Posts Tagged ‘World Youth Day 2011’

Looking Back at World Youth Day 2011: A Jesuit Reflects on What the Event Meant to Him

One month ago today, World Youth Day festivities in Madrid, Spain culminated with a Mass with Pope Benedict XVI. With over 1.5 million in attendance, the event marked an opportunity for young adults from across the globe to gather together in celebration of their faith. 

Before World Youth Day began, a group of 3,000 pilgrims gathered for Magis – a pastoral experience of Ignatian programs and events for students from Jesuit institutions. This year’s Magis initiative particularly resonated with Jesuits, their partners and those with an interest in Ignatian Spirituality as it took place in the birthplace, homeland and at the sites where St. Ignatius of Loyola, founder of the Society of Jesus, underwent his spiritual conversion which ultimately led to the formation of the Society of Jesus and his writings of The Spiritual Exercises.

Jesuit Father Joe Laramie, recently ordained a priest, was there as a chaperone with a group of pilgrims from Boston College. A graduate student at Boston College School of Theology and Ministry, Fr. Laramie looks back at his experience at World Youth Day and what it meant to him personally and for the Church in this piece for National Jesuit News.

Also included below are three video pieces looking back at the experiences of the Magis pilgrims and their Jesuit chaperones at Loyola, Spain, during the Magis experiences and ultimately, World Youth Day itself. You can also take look back by watching all of our videos on YouTube with pilgrims and U.S. Jesuits who experienced this year’s Magis and World Youth Day celebrations.

Fr. Joe Laramie, SJ, prepares for Mass along the camino while leading a group of pilgrims during Magis 2011 in Spain.

Every two or three years, on a wide plain outside a big city, the Church is transfigured. I saw it happen in Paris in 1997, in Toronto in 2002 and in Madrid last month. At Christ’s Transfiguration, “His face shone like the sun, and his clothes became as white as the light” [Matthew17:2]. This is why young people came to Madrid last month. To see a transfiguration, and to experience it themselves.

I stood up for the Eucharistic prayer at the final Mass in Madrid. I was so exhausted that I got light-headed as I stood. It was so bright, I could hardly see. I stood behind 14,000 priests. We were all wearing white chasuables and white hats. The pope was 100 yards away, in front of a giant white backdrop, with the sun climbing higher and higher. “El Señor es contigo.” “Y con tu espiritu,” I responded, with the priests, and 1.5 million young people. I was wearing sunglasses, but could almost see better with my eyes closed.

Christ “lead them up a high mountain” before the Transfiguration. I lived in Denver for a few years; it is hard to climb high mountains. You sweat, it’s hot, the air is thin, the rocks slide beneath your feet. Your back hurts. Your pack cuts into your shoulders. There is thunder and lightning. You need a Guide and friends. You can’t climb alone.

Three thousand young people were treated for dehydration, as we waited on the field, under the sun, the day before the Mass. Later, the crowd heard this announcement over the loudspeakers: “There are 23 lost children waiting at area E5. If you lost your child, or if you are a lost child, go to area E5.” Then, at night, a thunderstorm had pounded us. The pope was leading us in a night prayer; two acolytes held a quivering white umbrella over him as the rain blew sideways. The storm destroyed several large tents. These were 50 feet tall, 100 feet wide, with 4-inch steel supports, bolted into the ground. Picture one of those doing a backflip in 40 mph wind on a crowded field. It is a miracle that no one was injured or killed. The rain slowed, the wind stopped. It was quiet. The pope said, “Young people, thank you for your joy! Thank you for your resistance! Your strength is greater than the rain!” We smiled and cried. The 23 lost were soon found, the 3,000 thirsty were quenched. Gracias a Dios!

At the Mass, this was the Transfiguration of the Church. Singing, chanting, praying. Multilingual, multinational. With the flags and the World Youth Day shirts and hats, sunglasses, hiking boots, cameras, sweat, patience, water bottles, dirt, fatigue, chaperones, sleeping bags, and wrinkled maps.

Looking Back at Magis 2011: Part One – Gathering in Loyola Video

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Jesuit Scholastic Reflects on Magis 2011 for the Huffington Post

Jesuit scholastic Michael RossmannJesuit scholastic Michael Rossmann, who is documenting his World Youth Day travels on video, has also written about his experiences on the Huffington Post.

