MAGIS is a worldwide programme for young people between 18 and 35. MAGIS 2023 took place from 22-31 July in Lisbon in preparation for World Youth Day with Pope Francis. Sr Ramona, fcJ, from the Liverpool community, tells us about her experience as member of the MAGIS UK delegation.
This year I had a very special summer because for the first time I participated in a youth gathering such as MAGIS and World Youth Day. I travelled with Lynne fcJ full of enthusiasm, energy, openness and ready to meet new people. I didn’t know what to expect, but I felt confident that God would work in any situation that he put me in.
My experiment was to walk the Camino de Santiago, which I have done before, but this time was completely different. In my group were participants from India, Thailand, China, UK, Lebanon, Spain, Zambia, El Salvador. I felt very blessed to have a variety of cultures and traditions. When we reached Santiago, we were very happy with our achievement; the journey wasn’t so easy, but faith played an important role and we prayed one for each other and supported each other in all our difficulties. At the end of the pilgrimage, we had a great cup of tea with Alicia fcJ and other Camino Companions volunteers in the Pilgrims Office and we shared about our inner journey with God.
I was grateful to have the opportunity to walk the Camino again, giving thanks to God for all that has happened since the previous time a year ago when I walked the Camino Ingles as part of my novitiate and prayed to make my vows as a religious. I felt blessed to have this opportunity to look back through a similar experience one year later. My group was led by RSCJ sisters in Pontevedra, I was very excited to make the connection with the story of Sofie Barat and Marie Madeleine. Their school was very close to the sea and in the evening, we started our Daily Examen by listening to the waves which led us into prayer. One of the songs that remains with me was As the Deer and I felt God’s presence among us:
You alone are my strength, my shield
To You alone may my spirit yield
You alone are my heart’s desire
And I long to worship You
I remember two particularly powerful moments. One was when as a group we had Magis Circle, because the depth of sharing of the experience which united us in prayer and built a wonderful connection which led into friendship. The other was at Mass at the Magis Villa in Lisbon, when we remembered all the Jesuits and Ignatian religious and laity who died for their faith in the 21st Century. I give thanks to God for all those people who work in the vineyard of God and who are nowadays an example for us.
World Youth Day, Lisbon 2023 was a great occasion to see young people from all over the world who share the same faith. I had never experienced that and, in the beginning, I was a little bit nervous about the crowds. At first it was a challenge to adapt and to be there with hundreds of thousands of people together but in the same time I really enjoyed seeing that all of us we were there for a reason, faith and God. I released how different we are and how beautiful is to be a part of a Universal Church. Each morning we had catechises followed by different workshops and activities. Going to the City of Joy gave me a hope for the future as a religious, seeing so many young people are searching for something deep in their life. I hope that they will have the courage to answer God’s invitation in a religious congregation or in other ministries in the church.
I was very touched by the Way of the Cross, and in special by the message that resonated with me: I fall so that you might rise up with me. Come, stand up and move forward. Let’s go together.
I was very touched by the Way of the Cross, and in special by the message that resonated with me: “I fall so that you might rise up with me. Come, stand up and move forward. Let’s go together.” Praying for victims of violence, abuse of power, people who are suffering from anxiety, depression, hunger, luck of water, different disasters such as devastation of forests, climate change and insecurity for the future made us to be aware about the consequences of our actions and to learn how to build bridges between us. The Vigil Mass took place in Tejo Park were a million and a half young people slept over-night in the park to participate for Mass on the next day and to meet Pope Francis.
I will quote the last part of the prayer:
“Help me to be a missionary, To be your witness,
To bring truth and proclaim your word.
And never let me forget that none of this is worth anything
if I don’t have Love.”
As I look back, I am very grateful for this experience, and I give thanks to God for this amazing time.