Thousands of pilgrims participated in this year’s Peace Walk that took place on the feast of St. John the Baptist, June 24th, just one day prior to the 31st Anniversary of Our Lady’s apparitions. The Peace Walk started at 6 a.m. from the Monastery of St. Anthony in Humac and ended in front of the church of St. James in Medjugorje. The Guardian Priest of Humac Monastery, Fr. Velimir Mandić, blessed and greeted all pilgrims at the beginning of the Peace Walk. Prayers were said and hymns in the honour of the Queen of Peace were sung all the time during the Peace Walk, that arrived in front of the church around 9.30 a.m. Fr. Miljenko Steko met all of the pilgrims outside the church of St. James and conducted Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament as well as Benediction. The original initiator of this famous Peace Walk Hubert Liebherr started this walk. He was terrified with horrors of the war and he wanted to respond to Our Lady’s message when she said that with prayer of rosary even the wars could be stopped.
Medjugorje will celebrate 31st Anniversary of Our Lady’s apparitions on Monday, June 25th, 2012. The solemn Holy Mass on the Feast of St. John the Baptist, the eve of the Anniversary, will be celebrated at 7 p.m. and Fr. Ivan Dugandzic is going to be the main celebrant. Prayer of the Rosary on Apparition Hill will not take place on Sunday. After the evening prayer programme there will be Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. Holy Masses on the Feast of the Anniversary of Our Lady’s apparitions will take place at 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 11 a.m. and at 4 p.m. There will be opportunity for confession throughout the whole day. The central evening prayer programme will start at 6 p.m. with the Rosary and will continue with Holy Mass at 7.p.m. Fr. Ivan Sesar, the Provincial of Herzegovinian Franciscan Province will celebrate that Holy Mass, we kindly ask all drivers throughout Herzegovina to be extra careful due to the large number of pilgrims who will walk to Medjugorje. All those who are coming to Medjugorje are kindly asked to remain in peace and prayer at all times.
In the week of Our Lady’s anniversary, the Information Office has registered groups from Germany, the United States, Italy, Ukraine, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Spain, Ireland, Venezuela, Sri Lanka, Poland, Singapore, Portugal and Lebanon. Each one of those pilgrims has his own story regarding Medjugorje phenomenon. Testimony of Fr. Oliver Devine from Ireland is an obvious proof of the grace that is poured on pilgrims who come to this place. He came to Medjugorje in 1985, for the first time, and he said: “This is where I receive new strength and new faith each time. I know that Medjugorje has influenced my vocation as a priest. Whenever people ask me why I decided to become a priest, I always tell them it was because of Medjugorje and because of what I felt here.”
Our press members also met a group of 24 athletics who ran relay race from Bergamo, Italy to Medjugorje. Every person ran for 50 minutes and 4 campers accompanied them at all times. When they left Bergamo with lit torches, they all ran for the first mile together and they did the same during their last mile to Medjugorje. “When we entered Medjugorje, our sports adventure was finished and we started our spiritual journey”, said Marco Previtali from Bergamo, and this is his first visit to Medjugorje.
Novena to the Queen of Peace is starting today and pilgrims and parishioners will prepare for the 31st Anniversary of Our Lady’s apparitions through prayer of the Rosary on Apparition Hill at 4 p.m. every day. The evening prayer programme starts with Rosary at 6 p.m. and Holy Mass at 7 p.m. Novena is opportunity to thank God for all of the graces we had received through our Heavenly Mother in the last 31 years.
As the 31st Anniversary of Our Lady’s apparitions is getting closer, we meet pilgrims from all over the world in Medjugorje. We had chance to talk to 20 –years-old girl from Ireland who is in wheelchair. “I would like to thank for the opportunity to be in Medjugorje. My group leader told me that she had a cancellation last week and she invited me to come instead of that person. It is my blessing to be here, one really feels joy here. I hope to bring peace and hope from this place to my home, to those that I know”, said Maebh who shared her story with us, story full of crosses and lots of suffering, but on the other hand, story full of peace and joy.
On Monday, June 11, 2012, after the evening prayer programme, the Franciscan Youth from Medjugorje held a performance titled “It all begins with something” in the hall of the Blessed John Paul II. The author of the piece is Dr. Mile Cavar and 13 members of the Franciscan Youth participated in this play. It is about the life of young people, their problems and ways to resolve those problems. “It is the way of proclaiming the Joyful News, the Gospel through performance, play or drama, it is our way to proclaim the Gospel”, said Fr. Slaven Brekalo, the spiritual assistant of the Franciscan Youth from Medjugorje. Franciscan Youth has been active in Medjugorje since 1995 and with singing, prayer and many other activities, these young people are contributing to the fruitful spiritual atmosphere in this world famous parish.
