Bishops in Medjugorje and About Medjugorje in 2001
Msgr. José Antúnez de Mayolo, Bishop from the Archdiocese of Ayacucho (Peru)
From May 13 to 16, 2001, Msgr. José Antúnez de Mayolo, a Salesian Bishop from the Archdiocese of Ayacucho in Peru, came for a private visit to Medjugorje.
“This is a beautiful shrine where I find much faith, where I find faithful who live their faith, faithful who come for confession. I was hearing the confessions of Spanish pilgrims. I participated in Eucharistic celebrations and I liked everything very, very much. It is really very beautiful here. It is right that Medjugorje is called a place of prayer for the whole world and ‘the confessional of the world’.
I have been to Lourdes, but it is a very different reality. They cannot be compared. They are two different realities. In Lourdes, the event is closed, but here everything is still developing. Here, faith can be felt in a much stronger way than in Lourdes.
Medjugorje is still quite unknown in Peru, but I promise to become an apostle of Medjugorje in my country.
The faith is strong and alive here, and this is what attracts so many pilgrims from the whole world. I should like to tell them to have a strong love for the Blessed Virgin Mary. Let them love her mightily, because she is our Mother and she is always with us. This is why those who live and work here have to love her, but also priests who come from abroad.
Pilgrims who come here have already started their spiritual journey towards the Blessed Virgin Mary, and they already have faith. But many are still without faith. Here, I didn’t feel their presence. I shall come back. It is beautiful here.
Thank you for your fraternal welcome and for all you have done for me personally and for all pilgrims who visit this place. May God, through the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary, bless you and your country!”
Cardinal Andrea M. Deskur, President of the Pontifical Academy of the Immaculate (Vatican)
On June 7, 2001, Cardinal Andrea M. Deskur, President of the Pontifical Academy of the Immaculate (Vatican), addressed a letter to the Pastor of Medjugorje in which he thanks him for “the invitation to participate in the celebration of the 20th anniversary of the visitation of the Virgin Mary to your region. … I unite my prayers with prayers of the Franciscan community and invoke graces to those who will come to Medjugorje.”
Msgr. Frane Franić, Retired Archbishop of Split-Makarska (Croatia)
On June 13, 2001, Msgr. Frane Franić, retired Archbishop of Split-Makarska, addressed a letter to the Herzegovinian Franciscans on the occasion of the 20th anniversary of the apparitions of Our Lady in Medjugorje. “Your Franciscan Herzegovinian Province may be proud that Our Lady appeared on the territory of your Province, and through your Province to the whole world. … I wish the visionaries and I pray for them to persevere in their first zeal of prayer.”
Msgr. Georges Riachi, Archbishop of Tripoli (Lebanon)
From May 28 to June 2, 2001, Msgr. Georges Riachi, Archbishop of Tripoli in Lebanon, was on pilgrimage in Medjugorje with nine priests from his order and Abbot Nicolas Hakim, Superior General of the Melkite Basilian Order of Chueirites from the monastery of St. John Khonchara.
“I came here for the first time now. I know that the Church has not yet given instructions and I respect the Church in everything; but I feel that Medjugorje, in spite of what some say, is a good place to come to visit, because you can come back to God, you can make a good confession, you can come back to God through our Blessed Mother, to be more and more what you are, with the help of the Church.
I know that there has been a multitude of people coming from all over the world for almost 20 years now; this is, by itself, a miracle, a great thing. Here, people change. They become more devoted to the Lord God and to His Mother, the Blessed Mary. It is wonderful to see the faithful approach the sacrament of Holy Communion and other sacraments, like confession, with the greatest respect. I see long lines of people waiting to go for confession.
I would like to tell the people to come to Medjugorje. Medjugorje is a sign, only a sign, because the essential is Jesus Christ. Try to listen to the Blessed Mother, who tells you, “See the Lord God. See the Eucharist”.
Don’t be worried if you don’t see signs yourself. Don’t be afraid: the Lord God is here, he talks to you, just listen to Him. Don’t be always talking! Listen to the Lord God; He talks to you in the silence, in peace, in the beautiful views of these mountains, where the stones are worn from so many steps of the people who came here. In peace, in the secret, the Lord God can talk to everyone.
