"Dear children! In this time of grace, I call you to become friends of Jesus. Pray for peace in your hearts and work for your personal conversion. Little children, only in this way will you be able to become witnesses of peace and of the love of Jesus in the world. Open yourselves to prayer so that prayer becomes a need for you. Be converted, little children, and work so that as many souls as possible may come to know Jesus and His love. I am close to you and I bless you all. Thank you for having responded to my call." February 25, 2002
THE DOOR TO CHRIST
We stepped into Lent a time of grace, of prayer, of fasting, of penance and of conversion. Lent consists precisely of the words that Our Lady repeated to us so many times here in Medjugorje: prayer, fasting, penance, conversion. Lent is a time of grace, because in forty days through personal trial and purification - we have the occasion to touch the bottom and the summit of a meaningful life. What is asked from us during this time is also to renounce to the joys of this world in order to become fully free, because only in freedom can our soul feel at home. During lent, it is necessary to find a moment of peace, a moment of self-denial. It is necessary to die to oneself in order to begin to live as a reflection of the light of Christ, and to shine in others. In Lent, you simply have to choose, you have to taste the bitterness of the suffering of Christ if you want to rejoice in His glorification.
Lenten days are moments when the rich and the poor must walk on the same roads; these are moments when the learned and the illiterate find a common language and become brothers united by the Cross of Christ. In Lent, we can freely shout out: Blessed are the artisans of peace, blessed are those who suffer, blessed are those who hunger and thirst, blessed are the poor! Similarly, we can stand in line with them and wait for the grace for us and for those who, out of God´s world, make a prison for individuals and for nations. Our duty in the time of Lent is not the condemnation of the world but a rebirth through our renunciation, fasting, prayer and penance. This is the only right we have. When we do this, the world will itself will be its condemnation and will announce its own collapse.
In his trials, Jesus was praying, fasting and suffering. He knew that without the experience of suffering and without a time of personal refinement, he would not be able to transform humanity. He was utterly given to the service of men, he approached men through suffering, by his drops of sweat, he watered the seed of friendship between man and God, and by his blood sealed forever the covenant. This is a clear example we also should follow. We have to seek Jesus in suffering and in self-denial. So, whenever you enter into suffering, illness, fear, anguish - know that this is the door to Christ. This is how your situation becomes a meeting point with God. This is why those who suffer are a blessing for the earth, the society and the nation. So let us follow Christ and put into practice the appeals of the Queen of Peace from Medjugorje. And let us not forget: Without Golgotha, Easter cannot shine!
Fr. Mario Knezovic
NUMBER OF COMMUNIONS AND NUMBER OF CONCELEBRANTS
During the month of January, 35,000 communions were distributed and 768 priests from this country and abroad concelebrated Holy Mass in Medjugorje.
Pilgrims were here from the USA, Korea, France, Italy, Germany, Austria, Slovakia, Croatia, and Bosnia-Herzegovina.
BLESSING OF FAMILIES
In our parish, the blessing of families and of houses is traditionally given during the Christmas holidays. At this time, priests at service in the parish meet their parishioners, exchange experiences and come to know each other better. During the holy time of Christmas, which is the time of coming close to each other, the blessing of families has an even stronger significance. The visit of a priest strengthens the family and confirms the household in good intentions and decisions.
The blessing of the family is particularly important there, where love is lacking for one reason or another. The power of blessing was especially felt in Mother´s Village when all the inhabitants of this community gathered for the annual blessing: children and grandmothers, aunties and religious sisters who take care of the village, and friends who came to embellish this occasion with their songs.
Fr. Svetozar Kraljevic and Fr. Ljubo Kurtovic gave the blessing. Although everyone is missing Fr. Slavko Barbaric, Mother's Village and its inhabitants continue to grow, relying on the love of God and His Providence, which manifests itself so often and so generously through friends and benefactors.
FR. LEONARD OREC PASSED AWAY
Dr. Fr. Leonard Orec, a highly regarded Herzegovinian Franciscan father, passed away on January 21st, 2002, after a serious illness.
