Huge Medjugorje Catholic Youth Festival Opens with Tens of Thousands of Young People from 70 Countries - Pope Francis Sends a Special Message for Peace - FULL TEXT

The 33rd international youth festival "Mladifest"  opened on August 1st, 2022 in Medjugorje with a message from Pope Francis and appeals to seek peace (See Full Text Message of the Pope Below). Tens of thousands of young people from 70 countries, celebrated the Eucharistic celebration on Monday evening and gathered to pray the Rosary early Tuesday morning. At the opening service, presided over by the President of the Spanish Bishops' Conference, Juan Jose Omella, intercessors prayed for the politicians and heads of state "that they may make life possible in peace and in communion".

In his sermon, Cardinal Omella also called for the youth festival to be experienced as a week of prayer and as a "spiritual exercise at the hand of the Virgin Mary" far away from everyday noise, and to share one's own faith experiences with others.

In order to find peace, every human being must first make peace with God and himself, emphasized Omella, who particularly recommended the sacrament of reconciliation, which is particularly valued in Medjugorje - the "confessional of the world". 

Italian Archbishop Aldo Cavalli, has lived there since 2021, described Medjugorje as a "place where God bestows special graces". 

Nine bishops were present at the opening ceremony on Monday evening, during which the flags of the participating countries were presented and blessed, including Cardinal Omella, the papal visitor to Medjugorje, Archbishop Aldo Cavalli, Archbishop Arjan Dodaj of Tirana, the local bishop of Mostar, Petar Palic, the Auxiliary bishop of the Ukrainian diocese of Kharkiv-Zaporizhia, Jan Sobilo, as well as bishops from Poland and Ireland, as well as nunciature councilor Amaury Medina Blanco as representative of the apostolic nunciature for Bosnia and Herzegovina. 483 priests concelebrated at the service, local priest Marinko Sakota announced at the end.

More than a million pilgrims are welcomed per year, in the town of Medjugorje in Herzegovina as one of the largest Catholic pilgrimage sites. It became known worldwide through the reports of Marian apparitions since June 24, 1981 to six young people at the time, which are said to continue with great frequency for several of them to this day. The apparitions have not been officially recognized by the church to this day, but have been investigated several times.

The Youth Festival has been held annually in August since 1989 and lasts five days. The focus is on a spiritual program with a celebration of the Eucharist every evening, there are also lectures and catechesis, testimonies of faith, processions, devotions to the Way of the Cross, Eucharistic adoration and a scenic performance by the "Cenacolo" community.



[Medjugorje, 1st - 6th August 2022]

Dear ones,

at that time, the Evangelist Matthew tells us, Jesus turning to everyone said: "Come to me, all of you who are tired and oppressed, and I will give you refreshment. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, who am meek and humble of heart, and you will find refreshment for your life. For my yoke is sweet and my weight light ”(Mt 11: 28-30). As at that time, so also today Jesus addresses all of you, dear young people, and with the guiding word of the Festival, inspired by the Gospel just mentioned, he invites you: "Learn from me and you will find peace".

The Lord does not reserve these words only for the apostles or for some of his friends, but he addresses them to all those who are tired and oppressed. He knows how difficult life can be and that there are many things that strain our hearts: so many disappointments, various past wounds, burdens we carry and injustices we endure, many uncertainties and worries. Faced with all this, Jesus tells us: “Come to me and learn from me”. It is an invitation to move, not to remain still, frozen and afraid in front of life, and to entrust oneself to him. It seems easy, but in dark moments it is natural to close in on oneself. Instead, Jesus wants to get us out, so he tells us “Come”.

The way out is in the relationship, in looking up to the One who truly loves us. Then, it is not enough to get out of yourself, you also need to know where to go, because there are many deceptive goals that promise a better future, but they leave us in the loneliness of before. For this reason, Jesus indicates where to go: “Come to me”.

Dear friends, with an open heart go to him, take his yoke and learn from him. Go to the master to become his disciples and heirs of his promise of peace. Take his yoke which will make you discover the will of God and will make you sharers in the mystery of his cross and in his resurrection. The "yoke" of which Christ speaks is the law of love, it is the commandment that he left to his disciples: love one another as I have loved you (Jn 15:12). Because the true remedy for the wounds of humanity is a lifestyle based on brotherly love, which has its roots in the love of God.

By walking together with him and imitating him, you will learn from him. He is a Master who does not impose on others burdens that he does not bear. He turns to the humble, the little ones and the poor because he himself made himself poor and humble. And to learn, first of all, we must be humble and recognize our ignorance and pride that make us think we can do everything alone and with our strength. It is necessary to have an open ear to the Words of the Master. Thus we learn his heart, his love, his way of thinking, seeing and doing. It takes the courage to be close to him and to imitate him.

Dear friends, do not be afraid, go to him with all that you are carrying within your heart, he is the only Lord who offers true refreshment and true peace. Follow the example of Mary, of her and our Mother, who will lead you to him. Rely on the Stella Maris, a sign of hope on the rough sea, which guides us towards the haven of peace. She, who knows her Son, will help you to imitate him in your relationship with God the Father, in compassion for your neighbor and in the awareness of what we are called to be, children of God. At this moment, in the heart of summer, the Lord invites you to take holidays with him, in the most special place there is: your heart.

Dear young people, while you are resting in Jesus Christ during these days, I entrust you all to the Blessed Virgin Mary, our heavenly Mother, so that, through her intercession and with her example, you may take upon yourself the gentle and light yoke of following Christ. . May the gaze of God the Father who loves you personally accompany you every day, so that, in relationships with others, you can be witnesses of the peace that you will receive as a gift. For this I pray and bless you, and I also ask you to pray for me.

Rome, San Giovanni in Laterano, July 16, 2022,

B.V. Mary of Mount Carmel