Musicians from Medjugorje in Korea
From May 2 to 18, 2004, a group of musicians from Medjugorje participated in an apostolic journey in South Korea, during which they visited 13 parishes, among which the Bundang St. John’s Church, the biggest parish in Asia (15.000 parishioners). They also had two big encounters at Namjang, the only Korean Marian shrine. They played for his Eminence, Cardinal Su Hwan Stefano Kim. Korean friends of Medjugorje organized this trip, and Dr. Marta Nam, a Korean interpreter living in Rome, accompanied them.
Melinda Dumitrescu (Romania), Ivan Musa (Bosnia and Herzegovina), Johannes (Belguim), Roland Patzleiner and Luigi Basile (Italy, Community of Madre Rosaria), as well as Franco and Alessandro (Sister Elvira’s Community) took part in this trip.
Lidija Paris: Would you be so kind as to tell us how this trip came about and who organized it?
Roland Patzleiner: This trip was organized by Mr. Yanc Gon Pietro Kim who came several times to the Youth Festival. He abandoned his career as a pop singer in order to carry to young people throughout Korea the testimony about Medjugorje through music. Together with Fr. Paulo Pak, a Korean priest, he is organizing prayer meetings in South Korean parishes on regular basis. This time, they invited us from Medjugorje in order to give witness about the change in our lives through prayer. We gave witness through our presence, through prayer, music, Holy Mass and Adoration.
Lidija Paris: What was your experience of being together?
Ivan Musa: We came from different European countries, and we spoke with the Korans with our hands and feet. We spent 17 days together in the same bus, on same places, and we were all brothers and sisters in Christ. Music and prayer made us come closer. The program was similar to what we have during the Youth Festival in Medjugorje. All those who gave witness spoke about Medjugorje with the heart. They were all excellent. We are all more than happy and we thank God.
Lidija Paris: What was your experience of the Korean Church reality in relation to Medjugorje?
Roland Patzleiner: We did not know what we would find in Korea. It was an encounter of two cultures. In the beginning, everything was strange for us. This trip was also a big sacrifice. It was strenuous to be available day after day. From the very beginning, we knew that we have to give witness with our life, that we must be aware of our responsibility in front of the Korean Church. As everywhere, there are two opposite attitudes towards Medjugorje: love or refusal. In the beginning, we felt in every parish a certain reserve, but at the end of the program, priests and parishioners were enthusiastic. Through giving witness and through music, through Holy Mass and Adoration, God was acting. Many priests did not know what we are going to bring, but the reactions of the faithful convinced them.
Melinda Dumitrescu: The Catholic Church in Korea exists for about two centuries now. North Korea is still under the communist power. In South Korea, thank God, there are many faithful, and many come to Medjugorje. The faithful were very enthusiastic about the Medjugorje Program. We wanted to bring to them the simplicity that is radiating from Our Lady’s messages. We were praying and singing, we were giving our witnesses, we spoke about how Medjugorje is influencing our lives, how Our Lady made us enthusiastic for her messages. We also spoke about our life here in Medjugorje. We are all different; we come from different communities and countries, but we were very united, we were really one team, having the same intention: bringing the Spirit of Medjugorje through our presence in Korea, through prayer, sacrifice, music and joy! We offered this trip for Our Lady’s intentions; we carried in our hearts all those who live here in Medjugorje. Our group of young Koreans was all the time with us and took care of the technical part of the mission. We are amazed by their hospitality and kindness. They were at our disposal for every detail. They were praying with us all the time and we have the impression that they were really absorbing the spirit of Medjugorje. The Korans are exceptionally hospitable. They offered to us all that they could. We are happy to see how God works wonders. So many missionaries were evangelizing this nation and we really have to thank them.