Number of Holy Communions: 190.500
Number of priests that concelebrated at Holy Masses: 4140 (133 per day)
Diego Garcia Nunez arrived to Medjugorje after five months of walking from his native Cordoba in Spain, through Santiago de Compostela, Rome and Padua. This sixty- four years old pilgrim walked more than 3000 kilometres to fulfil his vow. Five years ago, he was diagnosed with cancer and he decided to walk to Medjugorje to Our Lady if he ever got better. He heard about Medjugorje when he was listening to Radio Maria, fifteen years ago. Exactly a year ago, his doctors told him that his cancer was gone and he decided to walk in thanksgiving to Our Lady, the Queen of Peace.
Zvonko Bogi, Vesna Jankovic, Zlatica Cepo, brother and two sisters, walked from Osijek and arrived to Medjugorje on Thursday, May 24, 2012. They started their trip on May 14, 2012. They made decision to do this pilgrimage in the honour of Our Lady, the Queen of Peace, before Christmas last year. They wanted to thank her for everything she had done for them. They wanted to emphasise that everyone they met on their journey was kind and gracious to them and they would like to thank them all. “There was prayer and joy while we travelled here. We were in the pain, but every morning, after waking up, the pain was gone. Our Lady was with us all the time, she was guiding us and the doors were opened to us wherever we came. We visited many pilgrimage destinations, but Medjugorje is something special, something that cannot be described”, said Zvonko, Vesna and Zlatica who are members of the Movement of Devine Mercy. They will stay in Medjugorje until Sunday, May 27, when another group of pilgrims from Osijek will join them.
John O’Sullivan arrived to Mejugorje with a group of pilgrims from town Killarney in Ireland. That would be something completely normal if it was not a pilgrim who celebrated his 100th birthday on April 5, 2012. This is his ninth pilgrimage to Medjugorje and he came for the first time in 2002. He found out about Medjugorje from other pilgrims. He is in a good health and his age did not prevent him from climbing Apparition Hill and Cross Mountain in the company of other pilgrims. “I heard about Medjugorje and I decided to come, I never thought it would be so beautiful. I visited other places but I always prefer to come back here”, said John and he promised to come back again.
Annamária Vécsey from Budapest walked to Medjugorje with one another pilgrim. She had done that back in 2008. They started their journey on April 12, 2012 and arrived to Medjugorje on the Feast of Ascension of Our Lord, May 19, 2012. She knew all details of her journey and despite her age and health difficulties, 68-years old Annamaria said: “Yes, I will go!” When they arrived to Medjugorje in Our Lady’s embrace, they forgot about all of their difficulties and bad weather circumstances. They were only able to recall beautiful memories they had with other people. She thinks it was God’s providence that she was able to meet the same people who were willing to help her last time, four years ago. She is joyful and grateful to dear God and to Our Lady because they came to their destination healthy and alive, and she would like to thank all those good people who had helped them on their journey.
Married couple Patricia and Jack Duggan from Canada are in Medjugorje in these days. They came here for the first time in 1993, when they were helping with refugee camps throughout Bosnia and Herzegovina. Patricia said: “I heard about Medjugorje from one of the priests. There were many problems, my kids were small at that time and I was not able to come. All we wanted was to help others and it happened by accidence that both my husband and I became group leaders. We have brought many people from Canada and we come here twice a year. Medjugorje is our second home.” Patricia said that they have seen many conversions in their groups after their visit to Medjugorje.
On Saturday, May 19, 2012, eighty – one young boys and girls received the sacrament of the Holy Confirmation in the parish church of St. James. It is the sacrament in which all those baptised are enriched with the gift of the Holy Spirit and become more perfectly connected with the Catholic Church. The Sacrament was given by local bishop Monsignor Ratko Peric, at the Holy Mass that was held at 10 a.m. Day prior to the Sacrament of the Holy Confirmation, children and their parents participated in the Sacrament of the Reconciliation.
Pilgrims arrive to Medjugorje in various ways and by different means of transport. A pilgrim on a bicycle would not be special news at all, but when it comes to a pilgrim who is over 70 years old, then we need to bring that as really special, extraordinary event. Helmut Kuhn, 71 years old German man, came from the north of Germany to Medjugorje. He started his pilgrimage on April 19th and arrived to Medjugorje on May 6th. Two years ago, he went on a pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela and it was then that he decided to come to Medjugorje on a bicycle. Helmut and his wife Brunhilde were guests at radio station “Mir” Medjugorje. “I felt relief and as soon as I arrived, I went to Medjugorje church on the same evening. Three hours afterwards, my wife came on a bus with group of pilgrims”, Helmut said. He said that he came to Medjugorje for the first time once when they were on summer holiday at the Adriatic coast, and they were here also four years ago. They are going back home very grateful and happy. They both expressed desire to come to Medjugorje more often.
Thirty four Orthodox pilgrims from various parts of Israel arrived to Medjugorje on May 11, 2012. Few other pilgrims will join them in the following days. We met them at the beginning of their pilgrimage. “We came home, to our Mother. We are all Christians and we are united with God. There are no differences in Heaven. We feel as we belong here completely”, they said. They will stay in Medjugorje for ten days.