The days of Christmas and of the New Year always draw to Medjugorje numerous, mostly young pilgrims form all over the world.
The Christmas Vigil, in which the parishioners usually represent the majority, began with two hours of Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, followed by the Midnight Mass, which ended about 1 am. Fr. Boze Milic and Fr. Ljubo Kurtovic led the Adoration; the Midnight Mass was presided by Fr. Mario Knezovic and concelebrated by numerous, mostly Croatian, priests.
For the New Year's Vigil, more then 8000 mostly young pilgrims from all over the world gathered together in Medjugorje. The Vigil began at 10 pm and ended about 1 am. Fr. Ljubo Kurtovic led the Adoration, and Holy Mass was presided by Fr. Branko Rados, parish priest, and concelebrated by about 100 priests from all over the world. Among the concelebrants, there was also a bishop.
In his homily, Fr. Branko Rados said:
“The psalmist sings: “In God alone my soul shall find rest, from him comes my salvation.” (Ps 62,2) In this night, Christ is inviting us to a new pilgrimage. He is inviting us on a way - on the way of peace. As to his first disciples, he tells also to us: “Go, I am sending you.” Christ is not sending us into something uncertain; he prepares all that is necessary so that we may achieve the goal. He is giving us time for this journey – the entire coming year. Throughout the way, he is filling our hearts with the power of the Holy Spirit. Our goal is peace. Christ is also giving us a model, a light that shows us the way - the Queen of Peace - the Mother of God. In this passage into the New Year, Christ is telling us: “Come today with me in this new year.”
In this night, God is telling to each one of us: “On your account I am putting 365 days - 365 days of happiness, of love and of forgiveness, under only one condition: that you spend daily.” More you spend, more God will give you. Spend throughout this year, take from this account, love, forgive, pray, live… Be eternally young, be always a Christian, belong to Christ to the last bit your being, be joyful in Christ. Be a monstrance, like Mary, and make known Christ to the world.
The Christ is telling you: “I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end of your life, of each day and of each moment that you live.” With Christ, everything is always better, easier, more beautiful. Belong to Christ and repeat now in your heart the words of Saint Augustine: “Lord, give me the strength to do all that you are asking from me, and then, ask whatever you want.” Amen.”
Adoration was translated into English, French, German, Italian, Chinese, Korean, Romanian, Slovak, Czech and Polish languages, and the Homily only into English, French, German and Italian. Radio «Mir» Medjugorje broadcasted the Christmas and New Year’s prayer programme live.
As the parish church is too small, during the Christmas Vigil the faithful were also in the New Hall. During the New Years Vigil, the church, the hall and the tent were not enough, and about 1000 pilgrims had to remain outside. Large screens were placed in the hall, under the tent and next to the church.
An international Youth Choir and Orchestra accompanied the Christmas and the New Year’s Vigil.
The “Cenacolo” community presented the “Living Manger” three times: on Christmas, on the Feast of the Holy Innocents and prior to the New Year’s Vigil.
On the Feast of the Holy Innocents, the Parish organised a special Mass and a special blessing for the children.
Between Christmas and the New Year, the Medjugorje Franciscans visited all the families and blessed all the houses in the parish.