Bishops in Medjugorje and About Medjugorje until 2001
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Bishops in Medjugorje and About Medjugorje, part X
The Diamond Anniversary of the Retired Archbishop of Split, Mons. Frane Franic
During the month of December 1996, the retired Archbishop of Split Mons. Frane Franic had his "diamond mass", celebrating 60 years in the priesthood. In the Con-Cathedral in Split, amongst the crowds of the faithful were the Croatian Papal-nunciate Giulio Einaudi, Cardinal Franjo Kuharic, Mons. Ante Juric, (the present Archbishop of Split) a representative of the President of the Croatian Republic and many Croatian bishops priests and nuns.
Some distinguished guests both from ecclesial and social spheres commented about the life and works of this brave witness to the faith during the most vicious communist persecutions. Dr. Jure Radic, Vice-president of the Croatian government (and deputy of the President), don Dante, an Italian priest and Dr. fr. Ljudevit Rupcic proclaimed Mons. Franic to be..." a courageous witness, who recognised the events of Medjugorje as the hand of God and pledged himself for it. His bravery was the reason for many attacks against him ,but Mons Franic, like in so many other similar situations followed the voice of his conscience"....
The bravery of his testimony helped many to accept the events of Medjugorje which opened up a path of conversion and peace for them.
Archbishop Franic himself, thanking everyone for everything, used the event to testify to his belief in Medjugorje's Queen of Peace. Those present, delighted at his words readily applauded him. Here we quote some of his talk..."Every priest should pray three hours a day, and every bishop four. Every retired bishop should pray five hours a day. I personally learnt how to pray at Medjugorje, with the Queen of Peace...I thank God that I was personally able to observe the development of this mystical theology and mystical phenomenon so closely. I recognise and accept the truth of Marys message at Medjugorje."
The visit of the Bishop from Uganda
More and more often in Medjugorje we meet up with bishops, who come to this shrine as pilgrims. Recently, John Baptist Odama, director of the youngest diocese in Uganda, and himself, a bishop only a couple of months, stayed a week at the Marian shrine.This is what he had to say during his stay:
The first time I heard about the happenings here was in 1990. At the time I was in California in America. A friend of mine spoke to me about Medjugorje, showed me some books, pictures and a film.. The whole family were enthralled with Medjugorje. Then recently I received a letter from the Cardinal of Kampale who had paid a visit to Medjugorje. He offered me the possibility of going on pilgrimmage to Medjugorje in October promising that some one else would see to the costs. Now I know who that was: Joe Roy, the pilot, who was the first to bring the news to Uganda about Medjugorje, and has already helped to bring numerous bishops and even more priests. I immediately replied that I wished to go. After this I prepared myself for my coming here. I read different books and saw another film about Medjugorje in the family home of Joe Roy in London. On my arrival at Medjugorje, the first thing that surprised me was the welcome of the people with whom we stayed. I'm glad that it wasn't a big impersonal hotel. In families it is different. It is possible to meet people, to speak with them, to pray, to eat, in this way you receive the true spirit of Medjugorje. Furthermore, the fact that all the pilgrims whom I met here, are particularly aware of the magnanimity of whats happening here, really impressed me.The people are really attentive and are prepared to be continually so. Everyone is open to that something big which truly is offered here.. I saw great interest for spiritual matters. I see deep devotion to the Holy Mass and at the time of Mass.
When we started out for Krizevac it started to rain and afterwards to hail. At one point I thought it was better to return, because it seemed pointles to go on. However, something urged me onwards. I thought that Iwouldn't be able to get to the top, I felt a heaviness, because I hadn't gone anywhere on foot for so long. We didn't want to turn back, and to go on was so hard. At one moment I prayed for strength, so that I wouldn't give up. I have to admit that when, completely wet, we arrived beneath the cross on Krizevac, all at once every heaviness and tiredness left me. I felt as light as a bird. This experience was very important for me. This is how it is in life too. Often we feel that we can't go on, that it's too difficult, but when we succumb to the will of God, everything goes well.
The rosary on Podbrdo also impressed me deeply. It's as if that multitude of people, who prayed with us inspired me with good thoughts. The people to be lead. If the priest prays, the people will pray. It was very beautiful when, after having prayed the joyful, sorrowful and glorious mysteries, everyone knelt at the apparition site and once again prayed the creed, 7 Our Fathers, Hail Mary's and Glory Be's. I felt united to the whole Church, who prays with Mary and goes on living as Mary did.
I think that here the people really responded. In whatever direction you turn, you see individuals and groups, praying, reading Scripture, and Meditating. Here it's so natural to pray, so much so, that those who don't pray look strange. Really, in other places, it's the opposite. I want to use this opportunity to thank the Croatian people in a special way, who with their response, help all of us who come here. With pride, I must say that I always pray for the Croation people and I have often urged my followers to pray for the same intention. From now on I will do it even moreso.
And, to conclude I wish to say that the first thing that I will say to Bishops is that Medjugorje isn't contrary to what the Lord teaches, and what he wants of us. I will tell them not to be afraid to come here. As regards the apparitions, they are a gift from God. I was present at Maria, the visionary's, apparition. We prayed a rosary together. All at once a silence began. I believe that Our Lady came then. I didn't see anything, but I felt Our Lady's presence and through her God's presence. Mary is just a means. Through Our Lady, God calls us to Himself. That is her mission because she gave birth to Christ. That which I saw, has to be true. It would be good if every bishop could come and experience what Mary is doing here. Also, I will tell all bishops that I've just realised what we have to do, and most importantly, we must pray. From my heart I truly prayed that God makes me and my priests capable of spreading His Word to all humanity.
