Jesuit 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 watch the Magis pilgrims arrival in Madrid in the video below:
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.|
Over 200 young people from Jesuit schools across the United States are getting set to join their Jesuit chaperones and hundreds of other young people from Jesuit schools across the globe for this year’s Magis 2011 in Spain.
The events kick off this Friday at the birthplace of the founder of the Jesuits, St. Ignatius of Loyola, and from there pilgrims disperse across Spain and Portugal for their week-long experiences as diverse as volunteering in a prison, accompanying marginalized families, serving pilgrims at Lourdes or restoring a hermitage. There are six types of experiences: Pilgrimage, Social Service, Art and Creativity, Faith and Culture, Spirituality and Ecology. Almost 100 experiences are planned.
After, the Magis pilgrims will join back together in Madrid along with hundreds of thousands of others who are there for the World Youth Day 2011 festivities.
But, before their three week pilgrimage in Spain can begin, the pilgrims need to pack! Since accommodations will include roughing it across the country while staying in dormitories and even camping outdoors, the pilgrims are expected to carry what they need only in a backpack.
Marquette University student Emma Scuglik is taking us along on her travels to Spain. In the video below, she shares her excitement with us as she packs for Spain and tries to figure out how she is going to fit everything she needs for a three week trip into just one backpack.
World Youth Day 2011 is set to begin in Madrid, Spain in just a few weeks. Pilgrims from all over the world will be in attendance, ready to share the common bond of their Catholic faith.
While many of those pilgrims are still a few weeks away from boarding planes or taking trains to Madrid, an initiative known as MAGIS will be sending students all over Spain and Portugal to participate experiences in preparation for World Youth Day.
This initiative was started in 1997 (World Youth Day Paris). In 2005 in Cologne, it was called MAGIS for the first time. In 2008 it was celebrated in Sydney and in 2011 it will be celebrated in Madrid in the days leading up to World Youth Day. The motto for this MAGIS is “with Christ at the heart of the world.” The Society of Jesus, along with other religious institutions and laypeople throughout the world who follow Ignatian Spirituality, have invited pilgrims to find Christ at the center of their lives.
Throughout the past year and a half of planning, ideas have become realities and all that is left to do are the finishing touches.
After the initial selection, more than 400 volunteers began working in teams to go about organizing the potential experiences, working on content and logistics, and finalizing plans. There are six types of experiences: Pilgrimage, Social Service, Art and Creativity, Faith and Culture, Spirituality, and Ecology.
Recently released, MAGIS has posted a list of the experience locations and what work will be completed at each; these include visiting Fatima, volunteering in a prison, accompanying marginalized families, serving pilgrims at Lourdes and restoring a hermitage. For the full list, click here.
World Youth Day (WYD) is a meeting of young people from all over the world, gathered to celebrate and learn about their faith. It is a great worldwide encounter with the Pope which is celebrated every three years in a different country and is one of the primary means by which the Church proclaims the message of Christ to and expresses its concern for young people. The upcoming World Youth Day will take place in Madrid, Spain on August 16-21, 2011.
Pope John Paul II began World Youth Day in the 1980′s, and the tradition has continued with Pope Benedict XVI. The last three WYDs were held in Sydney, Australia (2008); Cologne, Germany (2005); and Toronto, Canada (2002). Hundreds of thousands of pilgrims of high school, college, and young adult age come from all over the world to join in these celebrations of the universal Church.
After these days of catechesis and festival, the final weekend of World Youth Day is structured after the pattern of the Easter Triduum. On Friday there is a city-wide stations of the cross. Pilgrims gather in different groups at the locations of the various stations around the city. The whole procession is filmed and shown live on jumbotron screens at each of the locations, so that there are literally hundreds of thousands of people all over the city joined in common prayer.
On Saturday all the pilgrims set out from their various host schools, churches, and family homes to make a pilgrimage ride/walk to the location of the final outdoor prayer vigil and Sunday Mass. The pope comes Saturday evening to lead this massive congregation in a beautiful candlelit prayer vigil. Afterwards, the pilgrims lay out sleeping bags to spend the night under the stars. The pope then comes back in the morning to celebrate Sunday Mass with the world’s “parish.”
Visit the official site of World Youth Day at www.madrid11.com.