Our Lady, Queen of Croatians, pray for us - Twenty-fifth Anniversary of the Opening of Our Lady, Queen of Croatians Church

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Home > Archbishop > Homilies > Our Lady, Queen of Croatians, pray for us - Twenty-fifth Anniversary of the Opening of Our Lady, Queen of Croatians Church

I have been reading a book given to me by Fr Hunski. Has anyone else ever been given a book by Fr Hunski?

The book is entitled ‘My Heart will Triumph’. It is a first-hand account by Mirjana Soldo of her experience of the apparitions of the Blessed Virgin Mary to the children at Medjugorje from 1981.

I was able to visit Medjugorje in 1984 and was invited into the sacristy of St James Church during the time of an apparition to the visionaries. It was a very important spiritual moment for me and had a profound effect upon me.

As I read the story of Mirjana, a few things stood out for me.
Firstly, it was the deep faith of the Croatian Catholics. Today I salute you, the Croatian community here in Tasmania, for the strength of your faith. You are an inspiration and encouragement to me as Archbishop.

The second thing that stood out was the great suffering endured by the people during the time of Communism. Reading what Mirjana and her family had to endure for a number of years was most humbling for me. As a young woman she was put through great tests, and she endured to the end.

The other impression that her story gave to me was the serene and constant love of the Blessed Virgin towards, not only the visionaries, but to everyone in the world. Her motherly heart was burdened by the lives of so many who do not recognise God. She called the visionaries into a complete dedication to God. The visionaries experienced the spiritual world in a way that absolutely engaged them. It was beautiful and moving to read of Mirjana’s longing to simply see the Virgin Mary.

The Virgin was a true mother and helped them through their troubles. The visionaries came to trust completely in the Virgin Mary, and they readily endured what was necessary. The words of the Lord come back to me “He who endures to the end will be saved.” (Mt 24:13)

Mirjana, who had never heard of Fatima, came to learn that what she was experiencing had been experienced by others. The apparitions of 1917 in Fatima were similar to those in 1981. From either side of Europe, the Virgin appeared to children and entrusted them with messages for the people of their time. Portugal at the time was strongly atheistic while Croatia was under a harsh expression of Communism. Both countries had strong Catholic tradition, but the Church in both countries was under attack.

In the midst of difficult times for Christians, the Virgin appeared. She brought hope in the midst of darkness. The people rallied in large numbers. Faith was ignited. People knew that God had not abandoned them. They were drawn to fervent prayer, to fasting and to living a more devout Catholic life. There were many, many conversions. Many people returned to the practice of the faith.

There was much spiritual fruit from each of these apparitions, clearly a sign of their authenticity.

Today we celebrate the 25th anniversary of this church which is dedicated to the Blessed Virgin Mary. On eighth of December 1992, on the feast of the Immaculate Conception, this Church was consecrated under the title of Our Lady Queen of Croatians and Queen of Peace by the Archbishop of Split.

It is fitting today to recall the dedication and determination of the Croatian community led by Fr Hunski to build this church. Fr Hunski not only inspired the work, but did much of the labour in building the tower in particular. It is a legacy to the faith and community spirit of the Croatian people in Tasmania.

The Virgin Mary in Fatima and in Medjugorje urged the visionaries to deepen their life of prayer. She calls on us to make prayer a strong feature of our lives. The prayer our Lady encouraged was prayer of intercession for the world. There is a spiritual struggle for the salvation of humanity. There are powerful spiritual forces at work in the world and they cannot be defeated but by prayer. St Paul reminds us: “For it is not against human enemies that we have to struggle, but against the Sovereignties and the Powers who originate the darkness in this world.” (Eph 6:12) Let us never doubt the importance and the effectiveness of prayers. Let us resolve to make prayer a feature of our lives. Prayer can stem the advance of the powers of darkness.

The Virgin Mary is a powerful intercessor, capable of turning the tide of history, as was witnessed in the messages at Fatima and in Medjugorje. Sacred Scripture testifies that, from the very beginning, the ‘woman’ will be at enmity with the serpent (Gen 3:15). We need to seek her intercession in the spiritual struggle for the souls of men and women.

On the cross, Jesus said, “Woman, behold your son!” With these words, He asked his mother to take humanity into her heart, her immaculate heart, her maternal heart. Today on this anniversary let us be reminded of these important spiritual truths. Let us all firstly embrace the offer of Jesus from the cross and accept the Virgin Mary as our mother and mother of the Church. Then, let us constantly seek her motherly intercession for our needs and the needs of the whole world.

Our Lady Queen of Croatians and Queen of Peace, pray for us.

Archbishop Julian Porteous
Friday, 15 December 2017