“We have finally arrived,” he wrote on Aug. 16. “After three years of anticipation since the last World Youth Day, hundreds of thousands of Catholic young people have descended upon Madrid for the festivities surrounding World Youth Day, which officially starts this evening with an opening Mass in the heart of downtown Madrid.”

Before arriving in Madrid, Rossmann participated in the Jesuit-sponsored program Magis, where nearly 3,000 young people from Jesuit universities and parishes from around the world were sent out in groups to participate in service projects or walking pilgrimages.

Rossmann spent a week with 26 other pilgrims living and working with African immigrants who labor in agriculture on the southern coast of Spain.

“This is the first trip to Europe for many of the students I am accompanying and is certainly the most intimate encounter with people from other countries,” he wrote. “While speaking different languages at times hindered communication, boundaries quickly broke down in sharing the common difficulty of trying to fall asleep while sharing a gym floor with snorers who were heard by all people, no matter the native tongue.”

Rossmann continued, “On a deeper level, many expressed the significance of what it meant to be a part of something much larger than themselves, as was evident in sharing the same faith and holding the same convictions, whether praying to God, Dios, or Dieu.”

Read more of Rossmann’s reflections at the Huffington Post. Below, you can view Rossman’s video with pilgrims he chaperoned to the southern coastal town of Roquetas de Mar in Spain to work working the elderly. Follow along with the Magis and World You Day pilgrims and their Jesuit chaperones on our microsite at

Jesuit Shares First Impressions of World Youth Day as News Correspondent

Jesuit Father Matthew GamberJesuit Father Matthew Gamber, a veteran of the last four World Youth Days, has been in Spain for two weeks helping to lead a group of pilgrims from St. Mary’s Parish in Mount Pleasant, Mich.

Fr. Gamber and his group arrived in Madrid on Monday after participating in Magis 2011, during which they were involved in evangelization, service and pilgrimages in various Spanish cities.

During Gamber’s time in Madrid for World Youth Day’s events, he will be filing reports and writing pieces for the National Catholic Register highlighting the activities which culminate this Sunday with Mass celebrated by Pope Benedict XVI.

Gamber noted that on the eve of World Youth Day on Monday, that although some of the sites were still being prepared, there was a great spirit in the air.

The parishes and churches had welcome banners and signs on display and people outside offered tours, information and warm welcomes. “It’s not Rome, with a Catholic church on every corner, but pretty close, maybe every other corner. And they are beautiful and breathtaking and full of the Holy Spirit,” he wrote.

Madrid residents say they have never seen the city so crowded in August, according to Gamber. “At a time when most of the city dwellers take off for the beaches and mountains, it seems that the allure of seeing Pope Benedict in their fair city is worth staying in town for,” he wrote.

“It is exciting to be here and know that we are about to spend a week with fellow Catholic pilgrims from around the world,” Gamber wrote.

Read more of Gamber’s report from World Youth Day at the National Catholic Register. You can also follow along with the Magis and World You Day pilgrims on our microsite at

Jesuit Presents His Five Rules for a Successful Pilgrimage for Magis & World Youth Day Participants

Magis Logo on Ignatius SanctuaryToday begins the start of the ten-days of events and festivities that are Magis.

Magis is a pastoral experience of Ignatian programs and events in the days leading up to World Youth Day for pilgrims from Jesuit institutions from across the globe. The motto for this year’s Magis is “with Christ at the heart of the world”  and will be held in locations across Spain and Portugal .

Young people and their Jesuit chaperones have made their way to northern part of Spain – to the Basque country where the founder of the Jesuits, St. Ignatius of Loyola, was born – in order to participate in the Magis gathering. For them, it sometimes means being out of their comfort zone, traveling in a foreign country and not always bunking down in the most luxurious of accommodations but the reward is being together with others who also have a keen desire to do more in the name of Christ.

You, too, can follow along with the pilgrims and experience Magis with them during these three weeks of Magis and World Youth Day in Spain by visiting

In this video below, Jesuit Father Will Prospero offers some tips to the Magis pilgrims and provides a grounding in the spirituality of pilgrimage, drawing from the experiences of St. Ignatius. Fr. Prospero’s presentation was given last year during an Apostleship of Prayer‘s “Hearts on Fire” retreat at St. Mary’s University Parish in Mt. Pleasant, Michigan.