(Published in the St. Paul-Minneapolis archdiocesan newspaper, The Catholic Spirit, October 19, 2006 and in http://www.spiritdaily.org)
Some years ago when I was first a bishop in Louisiana, it must have been 1988, I was making my first "ad limina" visit to the Holy Father in Rome.
The other bishops of Louisiana were with me and, as what the custom of John Paul II, we were invited in to enjoy a lunch with him. There were eight of us at the table with him.
Soup was being served. Bishop Stanley Ott of Baton Rouge, La., who has since gone to God, asked the Holy Father: "Holy Father, what do you think of Medjugorje?"
The Holy Father kept eating his soup and responded: "Medjugorje? Medjugorje? Medjugorje? Only good things are happening at Medjugorje. People are praying there. People are going to Confession. People are adoring the Eucharist, and people are turning to God. And, only good things seem to be happening at Medjugorje."
That seemed to have ended the discussion and we went on to another topic. But, I will long remember the very skillfully cautious response of our Holy Father.
The fourteenth International Meeting for Leaders of Peace Centres and Medjugorje Prayer and Charity groups will be held in Medjugorje from the 4th to the 8th of March 2007.
The theme of the gathering is: „By your perseverance you shall be saved“. (Luke 21,19) (Program and registration)
The 12th International Seminar for Priests will be held in Medjugorje from 2nd to 7th July 2007. The theme of the seminar is: “With Mary – waiting for the Holy Spirit”.
The preacher at the seminar is Fr. Raniero Cantalamessa, OFMCap. (Program and registration)
Holy Communions distributed: 196.000
Concelebrating priests: 4.062
Holy Communions distributed: 170.000
Concelebrating priests: 3.677
Mons. Michael Pearse Lacey, retired Auxiliary Bishop of Toronto, made his fifth private pilgrimage to Medjugorje from the 11th to the 16th of October 2006. He accompanied a group of pilgrims from Canada. He followed the usual program for pilgrims, and heard confessions. Mons. Lacey met the Franciscans serving in Medjugorje and he gave an interview to Radio “Mir” Medjugorje, in which he underlined the fact that he believes that Our Lady does indeed appear in Medjugorje.
Mons. Pavel Mária Hnilica, S.J., Titular Bishop of Rusado, died in the early morning of the 8th of October 2006, in Novi Hrady in the Czech Republic. He will be buried on the 18th of October in Trnava (Slovakia). Mons. Hnilica was ordained a priest on 29.09.1950, and consecrated bishop on 02.01.1951. He was appointed Titular Bishop of Rusado on 13.05.1964.
Approximately 2,000 people inhabit the Hungarian speaking rural parish of Sts. Peter and Paul, in the town Male Pijace in Voivodina (Serbia). They have Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament in their church every Thursday. They listen to the meditations from the church in Medjugorje thanks to “Radio Maria” from Novi Sad, which, in turn, relays the broadcasts from Radio “Mir” Medjugorje. Whenever translation into the Hungarian language is not possible in Medjugorje itself, the translation is done in the studio in Novi Sad.
The parish priest, Fr. József Széll, together with his parishioners, came to Medjugorje on a pilgrimage in October 2006, and he outlined how they pray for peace in his parish…
Two archbishops visited Medjugorje for the feast of the Queen of the Holy Rosary.
Mons. Luigi Bommarito, Archbishop Emeritus of Catania (Italy), was in Medjugorje from the 5th to the 7th of October 2006, together with a group of pilgrims from Italy. This was his second visit to Medjugorje.
Mons. Harry Joseph Flynn, Archbishop of Saint Paul and Minneapolis, Minnesota (USA), together with a group of pilgrims from Minnesota, visited Medjugorje for the first time from the 6th to the 8th of October 2006.(photos)
With a special liturgy, which is celebrated on October 3rd, the vigil of St. Francis’ feast, the worldwide Franciscan family celebrates the “Transitus” – the moment of Saint Francis’ passing into eternity.
In St. James’ parish in Medjugorje, this rite was celebrated immediately after the evening Mass at the outside altar. The Medjugorje Friars, the Franciscan Sisters, Frama (the Franciscan Youth Fraternity) and members of the Franciscan Third Order took part in the celebration.
In the presence of many parishioners and pilgrims, this year’s liturgy of the Transitus was presided over by the Parish Priest, Dr. Fr. Ivan Sesar, and included the participation of the choir of the Franciscan Youth Fraternity and the “Little Doves of Peace” children’s choir.
On Friday, September the 29th 2006, a 600-strong group of the listenership of Radio “Ognjišče“, the Slovenian Catholic Radio Station, visited Medjugorje. They were accompanied by five priests.
This Radio “Ognjišče“ listenership group, together with chief editor and founder of the radio station Fr. Franc Trstenjak,have been spending holiday times together over the last four years. This year, they brought 10 busloads to Budva, and on their way back to Slovenia they included a one-day pilgrimage to Medjugorje. In the afternoon, they concelebrated Mass in Saint James’ Church, and then they individually chose to pray either on Cross Mountain or on Apparition Hill.
Radio “Ognjišče“ also broadcasts on satellite and can be heard in Europe, in the north of Africa and in the Middle East, and they may also be heard across the whole world via the Internet. (See: http://radio.ognjisce.si)
At the end of September 2006, a group of 120 students from the Catholic Franciscan University in Steubenville (USA) made a pilgrimage to Medjugorje, and were accompanied by Fr. Peter, a Third Order Franciscan.
Students from Steubenville spend one semester in a monastery in Austria, and during that semester, pilgrimages are organised to different shrines right across Europe.
Veterans of the recent war, Petar (35) and Vedran (30), walked from Split to Medjugorje, a pilgrimage they undertook to express their gratitude to Our Lady for having been with them in all the difficult moments of their lives.
Petar is also grateful to his own mother, because he is convinced that her prayers brought him back to the God to whom he knows he belongs. Vedran is also grateful to his mother for her prayers, which brought him back to the right path, a gratitude he also feels towards God and the Church.
In the Parish of Medjugorje, the Solemnity of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross is called “Križevac” and is traditionally celebrated on the first Sunday after the Feast of the Nativity of Mary. In honour of the Holy Year of Redemption 1933/34, and inspired by their pastor Fr. Bernardin Smoljan, the parishioners, despite their poverty, built a monumental cross, 8.5 m high and 3.5 m wide, on the hill above Medjugorje. (photos)
Mons. Robert W. Finn D.D., Bishop of Kansas City-Saint Joseph, Missouri, USA, paid a private visit to Medjugorje, together with a group of pilgrims, from the 2nd to the 5th of September 2006. Each day he concelebrated the English Mass for the pilgrims in St. James’ church, and he concelebrated the evening Masses as well. He also heard confessions and visited the prayer places in Medjugorje together with other pilgrims.
The winter schedule of the prayer programme re-starts on Monday, September 11th, 2006.
Praying of the Rosary in the Parish church will begin at 5.00pm, Holy Mass at 6.00pm, followed by the usual prayer programme according to the day of the week.
Eucharistic adoration on Wednesdays and Saturdays will begin at 9.00pm. Rosary on the Apparition Hill and the Way of the Cross on Cross Mountain will each begin at 2.00pm.