The 26th Youth Festival that began on July 31, finished on August, 6 with the Holy Mass celebrated by the parish priest Fr. Marinko Sakota on the Feast of Transfiguration, August 6, on the top of Cross Mountain. The Youth Festival was held with the theme "Peace be with you" and gathered dozens of thousands of young people from 75 different countries. The programme would start every day with the morning prayer and lectures at 9 am, and would continue again in the afternoon from 4 p.m. The morning catechesis given by Fr. Stanko Ćosić, Fr. Damir Pavić, Fr. Ljubo Kurtović and Fr. Marinko Šakota were about fear, slavery, prayer and life and forgiveness. The evening prayer programme would begin with the Rosary at 6 p.m., while Holy Masses were always the central part of every day. The opening Holy Mass was celebrated by Fr. Miljenka Steko, the Provincial of Herzegovina Franciscan Province.
A friend of the youth, Cardinal Christoph Schönborn, Archbishop of Vienna, sent a message at the beginning of the Youth Festival 2015. The Cardinal sent this message from California, where he is at the moment participating in one big conference. The message is as follows: «Dear young people, who gathered in Medjugorje again in the great numbers! I am with you intensively united in the heart and in the prayer in the last few days. Today ...
As the 26th Youth Festival is taking place in Medjugorje from July 31 to August 6, 2015, one of the major highlights of this event is the International Choir conducted by prof. Damir Bunoza for the last six years, and the members are having the intensive rehersals in this period. Prof. Bunoza said it was a great pleasure to have 100 members from 30 different countries: «There are many obligations, but all those are joyfully performed. We do this along with the spirituality, dancing, singing and the quality of the choir and orchestra is really superb. I admire people who come here to sing for seven days, it is not easy to arrive from Italy, Korea, Lebanon and Portugal...This is indeed atmosohere that cannot be repeated at any other place. Unlike some other projects that I am conducting, this one is full of beauty and spirituality.»
Two pilgrims from Germany, Lukas Lorenz and Roland Kiechle arrived by bicycles to Medjugorje two days before the beginning of the Youth Festival. They began their journey in the mid July and they travelled for 1820 km all the way from Munich. They told us they were proud of what they did and very grateful to the Queen of Peace for all of the graces they received and for the opportunity to participate in the Youth Festival: „We are especially gladly anticipating the evening prayer programme and Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament and the confessions.
The idea about the prayer encounter of youth was born in the heart of one young pilgrim from England who shared this with late Fr. Slavko Barbaric in the end of the Marian Year in 1988. Fr. Slavko supported this idea and began organisation of the Youth Festival that he led and conducted until his death in 2000. After many conversations and lots of good will, the first Festival was successfully held with the Herzegovinian Franciscans as the main lecturers. The prayer encounters were held in the green tent and in the Garden opposite to the roundabout, as well as on Apparition Hill and Cross Mountain. The singing was conducted by a talented young priest, Fr. Liam Lotan from Ireland. After the successful first Festival, they all decided to continue with the preparations for the another one that was even better and mor prepared.
On Saturday, July 18, a group of six pilgrims: Nikola Bodružić, Vigor Grego, Patrik Horvat, Karlo Jandrijević, Matija Ricov and Danijel Stanić began their journey towards Medjugorje. Their 15 - days long journey began and they decided to walk 30-35 km each day. They called their pilgrimage„Labora et ambulans ora" meaning „Work and pray walking", similar to motto of St. Benedict, as they decided to walk, pray and praise God on their trip.
The Youth Festival is going to be held this year from July 31 to August 6, 2015. The theme of this prayer meeting is "Peace be with you!” Jn 20,21. The programme will be made of catechesis, testimonies, liturgy celebrations, prayers and adoration, and as every year, there will be some surprises as well. The programme of the 26th International Youth Festival below: