Around 50 young people from Germany, members of the community “Totus Tuus”, Marian lay community, arrived to Medjugorje. Fr. Joachim Federhen came with them and he was our guest at radio station “Mir” Medjugorje. He works as the assistant parish priest in one of the parishes but he also belongs to the community “Totus Tuus” , where he received his vocation. The establishment of this community is related to Medjugorje. One young married couple from Germany came for a holiday to Croatia and decided to visit Medjugorje as a part of that trip. They did not have any connections with God nor with the Church, but here, in Medjugorje, love of God completely touched their hearts and they both realised that they need to change their lives completely. When they returned home, they started praying in their family and they got to know the meaning of Our Lady’s messages. Soon afterwards they made contact with their parish community and after a while, little prayer community was formed. Their goal was to encourage others to live genuine life as faithful. In 1994, they decided to organise a pilgrimage to Medjugorje for young people.
On Friday, March 16th 2012 there will be 78th anniversary of building of cross on Cross Mountain and celebration of first Holy Mass under that same cross. Only 52 days passed ever since the day when decision for the cross to be built on the highest hill in the area, January 21st 1934 due to occasion of Jubilee Year of Passion of our Lord Jesus Christ, and decision was given to parishioners by their parish priest Fr. Bernardin Smoljan, until the day when cross was finally completed. Engineer Simun Boras from Mostar built the construction plan for the Cross, and Ante Dugandzic Redzo was monitoring all the works of construction.
The 19th International Meeting of Organisers of Pilgrimages, Leaders of Peace Centres and Medjugorje Prayer and Charity Groups that was held in Medjugorje from March 4 to March 8, 2012 gathered more than 300 participants from Brazil, Ireland, England, the United States, Germany, Switzerland, Austria, Portugal, France, Poland, Latvia, Ukraine, Czech Republic, Slovenia and Croatia and largest number of participants was from Italy. The theme of the Meeting was: “I do believe, help my unbelief!” The participants took part in lectures, conversations with lecturers and priests from Medjugorje as well as in the evening prayer programme and other venues that were organised for them. The lecturers were: Fr. Marinko Sakota, Fr. Ante Vuckovic and Fr. Dario Dodig. The coordinator of the retreat was Fr. Danko Perutina.
The nineteenth International Meeting for Organisers of Pilgrimages, Leaders of Peace Centres and Međugorje Prayer and Charity Groups will be held in Medjugorje from the 4th to the 8th of March 2012. The theme of the gathering is:
“…I do belive, help my unbelief!” (Mark 9: 24)
Number of Holy Communions: 21.000
Number of priests that concelebrated at Holy Masses: 729 (25 per day)
Herzegovinian Regional Fraternity of the Third Franciscan Order organised spiritual renewal at the beginning of the Lent that was held in Medjugorje on February 25, 2012. More than 350 members of the Third Franciscan Order from more than 9 different Herzegovinian parishes came to Medjugorje. Fr. Danko Perutina, the host of this renewal, greeted all who came and welcomed them to Medjugorje. After that, Regional Spiritual Assistant, Fr. Josip Vlasic gave a lecture on theme: “As Fraternity and with Fraternity through the doors of the faith” where he emphasised the importance of life in the Fraternity. All participants of this renewal participated in the evening prayer programme that is held in the church of St. James. Dr. Fr. Ivan Sesar, the Provincial of Herzegovina Franciscan Province, celebrated the evening Holy Mass along with nine other priests that concelebrated. Fr. Petar Vlasic, the parish priest, greeted all of the participants at the end of the evening Holy Mass and the retreat was completed after the Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament.
This year the Lent will start on Wednesday, February 22, 2012 and that is the period of forty-day preparation for Easter. During that time we meditate on Christ’s passion, especially while in the prayer of the Way of the Cross. That devotion is going to be held in the church with the following schedule:
Fridays: the Way of the Cross on Cross Mountain at 2 p.m. and after the evening Holy Mass in the church of St. James
Sundays: before the main Holy Mass at 10.30 a.m. and again after the evening Holy Mass at 6 p.m.
Mr. Rateb Rabie, KCHS, President of the Holy Land Christian Ecumenical Foundation, spoke with reporters for Radio MIR Medjugorje during his visit to Medjugorje.
Mr. Rateb is a Christian from Palestine, born in Jordan. His parents were forced to leave Jerusalem in 1948 and they had to immigrate to Jordan. He himself immigrated later to the United States where he got married and lived there for 35 years. Mr. Rabie is the citizen of the United States.
Regarding his life’s journey he said: "I was a businessman who was only consumed with the idea of gaining power and money. At that time, I received an invitation to return to the Holy Land and felt that I needed to do something for Christians and peace in that country.
