Boston College junior Kimmi Vo, like most of the Magis 2011 pilgrims, wasn’t sure what was in store for her when she signed up to attend the Magis program this summer in Spain. During her tweets from @MarylandJesuits, Vo writes, “First hike ever. 97 mi trek to Javier tomorrow! This week should be interesting.”
Vo is joining other pilgrims on a week long journey from the birthplace of St. Ignatius of Loyola in Azpeitia, across the rugged terrain of the Basque countryside to Javier, where another Jesuit saint and a first companion of St. Ignatius, Xavier, was born.
On the first day of her trek, Vo tweeted, “Just completed 15km of hiking for the first day of our pilgrimage. Brutal to say the least but thankful we all made it!” After hiking an additional 12 miles the next day, Vo tweeted, “Pain and suffering! Haha, no seriously, I’ve never been more sore. But when else will I ever be able to do this?”
During her hike, Vo shared this image from Twitter, above, of the scenery during her pilgrimage.
“It’s hard to believe we’re in the airport! After signing up in Sept and meeting thru the year we’re really leaving!” exclaimed Fordham University junior Andrew Bevilacqua.
“Grateful we’ve all landed safely in Madrid. Currently resting at a cafe waiting for our bus,” reported Boston College junior Kimmi Vo. Later, from Loyola, she checked in with “Blessed with a beautiful day. Lots of fun kicking off #Magis2011 last night. Pumped for today!”
Caroline Davis, a junior at St. Joseph’s University, let everyone know she was “leaving Loyola after an amazing Magis experience. Met so many great people; pumped for Arenjuez!”
Twitter has given today’s Magis pilgrims a new way to communicate to their friends and family back home and to share with them their experience in real time – granted, in 140 characters or less! But, it was something that pilgrims just three years ago in Sydney, Australia would not have found possible.
Their short messages, using the #Magis2011 hashtag, have allowed other Twitter users to follow along with the pilgrims as they boarded planes, landed in Madrid, took buses to the Sanctuary of Loyola and now have headed off to their 10 day Magis experiences across Spain, Portugal and North Africa before gathering together once more in Madrid to experience World Youth Day 2011 together.
Six students from Jesuit colleges and universities in the Maryland, New England and New York Provinces of the Society of Jesus have volunteered to report on their experiences at Magis and World Youth Day.
Look for their tweets, photos and commentary here and on our twitter feed throughout the month!
These Magis/World Youth Day reporters are:
|Caroline Davis is often thinking about sports. A junior at Saint Joseph’s University, she’s majoring in sports marketing and is junior manager of the men’s basketball team. When she graduates she hopes to work on public relations or marketing for a sports team. She is well-connected to the Church as well. A parishioner at St. Barbara’s in Philadelphia, she is head sacristan for campus ministry, a leader and participant in Koinonia. When members of her parish went to WYD in Toronto, she decided then she wanted to go a future World Youth Day. When Caroline’s parents threw in their support, she knew it was a go. Now she just has to pack. The meetings and retreats are over. Once she figures out how to get everything in her bag, she’ll be ready. Oh, there’s one more thing: she’s been looking for an item to trade with other WYD participants. And she’s hit on it: the rally towel used by Philadelphia Phillies fans. “Since baseball is the great American pastime, I was thinking it would be a great thing to bring,” she said.
|Elena Habersky has a long answer for what she does at the University of Scranton: Hoping to work in Foreign Service or for an NGO in the Middle East or North Africa, she’s a double major in International Studies and Philosophy, Minor in Arabic, Concentration in Peace and Justice Studies, and her extra curricular activities include Justice Club, University Ministries, United Students for Fair Trade, Invisible Children Club, and I work at The Language Learning Center for the Department of World Languages and Cultures. Oh, and she’s spending her junior year at the American University in Cairo. She’s leaving two weeks after she returns from World Youth Day. Elena has been hearing World Youth Day stories since her Aunt Janice went to the Colorado pilgrimage in the 1980s. In fact, she’s taking her aunt’s WYD shirt with her. Elena, a parishioner at St. Therese’s Church in Shavertown, Pennsylvania, has been hoping she’d have the chance to go her self for a long time. She knew she was going after she handed in the deposit and got an email saying she was going. “That was a great email,” she said.
