Two young friends, Mato Topic and Matej from Cepin, town close to Osijek in Croatia, came by bicycle to Medjugorje on July 30 to be here for the 25th International Youth Festival. In eight days time they travelled more than 800 kilometres. Mato said that the idea for this was born in him when he heard from his friends that they took this same trip to Medjugorje by bicycle two years ago: “I thought of going alone, but Matej suggested that we should come together. We began our trip on July 22. There were hard moments, but thanks to God, we were able to come. I was here also last year for the Youth Festival. I was mostly impressed by the spirit of prayer, so many young people at one place and love for the Lord that unites us all, regardless of where we came from”, said 19 years old Mato who was coming to Medjugorje before.
Preparations are being done for the 25th International Youth Festival that gathers youth from all over the world and was initiated in 1990 by late Fr. Slavko Barbaric. Back then only one hundred young people gathered with two players with one guitar and a few singers and everything was held in the green tent. Every year, the number of participants was increasing and at the moment is far the largest event that takes place in Medjugorje. The Festival is event of prayer, song, lectures and testimonies that the International Youth Festival and Orchestra is accompanying. Their conductor for the last five years is Professor Damir Bunoza. The members of the choir have been intensively rehearsing and professor Bunoza placed the emphasis on the organisation of the Festival:
The 25th International Youth Prayer Festival
Medjugorje, July 31 – August 6, 2014
Thursday, 31. 7. 2014.
18.00 - Rosary
19.00 - Solemn opening of the Festival, Holy Mass
21.00 - Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament: Just like the clay in the potter’s hand, so are you in my hand (Jr 18, 6)
The International Youth Festival in Medjugorje is being held now for the last 25 years. Because of its 25th birthday, we are proudly presenting the new visual identity of the Festival. New logo is simple but its message is profound. Two hills, two symbols of Medjugorje – Apparition Hill and Cross Mountain are creating a heart. Within the heart is Medjugorje. Medjugorje is in the heart – in your heart. The heart is opened, just as Gospa desires the heart of every faithful to be opened for God and for our neighbours, as Her heart is opened for all. The heart is a symbol of Gospa’s school in Medjugorje.
Fr. Goran Azinović celebrated on Sunday, July 27 at 11 a.m. his first Holy Mass in the church of St. James in Medjugorje. He was ordained as a priest on the Feast of Sts. Peter and Paul in Mostar Cathedral. Fr. Branko Radoš, who used to be a parish priest in Medjugorje and is now engaged in pastoral work in Croatian Missions in Luzern. He emphasised that Fr. Goran represents parishioners of this famous parish and of our whole Croatian nation before God:
The members of the liturgical choir Hosana from Ukraine were in Medjugorje. The choir was established 17 years ago at the initiative of the parish priest at that time, firstly as the choir who will sing at the Holy Mass. But, besides that task they are also performing at the various festivals of the traditional popular music and they also performed in Romania recently. Vocal - instrumental group ''Ave Maria'' is a part of their choir as well. The members of the choir said that in Medjugorje they can see God's love: „This is the only place where Gospa comes every day, every month. She is trying to educate us and lead us in direction of becoming better people“ – said these pilgrims from Ukraine and Fr. Jozefat, guardian of the monastery of St. Basilius. In his opinion Međugorje is a place of peace and love: „Our country desires such peace. We came to pray for peace in Ukraine, for peace of people there. That desire for peace is something that is in the heart of all people from Ukraine. We desire to give it all into Gospa's hands. Our Ukraine is a country of peace, hard-working people, country of love to God and to neighbour. We desire to thank all who have been praying for us and with us. May dear Lord and the Queen of Peace help us“.
In the beginning of July we had chance to interview pilgrims from Israel, from Nazareth adn two of them were our guests in the programme of radio station Mir Medjugorje – Mrs. Therese Daoud and Fr. Souhail Khoury. Fr. Souhail said that he came to Medjugorje twelve years ago for the first time, he is married because he is part of the Greek – Catholic Church: “I work in the region of Galilee and apart from the regular activities in my pastoral work, ever since my first trip to Medjugorje, we began to meet in the prayer communities called Mary’s family.
