"Dear children! Also today I call you to prayer. Little children, pray until prayer becomes a joy for you. Only in this way each of you will discover peace in the heart and your soul will be content. You will feel the need to witness to others the love that you feel in your heart and life. I am with you and intercede before God for all of you. Thank you for having responded to my call." July 25, 2003
THE SPOKESMAN OF MEDJUGORJE
Last month, Dr. Fr. Ljudevit Rupcic left us on our earthly journey. He died on June 25, on the very 22nd anniversary of Our Lady's apparitions in Medjugorje. He did not only love and venerate Our Lady and Medjugorje, but he belonged to them with his whole being. From the very beginning, as a university professor of Biblical sciences, he believed in Our Lady's apparitions. Like Mary at the moment of the Annunciation, he received the words from Heaven, and he left his own questions for another time. His first task was to believe, to receive what God wants to do through the apparitions, and only then, to ask questions on how to live and how to put into practice this message in the best and most useful way. As such, he was the brain and the pillar of the reflection about the events of Medjugorje. He has given the last 22 years of his life to Our Lady and to Medjugorje. In return, he did not ask anything except Truth, for which he was yearning and burning his entire life.
Conversations with Fr. Ljudevit and living next to him always showed his eagerness for the orthodoxy in the devotion to Our Lady, for total and complete application of Our Lady's messages, for transparency and clearness in the liturgical celebrations and in the catechesis at the Shrine of Medjugorje. In matters of Medjugorje, he knew no compromise. On this subject, nothing was difficult or unacceptable for him. Love for each pilgrim was his vocation during the last years of his life. He practically ran towards pilgrims, to whom he wanted to transmit the message of Medjugorje addressed to contemporary men. He travelled to many prayer centres and participated in many gatherings that grew on the tree of Medjugorje. He allowed nobody to reduce him to silence concerning the apparitions; he never became tired while searching for the Truth. We can really say that Fr. Ljudevit was the spokesman of Medjugorje; his voice was listened to in the Church, his word was read, continues to be read and respected in spite of differences of opinions. In this sense, Fr. Ljudevit ended his Medjugorje time-share and task with best marks. He remained straight and unshaken in spite of so many storms that never caressed him.
The message of this old man full of juvenile spirit to us, Our Lady's children, is the following: Never stop, keep on walking towards the source, live the love that you receive from the Heavenly Father, listen to Our Lady and do not allow yourselves to be confounded on the way of Salvation. Yes, this is precisely what he announced at the altar of the Lord: he was inhabited by the love for God, for the Church and for God's people. He was ready to do, to sacrifice, and to give everything for these ideals. This is why the years he spent in communist prisons were a light for so many at that time, just as for us today. As a professor, he entered into the first year on Our Lady's school of love in Medjugorje. Our faith teaches us that his diploma is waiting for him in the eternal life. What are we waiting for, and what is waiting for us?!
Fr. Mario Knezovic
NUMBER OF COMMUNIONS AND NUMBER OF CONCELEBRANTS
During the month of June 2003, 151,000 communions were distributed and 3,472 priests from this country and abroad concelebrated Holy Mass in Medjugorje.
Pilgrims were here from: Italy, Poland, Korea, South Africa, the USA, Ireland, Hungary, Great Britain, Scotland, Spain, Slovakia, Austria, Germany, Belgium, Romania, Egypt, Slovenia, France, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Ukraine, Lebanon, La Reunion, Switzerland, Vietnam, Canada, Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Portugal, Israel, Peru, Albania, Sweden, the Nederlands, Puerto Rico, Croatia, and Bosnia-Herzegovina.
FR. LJUDEVIT RUPCIC, OFM, HAS DIED
Fr. Ljudevit Rupcic, a Franciscan from Herzegovina, died in Medjugorje at the age of 83, on June 25, 2003, on the 22nd anniversary of the Apparitions of Our Lady.
