The Apostolic Visitor with the special role for the parish of Medjugorje, the Archbishop Henryk Hoser, paid a visit to Radio Mir Medjugorje and met all those who work there. He had a very interesting interview with the chief editor Sanja Pehar and shared the experience of two decades he spent in the mission in Africa, compared the African Marian shrine of Kibeho and Medjugorje, spoke about the fruits of Medjugorje, peace and Christmas and firstly, expressed his joy for being a guest at this radio station.
We can fell all parishioners are so happy and grateful that you were sent to Medjugorje and because of the mission the Holy Father entrusted you. How do you feel here in Medjugorje?
I respond to this with the same joy, I am truly very happy to be here and this is my second time to be here. Last year, I was here as the Special Envoy of the Holy Father for this place, now as the permanent Apostolic Visitor, and these two missions distinguish a lot, for I am here now and I need to get to know not just the situation, but the problems and issues of this place and to find solutions for those along with my associates.
Christmas is near and how would you suggest we prepare for it, mostly for its spiritual aspect?
The best way of preparing is by living the liturgy of the Advent. Spiritually, this is surely a very rich time and is made of two parts, the preparatory days until December 17, and the immediate preparation from that day until Christmas. Here in the parish we prepare with the early Holy Masses and these Holy Masses introduce all God’s people into the mystery of Christmas.
What is the message of Christmas?
This is remarkably rich message and I would emphasise the message of peace. Angels that announced the birth of the Lord to the shepherds said that they were bringing peace to all of the people of the good will.
Jesus came among us as the child in the family of Mary and Joseph. Throughout the history, the family was always attacked, particularly today. How do we protect the family today and can the example of the Holy Family help us in that?
First of all, we need to know that man was created within the family frame from the very beginning. The couple of man and a woman was blessed because of their fertility. The family is the image of the Most Holy Trinity on earth and the family is there to construct the society. In order for the spirit of the family to be preserved, in today’s time it is something very hard, we need to emphasise the mission of the family in the world – being the source and the way of the fulfilment of human person
Archbishop, you are a doctor, Pallotine priest, a missionary, surely all of this has marked your life. You also spent 21 years in Africa. Can you, please, share that experience of the missions with us and our listeners today?
It is hard to express that in only few lines. Above all, this was the experience of the diverse cultures I encountered in Africa and Europe and other countries. Most of my religious life I spent outside my home and my country. I could say two conclusions about that. The first one is that the human nature is the same everywhere. As humans, we are all very much alike, the difference between us is the culture in the positive and in the negative sense. Each culture has the positive and constructive elements serving to the development of the human being, but can also contain the elements that are destroying man. Let us, therefore, live in fullness our human nature along with all the positive characteristics of our culture!
You were also appointed as the Apostolic Visitor for Rwanda, could you, please, compare the shrine of Kibeho with Medjugorje for us?
Yes, there are many similar elements the events there began in 1981, and Our Lady in Kibeho wanted to warn the people of the future events that proved to be the genocide. This was the mission of the Queen of Peace, and it is a certain continuation of the apparitions in Fatima. Kibeho is a recognised shrine, it is developing and it is the only officially recognised apparition site in Africa. The apparitions in Medjugorje began also in 1981, a few months before Kibeho and it also proved to have the importance for the future war in the former Yugoslavia. Devotion to the Queen of Peace is developing here in Medjugorje and we find many similarities with the apparitions in Fatima. The invocation “The Queen of Peace”, was introduced to the Loreto Litanies by Pope Benedict XV, in 1917, in the year of the apparitions in Fatima, during the World War I and the Soviet Revolution. We can see God as ever-present in the human history and He sends us Our Lady to be close to us in every time.
The reality of the shrines is very important in today’s world and that is why the Holy Father Francis transferred the competence for the shrines from the Congregation for Clergy to the Pontifical Council for Promoting New Evangelisation. Does that new evangelisation take place in Medjugorje?
There is no doubt about that. We live here the new evangelisation, as Marian devotion developing here is very dynamic. This is the time and the place of conversion. Here, one discovers God’s existence in his own life and God’s desire to be present in the human heart in the society that lives as if God does not exist. All Marian shrines are doing that.
After several months of living here, what do you consider to be the most important fruits of Medjugorje?
Those are the fruits of profound conversion. I think that the most mature and the most important fruit is the phenomenon of conversion through confessions, peace and reconciliation. Out of all that takes place here, this is the most important element.
Pope Francis appointed you on May 31, as the Apostolic Visitor for the parish of Medjugorje. This is primarily pastoral service that wishes to ensure permanent and solid guidance for the parish community and the faithful coming here. How do you feel about the pastoral life of Medjugorje?
Pastoral life is still about to achieve its full development and the framework. The quality of accepting pilgrims is not just in the material way referring to accommodation and basic needs. This exists and functions here. Above all, the appropriate pastoral life adjusted to the number of pilgrims coming here needs to be done. I would like to emphasise two obstacles I noticed here. Sometimes, when the number of pilgrims rises, there are not enough confessors for certain language groups. Pilgrims come here from 80 different countries. The other obstacle is the lack of facilities for celebration of Holy Masses in different languages. We need to ensure facilities for celebration of Holy Masses in different languages, above all we need to be able to have the perpetual Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament.
You are Polish and we know that Polish have special devotion towards the Blessed Virgin Mary. What is Her role in your life?
The role of Mary is indeed great. Polish devotion is always Marian, let us not forget that the Mother of God was declared as the Queen of Poland in the mid 17th century. This was also the political gesture, confirmed by the king and the parliament in those days. You will find the image of the Blessed Virgin Mary in every Christian house in Poland. The oldest religious song in Polish deriving from the medieval period was composed in the honour of the Blessed Virgin Mary, while all Polish knights had the sign of the Blessed Virgin Mary on their shields.
Peace is what the man today lacks, peace in the heart, peace among people, peace in the world. What is the role of Medjugorje there, since we know that many pilgrims who come here witness that peace they feel here, they cannot experience it anywhere else?
Jesus Christ came to us in our human body as the King of Peace. God brings us peace we need so much in different levels and the school of peace we have here seems to help a lot, since many strike out the peace they feel here, as well as the areas of silence and prayer, places where they can be recollected. Those are all the elements that bring us to peace with God and with other people.
Is there anything you would like to say to our listeners at the end of this interview?
I wish to congratulate Christmas to all of you in the words angels said: Peace to those on whom his favour rests. Gospa says to us that God loves us all. One of the fundaments of our faith is God’s will to save all people, without exception, and if that fails to happen, it is due to us. We are, therefore, on the way leading into the bright future. (photos)