Three years after I returned from that trip, I realised that I had to choose between continuing with my job and successful business career and pursuing the mission for the Christians in the Holy Land. I knew I could not do both of those tasks at the same time. I left everything I did and I completely devoted myself to this new ministry and I can say that I am happy now.
I have four daughters and at first my family questioned my decision because they could not understand why I decided to found this non-profit organisation. It took time, but finally the Foundation was formed that engaged the entire international community.
2nd Commemoration Days of Murdered Herzegovinian Franciscans were held in Siroki Brijeg from February 4 to February 7, when we commemorated 67th anniversary of brutal execution of Herzegovinian Franciscans.
On Friday, February 10, we are celebrating Memorial of Blessed Cardinal Alojzije Stepinac and it is also the day when we remember all murdered Franciscans from the parish of Medjugorje. Holy Mass at 6 p.m. is going to be celebrated for the following Franciscans who were brutally murdered during the Second World War: Fr. Krizan Galic, Fr. Jozo Bencun, Fr. Marko Dragicevic, Fr. Mariofil Sivric, Fr. Grgo Vasilj and Fr. Jenko Vasilj. We will also remember and pray for all of the parishioners who were murdered during the First World War, the Second World War and during the recent Homeland War.
This February we are experiencing real winter with really low temperatures and snow all over the country. On Wednesday, February 1st, it started snowing and heavy snow on Friday completely blocked all of the roads and towns around Herzegovina and Dalmatia. This weather will remain even in the days that are coming. Along with one football club that came to prepare for the spring season in Medjugorje, there are groups of pilgrims from Spain, the United States, Peru, Korea and Italy. They are all able to see amazing change in the nature around Medjugorje parish. (photos)
Number of Holy Communions: 54.700
Number of priests that concelebrated at Holy Masses: 1122 (36 per day)
The spiritual retreat was held in Medjugorje from January 27 to January 29, 2012 and it was held by Professor Tomislav Ivancic from Zagreb. Besides the regular evening prayer programme, Prof. Ivancic conducted several lectures for parishioners, employees of the Parish Office, the Information Centre, as well as for the owners of hotels and for the children and the youth.
He also celebrated two Holy Masses on Sunday morning, one for children at 9.30 a.m. and the main one at 11 a.m. The retreat ended with that Holy Mass. He gave interview for radio “Mir” Medjugorje and said that purpose of every retreat is to plant good seed for personal life and soul in order for our faith to grow stronger. “It is very important to open ourselves to God’s grace and to listen to everything God says to us. Medjugorje opens the mystery of Heaven and that is why it is so fascinating to us!”
Parishioners from neighbouring parishes participated in this retreat as well.
Sana Nassar and Sara Chaya are coming from Lebanon. Sana is the founder of the non-profit organisation “Friends of Mary, the Queen of Peace”. The purpose of that organisation is to serve to Our Lady’s messages from Medjugorje. She came to Medjugorje in 1986 for the first time, while in 1996, she organised the first pilgrimage to Medjugorje that was supposed to be just for her family and friends. That pilgrimage turned out to be pilgrimage for the whole Lebanese nation.
Few of them organised pilgrimages that became bigger and bigger with each time. Sana witnesses how more than 40,000 Lebanese came to Medjugorje through the group of forty volunteers. There were more than 300 priests and nine bishops that came along as well. Their office is at Lumiere TV station that is the only Christian TV station for twenty-four Arabian countries in the Near East.
On Saturday, January 21, 2012, we will commemorate the 10th death anniversary of former Medjugorje parish priest, Fr. Leonard Orec. He was born in Posuski Gradac in 1928, and died in Zagreb in 2002. We will celebrate the evening Holy Mass at 6 p.m. in the church of St. James on that day.
Fr. Leonard attended the elementary school in Posuski Gradac, Grammar School in Siroki Brijeg (1940 – 1945), as well as in Varazdin and Sarajevo. He spent his years as seminarian in Sarajevo. He received his Franciscan habit in 1946, and he was ordained as a priest in 1951. He worked as educator in Split and Kraljeva Sutjeska. He received his post – graduate title of doctor of science at the University of Theology in Ljubljana in 1956, with the thesis of “Relation of Mary and Christ in devotion of people in Bosnia and Herzegovina ferom 1463 to 1878”.
Apart from the parishioners of Medjugorje parish, there were numerous pilgrims from all over the world. According to the information of Information Office there were larger groups of pilgrims from Korea, China, Austria, Germany, Italy, France, Hungary, Spain, Romania, Switzerland, Slovakia, Poland, the United States, Czech Republic, Portugal, Canada, Ukraine and Lithuania.
There were also large groups of pilgrims from Croatia and Canada, along with many groups from other countries that are not mentioned above. (photos)