Around 150 pilgrims from Istria, Croatia came to Medjugorje last weekend. They were all from area around town Rovinj and they came as a part of their annual pilgrimage that is organised always during the Lent. Rebeka Sebastijan and Marija Pendic from Rovinj witnessed about their experience of pilgrimage and conversion in the radio programme of radio station Mir Medjugorje. Rebeka spoke about this year’s pilgrimage to Medjugorje and about activities of faithful through the Third Franciscan Order in Rovinj:
Many pilgrims from all over the world are coming to Medjugorje and many of them end up as our guests in the radio programme of Radio Mir Medjugorje. This last Wednesday, on the feast of St. Joseph, members of the choir Mihovil from Split were our guests. They gave their testimonies and sang as a part of our show Evening of the spiritual music. This choir was established in 2006, and they are active in the parish Kamen in Split. At the moment they have around 30 members, and they were named after their patron saint, St. Michael, while their leader is Mate Pocrnjic. This choir was noticeable at many festivals of the spiritual music, such as Uskrsfest, Hosanafest, Marijafest, Papafest and Krapinafest. In 2009, they have also published CD with their own music, called “Embrace of love”, that contains 12 songs that are fruit of their meditations and prayer.
Medjugorje was busy in the last few days and there were groups of pilgrims from the following coutries: Poland, Slovakia, Spain, Mexico, Argentina, Italy, the United States, Canada, Czech Republic, Germany, Austria, Korea, Hungary, Latvia and Slovenia. Massimo Nosscenttini from Italy shared his testimony with us and he heard about Medjugorje in 1981, for the first time, but arrived here already in 1983. His profession is a bus driver and he told us that Gospa completely changed his life.
Giosepina Russo from Sicily works in the agency for pilgrimages in Marian shrines throughout the world. She visited all Marian shrines in Europe on few occasions, but somehow never had chance to come to Medjugorje. Even though she was told that Medjugorje is not recognised shrine yet and should not be mentioned to pilgrims, she felt great desire to come here. Mrs. Russo said that she did not even know where Medjugorje was in Europe. She came to Medjugorje last year and remained here for 15 days.
The visionary Mirjana Dragicevic-Soldo had daily apparitions from June 24th 1981 to December 25th 1982. During the last daily apparition, Our Lady gave her the 10th secret, and told her that she would appear to her once a year, on the 18th of March. It has been this way through the years. Several thousand pilgrims gathered in prayer of the Rosary.. The apparition lasted from 13:46 to 13:51.
Dear children! As a mother, I desire to be of help to you. With my motherly love, I desire to help you to open your heart and to put my Son in the first place in it. Through your love for my Son and through your prayer, I desire for God’s light to illuminate you and God’s mercy to fill you. In this way, I desire for the darkness, and the shadow of death which wants to encompass and mislead you, to be driven away. I desire for you to feel the joy of the blessing of God’s promise. You, children of man, you are God’s children - you are my children. Therefore, my children, set out on the ways on which my love leads you, teaches you humility and wisdom, and finds the way to the Heavenly Father. Pray with me for those who do not accept me and do not follow me - those who, because of hardness of their hearts, cannot feel the joy of humility, devotion, peace and love – the joy of my Son. Pray that your shepherds, with their blessed hands, may always give you the joy of God’s blessing. Thank you.