Priests in Medjugorje have an important mission. You have to be up to date and fully informed. People come to see something special. Be always special. It is not easy, ask the Blessed Mother to lead you, the priests here, the ministers, all those who are in charge of Medjugorje, to help them to be a good example to the whole multitude coming from all over the world. It will be a great mercy for the people.”
Msgr. Roland Abou Jaoude, Vicar General of the Maronite Patriarch, Titular Bishop of Arca de Pheniere (Lebanon)
Msgr. Chucrallah Harb, Retired Bishop of Jounieh (Lebanon)
Msgr. Hanna Helou, Vicar General of the Maronite Diocese of Saida (Lebanon)
From June 4 to 9, three dignitaries of the Maronite Catholic Church from Lebanon were in Medjugorje.
Msgr. Roland Abou Jaoude is Vicar General of the Maronite Patriarch, titular bishop of Arca de Pheniere, moderator of the Maronite Tribunal in Lebanon, moderator of the Lebanese Social Institution, president of the Episcopal Commission for Media, president of the Executive Council of the Assembly of the Patriarch and the Catholic Bishops of Lebanon, member of the Pontifical Commission for Media. Msgr. Chucrallah Harb, retired Bishop of Jounieh, is moderator of the Tribunal of Maronite Patriarchs for Administration and Justice. Msgr. Hanna Helou is since 1975 Vicar General of the Maronite Diocese of Saida, founder of the school Mar Elias in Saida, writer and translator in Arab language, author of numerous newspaper articles in Al Nahar.
They came for pilgrimage to Medjugorje with a group of Lebanese pilgrims with whom they went to Rome.
The Lebanese church dignitaries thanked for the hearty welcome, which the pilgrims from their country always find in Medjugorje. They are glad about very hearty relationships existing between their faithful and the parishioners, the visionaries and the priests of Medjugorje. The Lebanese are very touched about the reception they receive in Medjugorje. The bishops mentioned in a special way the importance of the Lebanese catholic television “Tele-Lumiere” and its collaborators for the organization of pilgrimages and the accompanying of pilgrims during the pilgrimage and after their return to Lebanon. “Tele-Lumiere” is the principal means of public communication of the Catholic Church in Lebanon, and this is why the bishops are supporting it. Thanks to the implication of “Tele-Lumiere”, many Medjugorje Centres have been developed in Lebanon. This is how, through prayer and through the Queen of Peace, there has been created a kind of brotherhood between Medjugorje and Lebanon. They are deeply touched by the facts that priests who accompany pilgrims to Medjugorje feel that there is question of real conversions. The bishops came personally to Medjugorje to make their personal experience of it.
Msgr. Roland Abou Jaoude: “I came here free from all theological concepts, from all that is said in favour and against Medjugorje, to make a personal step, in the simplicity of faith, like any other believer. I wanted to be a pilgrim among pilgrims. I am here in prayer and in faith, free from all obstacles. Medjugorje is a world-wide phenomenon, and its fruits are visible everywhere: it is a whole which speaks in favour of Medjugorje. Weather Our Lady has appeared or not, the phenomenon in itself merits attention.”
Msgr. Chucrallah Harb: “I knew Medjugorje from far, intellectually, now I know it from my personal spiritual experience. I heard about Medjugorje long ago, I heard about the apparitions and I heard the witnesses of those who came to Medjugorje, and most of them wanted to come back. I wanted to come and see for myself. These days here we are very impressed and touched. Certainly, it is necessary to distinguish between the phenomenon of the apparitions and the fact that people pray here, but these two things cannot be separated. They are linked. We hope - this is my personal feeling - that the Church will not hesitate any more with the recognition of Medjugorje. I can say that here there is question of a real Christian spirituality, which leads many people to peace. We all need peace. Here, you had a war for many years. The arms are silent now, but the war has not ended. We want to express our best wished to your nation which has a similar sort as Lebanon. Let there be peace.”