|Beth Villanyi, a sophomore at Saint Joseph’s University, has wanted to go to World Youth Day since she heard stories from friends who attended WYD in Sydney in 2008. Although she’s signed up and she’s ready to go, ”It still hasn’t hit me that we’re going,” she said. “I probably won’t realize we’re on the way until I set foot on the plane.” A psychology major with a minor in fine arts, Beth keeps busy at SJU. She plays rugby, and takes part in Appalachian Experience, the Students for Peace and Justice, Koinonia and the school’s weekly service program. A parishioner of Church of the Resurrection in her hometown of Ellicott City, Maryland, she looks forward to meeting people from around the world, even if she’s worried about language barriers. “I’m very excited for the Magis program and to be part of this experience.”
|Andrew Bevilacqua, a junior at Fordham University, doesn’t expect to have language problems during Magis and World Youth Day. He’s majoring in Spanish and English and hopes to teach after college — perhaps at a great Jesuit high school such as his alma mater, Saint Joseph’s Preparatory School in Philadelphia. A parishioner at St. Anastasia in Newtown Square, Pennsylvania, he’s active at Fordham. He’s a Christian Life Community leader and a liturgical minister, as well as a tutor in a weekend program for kids in Bronx grade schools. When Andrew went to an information session about World Youth Day he wasn’t sure he wanted to go — until he saw video from the Sydney WYD. “As the meeting went on and we heard more about our pilgrimage and watched some promotional videos for the 2008 World Youth Day in Sydney and this year’s in Madrid, I started thinking that going would be an amazing experience,” he said. Now he can’t wait. “I talked to a good friend of mine who went to the last World Youth Day in Sydney, and he said that it’s an earth-shattering experience for your faith, because you meet so many different people from different places but are able to bond instantly with them because you’re sharing that powerful spirit that brought you all to World Youth Day. So, I’m looking forward to that feeling of camaraderie and fellowship — with my own Fordham group and everyone else — the most.” He expects he’ll be talking a lot about World Youth Day when it’s over.
|Kimberly Vo – she likes to be called Kimmi — is a sophomore at Boston College. A business major, Kimmi is also a member of the college’s hip-hop dance company, Synergy. “I’m looking forward to the whole experience a lot. I don’t know how I feel about trekking in 90 degree weather for hours at a time, but I’m sure that’ll just add to the experience,” she says with an optimistic spirit. She’s been preparing for her adventure by attending retreats, including one sponsored for WYD participants at BC, and attending church more often. A member of St. Ambrose Parish in Dorchester, Massachusetts, Kimmi decided she wanted to take part in World Youth Day during a talk on “BC Hook-Up Culture” with Professor Kerry Cronin. Professor Cronin had talked about seeing the pope at World Youth Day. WYD pilgrims have to pack lightly but Kimmi’s debating whether to take her ukelele and her koala toy Walli.
|Gabriella Karina, a junior communications major at Boston College, is active in Smart Women Securities as well as two Catholic student groups, the St. Thomas More and Gratia Plena, and in the spring, an ambassador for the Options through Education program at BC. In addition, Gabriella has danced in BC’s culture shows with the Southeast Asian Student Association and the Korean Students Association. She works as a receptionist at the Jesuit residence, St. Mary’s Hall. Gabriella, a parishioner at St. Antoninus in Cincinnati, calls Cincinnati home since she has lived there for the past six years though she grew up in Jakarta, Indonesia. Although she considers her dream job to be as an event planner in Los Angeles, she said, “I’ll just follow whatever/wherever God leads me.” Gabriella was not able to go to World Youth Day in Sydney in 2008 so she made a concerted effort to attend WYD in Madrid. “I think I look forward most to 1) MAGIS 2) meeting a lot of people from literally, all over the world with the same faith!!! That thought alone blows my mind away, let alone attending Mass with the Pope and the adoration!” she said.|