On Sunday, March 16, 2014, we celebrated the 80th anniversary of construction of the cross on Cross Mountain and of the first Holy Mass that was celebrated at the foot of that cross. During the Holy Mass at 11 a.m., celebrated by the parish priest Fr. Marinko Sakota, all faithful remembered the Franciscans and parishioners who participated in the construction. The solemn academy was held in the evening and the documentary about the construction of the cross was shown. The scenery of this film was written by Dr. Ivica Sarac and the author of the film is Mario Vasilj Totin. Fr. Marinko said during the Holy Mass in his homily:
Fr. Grgur Blažević is a member of Franciscan Province of St. Cyril and Methodius. He was born in 1978 in Zagreb and was ordained last year on June 15 as a priest. Today he is a parish vicar in the parish of St. Nicholas in Čakovec. His father Grga comes regularly to the Queen of Peace as a pilgrims and he is also group leader for the last few decades and brings groups here. Fr. Grgur said that Medjugorje formed his family, especially his parents that brought the spirit of Medjugorje into it: “After my parents experienced the special affections towards Medjugorje they started to live all of the messages and they wanted us to understand that. To be honest, we did not understand that, we were “children of this world” and we could not understand that our parents wished well to us and that it was important to live in the Christian way, in the way Our Lady was inviting us to live, to pray in the family, to live sacramental life and to read the Holy Bible. My dear parents invited us to prayer every single evening. That was really boring for me, made me tired and I could not understand that. But the prayer that our parents were placing in our family for many years, had later on brought many fruits”, said Fr. Grgur who was coming to Medjugorje as a child with his parents very often.
Famous pianist from Croatia, Prof. Vesna Podrug Kossjanenko held pianist recital in the Hall of St. Joseph in Mother’s Village on Wednesday, March 12. The concert was organised by the Elementary Music School Ljubuski in cooperation with Mother’s Village and Fr. Dragan Ruzic, Head of Mother’s Village greeted all present at the beginning. She performed the works of L.V.Beethoven, F.Schubert, F.Liszt and F.Chopin.
Prior to the concert Prof. Vesna Podrug Kossjanenko said for radio station Mir Međugorje that her concert in Medjugorje was realised in a very short notice. Couple of years ago, I met student Ana Coric from Mostar and two weeks ago I told her about my desire to perform in Mostar with the programme I had prepared for the concert in Split. The concert in Mostar did not take place unfortunately, but after a while Ana told me that I could perform in Medjugorje. Here I am today, at my surprise”, said this famous ianist that was born in Split and began her music education in the class of Prof. Gordana Lentic. In 1986, she began to study in Hochschule fur Musik und darstellende Kunst in Vienna, and already during her student days she performed many recitals. She performed with many famous artists and held many concerts in Austria, Germany, Italy, Spain, France, Switzerland, Ireland, Great Britain, Finland, Turkey and Croatia. In the period from 1998 -2008, she was performing the duty of permanent co-repetitor in Vienna National Opera, and from 2002 – 2008, she worked as pedagogical associate at the University for Music and Art in Vienna. Since 2007, she works as docent for piano at Art Academy in Split.
The ceremony of reception into the Third Franciscan Order as well as of the solemn vows of several members took place on the first Sunday in Lent, March 9, 2014 in the parish church of St. James. During the morning Holy Mass at 9.30 a.m. nine members of the brotherhood gave their solemn vows, two of them temporary and eighteen of them were received into the Order. Regional Minister of the Third Franciscan Order in Herzegovina, Marija Brnadic received their vows and regional spiritual assistant of the Order, Fr. Ljubo Kurtovic, confirmed those on behalf of the Church. He celebrated that Holy Mass, and Fr. Ivan Landeka Jr., the spiritual assistant of the brotherhood, concelebrated. Fr. Ivan prepared candidates for this solemn act and provided all spiritual care that was needed, with the help of Mila Culjak, regional teacher of formation. Small choir of parish of St. James, conducted by Sr. Irena Azinovic, made this celebration even more beautiful with their harmonious liturgical singing.
Mons. Adriano Langa, OFM, who used to be the General Definitor of the Franciscan Order, and now is a Bishop of Diocese Inhambana in Mozambique came to the visit to our Province. He was accompanied by Fr. Stojan Damjanovic and they visited Medjugorje, Humac and Mostar. His brothers were glad to welcome him in all of these places and they introduced him to the life and work of the Province and he was happy to hear all that. He also gave a presentation of his own Diocese that is stretching over 68.000 square meters and is 700 kilometres long. He has 22 parishes, 650 Christian communities and 43 priests. The people there are very poor and he was grateful for the least help he could receive for his Diocese and faithful. Mons. Langa was in Medjugorje before and came here for the first time in the mid 90’s, just of the curiosity because he heart about this place from brothers Franciscans who were serving in Congo. During his visit in 2012, he told us that he got to know Medjugorje as a place of prayer: “I always say to people that Medjugorje is a place that one needs to get to know, because Medjugorje is inviting us to prayer, it is a place of encounters with God.”
