This year’s festival saw the participation of young people from sixty countries; 310 priests co-celebrated the first Mass and 440 of them co-celebrated the last one. How can we count the number of people present? Some estimates speak of twenty thousand communions distributed at each Mass, but there were certainly many, many more people than this present.
These numbers say nothing in the end. What counts are the miracles that came about in the hearts of each of them, the vocations that bloomed, and all those small yet crucial “YESES” that matured within the souls of young people during those moments of special silence, when the crowd around you disappears and you find yourself alone before the divine, with your young life finally gathered entirely in your hands; and before you, Love, the true God, your God, the Father who gives himself fully and asks you for everything.
And so this year let’s hear what these young people have to say. We interviewed some young men and women of different ages, with different experiences and backgrounds, in order to be able to build a true image of what invisibly came about within souls over this stupendous five-day period, which some describe as a period of enormous confusion or empty elation, but that in reality remain days of extraordinary grace.
It is difficult to find the words to describe the youth festival here in Medjugorje. I come here for one simple reason: it helps me to grow on a spiritual level. This place has taught me what love is, what goodness is and it helps me to experience them at home. Each time I come here it is as though someone inspired me to carry out a mission that I then feel as though I must fulfil during the year. I am also given the strength to fulfil it. There are things that I would never have dreamed of being able to do: forgiving, receiving the malice of others with a sense of peace in my heart….This place has changed my life. I became like a sponge that absorbs many good things in Medjugorje.
I’m in Medjugorje for the thirteenth time. I come here because this place is like the fuel that you put into the car of your faith…only that this car has petrol and it goes and we can be happy! Everyone needs joy in order to be able to live, and I have experienced that when we announce the word of Christ we are constantly joyous.
The festival is a fantastic event and I wish it could last longer; it is phenomenal to see thousands of people seeking God and finding Him, they never stop looking for Him and seeking Him out all the more.
I came here to give thanks to Mary for all the gifts I received and also to ask for the strength to continue to experience faith. I pray for my family, so that they too, currently nonbelievers, might welcome God into their lives. During these days I feel as though I am nearer to God and to Mary; here I have the possibility of withdrawing into silence and consecrating my time to the Lord. Only in Medjugorje I understood what prayer is and how important it is in my life. The youth festival is a special moment because we can feel happy within the depths of ourselves, because we can “be fulfilled in joy” so to speak. When I see so many young people I feel strengthened in faith because I understand that I am not alone.
For me Medjugorje is a special place because Mary is present here. Every year I say to myself that I don’t want to go back, but then my Mother calls me and each time she prepares something special for me. In a few weeks time I’m going to enter a convent of premonstratensian monks, and it was in Medjugorje that my vocation matured: something special happened that attracted me to the Eucharist, strengthening my faith in this sacrament.
I came to Medjugorje for the first time because I wanted to experience God and to be new. I want to come back next year too because I felt God here in my heart and my heart was filled!
I never in my life saw people singing, dancing and smiling like this…when I go back to Poland I want to speak to my friends about Medjugorje.
I was also on Krizevac at five in the morning, when I got to the foot of the cross I started crying because I felt so happy, so full, so grateful to God…I cannot describe it, but I think that that was the most signifi cant moment of this experience.
Here I understood how important it is to knowingly choose joy…I decided that from today onwards I will dedicate more time to prayer. The people you meet here are so beautiful because they are constantly smiling.
Here you breathe in peace, you feel an air that is brimming with spirituality. The festival only lasts a few days but the Virgin changes you on the inside in an inexplicable way. Here many “coincidences” occur to many people: it is the Virgin who manages all of this, there is no other explanation for it!
For me faith is something important, here in Medjugorje I feel that God and Our Lady love me, they are present. At the moment I still haven’t fully understood what this meeting means for me, as is often the case, I think that later on I will come to a deeper understanding of what I experienced during these days.
This is the fourth time I’ve come here, the first time I came here I was 8 years old. I really love the youth festival, despite the heat; I particularly appreciate the testimonies, because they talk about real life and they are a form of help for each one of us who find it difficult to return to daily life after this experience.