Dr. Fr. Ljudevit Rupcic, OFM, was born in 1920 in Hardomilje, Ljubuski, Bosnia and Herzegovina. He entered the Franciscan Order in the Province of Herzegovina in 1939 and was ordained to the priesthood in 1946. He completed his studies of theology in 1947 at the Theological Faculty in Zagreb. He obtained his doctorate in 1958 and was tenured at the same Faculty in 1971. From 1958 to 1988, he taught New Testament exegesis at the Franciscan School of Theology in Sarajevo and also at the Theological Faculty in Zagreb for a period of time. Under the Yugoslav communistic regime, he was imprisoned in 1945, in 1947, and from 1952 until 1956. From 1968 to 1981, he was a member of the Theological Commission of the Bishops' Conference of the former Yugoslavia. He translated the New Testament from the original into the Croatian language. His translation has undergone numerous editions. He has published many books, studies, and articles in Croatian, German, Italian, French and English and has conducted many lectures at numerous congresses and symposiums in Europe and America.
He was committed to Our Lady and to Medjugorje with his whole heart and soul, writing books and articles about the apparitions. From the very beginning, as a priest and as a professor, he observed intensely all that was happening in Medjugorje. The mortal remains of Fr. Ljudevit Rupcic were first exposed in the chapel of the convent of the Franciscan sisters in Miletina (where Fr. Ljudevit was chaplain for nine years), and then also at the Franciscan monastery at Humac.
Fr. Ljudevit was buried on the Solemnity of the Sacred Heart, June 27, 2003, on the New Cemetery of Humac. The burial rite began at 5 pm in front of the church and the monastery of Humac, with Holy Mass presided by the Herzegovinian Franciscan Provincial, Fr. Slavko Soldo, concelebrated by the Superior of the monastery of Humac, Fr. Branimir Musa, the Pastor of Medjugorje, Fr. Branko Rados, and about 60 priests from Herzegovina, Bosnia, Croatia and abroad. Along with numerous local faithful, many Medjugorje pilgrims from Poland, France, Italy, England, Romania and from other countries participated at Holy Mass and the burial.
In his homily, Fr. Slavko Soldo bid farewell with warm words to this great man of the Croatian Church. After Mass, Fr. Ivan Landeka, Pastor of Humac, read the condolences received from Msgr. Ratko Peric, Bishop of Mostar, Msgr. Dr. Frane Franic, retired Archbishop of Split-Makarska, Fr. Bernardin Skunca, Provincial of the Franciscans of Zadar, Fr. Mirko Kemeves, Provincial of Croatian Capuchins, and from others. Farewell speeches after Mass were given by: Dr. Fr. Slavko Topic, a Professor at the Franciscan Theology in Sarajevo - on behalf of the Franciscan Theology and the Bosnian Franciscan Province; Dr. Fr. Ivan Dugandzic, a Professor at the Faculty of Theology in Zagreb, on behalf of the Association of Croatian Biblicists; Dr. Fr. Tomislav Pervan - on behalf of Fr. Rupcic's students - speaking about the scientific work of the departed and about his spiritual profile; Sr. Janja Boras, Superior of the Convent of the Franciscan sisters in Medjugorje/Miletina, where Fr. Ljudevit has been the chaplain for the last nine years; and Fr. Branko Rados, Pastor of Medjugorje, on behalf of the Parish of Medjugorje and the pilgrims. At the cemetery, above the open tomb, Fr. Branimir Musa, Superior of the monastery of Humac, bid farewell to Fr. Ljudevit.
All those who had the chance to know Fr. Ljudevit and to live next to him, know that they have lost a great and wise teacher, an affectionate man sensitive for the needs of people, and a loyal friend. Since "our hope is full of immortality", we believe that all that he has taught us will be fructified and multiplied in eternity.
ON FOOT FROM ZAGREB TO MEDJUGORJE
Among the numerous faithful who came for the anniversary of the apparitions to Medjugorje on foot were many young people, including two groups of pilgrims from Zagreb. Nikola Horvat and Goran Ivancic, who also gave an interview for Radio "Mir" Medjugorje, offered their twelve-day long walk (about 500 kilometres) for the intentions of Our Lady.
