Jesuits’ MAGIS 2016 Program Draws 2,200 Young Adults Worldwide to Poland

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Pilgrims connected to Jesuit ministries participate in service and faith program July 15-25, preceding World Youth Day in Kraków

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“During MAGIS, participants will put the Jesuit mission into action through prayer, conversations, service and engagement with diverse cultures,” says Jesuit scholastic Brad Held.

Łódź More than 2,000 young adults from all over the world who are involved in Jesuit ministries have gathered in Poland for MAGIS 2016. The event, which runs from July 15 to 25, includes 1600 pilgrims, 400 volunteers and 200 Jesuits hailing from 52 countries, including 140 Americans from various Jesuit high schools and universities across the United States. Participants serve the local community, engage in intercultural dialogue and foster personal and spiritual growth before journeying on to World Youth Day in Kraków.

Organized by the Society of Jesus, or the Jesuits, the program is held immediately prior to World Youth Day, a week-long gathering that includes worship and activities culminating with opportunities to see the pope, held every three years.

“During MAGIS, participants will put the Jesuit mission into action through prayer, conversations, service and engagement with diverse cultures,” says Jesuit scholastic Brad Held, a theology student at the Boston College School of Theology and Ministry and the U.S. project director for MAGIS 2016. “Most young people's experience of the Society of Jesus in the United States is at a particular school. Now through MAGIS they can experience and come to know that what they are a part of in the United States is something much larger.”

MAGIS 2016 kicked off in Łódź with a special Mass and commissioning. Pilgrims were then sent off on “Ignatian experiments” — activities loosely based on the life experiences of St. Ignatius of Loyola, founder of the Jesuits. A total of 97 different experiments are taking place across Poland, the Czech Republic, Slovakia and Lithuania from July 17 to 23. These include walking pilgrimages, service projects, artistic expressions and other activities.

Each pilgrim’s day is similarly structured with time for individual prayer, service, Mass, small group sharing and an Ignatian daily examen, or personal reflection on the events of the day. Each group consists of 25 pilgrims of diverse nationalities, a leader and a Jesuit priest.

“By going into different and little-known situations, Ignatius teaches us how to look at God, ourselves and others in a new way,” says Polish Jesuit Marek Firlejczyk, coordinator of the Ignatian experiments for MAGIS 2016. The experiments are “intended to give the participant an experience of living in community, working with others and reflecting on these experiences to help the participants to discover themselves.”

Following the experiments, the participants will close the program by making a pilgrimage to the shrine of the Black Madonna, Our Lady of Częstochowa, in Częstochowa, Poland, to gather and reflect on their experiences on July 23. Finally, they will journey on to World Youth Day in Kraków from July 26 to 31, meeting up with a larger Catholic international event that could number up to 3 million people — eager to celebrate Mass with Pope Francis, the first Jesuit pope.

The word magis, Latin for “more,” references the Ignatian or Jesuit concept of learning more, doing more, choosing more and giving more. The theme of this year’s MAGIS experience, “To give and not count the cost” (a line from St. Ignatius’ prayer for generosity), will ask its participants to do more and “be MAGIS.” The concept of “giving and not counting the cost” at MAGIS was inspired by the WYD theme this year, “Blessed are the merciful, for they will receive mercy,” in light of Pope Francis’ Holy Year of Mercy.

The MAGIS initiative took root at the 1997 World Youth Day in Paris. In 2005, in Cologne, Germany, it was named MAGIS for the first time. The program has since been celebrated in Sydney (2008), Madrid (2011) and Rio de Janeiro (2013).

To learn more about MAGIS, visit magis2016.org and follow the MAGIS Poland 2016 pages on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat and Periscope over the course of the event for more updates.

About the Society of Jesus in Canada and the United States

Founded in 1540 by Saint Ignatius Loyola, the Society of Jesus (Jesuits) is the largest order of priests and brothers in the Roman Catholic Church. Jesuit priests and brothers are involved in educational, pastoral and spiritual ministries around the world, practicing a faith that promotes justice. In Canada and the United States, there are 30 Jesuit colleges and 80 pre-secondary and secondary schools with a shared goal of developing competent, compassionate and committed leaders in the service of the Church and society. Jesuits minister in parishes and at retreat houses and serve as chaplains at prisons, hospitals, nursing homes and in the military. In Canada and the U.S., the Jesuits are represented by the Jesuit Conference of Canada and the United States, headquartered in Washington, D.C. For more information on the Society of Jesus, visit http://www.jesuits.org.

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Doris Yu
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