The Feast of St. James, the patron saint of Medjugorje parish was solemnly celebrated on Friday, July 25, 2014. Holy Masses in Croatian language were celebrated in the parish church at 7 and 8 a.m. and at 7 p.m., while the main Holy Mass was celebrated in the Garden, close to the church of St. James at 11 a.m. The procession began at 10.45 a.m. with the statue of St. James that male members of the Franciscan Youth carried along with the singing of litanies of All Saints. Fr. Mario Ostojic was the main celebrant and celebration was even more beautiful thanks to the singing of the choir of “The Queen of Peace”, conducted by Sr. Irena Azinovic and mandolin orchestra Surmanci, led by prof. Davor Markota. Fr. Marinko Sakota, parish priest of Medjugorje parish, greeted everyone at the end and invited them to stay for the traditional dances and music performed at the end of the Holy Mass.
The book “Life for others” about Fr. Jozo Vasilj was presented on Wednesday, July 23 in the Hall of John Paul II, as a part of preparation for the feast of St. James. The book was written by Fr. Ivan Dugandzic and Fr. Filip Sucic. Fr. Marinko Sakota, parish priest in Medjugorje, greeted and welcomed everyone and said that he was joyful to greet all present during the introduction of the book on life of Fr. Jozo: “Fr. Jozo is a jewel of our parish and of the whole world. He is alive again since we have brought memory of him into life”
General Vicar of the Herzegovina Franciscan Province, Fr. Ivan Sevo spoke on behalf of the Province and said that many people were coming to Fr. Jozo, but youth really loved him.
Fr. Goran Azinovic will celebrate on Sunday, July 27, at 11 a.m. his first Holy Mass in the church of St. James in Medjugorje. Fr. Goran, son of Srecko and Mirela, maiden Pehar, was born on September 28, 1988 in Konjic. Family Azinovic left Konjic during the war and came to live in Medjugorje in the parish of St. James, the apostle. He completed seminary in Visoko and completed Franciscan Classic Grammar School. He graduated at the Faculty of Theology in Zagreb and was ordained as deacon in Cerin. He spent his year as a deacon in Humac and was ordained as a priest on the Feast of Sts. Peter and Paul in Cathedral in Mostar.
Parish of Medjugorje is preparing for celebration of their patron saint St. James that will be solemnly celebrated on Friday, July 25. Every night prior to this Feast, along with the regular evening prayer programme, there is special event that takes place every night. On Monday, after the evening Holy Mass, the concert of the parish choir of the Queen of Peace was held in the Hall of John Paul II. The parish priest, Fr. Marinko Sakota, greeted everyone present at the beginning of this concert and thanked members of the choir, as well as their guests Jakov Colo and David Parkes. Prof. Katja Krolo Sarac accompanied them on piano, and all present had opportunity to hear various music pieces performed by this choir who has been serving in the life of this parish for the last 24 years.
Šimo and Nada Šarčević came to Međugorje from the parish of St. Joseph the Worker from Belišće to participate at the 15th International Seminar for Married Couples that was held from July 13-16. They are married 35 years now and this is their second seminar for married couples: “We can learn so much at these seminars, so much to share with our spouses especially how and what to share when it is not easy for us. We really had nice time, we learned so much about our marriage”. Nada said that she has been coming to Međugorje from the very beginning and was here more than 30 times:
On Friday, July 25, we will celebrate the Feast of St. James, the patron saint of parish of Medjugorje that was established in 1892, and since that time was consecrated to St. James, the patron saint of pilgrims. Holy Masses in the parish church will be at 7 and 8 a.m. and at 7 p.m. and the solemn Holy Mass will be celebrated in the Garden at 11 a.m. the representatives of the Franciscan Youth will carry the Statue of St. James from the church at 10.45 a.m. and procession will move from the church to the Garden following the main road.
The 15th International Seminar for married couples gathered 131 participants from 13 countries and was held from July 13 to July 16. The theme of the seminar was “The trust in marriage and in raising of the children”. Dr. Jozefina Skarica was the lecturer and all lectures were translated in seven languages. Apart from the lectures in the morning and in the evening, all participants also took part in the evening prayer programme as well as in prayer of the Rosary on Apparition Hill and of the Way of the Cross on Cross Mountain. The seminar finished on Saturday, July 16 with the Holy Mass that was celebrated by Fr. Marinko, the coordinator of the seminar. (photos)
During the seminar for married couples, we had chance to meet two couples that came from distant countries. One of them is Edith Dantes – Castillo and Jose Dantes – Castillo from Florida – Miami, and other Elio David Alvarenga and Lourdes Alvarenga from Honduras. Jose told us that he is here for the second time since there are so many things to learn for his family. Lourdes and Elio have ten children. This is their ninth time in Medjugorje and the first time to be here at seminar. “When I invited my husband to come with me to Medjugorje, he told me that I lost my mind. But after so many trips, he is now the one who is in love with Medjugorje, just like Jose”, said Lourdes.