From August 1 to 6 took place in Medjugorje the 18th International Youth Prayer Meeting under the title, “Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another” (Jn 13:34).
A day or two before the beginning, a multitude of youngsters was coming to Medjugorje. Many wanted to climb the Apparition Hill and Cross Mountain and pray there before the beginning of the Festival.
Wednesday, August 1st
The Meeting began at 6 PM with the prayer of the Rosary. After the Rosary, young people from different countries welcomed their compatriots to Medjugorje in their own languages. Holy Mass of the beginning of the festival was celebrated by Fr. Ivan Sesar, the Franciscan Provincial of Herzegovina, in concelebration with Fr. Branko Radoš, former Pastor of Merdjugorje and Fr. Ivan Dugandžić who also worked in Medjugorje, and 310 priests. From 10 to 11 PM was Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament led by Fr. Bože Milić. After the Adoration, boys from the Community of the Merciful Father together with the children from Mother’s Village performed a musical and scenic show on the theme of human dramas provoked by drugs. Their performance was introduced by Fr. Svetozar Kraljevć, responsible for Mother’s Village and the Community of the Merciful Father. He reminded the youth that Fr. Slavko Barbarić - who initiated these Youth Meetings in Medjugorje – was also the founder of Mother’s Village and the Community of the Merciful Father.
Thursday, August 2nd
The program of the day began at 9 AM with Morning Prayer led by youth of the Parish Medjugorje. The visionary Marija Pavlović-Lunetti gave then her witness. Marija has daily apparitions and it is through her that Our Lady is giving her monthly message to the parish and to the world. Members of a musical band „Cardiac Move“ from Austria played then two songs from thweir abundant repertoire and gave their witness. On the first day of the Festival, Ivica Ursić, also spoke. He is a marketing specialist from Split, but also a journalist for religious themes on Radio Split. The main lecture of the first day was given by Mons. Domenico Sigallini, Bishop of Palestrina near Rome. With his catechesis, he introduced the theme of this year0s festival: “Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another” (Jn 13:34). He invited the youth to the meeting with the Holy Father on September 2, in Loretto. In the afternoon, Fr. Francesco from Italy prayed with the youth the Rosary of Mercy, and Andras Csokai, a doctor in neurosurgery from Budapest (Hungary) spoke how faith and prayer are influencing his professional life.
The evening Mass was presided by Fr. Drago Vujević (after his return from missions in Africa) and concelebrated by 430 priests. The day ended with Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament led by Fr. Ljubo Kurtović. The Blessed sacrament was then exposed in the church for whole night Adoration.
Friday, August 3rd
After the Morning Prayer, the visionary Mirjana Dragićević-Soldo gave her witness, and then Jeanine, a young Canadian who lives in London-Soho in „St. Patrick's Evangelisation School“. The main lecture was given by Fr. Augustin from India. He spoke about the four basic human emotions, which represent the four basic areas in which human heart can be wounded, and how Jesus is healing us. The morning program was concluded by a testimony given by M. Lac, a busnisseman from Vietnam who was converted 2 years ago in Medjugorje, and leads now in Vietnam a prayer group with more then 4.000 members. Bernd Posselt from Bavaria (Germany) spoke in the afternoon. He is a depute in the European Parliament. He invited young people to be active in the political life, because Europe shall be as much Christian as its citizens. The afternoon program was concluded by the witness given by the visionary Ivan Dragićević.
The evening Mass was presided by Fr. Mario Knezović and concelebrated by the Herzegovinian Franciscan Provincial Fr. Ivan Sesar and the former provincial Fr. Slavko Soldo, and 450 priests. After Mass, there was a two-hours procession through the parish. Young people from all over the world, carrying torches, flags and names of their countries, walked through the parish praying the Rosary and singing. The procession ended with the Eucharistic Blessing at the outside alter.
Saturday, August 4th
On Saturday, young people from several differentz communities gave their witness. Nuovi Orizzonti is a community that was founded in Italy by Chiara Amirante, in order to bring light to young people who live in darkness. This community has now its houses all over the world. Sister Elvira, foundress of the Cenaclo Community, also spoke. In this community, young people find a new life after a dramatic experience with drugs. Young members of Cenacolo, which also has houses all over the world, also gave their witnesses. Young people from Italy presented their School of Evangelization „Sentinelle dell’mattino di Pasqua“. This school proceeds from „Jeunesse Lumiere“ that as founded in France by Fr. Daniel-Ange. Marino Restretto born in Colombia also spoke. He studied music and theatre in Hamburg and the lived and worked in California. He abandoned his faith as a young man. When, at the age of 47, he was kidnapped by the guerillas and taken to the jungle, he had a mystical experience of Jesus and came back to God. He became a lay missionary and is crossing the world and awakening the sleeping faith of the Christians.
The evening Mass was presided by r. Miro Šego, a Franciscan born in Medjugorje. 410 priests were concelebrating. In the evening, the Cenacolo Community performed a show, “Do not be afraid”, in front of several dozens of thousands of people.
Sunday, August 5th
On Sunday during them morning, Holy Masses were celebrated in different languages in all available sacral places. In the afternoon, Jakov Čolo, one of the Medjugorje visionaries, gave his witness.
The evening Mass was presided by the former Medjugorje Pastor Fr. Branko Radoš, and concelebrated by Fr. Ivan Sesar and Fr. Miro Šego, and 295 priests. After Mass, there was Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, and then a singing farewell, after which young people started to climb Cross Mountain where Holy Mass of the Transfiguration of the Lord was celebrated at dawn.
Some statistics from the Youth Festival
Argentina, Austria, Belgium, Brazil, Costa Rica, Czech republic, Denmark, Egypt, England, France, La Guadeloupe (Caribbean sea, French Antilles), La Martinique (Caribbean sea, French Antilles),, La Reunion (a French department in the Indian Ocean), Tahiti (French Polynesia), Honduras, India, Ireland, Italy, Canada, Cameroon, China, Hong Kong, Macao, Colombia, Congo, Korea, Leetonia, Lithuania, Lebanon, Luxemburg, Hungary, Macedonia, Malaysia, Malta, Mexico, Netherlands, Aruba (Dutch Antilles), Curaçao (Dutch Antilles), New Zeeland, Germany, Norway, Ivory Coast, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Russia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Serbia, Sri Lanka, Scotland, Spain, Switzerland, Ukraine, USA, Vietnam, Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina.
Every evening, Rosary and prayer of the faithful was prayed in all together 24 different languages: Croatian, English, French, German, Italian, Spanish, Polish, Czech, Slovak, Russian, Hungarian, Romanian, Korean, Arabic, Chinese, Slovene, Serbian, Dutch, Ukrainian, Latvian, Lithuanian, Hebrew, Aramaic, Maltese.
23 interpreters were simultaneously translating from the Croatian into 15 languages (English, French, German, Italian, Spanish, Polish, Czech, Slovak, Russian, Hungarian, Romanian, Korean, Arabic, Chinese, Slovene)
Two Bishops were present (Mons Sigallini, Diocese Palestrina, Italy, and Mons. László Bíró, Auxiliary Bishop of the diocese Kalocsa-Kecskemét in Hungary
The Festival was transmitted live by Radio Mir Medjugorje and Radio Maria (in german translation, for Austria and South Tyrol).
About 100 young epole from about 20 countries formed the International choir and orchestra, which was accompanying the Festival with music and singing
During the whole Festival, from early in the morning to late at night, hundreds of priests were available for Holy Confessions
And at the end, one question: how is it possible that the media reported so scarcely about this event which can undoubtedly be considered as the most international and largest gathering (not only of young people) in this part of the world?