Madrid is bustling and bursting at the seams with over a million young people gathered for the World Youth Day celebrations. Jesuit scholastic Michael Rossman has been there from the beginning as a chaperone with a group of Magis 2011 pilgrims. He’s been sharing his experiences in video pieces and also as a World Youth Day correspondent for the Huffington Post.
Recently, he wrote there, ” Even though people heard the numbers of people expected to be here for World Youth Day, it is an entirely different experience to be surrounded — oftentimes literally, especially when traveling in the metro or attending the bigger events — by people who share the same faith.”
The Magis 2011 pilgrims at World Youth Day are staying across the city of Madrid in schools, bunking down in classrooms and even sleeping outside.
Marquette University student Emma Scuglik gives us a glimpse into what life is like as a pilgrim and how she is getting around the city, along with a million other people, during World Youth Day 2011.
Jesuit Sam Sawyer is wrapping up a full week and a half of chaperoning a group of students from Loyola University Maryland during their trip to Spain for Magis 2011.
Sawyer is in the Regency period of his Jesuit formation, which is a time when Jesuits work for two or three years in a Jesuit school or other approved ministry while also living in a Jesuit community.
Sawyer’s group of seven pilgrims joined up with others from Slovakia, Romania and Nigeria hiking from Verdú, where Jesuit Saint Peter Claver was born and then following in the footsteps of Saint Ignatius’ journey towards Montserrat and Manresa. Traveling 68 miles in six days, the group hiked for 12 hours a day and also found a few opportunities to share pictures and to journal during their experience in their blog “Bringing Loyola to Loyola.”
On their blog, the students have shared their reflections on being pilgrims at Magis. Brendan Fulmer wrote that he was “Humbled. That is one of the first words that pops into my head. I am humbled over this experience. After hiking for hours, a 4 hour bus ride is like heaven. After sleeping on a rock-hard…well rock, a wooden floor to sleep on is too good to be true. My point is that I embrace and give thanks to the life God has graced me with. God is everywhere we just have to notice him…Embrace the little joys of life; do not take them for granted. Don’t complain; offer it up for someone or even as worship to God. Give thanks and rejoice.”
The Magis pilgrims usually bring along little trinkets and gifts to share with their fellow pilgrims during their travels. Kate Velcamp bought green rubber bracelets inscribed with the words “F.R.O.G.” and “Fully Rely On God” on the other in gold letters.
She shared in a blog post that, “This is how I have lived my life for the past few months at Loyola. I know that God has a plan for me and that there are is a reason why certain things happen. This is why I loved the bracelets so much. I know God is in my heart and by listening to my heart I can get to where God wants me to be to continue his plan. It took me until our last day of pilgrimage to realize how perfect the bracelets turned out to be…That’s when it hit me. Our whole group had gotten through this pilgrimage because of our love of God and the belief that God was there for us. God was with us for all 115 kilometers. We all believed that there was something great coming our way by completing the pilgrimage. Like Ignatius, we left our land and our comfort, changed our habits and learned to accept the unexpected. And we did it by accepting that we were being led by God. God was in all our our hearts, pushing us, making sure that we get to our goal safely. It was God that helped us take that first step, and then the next, and before we knew it we were in Manresa.”
While the Loyola University Maryland pilgrims were traveling to Manresa, 265 miles to the north, in Puente La Reina, a group from Marquette University was taking a break from their own pilgrimage to Javier, the birthplace of Jesuit Saint Francis Xavier.
In this video, Magis pilgrims John and Patricia discuss what they’ve been doing on their pilgrimage and how they are looking forward to what World Youth Day has in store.
After hiking centuries-old pilgrim routes, volunteering to assist in infirmaries, discussing inter-religious issues with Muslims and visit the sites where the founder of the Society of Jesus, St. Ignatius of Loyola, experience a religious conversion, the 3,000 Magis pilgrims will gather with the hundreds of thousands of World Youth Day pilgrims as they arrive in Madrid to begin almost a week of festivities and activities.
Marquette University student Emma Scuglik has been taking us along on her travels and shared this video with us as she packed for her three-weeks in Spain. As Emma shared in her previous video, packing space is tight in the pilgrims’ backpacks but she made room for a very special item to go with her during her travels.
No one said it was going to be easy!
Marquette University student Emma Scuglik interviews some Hong Kong pilgrims and other new found friends who are accompanying her along her Magis 2011 pilgrimage on what the five rules of a successful pilgrimage entail.
Magis is a pastoral experience of events and programs organized by the Jesuits for World Youth Day pilgrims in the weeks before World Youth Day begins in Madrid, Spain. Magis participants get to experience being “men and women for others” as they gather together to celebrate their faith and to serve and volunteer in their host country of Spain as well as Portugal and North Africa.
They also get to have fun!
These young adults, who are “with Christ at the heart of the world”, find a commonality with other young people from across the globe who might not share their language, their customs or their background yet do share their faith and beliefs. In this video piece, Marquette University students meet up with other Magis pilgrims from Malta and Thailand and discuss where their experiences will be taking them and what they’ll be doing during their Magis experiences.