Fr. Leonard was born on January 20th, 1928, in Posuski Gradac. He finished primary school in his native place, attended the secondary school in Siroki Brijeg from 1940 to 1945, then in Varazdin from 1945 to 1946. He entered the Franciscan order in 1946 in Kraljeva Sutjeska, and finished his secondary school in 1949 in Sarajevo. He studied theology in Sarajevo from 1947 to 1952. He made his solemn vows in Split on June 29th, 1951. He was ordained priest the same year. From 1952 to 1956, he served in Split and in Kraljeva Sutjeska as an educator.
His continued his studies - he received a doctorate in Ljubljana in 1956, and then he pursued his formation in München (Munich) in 1957 and 1958. He was a professor at the Franciscan Theology in Sarajevo from 1958 to 1961. Fr. Leonard was member of the Provincial Council from 1967 to 1973, and vice-provincial from 1973 to 1976. From 1961 to 1967, he was also in charge of Franciscan vocations. From 1967 to 1977, he was Novice master in Humac. In his fifties, he was sent to Germany, where he perfected his knowledge of German language and passed his driver´s licence exam. He was Pastor in Blankenau and in Hosenfeld from 1977 to 1988. During this period, he taught during two school years at the High Theological School in Fulda. He was in charge of Franciscan vocations for 25 years, and he spent almost 25 years outside of his Province.
From 1988 to 1991, Fr. Leonard served in Medjugorje, including more than one year as Pastor. During these three years, he left an indelible imprint as an experienced and wise priest, fervently spreading Our Lady´s messages of peace and reconciliation. Many ideas were born in his heart and mind, which were also realised in the past years. In the difficult times of communist repression and of pre-war tension in our regions, he did not bend the knee, but resisted courageously and wisely to all attacks, sometimes even to the treats of those who did not and who did understand his vision of the development of the Shrine. Among other things, he instated the Association of Guides for Pilgrims in the Parish of Medjugorje, and he managed to bring the guides under the shield of the Church, encouraging them to live the spreading of Our Lady´s messages first and foremost as a mission. Knowing many people all over the world and the difficult situation of our people stricken by the war, he started the humanitarian association Medjugorje-Mir in Split in 1992. Thanks to the friends of Medjugorje, this association distributed dozens of tonnes of humanitarian aid during the war, and continues today with its humanitarian work. Fr. Leonard worked also on the spiritual renewal of people wounded by the war and, according to Our Lady´s message of peace and reconciliation, was a link between nations and religions.
Since 1997, Fr. Leonard was serving in the Franciscan General Curia in Rome. At the age of 70, he learned to speak Italian and to use a computer. He was in Rome until July 2001, when he became seriously ill, at the time of the celebration of his 50 years of priestly ordination.
All those who knew Fr. Leonard Orec will remember him as a great man, an intelligent man full of experience, which he transmitted generously to all those he met on his way. He was happy to be a Franciscan friar, and he transmitted this joy also.
At the light of his life and of his last days, Fr. Leonard as a man and as a believer can be best described by the words of St. Paul: I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. (2 Tim 4:7)
FR. LEONARD OREC WAS BURIED
Fr. Leonard Orec was buried on January 23rd, 2002, in his native town of Posusje. The ceremony began with Holy Mass in the Parish Church presided by Fr. Slavko Soldo, Franciscan Provincial of Herzegovina, and concelebrated by more then 120 priests. A great number of the faithful and many religious sisters from all over Bosnia, Herzegovina and Croatia assisted at the burial, as well as Medjugorje friends from abroad, Fr. Leonard´s old friends who helped him in his humanitarian work through the Association Medjugorje-Mir from Split. (More about it)
The provincial, Fr. Slavko Soldo, gave his farewell speech in the name of the Franciscan province of Herzegovina during the Holy Mass. After Mass, many other speakers intervened:
- In the name of the Superior General of the Franciscan order spoke the Definitor general of the Order, Fr. Capistran Martzall;
- In the name of Msgr. Ratko Peric, Bishop of Mostar, spoke Fr. Luka Pavlovic, Vicar General of the Diocese;
- In the name of the Franciscan Province of Bosnia spoke Fr. Stjepan Radic, who reported the words spoken by Fr. Leonard´s friend, Dr. Fr. Vitomir Slugic: Your ship went to the open sea, and we wave greeting you from Bosnia in his Franciscan service, Fr. Leonard Orec was tightly linked with the suffering population and his Franciscan brothers from Bosnia.
