The 150th anniversary of Our Lady’s apparitions in Lourdes was commemorated in Medjugorje on Monday, February 11, 2008.
On February 11, 1858, in Lourdes in the south of France, Blessed Virgin Mary appeared to Bernadette Soubirous and presented herself as “Immaculate Conception”. Our Lady appeared 18 times. She revealed her name on March 25, during the 16th apparition. She pronounced it in local dialect spoken by Bernadette: “I am the Immaculate Conception”. After the apparition, the visionary was repeating this unknown expression in order not to forget it… She did not know that in 1854, four years earlier, after many years of discussions, Pope Pius IX proclaimed the Dogma of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary…
Mons. Laurence, bishop of Lourdes, recognized the apparitions on January 18, 1862, four years after the end of the apparitions.
On the 10th. of February, the Feast of Blessed Cardinal Stepinac, Medjugorje Parish commemorates the martyrdom of the Franciscans who were either born in Medjugorje or who had worked in the parish.
Either during or immediately after World War II, 66 Franciscans from Herzegovina perished at the hands of the partisans and the communists. Ten of them are connected with Medjugorje in one way or another... they were either born in the parish, or they had served in it. Their names are Fr. Jozo Bencun, Fr. Marko Dragićević, Fr. Mariofil Sivrić, Fr. Grgo Vasilj, Fr. Jenko Vasilj, Fr. Križan Galić, Fr. Bono Jelavić, Fr. Paško Martinac, Fr. Anđelko Nuić and Fr. Bernardin Smoljan.
A meeting of the Knights Templar of Croatia and Slovenia took place in Medjugorje during the last week-end of January 2008. This was one of their regular meetings, which usually takes place once or twice a year. The Knights Templar, together with all the postulants, were involved in this spiritual formation. The meeting was organised by the Slovenian delegation, led by the Great Prior, Mr. Martin Zen. Croatia was represented by the Great Prior for Croatia, Mr. Krunoslav Matijević-Klobučar and other Knights Templar, all of whom were active participants in the seminar.
The required construction work necessitated by the planned building of a new sacristy to accommodate a larger number of priests began in January 2008, in the area between the outside altar and the parish church.
The existing sacristy of St. James’ parish church was built in 1969, to cater for the normal needs of the parish. Under the outside altar, built in 1989, there is a larger sacristy, which has since become too small for current needs.
Mauro Harsch was born in Lugano (Switzerland) and completed his musical studies at the “Benedetto Marcello” Conservatorium in Venice (Italy), where he obtained his diploma in 1987. He has performed in Switzerland as well as abroad, and has made CD-recordings - available in Europe, Australia and the US - obtaining unanimously favorable reviews by both critics and audiences alike. In 1987 he founded the Medjugorje Foundation per l’Infanzia. In 1994 he established the “St. Moritz Piano Festival”. In 2002 he founded “Ars Dei” which promotes the activity of young musicians in various European countries. Since 1987 he has been teaching piano and chamber music at the “Conservatorio della Svizzera Italiana”. He is often an adjudicator in international competitions. (http://www.arsdei.org, http://www.medjugorje.ch/cd.htm)
The sixth anniversary of the death of Dr. Fr. Leonard Oreč, former parish priest of Medjugorje and founder of the “Medjugorje-Mir” religious-humanitarian organization, was commemorated on Monday the 21st of January, 2008. Holy Mass was celebrated for him in the parish church. The main celebrant was Fr. Ivan Landeka, another former parish priest of Medjugorje and current president of the “Medjugorje-Mir” organisation, in concelebration with the Franciscans currently serving in Medjugorje.
Prof. Dr. Mark Miravalle, professor of Theology and Mariology at the Franciscan University of Steubenville (USA) is a permanent deacon, a married man and a father of 8 children. Shortly after the beginning of the apparitions, while he was writing his doctorate in Rome, he came to Medjugorje to investigate the events.
Holy Communions distributed: 1.608.100
Concelebrating priests: 34.265
Several thousand pilgrims from all over the world, most of them young, visited Medjugorje in order to enter with prayer into the New Year of 2008. The Prayer Programme began at 10.00pm with Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, which was jointly led by Fr. Vjekoslav Milićević and Fr. Miljenko Šteko. The meditations were translated into English, French, German, Italian, Russian, Polish, Slovak, Czech, Romanian, Korean, Arabic and Chinese. Holy Mass, presided over by Fr. Svetozar Kraljević, and concelebrated by about 100 priests, began at midnight and finished about 1.30am. A synopsis of the homily was translated into English, French, German, and Italian. (photos)
12 bishops from 9 countries from 4 continents came to Medjugorje in 2007.
Holy Communions distributed: 65.500
Concelebrating priests: 1.159 (38 /day)
Holy Communions distributed: 79.000
Concelebrating priests: 1029 (33/day)
The traditional “Students’ day”, an encounter between students and members of the “Fra Slavko Barbarić” Association, Međugorje, was organized this year in the Mothers’ Village in Bijakovići.
There is a tradition of celebrating a special Holy Mass for children on the Feast of the Holy Innocents, together with a blessing of the children of Medjugorje Parish. Fr. Petar Vlašić, Parish Priest, celebrated the Holy Mass on the day at 3.00pm.
After the blessing, the Cenacolo Community presented the musical play “The Living Manger” to the assembled children. (photos)
On Christmas night, numerous faithful from the neighbourhood, as well as from distant parts of the world, join with the parishioners of Medjugorje in celebrating Christmas. This year, there were pilgrims from various European countries, as well as groups from Hong Kong, Macao and Korea. (photos)
In the Mostar church of Saints Peter and Paul, two Franciscan deacons, fra Vjekoslav Milićević from Mostar (serving in Medjugorje) and fra Josip Vlašić from Gorica-Sovići, were ordained to the priesthood on the 26th of December 2007, the feast of St. Stephen, the first martyr.