Luigi Basile: Fr. Jozo and others already went to Korea. They were preaching there, and many pilgrims from Korea started to come to Medjugorje. Some priests, who never came to Medjugorje, thought that there was something fanatical about it, something strange. As we were playing in Korea, we were noticing that music was bringing first peace, and then joy. Music brought a message that is complementary to preaching and to prayer. In prayer, immerged in Jesus through the Holy Spirit, nobody had any negative remark any more. They have seen that this is a serious prayer, without any fanaticism, prayer that brings joy. Something similar is happening during the Youth Festival and for the New Year’s vigil in Medjugorje. There is a balance. In Korea, people do not express much their feelings, we could say that – compared to us – they are rather cold. In prayer and through music, a warmth came that spread on all the faithful.
Lidija Paris: You had the honor to play for his Eminence Su Hwan Stefano Kim, the only Korean Kardinal.
Melinda Dumitrescu: We visited him on May 8, which in celebrated in Korea as the Day of the Parents. We were playing in his office.
Luigi Basile: Cardinal Su Hwan Stefano Kim made great efforts for peace in Korea. He was deeply touched and he told that he would come to one of our prayer gatherings. He came in one parish on May 13. He gave a wonderful witness in favor of Medjugorje. Newspapers wrote about it. Now, Koran priests and faithful know that their Cardinal is supporting Medjugorje.
Lidija Paris: Roland, Luigi, would you be so kind as to tell us something about the role of music in your community?
Roland Patzleiner: Our community is a fruit of Medjugorje. We are here for about ten years now, although we are not very known. We are a group of lay people that gathered together as a prayer group around an Italian religious sister, Mother Rosaria. Medjugorje changed our lives. Now, we are a religious association of lay people who live a consecrated life. Our only desire is to give witness to the Glory of God. We are amazed when we see what we have been and what we have become thanks to prayer, suffering and sacrifice, personally and as a group… In Medjugorje, as volunteers, we put ourselves at the service of the Parish. We play during the Italian Mass for pilgrims, during the rosary after the evening Mass, and together with other young people during the Adoration. The life of this Parish is our life. Our community program includes the whole prayer program of the Parish and our presence in Medjugorje is linked to the service in this parish, as much as it is needed. If we can be useful, we are available. WE see this as our vocation here and now.
Luigi Basile: We came together through music and through singing. Before coming to Medjugorje, we all had some kind of musical involvement. Now, we play and sing for the Lord. We changed precisely because we met Jesus through music and through prayer, especially through Adoration. We all met Jesus in a certain way in the Mass, but maybe in a more rational way. Adoration and singing involve our feelings in a certain way, they open our heart, so that we really can encounter Jesus and abandon ourselves to Him. Music is a very important instrument in this place where Our Lady is gathering us together form the whole world, in order to lead us with her Heart to the Heart of Jesus. When Church is speaking about the Liturgy, it elevates music as an important instrument that helps us to penetrate the mystery of faith. It exhorts the faithful to involve themselves by studying it also officially, giving to it its right importance and space, so that our earthly liturgy may become an image of the heavenly one. Trying to answer to this call of the Church, we do pray through our music, more than simply playing and singing. This is what we do here in Medjugorje and this is what we did in Korea.
Lidija Paris: And you, Melinda?
Melinda Dumitrescu: I met Mother Rosaria and the Community in 1996 in Medjugorje, when I was playing during Adoration led by Fr. Slavko Barbaric who has been my Spiritual Father and a great supporter of the artists, but also the Spiritual Director of Mother Rosaria and of her Community from the very beginning of its existence. I was very attracted by the idea of sharing prayer life, of playing and singing to the Lord together with other young people, just as we do it now in the Community. In Medjugorje, in the community, I have the possibility and the grace of growing in every sense. I have experienced the special support that Mother Rosaria has given to me as a person, as a child of God and a child of Mary, but also and in a very special way as a musician, an artist, and the violinist of Jesus and of Mary.
Lidija Paris: All the musicians here in Medjugorje are excellent, but your violin, Melinda, is bringing something special. What is it?
Melinda Dumitrescu: When I was born, my mother consecrated me with her whole heart to Our Lady. My parents were musicians, and from the mother’s womb I was growing with music. I think that Our Lady had a plan with me. She has chosen me and she is using me. I made my master’s degree in Germany, at the Music Academy, but for me, music is prayer. I offer my playing to God. My music is the voice of my heart.