Msgr. Hanna Helou agreed that the coming of so many thousands of pilgrims is inseparable of the apparitions, and that the fruits of Medjugorje are inseparable of the apparitions. “It cannot be otherwise”, he said. He met Medjugorje for the first time in the USA during a prayer meeting. “Now that I came here I am impressed by the great number of the faithful, by the atmosphere of prayer, by the recollection in and outside of the church, even on the streets. The tree can really be recognized by its fruits.”
In the end they said: “The fruits of Medjugorje are neither only for the local people nor only for Christians, but for all humanity, because the Lord has commanded us to carry to all humanity the Truth he has revealed to us, and thus to sanctify the whole world. The Christianity exists for 2000 years now and we are only 2 billions of Christians!” They are convinced that “Medjugorje contributes to the apostolic enthusiasm and to evangelisation, to which Our Lord has sent us and which the Church is transmitting.”
Msgr. Ratko Perić, Bishop of Mostar (Bosnia and Herzegovina)
On the feast of the Most Sacred Body and Blood of Christ, June 14, 2001, Msgr. Ratko Perić, Bishop of Mostar, administered the sacrament of Confirmation to 72 candidates in the parish of St. James in Medjugorje.
In his homily, he repeated that he does not believe in the supernatural character of the apparitions of Medjugorje, but he expressed his satisfaction about the way the parish priest is administering this parish. He also underlined the importance of the unity of the Catholic Church, which is manifested through the unity with the local bishop and the Pope, as well as the necessity that all the faithful of this diocese, in the power of the Holy Spirit which was given to them, be faithful to the teaching and the practice of the Holy Roman Catholic Church.
After the solemn Eucharistic celebration, Msgr. Ratko Perić remained in friendly conversation with priests in the Presbytery.
Msgr. Robert Rivas, Bishop of Kingstown (St. Vincent and the Grenadines)
From July 2 to 7, 2001, Msgr. Robert Rivas, Bishop of Kingstown, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, was on a private visit in Medjugorje. He was one of the speakers at the International Meeting of Priests.
“This is my fourth visit. I came for the first time in 1988. When I come to Medjugorje, I feel at home; it is nice to meet the local people and the priests. Here I meet wonderful people from all over the world. The year after my first visit to Medjugorje, I was made bishop. When I came in February last year, as a bishop, I came quietly with a priest and a layman. I wanted to be incognito. I recognized that Medjugorje as place of prayer, so I came to pray and to enjoy Our Lady’s company.
I have been a bishop for 11 years, and I am a very happy bishop. This year Medjugorje has been for me an experience of tremendous joy, seeing so many priests loving the church and seeking holiness. This was one of the most touching things in this conference, and I think Our Lady is facilitating this in Medjugorje. In one of the messages, she says: “I want to take you by the hand and lead you on the path of holiness.” I saw during this week 250 participants allowing her to do this, and I am happy to be a part of the whole experience, as a priest, servant of the Divine Mercy.
When I came here last year, I knew about the position of the Church. For me, Medjugorje is a place of prayer, a place of conversion, the fruits are so evident here of what God is doing in people’s lives, and the availability of so many priests for the sacraments, especially the sacrament of reconciliation… This is an area where the Church has suffered a lot; there is a need for rediscovering this sacrament, and the need for good priests to be listeners, to be there for the people. I see all this happening here. “By their fruits you shall know them!” For me, the fruits are very evident here. Jesus also said, “A bad tree does not bear good fruit”, and if the fruit is good, the tree is good! I accept that. I am very happy coming to Medjugorje. I come here with total peace; no agitation, no feeling that I am doing something that is wrong, or maybe that I shouldn’t be here… When I came last year, I had some hesitation, but Our Lady very quickly dispelled that doubt. I am responding to the call, and the call is to serve, to witness, to teach, and that is the role of the bishop. It is a call to love. When one is made a bishop, it is very clear that one is not ordained merely for a particular diocese; one is in fact bishop for the whole Church. That is the role of the bishop. So when I come here, I see it as fulfilling of that mission, without any sense of trying to abuse it. The bishop of this place is the shepherd and the pastor here, and I would never say or do anything to contradict that. I respect the bishop and his pastoral role in his diocese. When I go to any diocese, I go with that respect. When I come here, I come as a pilgrim, and I come very humbly and open to whatever God wants to say to me or do with me through Our Lady’s inspiration and intercession.
