Medjugorje: Youth festival concludes with appeal to transfer faith

Medjugorje: Youth festival concludes with appeal to transfer faith

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Many reports of serious changes in life during the six-day “Mladyfest” – the first participation of the local bishop in Mostar and the announcement of a change.

Medjugorje (kath.net/ KAP)


The 33rd International Youth Festival (“Mladifest”) in Medjugorje concluded with a large broadcast service on Friday evening and a mountain mass on Saturday morning. Aldo Cavalli, a papal visitor to the Bosnian Marian pilgrimage center, compared the imminent homecoming of some 50,000 young people from 70 countries – including more than 1,000 from Austria – to the moment the apostles were sent out in the Gospel reports. “Go to all the countries of the world and tell what you have seen and heard here in Medjugorje,” said the Italian archbishop.


The youth festival that started on Monday evening was based on the words of Jesus, “Learn from me and you will find peace”. The highlight was a large choir and orchestra with members from 20 countries, as well as an elaborate spiritual evening program framed by morning catechisms and testimonies of faith. Among others, Massimo Fusarelli, Minister General of the Worldwide Franciscan Order, spoke. The superior said that the Christian faith is a living encounter and a life-changing one. He thanked the gathered young people for their “witnesses of faith and prayer”.



A turning point in life with God


The Mladí Festival provided many examples of such changes in life through young people’s reports of faces resulting from faith experiences. Among them, for example, the testimony of an Israeli singer who survived depression or an Italian man who reconciled with his wife after a four-year divorce. A former radio journalist from Croatia tells how she found faith through fellow believers and found her vocation as a nun.

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Members of the “Senacolo” community, which helps ex-slaves find a new life through work, community experience, and belief system, spoke of particularly radical changes in life, whereby the victims’ families are involved and undergo change. There was the premiere of the film “The Celebration is for You” – a drama documentary professionally presented by members of the Senakolo branch in Medjugorje, which combined historical scenes from the life of Jesus with reports from the lives of Senakolo members. The initial spark was a meeting with Pope Francis in Rome in 2021.


In her testimony, Croatian psychotherapist Angika Bakovic stated that a believer must “fight” for peace. Today, authentically following Jesus Christ is sometimes not accepted in society. “If you want to please people, it’s unrealistic to expect inner peace,” she said. She told the youth “not to be passive observers of your own life, not to wait for satisfaction and happiness to come by itself. Happiness is the result of my lifestyle, how I live, what I do and what I believe”. For Buckovich.


Encouragement of voluntary service


Of the group of “visionaries” of Marian apparitions reported from Medjugorje, only Jakov Kolo was present at the youth festival. The 51-year-old spoke about his experiences in the parish aid organization “Hands of Mary” (Marijin Rook) that he led. With the help of 60 volunteers, the organization currently helps 700 needy families in Herzegovina to clean and build houses, providing everything from food parcels to doctor’s visits; She also runs a rustic kitchen in the town of Lubuski near Medjugorje. Being a Christian should always be felt in concrete actions, stressed Collo who encouraged the youth to volunteer.


Also present was Magnus McFarlane-Barrow, Head of International School Feeding Program “Mary’s Meals”. He described his aid organization, founded 20 years ago, as the “fruit of Medjugorje,” which ensures daily warm school meals for some 2.3 million children in particularly hungry countries. He sees a connection between hunger and armed conflict because “where there is Mary’s food, there is more peace,” the social pioneer explained of his experiences in Kenya. Country coordinator Amina Swedi, who works there, explained the importance of eating for school attendance: “If children come and don’t see smoke coming from the chimney of the school kitchen, they turn away.”

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Parish before the change


The local pastor of Medjugorje, Marinko Sakota, who led through the entire youth festival, summarized the life testimonies heard during the week as examples of “changes in God’s plans” in his speech at the closing service. God’s encounters with people are unexpected and paradoxical, from which something new is always possible when “meeting an open heart.” To advance in the spiritual life, God offers man, above all, prayer, communion, confession, fasting, and holy scriptures. Those who find these “pearls” and “medicines” for themselves – in which Medjugorje offers help to many people – experience inner peace and happiness even in difficult life situations.


The premiere of the meeting was the participation of Peter Palik, the responsible Ordinary Bishop of Mostar, who will continue in office from autumn 2020. He and the papal visitor to Medjugorje, Archbishop Aldo Cavelli, thanked Father Zakota, who will hand over the leadership of the parish to his successor Father Zvonimir Pavic in early September, for his commitment after twelve years. In addition to Archbishop Cavali and Bishop Palic, the President of the Spanish Bishops’ Conference, Cardinal Juan Jose Omella, bishops from Italy, Ireland, France, Ukraine, Albania, Poland and Paraguay also participated in the youth festival. 564 priests led the evening Mass.



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Readers’ comments

Smaragdos 5 hours ago

What a healing for Medjugorje, now for the first time – after 32 years! -, the local bishop attended the youth festival! Medjugorje is finally being taken seriously by the universal and local Church.


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