The visit of the English Bishop
The English Bishop of the city of Liverpool, Mons. Augustine Harris stayed for two weeks in Medjugorje. He was the spiritual director to two different groups of pilgrims. He tirelessly assisted at confessions and masses.
We present here, his own words before leaving Medjugorje. "Of myself I wish to say the following: When I was born in 1917 there was a war, and when in 1942 I was ordained to the priesthood there was a war then also. Now I am in Medjugorje,and much is being said about the peace after the terrible war in your homeland. It seems to me though, that we are treating the subject of peace far too superficially. If we desire real peace, we need something deeper. That which Our Lady wishes to say is: Don't make the same mistake again, speak about peace, and not go deeper into the soul and the heart, where true peace is made. Here, Mary is teaching us true peace. I heard about Medjugorje from different written articles and from freinds. When in Medjugorje, we pray a lot but we must be careful that this prayer seeps into our hearts and changes us. My freinds were going to Medjugorje and this time I went with them. I came privately. Freinds of mine organised the pilgrimmage and asked me to direct it. I accepted. It's very obvious to me that we must constantly speak of the depths of prayer: to meditate and live what we speak about. However, that which is important here is confession. People are really ready to meet themselves face to face here. They are ready for repentance and penance and I believe that this is the important experience of Medjugorje: to renew ourselves and to convert. But we must constantly remind each other that this is the start of the process and not the end. We must leave here with a solid decision to pray at home,individually, in families and as prayer groups.
In answer to the question:"Does the fact that the local bishop doesn't accept the apparitions disturb you?" Mons. Harris said, "I do not wish to judge the local bishop. What I wish to say is ; when someone comes here and wishes to pray, to confess, the change their lives, you cannot say :no! So many people are confused, so many live in fear, they do not know what to do. I would say that it is good to come to Medjugorje. Here you clear your conscience, and conquer confusion. I see this in so many people here. As for the appparitions, maybe there are, maybe there arn't. Personally, I have no reason not to believe in the apparitions. I met with one of them and I can say that she is a good person. I cannot believe that for years she has been lying. And if people ask me, can I go to Medjugorje, my answer will be: If you wish to clear your conscience, and if you are confused, go.
On the feast day of the Exaltation of the Cross I saw over 50 franciscan priests hearing confessions. This was really wonderful. Immediatly after the mass that day which I celebrated in the church of Medjugorje, a pilgrim stopped me and wished to confess. Was I supposed to say no?!
Serve the people, teach them to pray, be ready to hear confessions. And everything else will be okay!"
The Bishop from Vienna in Medjugorje
During his recent visit to the Austrian soldiers in Bosnia Hercegovina, the military bishop, Chris Werner from Vienna, came to Medjugorje. Mons. Werner afterwards told of his impressions about Medjugorje to an Austrian newspaper journalist:
"It was an exceptionally peaceful day when I visited Medjugorje. Thanks to this, my meetings with the small groups were more intensive. It was interesting that the soldiers who were with me,( there were about fifty) didn't buy postcards, but rosaries. In Medjugorje I felt a silence. We sat near the Church which overlooks the square, and we simply remained in the silence and peace. Although unfortunately, we only stayed a few hours, we felt that this place radiated something really special. Both for myself and for the soldiers, it was something truly majestic. After the prayer, we went to a little restaurant where we met with some singularly open-hearted people. They spoke different languages and immediately were able to help us. I told my soldiers about the many conversions that took place in this place. One can have different ideas as to whether there are or arn't apparitions here. The fact that thousands come here and confess and then climb the hills and pray, this is very important. But there's something else- very many young people come here. I have seen the franciscans how they are constantly passing by with some group of young people. That which we saw gives some little idea about what happens here on some of the big feast days. This is definitely a place of grace and of life..."
"Oase des Friedens", Vienna, July 1996.
Visit of a Bishop from Uruguay, July 1996
At the beginning of July, an active bishop from Uruguay, Msgr. Raul Scarone, visited Medjugorje. In the course of his two day stay in Medjugorje he participated in several masses of various language groups and in the Croatian language evening eucharistic celebration at which he gave a blessing to the faithful present. Here is what he said on that occasion:
"This is my first visit to Medjugorje. It is a grace for me to stay here two days. Providence brought me here. I am satisfied and I did not know that it has this kind of great dimension. The apparitions in Medjugorje are known of throughout the whole world. Popular devotion must be purified. It is a question really of religious motivation. That holds true for each one of us. In order for us to go firmly on the way of holiness, we need purification of motivation. When I think of myself, before my own personal confession, I always ask myself,"Am I a bishop in order that I might serve the church or only so that I might have authority?"
You in this parish have a great gift that is called Mary. She can always help us in evangelisation for the reason that she always leads us towards Jesus. She opens the doors of hearts and the doors of homes. I have seen that also in my own people which is so secularised and has so many sects. Where Mary is, there the heart is open. Accordingly, that which has to be done is evangelise with Our Lady's help."