Mons. Issam John Darwish, BSO, DD., eparch of the Melkite Catholic Church of Australia and New Zealand, was on a private pilgrimage in Medjugorje from September 12 to 19, 2005. Mons. Darwish was ordained a priest in 1972, and a bishop in 1996. He came to Medjugorje with a group of pilgrims of his diocese, with whom he regularly celebrated here the liturgy according to the Byzantine rite. He conceives this pilgrimage as a Marian retreat. Mons. Darwish visited the places of prayer, and in the Parish office, he met the Pastor and the Franciscans from Medjugorje.
Just before coming to Medjugorje, Mons. Darwish visited the Holy Father Benedict XVI at Castelgandolfo. He told to the Pope that he was going on a pilgrimage to Medjugorje. Benedict XVI replied: “Very good, may God bless you and accompany you.” (Interview: preparing)