I want to say one thing, focused on the Conference. The theme of the conference was the “Priest: Servant of the Divine Mercy”. As a result of my preparation to speak, and in my interaction with priests during the Conference, I realized that the challenge for us was that we become missionaries of the Divine Mercy. If, then, 250 priests left this Conference with the sense, of being channels of Mercy for others, do you realize what has happened in Medjugorje?! I would like to say to priests and Religious, men and women: Medjugorje is a place of prayer.
We, especially priests, who are daily touching the Holy, celebrating the Eucharist, are called to be holy. This is one of the graces of Medjugorje. To the priests and the religious of this area, I would say: “Respond to the call to holiness and listen to this call from Our Blessed Mother!” Now is the time for the whole Church, the Church everywhere and here in Herzegovina, to respond to the call to holiness and to walk the path to holiness. Pope John Paul II, in canonizing Sr. Faustina, said, “I want the message of holiness and of mercy to be the message for the millennium!” In Medjugorje we touch this in a very real way. Let us be true missionaries of mercy, not only by doing things for others, but by becoming holy and by being merciful!”
Msgr. Leonard Hsu, ofm, Retired Archbishop of Taipei (Taiwan)
At the end of July 2001, Msgr.Leonard Hsu, Franciscan, retired Archbishop of Taipei (Taiwan) came for a private visit to Medjugorje. He arrived with the first group of Taiwanese pilgrims. With them was also Fr. Paulino Suo from the Congregation of the Servants of the Divine Word, professor at the Catholic University of Taipei.
“People here are very kind, everybody greets us, this is a sign of being Catholic. We see people coming from everywhere. They are sincere and friendly. The piety is impressing: everywhere people pray the rosary, meditate, kneel and pray… I see so many buses… The prayers after the evening Mass are long, people pray… Pilgrims from my group say: “We have to do something to make Medjugorje known in Taiwan.” I wonder how we could organise pilgrimages from Taiwan to Medjugorje, how to bring young people…
Two priests, one of them is a Jesuit father from America, translate texts about Medjugorje into Chinese, so people hear about Medjugorje. One priest from England sends brochures and photos. In America, there are Centres spreading the message of Medjugorje and they send their revues to us. We want Medjugorje to be known in Taiwan. Personally, I would like to stay longer, to know Medjugorje better.”
Msgr. Jean-Claude Rembanga, Bishop of Bambari (Central Africa)
During the second half of the month of August, Msgr. Jean-Claude Rembanga, Bishop of Bambari (Central Africa) came to Medjugorje on private pilgrimage. He came to Medjugorje “to ask Our Lady to help my diocese, according to the will of God”.
Msgr. Antoun Hamid Mourani, Retired Maronite Archbishop of Damascus (Syria)
From August 6 to 13, 2001, Msgr. Antoun Hamid Mourani, retired Maronite Archbishop of Damascus (Syria), came on a private visit to Medjugorje. He arrived with a group of Lebanese pilgrims, which was accompanied by Fr. Albert Habib Assaf, OMM, who worked from 1996 to 1999 for the Arabic section of Radio Vatican, and three other priests from Lebanon.
“This is my first visit, and this first visit is decisive. I am deeply touched by the current of adoration, of prayer, and I do not know where this will lead me. It is an interior movement, and for such you neither know where they come from, nor where they will lead you. I heard about Medjugorje for the first time three weeks ago, in Rome, and I can not forget it.
I prayed to Our Lady to give the fullness of the Holy Spirit to my Church. I prayed for Christians of all denominations and for Muslims in the Arabic world. Medjugorje is not passing, but lasting. I know within me that it is true and I am firm on this. This certitude comes from God. I preach a spirituality of trust, first in God and then in oneself. For me, life is a struggle. Who does not want to struggle cannot survive, in the Church or outside of the Church. What exists here will not disappear. It is stronger than you. It will last. I have the feeling that Heaven gives a special character to this region. Here, a sincere person can be born again.
