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The Celebration of the Eucharist Was the Highlight of the Croatian Catholic Youth Encounter in Bjelovar

Bjelovar (IKA)

The highlight of the Croatian Catholic Youth Encounter in Bjelovar was the celebration of the Mass on Saturday, September 17. The principal celebrant was Bishop Vjekoslav Huzjak of Bjelovar-Križevci.

The concelebrants were numerous bishops, including the Apostolic Nuncio in the Republic of Croatia, Archbishop Giorgio Lingua; the President of the Croatian Conference of Bishops, Archbishop Želimir Puljić; the Archbishop of Zagreb, Cardinal Josip Bozanić, and many priests from the Croatian and Bosnian-Herzegovian dioceses.

At the beginning of the Mass, Bishop Huzjak greeted those assembled, and congratulated Auxiliary Bishop Mijo Gorski of Zagreb on the occasion of his seventieth birthday. He also asked the Apostolic Nuncio to convey greetings to the Holy Father on behalf of the bishops and young people gathered at the Encounter. Then Msgr. Lingua read a message from Pope Francis to the participants in the Croatian Catholic Youth Encounter in Bjelovar. “Rise up and joyfully testify that Christ lives,” wrote the Holy Father, among other things.

At the beginning of the sermon, Msgr. Huzjak spoke about the Gospel reading, noting that the people experienced Jesus as someone who touched their hearts. “Besides words, Jesus also spoke with signs. One of these signs was the miraculous fishing catch, by which Jesus demonstrated that everything is possible for those who believe,” said the Bishop of Bjelovar-Križevci.

Bishop Huzjak emphasized that the Word of Jesus is not merely an ordinary word of comfort but the Word of God, which inspires Simon and the other fishermen to leave everything and follow him.

“My dear young friends, we are also gathered today, crowding around our teacher, Jesus, huddled in the rain, in order to hear his word,” said Bishop Huzjak. He also said that Jesus frees us from the fear that holds us back and offers us the power of faith that helps us deal with all our fears.

He further noted that true faith encourages humility and courage, citing the examples of the coaches of the Croatian soccer and water polo national teams, who always emphasize humility in victory. Bishop Huzjak also touched upon the topic of the family and said that most attacks today are being directed against the family, the kind of family that God envisioned. “Is Europe closing itself to life because it is closing itself to God?” he asked.

“Dear young people, today as we look up at the sky, we see that the rain we wanted all summer long is falling. I am also looking at you and believe that you are the saving rain that soaks the earth and makes it fertile,” said the Bishop of Bjelovar-Križeveci.

Bishop Huzjak told them not to be afraid to embark upon the adventure of creating a family or, if God calls, to enter the priesthood or a religious order, and thus create a new climate in society.

“Do not be afraid. Lift up your hearts!” concluded Msgr. Huzjak. Following the post-communion prayer, Bishop Huzjak thanked everyone present, especially those who had participated in the organization of this year’s Croatian Catholic Youth Encounter. “Dear young people, the Diocese of Bjelovar-Križevevci and the city of Bjelovar will remember your smiling, happy albeit slightly frozen faces.” Then the hosts presented gifts to the bishops, beginning with the local bishop, Msgr. Huzjak.

Msgr. Želimir Puljić also addressed those present. He praised and thanked the young people who had come from all parts of Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, and other countries. He recalled the beginnings of the Croatian Catholic Youth Encounter and told the young people that even today they have shown that they are a “true miracle.”

Then the President of the Committee for Young People of the Croatian Conference of Bishops, Bishop Tomislav Rogić of Šibenik, thanked the young people who had “become soaked with rain for the Lord.” He told them to be with Christ always to let their hearts always be with Him and He in them. Then he announced that the host of the next Croatian Catholic Youth Encounter will be the Diocese of Gospić-Senj, and invited its representatives to receive the cross of the Encounter.

In conclusion, the celebrant invoked God’s blessing on everyone, after which the Croatian national anthem was sung. The Mass was enhanced by the Youth Choir of the Diocese of Bjelovar-Križevci, accompanied by an orchestra of brass, string and percussion instruments.