- In the name of the Franciscan Province of St. Jerome (Zadar, Croatia) spoke Dr. Fr. Jozo Sopta;
- In the name of the Humanitarian Association and its friends and collaborators from all over the world spoke Drago Cutuk;
- In the name of the Professors of Theology spoke Dr. Fr. Ljudevit Rupcic who expressed what all of Fr. Leonard´s friends think: Many will have to make enormous efforts to see the ideals you have put into practice
Helping the needy, Fr. Leonard was a bond between nations and religions, and so he supported the Macedonian people in the time of war in their country.
- In the name of Macedonian people, who felt Fr. Leonard´s efficient help and love, spoke the President of the community of the Macedonian Orthodox Church in Split, Ivona Music Medelkovska.
Fr. Leonard spent the last months of his life at the Franciscan convent in Zagreb, where he was medically treated.
- In the name of his Franciscan brothers from Zagreb spoke Dr. Fr. Ivan Dugandzic, Superior of the Zagreb Convent, who described Fr. Leonard´s Franciscan dimension: He was known as a joyful friar who shared tirelessly his Franciscan enthusiasm to others, and during his last days joyfully expected his Sister Death´ .
- In the name of the Parish of Medjugorje and all of you who came to Medjugorje and met Fr. Leonard spoke Fr. Branko Rados, Pastor of Medjugorje. He described the broadness of spirit of this great man, which was confirmed at his burial through the presence of so many different people, nations and religions. This is what he said:
Brothers and sisters! One of the specificities that distinguishes we humans from all of God´s other creatures is the power to speak. With words we are able to express, to make present, to explain, to make understood and even to embellish so many things. And still there are moments when we feel all the powerlessness and weakness of our power to speak. Each time we face an important event, we remain speechless. When we have to console someone, words seem too poor. We feel all the poverty of our speech especially when we face death, when we observe the greatness of a life that is gone. This is such a moment. We face greatness, a priest, a Franciscan, a theologian, a pedagogue, a benefactor
There are no words to describe Fr. Leonard´s life. This is why I wish to underline only one of his qualities, which were so numerous, and this is the broadness of spirit. Dear Fr. Leonard, thank you, because so many pilgrims who came to Medjugorje found in you a true host, a caring man, a friar who rejoices to see them with all the broadness of his Franciscan soul, who waits for them with an open heart and open arms. Thank you for all the wisdom and visionary spirit you have shown in guiding the parish and the Shrine. Thank you for all the ideas, prayers, projects you have given to the Parish of Medjugorje. You spent the last 20 years of your life living with Medjugorje and for Medjugorje. You took Medjugorje with you to Split and to Rome and everywhere you went during these years. It was your inspiration and a motivation: When tired, you did not think about tiredness, when ill, you did not thing of your illness. Your desire was to glorify Christ as much as you could, through Mary, the Queen of Peace.
It is good to do good was the name of one of the humanitarian actions during the war in Croatia. It is good to give people the possibility to do good! Working tirelessly, you gave the possibility to many pilgrims and friends of Medjugorje to do good. May God reward you for all the good done through you! May the Queen of Peace, whom you venerated above all, obtain for you the Peace of her Son!
Together with parishioners of Medjugorje and numerous pilgrims from all over the world, I pray today: Eternal rest give to him, O Lord!
After the ceremony in the parish church, the procession went to the Franciscans´ Alee on local cemetery Martica Kriz in Posusje, where Fr Leonard was buried. At the cemetery, Fr. Marinko Leko, Pastor of Posusje, delivered the last farewell.