So many millions, who have come here, are not a small thing! In the world where we live, which is too restless and decadent, it is necessary to underline this spirituality of trust: stable, lasting, firm orientation of man capable of spiritual struggle. Trust in God gives trust in oneself. It is necessary to have clear decisions, clear visions. It always takes time, but if we do not have them, we live in confusion; but our faith and our God are not a faith and a God of confusion, as St. Paul tells us. It is necessary to clarify our concepts and to see things in a practical way.
May Our Lady’s messages carry us through this millennium, which has begun.
Let us remain united in the Lord and in His service! It is always difficult to discern between what comes from us and what comes from Him. It is necessary to be careful.
Msgr. Mario Cecchini, Bishop of Farno (Italy)
Msgr. Mario Cecchini, Bishop of Farno (Ancona, Italy), extraordinary professor at the Lateran Pontifical University in Rome, spent two days in private visit to Medjugorje. On the feast of the Assumption of Mary, he presided over the Holy Mass in Italian.
Although Msgr. Cecchini had the desire to personally meet the Franciscans serving in Medjugorje, this meeting could not take place because of the numerous pilgrims who wanted him to hear their confessions… the Bishop was kept back in the confessional. Msgr. Cecchini returned to his diocese with very positive impressions about the Shrine of the Queen of Peace in Medjugorje.
Msgr. Irynei Bilyk, osbm, Catholic Bishop of Byzantine Rite from Buchach (Ukraine)
Msgr. Irynei Bilyk, OSBM, Catholic Bishop of Byzantine Rite from Buchach, Ukraine, came on a private pilgrimage to Medjugorje during the second half of August 2001. Msgr. Bilyk came to Medjugorje for the first time in 1989 as a priest - immediately before going to Rome for his secret Episcopal ordination – to ask for the intercession of the Queen of Peace. This year’s pilgrimage was his prayer in thanksgiving for all the help he received from Our Lady.
Msgr. Hermann Reich, Bishop of Papua New Guinea
Msgr. Hermann Reich, Bishop of Papua New Guinea, came for a private visit to Medjugorje on September 21 to 26, 2001. He was accompanied by a doctor, Dr. Ignaz Hochholzer, a member of the Congregation Barmherzige Brüder, Msgr. Dr. Johannes Gamperl and Msgr. Dr. Kurt Knotzinger, both collaborators and spiritual and pastoral advisors of “Gebetsaktion Medjugorje” from Vienna (Austria), which organized this pilgrimage for them. They prayed in the parish church, on the hills and at Father Slavko Barbarić’s tomb. On September 25 in the evening, they joined the group of translators who was working on the translation of Our Lady’s message.
September 26th in the afternoon, on their way home, they visited Msgr. Frane Franić, retired Archbishop of Split. Two bishops spoke about the events of Medjugorje.
“First of all, the physical side of Medjugorje impressed me: Rocks, rocks and again rocks. I was so impressed! I asked myself: My God, these people, what do they live on? The second impression was prayer. So many people in prayer, with the rosary in the hand… I was very impressed. Much prayer. This is what I have seen and, by this, I was impressed. These are my main impressions. The liturgy is very good. Concelebrations. The church always full, which is not the case in other churches in the West, especially in summer time. Here, the church is full. Full of prayer.
So many different languages, and you can understand almost everything. It is amazing that everybody has the feeling of belonging here, of not being a foreigner. Everybody can participate, even those who come from far.
Confession is one of the fruits of Medjugorje. This is something special, something you cannot touch with your hands, but it is a big thing. In the West, you see that people see things in a different way. They all want common confessions. The personal confession is not accepted any more. Here, so many go for confession, and it is a big thing.
I met some pilgrims and we spoke. They are touched and enthusiastic about what is happening here. The time was too short to have a deeper impression.
I think that God, and Christ, and Our Lady offer us peace, but it depends on us if we will accept and realize this offer. It depends on us. If we do not want it, I think that the Mother of God and Heaven have to accept our free will, there is not much to be done, and it is really a pity, because there are so many destructions. But I believe that God can write straight on crooked lines.
I was struck by the main theme of Our Lady’s messages, which is peace. Then, there is always again the question of conversion and confession. These are the main themes. I am also struck by the fact that she always comes back to the theme of prayer: Do not be tired; pray, pray; decide yourselves for prayer; pray better. I think that there is much prayer, but maybe people do not pray in the right way. There is much prayer, there is quantity but, in many ways, there is a lack of quality. I think that we have, according to the desire of Our Lady, not to pray less but to improve the quality. We have to pray better.
