Experiencing Magis as a Reporter
In a year pilgrims from across the globe will arrive to begin their Magis experience in Brazil. In 2013, Jesuits from the Jesuit Post will travel to Brazil to cover the event on behalf of the US Jesuits.
In 2011 reporters included Kaitlyn McCarthy, who worked in the Communications Department the offices of the Jesuit Conference of the United States in Washington, D.C. But, for three weeks, she assigned to the Magis team and wrote and blogged for the entirety of the trip and during World Youth Day. She submitted this reflection to us on her trip overseas and becoming apart of the large contingency of Magis volunteers and pilgrims.
My trip to Magis really ramped up two days before my actual flight took off. Receiving an email from one of the communication coordinators, I found out that I would be participating in the experiences not only as a member of the communications team (which I already knew) but additionally in the role of pilgrim. I wouldn’t be staying with the rest of the communications team, but rather accompanying the students; doing what they did, eating what they ate, sleeping where they slept. Now, I would be an embedded reporter in pilgrimage.
“What?!” I thought, as I finished the email. No bed! No regular shower! And most importantly, no guaranteed coffee! As I rushed off to a sporting goods store to buy last minute but much needed camping equipment, I began to reflect on my expectations of Magis and how they were already changed by a simple email.
“Will I do my job well? Will I communicate effectively outside my comfort zone? Is the possible language barrier going to be a problem? Will I embarrass myself professionally?”
These thoughts, unfortunately, continued to swirl in my head as I packed for my flight. The flight to Madrid was uneventful. No line at customs; the official with a cursory glance, stamped the appropriate pages, and I was in! Grabbing my bags, I arrived to a sunny, warm and welcoming Madrid. The weather, while hot, was a sweet relief from the hot and humid Washington I left.
My comfort zone was quickly throw aside just with the simple time change. Yet transitioning from Eastern Time to Spanish time is about more than just switching time zones. When do you eat? Lunch at noon? Nope – try 3pm. Dinner at 6pm? Sorry, we’re closed – come back at 9pm.
The Magis Communications team members began to pour into Madrid, meeting at the Colegio de Nuestra Señora del Recuerdo before driving for five hours to Loyola in caravan. Driving through the plains Castille, we saw the craggy mountains signaling our transition into Basque country, the home of St. Ignatius. While my expectations had already changed, the excitement among all the members of the Communications Team was evident, and the common bond of this adventure already began to form. We were all out of our comfort zones, doing something many of us had never done before.
Winding through valleys and mountains, we made our way to the town of Azkoitia, where Loyola is located. One common misconception is that Loyola is a town. I’ve asked multiple Spanish Jesuits about this, and I keep being told “Loyola is a place in the town of Azkoitia.” For such a small village, the Basilica of Saint Ignatius is a baroque masterpiece nestled in the unassuming valley. It makes a visitor wonder how they were able to move all the marble and building materials over these mountains.
The area around the basilica is already buzzing with activity in anticipation of the pilgrims arriving en masse. Numbers hover somewhere around 2,500 attendants, which will exponentially increase Azkoitia’s population. We are working long hours, but there is a common ideal to help pilgrims – both in Spain and at home alike – to participate in MAGIS, bringing them closer to God.
The video below will give you a glimpse of the full day of preparation as the Magis pilgrims arrived yesterday and the opening ceremony in the evening on the grounds of the Sanctuary of Loyola.