Medjugorje was home for all participants of the 3rd National Seminar for Leaders of Formations and those responsible in brotherhoods of the Franciscan Youth. The seminar was held from March 7-9 with the theme “The one who loves Christ is full of joy” (Pope Francis) and this seminar gathered around 110 members of the Franciscan Youth from the various parts of Bosnia and Herzegovina. The national assistant of the Franciscan Youth of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Fr. Danijel Rajic, as well as the regional assistant of the Franciscan Youth of Herzegovina, Fr. Slaven Brekalo took part together with the representative of the national council of the Franciscan Youth of Croatia, Marta Rados. The goal of this seminar was to touch the importance of formations in brotherhoods with the special emphasis on formations during the period of sympathising the brotherhood, time when the youth gets to know it.
The seminar began with gathering of participants in the hall of the Blessed John Paul II, and then Holy Mass followed in the parish church of St. James. All participants also took part in the lectures, and during the group work they discussed current formations in the local brotherhoods, the difficulties that those responsible in the Franciscan Youth are facing as well as the problem solutions.
On Sunday, March 16, we will celebrate the 80th anniversary of the construction of the cross on Cross Mountain and we will remember celebration of the first Holy Mass that was celebrated on that day at the foot of that cross. The Anniversary will be celebrated as follows: on Friday, March 14, there will be prayer of the Way of the Cross at 2 p.m., while on Sunday, March 16, all those who have built the cross will be specially remembered in the Holy Mass at 11 a.m in the church of St. James. After the evening Holy Mass at 7 p.m. there will be the Solemn Academy, when documentary movie about Cross Mountain will be shown.
Rudolph Karg, 57 years old man from Germany has been coming to Medjugorje ever since the beginning of the apparitions. He witnessed that in 1984 his sister explained Medjugorje in details and he came here because of her. He said that it was that trip that changed his life: "I came here and realised that Gospa has been coming to this place. That was a great gift for me" said Rudolph who together with his friends and organisation had helped many places in Bosnia and Herzegovina during the war. „We understood all problems and difficulties of people in Bosnia and Herzegovina very quickly. In humility I need to admit it was all because of Medjugorje. I feel blessed to be here. Medjugorje is something really impressive and simple and I got the gift to understand Medjugorje with my heart. I am no longer discussing anything with other people, I only say to them to come and to experience Medjugorje. I always try to bring young people here”. Rudolph also participated in the 21st International Meeting for organisers of pilgrimages, group leaders and prayer and charity groups that was held from March 3-7 in Medjugorje.
Fr. Marinko Sakota, the parish priest of Medjugorje parish, celebrated Holy Mass on Friday, March 7 and that was at the same time conclusion of the 21st International Seminar for group leaders in Medjugorje. Fr. Marinko, who was the lecturer at this seminar spoke in his homily about things that we were meditating upon in the previous days. “We thought about where and when we make mistakes. That is why we have Mary as a model and that is why the theme of this seminar was “Behold, your Mother”, so we could learn from Her in the way She is doing and in the way She speaks to us. She is doing everything with Jesus, with God. Through all of the topics that we touched, we could see how important it is to live with Jesus. That is what the Queen of Peace is saying to us here.” This encounter gathered around 250 participants from 17 countries and was held from March 3-7, and the programme consisted of lectures, discussions with lecturer, prayers on Cross Mountain and Apparition Hill as well as participating in the evening prayer programme in the church of St. James. (photos)
Alfred Heck from Germany participated in the international meeting for group leaders, organisers of pilgrimages and prayer and charity groups regarding Medjugorje. He also took part in the first such meeting that he gladly recalled: “There were around 50 of us from various countries. We had genuine family atmosphere. My personal experience is that in these years various Franciscans have been with us to guide us, but each one of them left the impression of love and sincerity in conducting this seminar.