A little more than a year ago, more than two million young people came to an almost silent hush as they stood on an airfield just outside of Madrid. They were waiting, with nervous excitement, for Pope Benedict XVI to announce the next host city for World Youth Day. Finally, he spoke:
“I am pleased now to announce that the next World Youth Day will be held in 2013 in Rio de Janeiro.”
And just as quickly as the word “Rio” passed the Holy Father’s lips, the crowd exploded with cheers of excitement and joy.
As the merry din quieted down, the pope continued, asking the young people to share their experiences from World Youth Day in Madrid with their friends at home. “I invite you to give a bold witness of Christian living to them. In this way you will give birth to new Christians and will help the church grow strongly in the hearts of many others.”
For 3,000 of the young people present in Madrid, their experience included MAGIS, a Jesuit-organized event held in the days before World Youth Day. MAGIS derives its name from the Jesuit phrase meaning “the more.” The roots of the phrase come from St. Ignatius of Loyola, the founder of the Jesuits, who encouraged those who follow Christ to examine their ability to do more for him and, in turn, for others. It is an expression of an aspiration and inspiration of Ignatius and is a tenet of Ignatian spirituality.
On July 12, 2013, 3,500 young people will once again come together for MAGIS, starting in the Brazilian city of Salvador-Bahia, located 1,000 miles north of Rio. For three days, the MAGIS pilgrims will be immersed in the city’s 463-year Jesuit history and heritage, before traveling in smaller groups to numerous locations throughout Brazil.
Jesuit Mike Rogers, the coordinator for American participants, says the three days in Salvador-Bahia are vital to focusing hearts and minds in preparation for the weeklong experiences.
“The program itself, MAGIS, is named after a key principle of Ignatian spirituality. Ignatian spirituality compels us; it pulls us deeper. The question needs to be, ‘Okay, now what?’ MAGIS is a time for young people to reflect, to pray and to act. Contemplation always needs to lead to action, and MAGIS gives us the opportunity to see how Christ loves the world in a very concrete and rich way,” Rogers says.
With the guiding theme of “Nations Await Us,” MAGIS organizers are sending the young pilgrims to cultural, geographical and social frontiers, where they will experience aspects of Brazilian life and encounter its people. The pilgrims will contemplate environmental, spiritual, educational, ethnic, urban and rural questions. But most importantly, they will be challenged to be a meaningful presence in the world, in the life of the people they will meet and in the places they will be sent to.
“Some of the programs will focus on the environment of Brazil with a possible trip to the Amazon rainforest; learning about the different religions of Brazil, such as the native and African religions and their relationship with Christianity; service projects in and around Rio de Janeiro; and finally, pilgrimage opportunities,” says Rogers.
After their week of experiences throughout Brazil, MAGIS pilgrims will reunite in Rio at the Colegio Santo Inacio in the Botafago neighborhood, just outside the city center. MAGIS participants will be close to the action, but just outside the crush of the millions of other pilgrims packed in Rio’s city center for World Youth Day. Once in Rio, MAGIS pilgrims will participate in the MAGIS closing Mass, attend a World Youth Day gathering at Copacabana Beach, climb the Corcovado Mountain to the world famous Christ the Redeemer Statue and, finally, celebrate Mass with Pope Benedict XVI.
Rogers, currently in Brazil on a MAGIS planning visit, said a number of Jesuit colleges and universities have expressed interest in sending students, with Americans making up approximately 300-400 of the 3,500 worldwide MAGIS participants. With MAGIS less than a year away, excitement is building.
“We’ve set up an application system and process, which is quicker and fairer to our institutions. We’ve outlined programs and created a website, a Facebook page and a Twitter feed with members of the Jesuit Post providing coverage.”
—Kaitlyn McCarthy Schnieders