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‘Be like giraffes!’, Magis pilgrims told

magis2011_01Fifty-one participants travelled with Magis Ireland to be part of the MAGiS-World Youth Day’s seventeen-day programme in Spain this August. It began energetically in Loyola where the Irish contingent joined with 2,800 other young participants of Jesuit and Ignatian initiatives from all over the world. Noelle Fitzpatrick, Magis Ireland WYD director, said:  ‘It was beautiful to see so many young people milling around Loyola, in silent contemplation in the Conversion Chapel and engaged in song and Adoration in the Sanctuary’. Former Irish Provincial John Dardis SJ and Superior General Adolfo Nicolás SJ each celebrated mass, with Fr Nicolás challenging pilgrims ‘to be like giraffes – with big hearts and long vision!’ Read Noelle’s account below.

EXPERIENCING A NEW CHURCH

Noelle Fitzpatrick

Two days in Loyola, lots of conversations, song and dance and then we boarded buses that took participants- split into multi-national groups- to 100 different locations across Spain, Portugal and Northern Africa.There they would take part in important and varied immersion experiences connecting their faith with the world around them.

Some Irish participants travelled to a social service project in Morocco; three other groups went to Portugal where they worked in either care institutions,a prayer farm or amidst a poor multi- cultural community in Lisbon. Some had the opportunity for a day trip to Fatima. Three other groups took part in an Ignatian based inter-faith pilgrimage where they learned to pray with the body.

Each day of the week of different groups led morning prayer, celebrated mass and reflected on their day using the Examen prayer. In nightly Magis reflection circles they shared about connecting the experiences of each day with the Gospel. All this was to prepare us for the vastness of the World Youth Day experience in Madrid where we melted into a crowd of 2 million participants.

It was special to experience a church not confined by buildings but one that celebrated in the streets, on the trains, in the plazas and the parks. It was novel and energising for our young participants to spend a full week from Monday to Saturday dipping in and out of liturgies and workshops, discussing faith and sharing hopes and dreams  for the future with other young Christians.

The heat was intense  for sure and there were definite challenges but they were clear invitations to find simple resonance with the life and ministry of Christ and to respond in a Christ like way. Opportunities for growth in the faith come in all guises! The Saturday night Vigil coincided with a thrilling storm which whipped around the massive congregation. It was a fitting parable of the ups and downs in the Christian life and how no one is or can be a Christian on their own.

Two of our participants gave such a good account of their experiences of the MAGiS experience at the wider gathering of Irish pilgrims to World Youth Day, and Yanira Romero of Magis Ireland did us proud in helping RTE with live commentary on the final Mass!

The MAGiS-WYD provided much opportunity for learning, reflection and growth in the faith. Some were profoundly affected. The experience was then- the reflection and distillation of meaning- begins now!