At the end of May, a family with ten children came on pilgrimage to Medjugorje. Paul and Sandy O’Leary from Alberta, Canada, came with their ten children, together with the children’s grandmother. Nowadays, it is rare to see such a large family with happy parents who dare to accept so many children. We asked them to say something about this pilgrimage and about their family:
On the 25th of April 2006, Mons. Franjo Komarica, Bishop of Banja Luka, stated in the Večernji list (Zagreb daily newspaper, Croatia):
“Before the war, I paid several official visits to Medjugorje. For a considerable time now, Medjugorje is a world phenomenon that has outgrown the limits of the local diocese. Responsibility for the judgement of the Medjugorje phenomenon must rest with the Holy See, while the local bishop has the right and the duty to take care of the correct liturgical and pastoral life of his diocese as a whole, which includes the parish of Medjugorje.” (Večernji list, 25.04.2006)
Holy Communions distributed: 251,500.
Priests concelebrating: 5,122.
Groups of pilgrims came from 47 countries: Argentina, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Brazil, Bulgaria, Canada, Chile, China, Croatia, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Egypt, England, France (including La Reunion and Martinique), Germany, Honduras, Hungary, India, Indonesia, Ireland, Italy, Korea, Latvia, Lebanon, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, Mexico, the Netherlands, Panama, the Philippines, Poland, Portugal, Puerto Rico, Romania, Russia, Scotland, Serbia and Montenegro, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sri Lanka, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey, the Ukraine, USA, Vietnam.
Ella Poon from Hong Kong, living and working for 6 years now in Shanghai, came to Medjugorje in May 2006, with a group of friends currently living and working in Shanghai.
This is her testimony.
Ella Poon: “I came to Medjugorje for the first time in May 2001, and I stayed here for two weeks. I felt a deep inner conversion before returning to China, where I was at that time head of an advertising agency. While here, I began to appreciate Our Lady as a person who is so loving and gentle, and I just wanted to spend more time here and get to know even more about her.
In May 2006, several TV and Radio crews, as well as journalists, visited Medjugorje, because their houses are interested in the Medjugorje phenomenon that will soon celebrate its 25th anniversary: Australian TV, RTBF (Belgian television broadcasting in French) and journalists from BBC Radio and from a Scottish daily newspaper.
A crew from KTO (French Catholic television) visited Medjugorje in March, and a journalist from «The Irish Catholic» newspaper visited in April.
On Sunday the 7th. of May, 78 children from Medjugorje Parish received the sacrament of First Holy Communion in St. James’ parish church. Their catechists, Sister Slavica Kozul, Sister Petra Bagaric and Fr. Stjepan Martinovic, prepared them for this sacrament of Christian initiation. On Friday the 5th. of May, the children made their First Confession. They were accompanied by their parents, who also went to confession. (photos)
On May 1st, 2006, the staff of the First Aid Station of the Order of Malta from Cologne (Germany) and their associated volunteers have resumed their annual service in Medjugorje. They will be at the service of the pilgrims and the parishioners until November 1st of this year. On Saturday the 20th. of May, they will attend Holy Mass for the German speaking pilgrims.
The Order of Malta invite any volunteers who wish to be involved in this service to contact them. (See: http://www.malteser.de)
Sister Isabel Bettwy is both founder and director of the Merciful Mother Association, an association devoted to giving honor to Mary through prayer and education. One activity of the association was the arranging of pilgrimages to places of Marian devotion throughout the world, the main one being Medjugorje. Sister Isabel came to Medjugorje the first time in October 1983 and began bringing pilgrims to Medjugorje in 1984 while fulfilling the obligations of Director of Franciscan University Journeys.
The summer Prayer Programme schedule in Medjugorje begins on May 1st.
Praying of the Rosary in the Parish Church begins at 6.00 pm. Holy Mass is at 7.00 pm, followed by the Prayer Programme according to the day of the week. Eucharistic adoration on Wednesday and Saturday is at 10.00 pm. Both the Rosary on Apparition Hill and the Way of the Cross on Krizevac begin at 4.00 pm.
On Monday, April 24th., 2006, Mr. Pier Luigi Bianchi-Cagliesi, a representative of the Italian Embassy in Bosnia and Herzegovina, visited Medjugorje with his wife. At the Italian Embassy, Mr. Bianchi-Cagliesi is responsible for Communications and for the Office of Development Cooperation.
At the Rectory, Mr. Bianchi-Cagliesi met Dr. Fr. Ivan Sesar, the Parish Priest, and talked with him about the life of this parish, and especially about the Italian pilgrims who visit Medjugorje in large numbers.
The Feast of the Merciful Jesus (Mercy Sunday) was solemnly celebrated on the first Sunday after Easter, on April 23rd., 2006, in Surmanci, in one of the filial churches of Medjugorje Parish.
Fr. Sandro Overend Rigillo OFM, Secretary General of the Franciscan OFM Order, visited Medjugorje in April 2006, for Holy Week and for Easter. During his stay in Medjugorje Parish, he acquainted himself with the pastoral work of the Franciscan Brothers that are serving in Medjugorje, and with the life of St. James’ Parish.
Again this year, Easter and the Sacred Triduum of Holy Week attracted numerous pilgrims from all continents and from various language groups to Medjugorje: English, German, French, Italian, Spanish, Czech, Slovak, Latvian, Romanian, Netherlands, Maltese, Arabic (Lebanon and Egypt) and Croatian speaking pilgrims. (photos)
The seventh International Seminar for Married Couples will be held from the 1st to the 4th November 2006. The theme of the seminar is: “The family called to forgiveness and holiness” (“…I invite all of you, little children, that before all else forgive in the family…let your family be a place where holiness is birthed…”, from Our Lady’s message from 25th January 1996 and 24th of July 1986)
Bring with you: a small FM radio with headphones (for simultaneous translation) and a Bible.
Participation per couple: 40 €. You may make reservations by e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org, or by fax +387-36-651-999. The number of participants is limited because of the available space in the Hall, se we ask you to send your registration as soon as possible, latest by the end of September. All the participants are invited to individually provide their accommodation in Medjugorje. (Program)
Holy Week, the highpoint of the Lenten preparation for Easter, begins with Palm (or Passion) Sunday. In Medjugorje, the liturgy of Passion Sunday begins with the reading of the Gospel and the blessing of the branches, and is followed by a procession from the site of the old parish church, culminating with the celebration of Holy Mass in the current Parish Church. (photos)