I came here with a special question in my heart regarding my life and I hope that I have been given an answer…and so I occasionally withdraw to reflect and pray. When I return home I want to be more diligent in prayer and I also want to start fasting, because up to now fasting hasn’t been easy for me.
This is a wonderful experience, here faith is alive and you can feel Mary’s presence! What happened during these days is truly a miracle: many young people from several countries who experience the beauty of the faith that makes us all brothers, all sons of one Father and one Mother, Mary!
The testimonies help us to see how Jesus can act in everyone’s life, but in particular, I experienced the Mass like never before, you can see and feel a living Church that loves and that goes forward, that goes in the same direction, towards Christ.
What I will take away from Medjugorje with me is the presence of Mary who accompanies me and helps me to grow and to transmit my faith.
This is the fourth time that I’ve come to Medjugorje. When leaving here I always carry a great feeling of peace with me. I hope that this peace might remain in me, in such a way as to allow me to see all the problems that I’ve had and that I will have in the future in a different light…
It’s fantastic to see so many young people coming together from different parts of the world! Among the numerous priests that are here there are also several young ones. Here everyone has the possibility of refl ecting on their own vocation.
It is beautiful to be able to smile freely at everyone. From today onwards I’ll make the effort to really improve my life, I’ll try to have more respect for everyone, to be more present for my family and also to consume less alcohol. Among the most beautiful things that I’ll remember about this experience there is the adoration and the Mass, but also the Family into which I was welcomed: they were so kind…in their simplicity they gave me so much!
I came here because each time I feel greatly touched upon seeing young people together and upon feeling this communion. The most beautiful thing here is meeting other people. For the moment I’m studying theology and working for a Catholic newspaper, in the future I’d like to work as a journalist.
The festival is simply wonderful, there’s an indescribable atmosphere here! You experience so many moving moments here, and there are many things that urge you to reflect. There is an incredible sense of peace, which words cannot describe!
I’m sure that I’ll take away many things from here with me, and I also want to share them with my friends, specially this atmosphere, this love, and this sense of security…
I came here to accompany my group of pilgrims and I’ve had a wonderful experience. This is a marvellous and holy place! I feel that from today I’ll love Mary much more than I did in the past!
I actually didn’t want to come here, but then my friends insisted…Mary is wonderful! Our Lady has done many things for me and for my family.
To see all these young people is extraordinary and exciting, it has transformed my life. I believe that each one of us experiences particularly black periods in our faith and in our relationship with God…Coming here I feel as though my faith is growing. In Medjugorje I tried to pray the rosary and I discovered it’s immense value…Yes, from now on I’ll recite it every day, I’m so happy to have discovered it!
I came to know about Medjugorje through a friend, I already knew what had happened and I felt that all the people who came here came back changed and said that only coming here in person you can understand what Medjugorje is.
Everything that I had heard about this place has been confirmed fully and even exceeded; here nothing is tiring, not even spending four hours praying is tiring, you breathe in a sense of joy. For we young people who often complain about the superficiality of people our age, here we can find all the answers and a sense of encouragement that exceeds all expectations. I hope that this type of church might come about in my country, with strong consecrated people who truly live for God.
Here I received my call to consecrated life, during a youth festival that took place many years ago. For me this event is a very important occasion for grace. Being among many people my age brings about an indescribable sense of gratitude within me towards God, along with the desire to offer up my whole life so that God might act within other young people as he did in me. When I said my yes within my heart, when I agreed to be entirely His for my whole life, I experienced his infinite love like never before, my heart was filled with a sense of joy that I had never ever experienced before.
The programme was more or less the same as it always is, with testimonies during the day, then a crescendo of grace with the rosary and the customary pause in silence at six forty p.m. – the moment of the apparition of Mary – then mass and adoration of the Eucharist.
At dawn on the sixth of August each year, mass is celebrated on the summit of Krizevac meaning that the festival doesn’t end with us all going to bed happy and satisfied in the evening, but rather, coming down from the mountain at dawn with Jesus in our hearts, ready to leave and to bring him to all the countries throughout the world.
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