I admire your service and your heroism in the work with these crowds. This logistics are a problem I would probably never be able to deal with! I admire you all for your implication and your action. I would say: Keep on working in the same direction. There are always new pilgrims in Medjugorje and they want to experience this climate, this peace, this spirit of Medjugorje. If the Franciscans are able to give them that, many will take with them something good, which will continue to grow when they come home. It can be founding new prayer groups, but let the quality of prayer grow. It is not enough for people to pray much. Often, there is a danger to remain at the level of lips, and not to reach the prayer of the heart. The quality of prayer is really important: Life has to become prayer.
I believe that the Mother of God is present here, I am 100% sure about this. If she were not here, all this would not be possible; there would be no fruits. This is her work. I am convinced about it. When I am questioned about it, I say that – according to what I see and discern – the Mother of God is here.
To today’s Christians, I would say: pray! Do not cease to pray. Even if you do not see the result you expect, keep on praying, make the effort to have a good prayer life. Take seriously the messages of Medjugorje and pray with them. This is the council I would give to every person I meet.
Msgr. Matthias Ssekamanya, Bishop of Lugazi (Uganda)
From September 27th to October 4th, 2001, Msgr. Matthias Ssekamanya, Bishop of Lugazi, Uganda, East Africa, was in private visit to the Shrine of the Queen of Peace.
“This is my first visit. I heard about Medjugorje about 6 years ago. I think, this should be a Marian devotion centre. So far, what I have seen, it is very authentic, Catholic. People can renew their Christian life. So, my impression is that it should be encouraged. I have prayed the Way of the Cross, and the Rosary, on the hills. Our Lady gives her message through children. In Lourdes, she appeared to children, in Fatima, she appeared to children. Even here. This is a place of pilgrimage. I am not in a position to judge, but my personal view is that the devotions here should be encouraged. I have a special devotion to Mary. For me, this is an occasion to promote this devotion especially. In Medjugorje, Mary’s love for peace is specific. Her call is peace: I will try to increase the awareness that Mary wants her people, her children, to have peace, and to pave the way to peace through prayer, reconciliation, good works. For me, all that should start in families.”
Cardinal Vinko Puljić, Archbishop of Vrhbosna, Sarajevo (Bosnia and Herzegovina)
During the 10th Ordinary Synod of Bishops “THE BISHOP: SERVANT OF THE GOSPEL OF JESUS CHRIST FOR THE HOPE OF THE WORLD” in Rome (September 30th to October 28th, 2001) Cardinal Vinko Puljić, Archbishop of Vrhbosna (Sarajevo), gave an interview to Silvije Tomašević, correspondent of «Slobodna Dalmacija» in Rome. This interview was published in «Slobodna Dalmacija» (Split, Croatia) on October 30th, 2001. Cardinal Vinko Puljić, Archbishop of Vrhbosna (Sarajevo), said:
“The phenomenon of Medjugorje is under the jurisdiction of the local bishop and of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, and it will remain so until the phenomenon reaches another dimension, until the supposed apparitions cease. Then they will be observed in another way. The actual situation is such that Medjugorje has to be observed on two levels: On the level of prayer, penance, something that is an act of faith. The apparitions and messages are on another level, which will be submitted to a very critical investigation.”
Msgr. Denis Croteau, OMI, Bishop of the McKenzie Diocese (Canada)
Msgr. Denis Croteau, Oblate of Mary Immaculate, bishop of the McKenzie diocese (Canada), came on a private pilgrimage to Medjugorje with a group of Canadian pilgrims from October 29 to November 6, 2001.
“I came for the first time to Medjugorje in April – the 25th of April to the 7th of May this year. I came as we say incognito; nobody knew I was a bishop. I had heard about Medjugorje and I knew that if I come as a priest, I would be in front with priests. I wanted to be with people, to see how people pray, to be just like anybody else, to give me a good idea about what Medjugorje was like. So, I stayed with the people. I came with a group of 73 pilgrims. Nobody knew I was a bishop. I was just a Christian. At the end, before we went back to Split to take the plane, I said: “Well, I am a Bishop”, and people were very surprised because I didn’t look like a bishop at all! I wanted to have a feel of Medjugorje as a Christian before coming back as a Bishop.
