7, 2013. At the same time it was opportunity for the 3rd Days of Franciscan Martyrs to be held. February 7 was commemorated for the first time as the “Day of Remembering Franciscan Martyrs and People.” On Sunday, February 10, we are commemorating Feast of Blessed Cardinal Stepinac and parish of Medjugorje will be remembering murdered Franciscans from Medjugorje parish. Holy Mass is going to be celebrated at 6 p.m. for all murdered Franciscans and victims of the First and Second World War, as well as victims from the recent Homeland war from Medjugorje parish. After Holy Mass there will be a lecture in the Hall of the Bl. John Paul II, and lecturers are Dr. Fr. Robert Jolic and Fr. Miljenko Mica Stojic. Themes of the lecture are going to be about history of those murdered in the parish of Medjugorje as well as about procedure of martyrdom that was initiated.
On Sunday, February 3, 2013, around 100 young members of the Franciscan Youth from Medjugorje gave their promises and vows to the Franciscan Youth, while some new members were accepted. This ceremony was held as a part of the evening Holy Mass that was celebrated by Fr. Josip Vlasic, the regional spiritual assistant, with 11 other priests concelebrating in the church of St. James. Fr. Slaven Brekalo conducted this ceremony, while Franciscan Youth from Humac sang and made this celebration even more beautiful and solemn. At the end of the Holy Mass, Fr. Marinko Sakota, the parish priest from Medjugorje, gave a little speech and congratulated to these young members. The Franciscan Youth has been active in Medjugorje since 1995. They contribute to the fruitful spiritual atmosphere in this parish with many activities as well as with their prayer and music.
Number of Holy Communions: 47 500
Number of priests that concelebrated at Holy Masses: 995 (32 per day)
“I felt great desire to come to Medjugorje during the quiet period, when there are not too many pilgrims around. I wanted that for a long time. This is my first vacation in the last five years that I took for myself, so I could thank Our Lady for what She has given me and for all of my prayers”, said Mirko Hrkać, Director of Foundation from Zagreb “I hear, I believe, I see”. Mirko came to Medjugorje in January and he said: “Medjugorje is something special for me; I live with Medjugorje, especially with Our Lady’s messages. I made a promise ten years ago that I will forward each of the messages that she gives to the parish and to the world. That is what I am doing still; I always forward those messages to my friends, to 300 addresses.
On January 21, 2013, we will commemorate the 11th death anniversary of former Medjugorje parish priest, Fr. Leonard Orec. He was born in Posuski Gradac in 1928, and died in Zagreb in 2002.
Fr. Leonard attended the elementary school in Posuski Gradac, Grammar School in Siroki Brijeg (1940 – 1945), as well as in Varazdin and Sarajevo. He spent his years as seminarian in Sarajevo. He received his Franciscan habit in 1946, and he was ordained as a priest in 1951. He worked as educator in Split and Kraljeva Sutjeska. He received his post – graduate title of doctor of science at the University of Theology in Ljubljana in 1956, with the thesis of “Relation of Mary and Christ in devotion of people in Bosnia and Herzegovina ferom 1463 to 1878”.
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.