MSGR. GERARD NDLOVU, A RETIRED BISHOP FROM SOUTH AFRICA, IN MEDJUGORJE
Msgr. Gerard Ndlovu, retired bishop of Umzimkulu/South African Republic, was in Medjugorje during the first two weeks of July 2003. He also participated in the international seminar for priests. These are his impressions:
"Some time ago, somebody told me that Our Lady was appearing in Medjugorje on a daily basis and I became curious: I wanted to see the place. I shared my curiosity with a few people. Some were, like myself, open for this, but others thought that it was a joke, that it was impossible. I still wanted to see the place, but I did not know how to make it financial-wise. In Johannesburg, I am involved with quite a number of small Marian groups, and I made my desire known to these groups. One day, I got a phone call. A lady I did not know told me: "We would like you to come with us on a pilgrimage to Medjugorje." I said: "Certainly, I was waiting for such a chance!"
Devotion towards Our Lady and faith in her in some areas are very weak, if not absent. For some people to accept the fact that Our Lady has time to appear on daily basis is impossible. I personally find this a deep challenge to our faith, if we believe that in the universal plan of Salvation, there is nothing sudden; that everything was, is and will always be in the plan of Salvation.
Personally, I have no problems in believing that Our Lady could appear in Medjugorje, even on a daily basis. She could even appear on a permanent basis, taking into consideration that she is always with us, all over. We do not see her, but God could make it possible that she is seen on some places. Therefore, I do believe that she could be seen in Medjugorje on a daily basis.
I find the challenge in Medjugorje absolutely in accordance with the teaching of the Church and with the theological training we have gone through as priests. I find it rather a challenge to put into practice what we have already learned. I want to call Medjugorje "a rumination station". Here, I am challenged to bring up all what I was taught in my heart and in my mind, and question myself concerning my life.
I am deeply impressed by what is going on here in Medjugorje: the spirit of prayer, of dedication that prevails. I have been in the priest's retreat and I was impressed by the brotherhood, the brotherly spirit between priests coming from different countries. There was seriousness in punctuality, in prayer and in alertness. You could see them hungry. Our lecturers were excellent. My advice will be short: "Go there and experience it yourself." That's all!"
THE EIGHT INTERNATIONAL MEETING OF PRIESTS
The 8th International Meeting for Priests took place from June 30th to July 5th, 2003. This seminar gathered 340 priests from 32 countries (speaking a total of 16 languages), from all of the continents. Prof. Dr. Tomislav Ivancic spoke to them on the theme: "Servant of the Eucharist".
During these days, priests were sharing, praying, and celebrating the Eucharist in communion with the people of God. Feeling here at the school of Mary, they went to pray at the places that Our Lady had especially chosen for prayer: the Apparition Hill and Cross Mountain. The last day, they went to pray at the tomb of Fr. Slavko Barbaric, who initiated these Priests Meetings in 1996. The seminal ended with the Te Deum.
From year to year, the number of priests who choose to make their annual retreat in Medjugorje, under the protection of Our Blessed Mother - the Queen of Peace, is growing. The abundance of fruits of this meeting can be seen in the large number of participants and in their moving testimonies at the end of the retreat.
We entrust them into your prayers.
SEMINARS IN "DOMUS PACIS"
In the month of July, there were three "Prayer and Fasting" seminars for pilgrims from Poland, France, and Croatia. Also a group of priests, who participated in the 8th international retreat for priests, were accommodated in "Domus Pacis".
For "Prayer and Fasting" seminars, contact Fr. Ljubo Kurtovic, Zupni ured Medjugorje, Gospin trg 1, 88266 Medjugorje, Bosnia and Herzegovina. (Fax: 00 387 36 651 444)
Published by: INFORMATIVNI CENTAR MIR - Svetiste Kraljice Mira (Information Center MIR - Shrine of the Queen of Peace), 88266 Medjugorje.
Last Modified 07/27/2003