I read a lot of books, I listened to tapes, I had a fairly good information about the visionaries, the messages of Mary, and a bit of the conflict also. This is why I came incognito, to make my own mind about Medjugorje. And I was really impressed. I was so impressed that I went back to Canada and I talked to people and I said: “If you want to organise a pilgrimage, I would back you up, I would help you.” So, we organised a pilgrimage and we came last Monday, on the 29th of October, and we are leaving the 6th of November. We spent 8 full days here and people really, really liked the experience of Medjugorje. They want to come back!
What impresses me the most and what impresses the people the most is the atmosphere of prayer. Personally, what impressed me the last time and this time, is that the visionaries don’t stress neither big miracles, nor extraordinary things, nor the end of the world, nor catastrophes or disasters, but the message of Mary, which is a message of prayer, conversion, penance, to say the rosary, to go to the sacraments, to practice your faith, to practice charity, to help the poor and so on. That is the message. Secrets are there, but the visionaries don’t make a big thing out of this. The message of Mary is prayer. And people pray so well here! They sing loud, they pray loud, it gives you a good feeling. It makes you believe that it’s really true. I’ll come back again, that’s for sure! I give you my prayers and my blessing.”
Msgr. Jérôme Gapangwa Nteziryayo, Diocese of Uvira (Congo)
From the 7th to the 11th of November 2001, Msgr. Jérôme Gapangwa Nteziryayo, from the diocese of Uvira (Congo), was on a private visit to Medjugorje. He came with a group of pilgrims, climbed the prayer hills and participated in the evening prayer programme. He said that he was grateful to God for having given us such a place of prayer.
Msgr. Dr. Franc Kramberger, Bishop of Maribor (Slovenia)
In his homily during Mass in Ptujska Gora (Slovenia) on November 10th, 2001, Msgr. Dr. Franc Kramberger, Bishop of Maribor, said:
“I greet all of you who are friends and pilgrims of Our Lady of Medjugorje. In a special way I greet today our respected and excellent guest, the Franciscan father Jozo Zovko. In his speech, he brought the mystery of Medjugorje near to us.
Medjugorje is not only the name of a place in Bosnia and Herzegovina, but Medjugorje is a place of grace where Our Lady is appearing in a special way. Medjugorje is a place where those who have fallen get up again, and all of those who go on pilgrimage to that place find a star, which leads them and shows them a new direction in life. If my diocese, all of Slovenia and the whole world became Medjugorje, there would not be the events that are happening in these last months.”
Cardinal Corrado Ursi, Retired Archbishop of Naples (Italy)
From November 22nd to 24th, 2001, Cardinal Corrado Ursi, retired Archbishop of Naples, was on a private visit to the shrine of the Queen of Peace in Medjugorje. Cardinal Ursi was born in 1908 in Andria, province of Bari. He was Archbishop of several dioceses, and his last service was as Archbishop of Naples. Pope Paul VI created him a Cardinal in 1967. He participated on two conclaves for the election of a new Pope.
At the age of 94, he desired to visit Medjugorje. Because of his health condition, he could travel neither by boat nor by plane, so he arrived by car from Naples, which is at 1450 kilometres from Medjugorje. He was overwhelmed by joy when he arrived. He met the visionaries and was present during an apparition of Our Lady. Three priests accompanied him: Msgr. Mario Franco, Fr. Massimo Rastrelli – a Jesuit, and Fr. Vincenzo di Muro.
Cardinal Ursi composed a booklet under the title “Rosary”, published already in six editions, where he wrote: “In Medjugorje and at other places, Our Lady is appearing.”
While in Medjugorje, the Cardinal said: “I came here to pray and not to discuss. I desire my entire personal conversion,” and, “What a joy and what an immense grace to be present here.” After having been present at the apparition of Our Lady to the visionary Marija Pavlović-Lunetti, Cardinal Ursi said, “I am sure that Our Lady’s prayer obtained for me the forgiveness of all my sins.”