VICKA IVANKOVIC´S AND MARIO MIJATOVIC´S WEDDING
Vicka Ivankovic, one of the six Medjugorje visionaries, and Mario Mijatovic were married on January 26th, 2002, in St. James´ parish church of Medjugorje.
The Solemn Holy Mass, during which the sacrament of marriage was celebrated, was presided by Fr. Branko Rados, pastor, in concelebration with two former pastors Fr. Jozo Zovko and Fr. Ivan Landeka and twenty foreign priests.
The church of Medjugorje was not big enough to receive all those who wanted to express their joy, their good wishes to the newlyweds, and the desire to see them continue on the way they were going for so many years now.
This was precisely the theme of Fr. Branko´s homily, in which he invited them to continue to be salt of the earth and light of the world, as they have been for the uncountable pilgrims they have already met.
In our times, when the world is in a deep spiritual and moral crisis precisely because of the crisis of the family, we rejoice because of the choice of Vicka and Mario to continue to witness the love of God through the family life: Vicka, at the service of Our Lady´s message of peace and reconciliation, and Mario - for many years a collaborator with Fr. Slavko Barbaric - at the service of Mother´s Village.
After the ceremony, Vicka and Mario entrusted their marriage in prayer to Our Lady, the Queen of Peace. Boys and girls from the Cenacolo Community sung and played at the wedding. Sister Elvira came to Medjugorje for this solemn occasion, and the newlyweds joined them in singing after Holy Mass.
We express our good wishes to Vicka and Mario, entrusting them to your prayers, that God may give them the grace and strength to continue to love and to serve together, as they already do.
A NEW PARISH FLAG FOR MEDJUGORJE
On Sunday, January 27th, 2002, a new parish banner for St. James Parish in Medjugorje was inaugurated and blessed during the Sunday Parish Mass. What is the actual meaning of a parish flag?
One of the images describing the Church is the image of an army, which, following Christ, spiritually struggles against evil. In this struggle, the soldiers of Christ stand under a standard and follow Christ in his victorious mission of Salvation.
All catholic parishes have a patron saint, a special intercessor before God. The patron saint of Medjugorje´ Parish is St. James, a pilgrim. So, let us follow Christ under a standard on which we see on one side a pilgrim, a man of prayer and of penance, a man of God, and on the other the parish church of Medjugorje, which has become a symbol of prayer and of peace for the whole world
The new standard of the parish of Medjugorje was carried on the feast of St. Blaise, patron saint of Dubrovnik, on Sunday, February 3rd, in the traditional procession where many pilgrims from the city and the region gather in Dubrovnik.
About 100 pilgrims from the parish of Medjugorje marched this year under the new parish flag on this traditional pilgrimage to St. Blase.
THE NINTH INTERNATIONAL MEETING FOR GUIDES AND LEADERS OF PEACE CENTRES AND MEDJUGORJE PRAYER, PILGRIM AND CHARITY GROUPS
The Ninth International Meeting for Guides and Leaders of Peace Centres and Medjugorje Prayer, Pilgrim and Charity Groups under the theme Pray, Pray, Pray took place in Medjugorje from February 17th to 21st, 2002.
During five days, the participants meditated on the conferences given by Dr. Fr. Ivan Dugandzic and Fr. Ivan Landeka, they exchanged their experiences and prayed together.
These meetings are very important for those who come to Medjugorje as well as for those who work in Medjugorje at the service of pilgrims. Through the diversity of our work with the pilgrims we enrich one another, we understand better the importance of the apostolate and receive councils for our work.
About 170 participants from 15 countries took part in this meeting. They adopted a common Declaration, which will be published in the next issue of the Bulletin.
Published by: INFORMATIVNI CENTAR MIR - Svetiste Kraljice Mira (Information Center MIR - Shrine of the Queen of Peace), 88266 Medjugorje.
Last Modified 02/26/2002