Vincent Paul, SJ
MAGIS & World Youth Day 2016: My Experience
At the very outset, I am happy to announce that 33 of us from India (23 youth and 10 Jesuits) including Ms. Shushmita from Jaipur and I (Vincent Paul) attended the MAGIS and the WORLD YOUTH Day Celebrations in Poland from July 14 to August 3, 2016.
I am honoured and privileged to be part of MAGIS 2016. Words fall short of expressing my heartfelt gratitude to God, Fr. Varkey, SJ, Provincial of Delhi and Jaipur Jesuit community for providing an opportunity for Ms. Sushmita and me to witness an amazing faith renewing experience.
Inspired by the spirituality of St. Ignatius and of the Society of Jesus, over 2000 youth and 200 Jesuits from 52 countries gathered at Lodz, Poland to participate in the mega events the MAGIS and World Youth Day Celebration in Poland from July 14 to August 3, 2016. From India 23 youth and 10 Jesuits had the privilege to attend.
Fr. Tomasz Kot, Jesuit Assistant for Central and Eastern Europe, welcomed the pilgrims on behalf of Fr. Adolfo Nicolas, Superior General and participated in a question and answer session with youth. The following day we were sent off for “Ignatian Experiments”.
A total of 97 diverse experiments took place across Poland from July 17-23. Each group consisted of 25 young people of varied nationality, a leader and a Jesuit Priest. Every experiment was arranged with time given for personal prayer, meditation, Eucharist, small group sharing and examination of conscience – personal reflection on the events of the day. The theme of this year’s MAGIS experience is “to give and not count the cost” and the participants were exhorted to do more and to grow in MAGIS. Following the individual experiments, we concluded the MAGIS by making a pilgrimage to the shrine of the Black Madonna, Our Lady of Czestochowa, in Czestochowa, Poland. Then we gathered and reflected on our experiences on July 23.
Finally, we journeyed on to the World Youth Day in Kraków from July 26-31. Around 30 lakh young people participated in the World Youth Day. The highlights of the WYD were: Way of the Cross followed by confession; night prayer; vigil preceding the concluding Mass celebration by the Holy Father Francis. Prayer vigil and concluding mass were held at Campus Misericordie, Krakow. We nearly walked 25 Km to the site and spent the whole night in prayer and participated in the Sunday Mass (Feast of St. Ignatius of Loyola) celebrated by Pope Francis. It was a faith renewing experience. Being with young pilgrims and listening to their stories made a great impact on my spiritual life. Very soon, we will print a booklet based on our experiences.
Coordinating the Youth Apostolate in the Delhi Province:
“The glory of youths is their strength”, my belief in this short and simple line from Proverbs 20:29 prepared me to accept the role of youth Coordinator for the Delhi Province, in September 2015. Prior to my appointment, I have visited all the parishes and met the parish priests and interacted with the youth of the parishes. The ministry is in its infant stage at the province level. Orientation programmes were held in the parishes to enroll more youths into the youth ministry. These gathering were quite enriching as youths got to know each other, interacted, and above all, made many friends.
Youth Activities in parishes:
In parishes generally speaking, Christmas, Holy Week and Easter time are more vibrant for the youth as it’s this time of the year that brings them together for various activities. In many parishes youth are actively involved in Choir, Church decorations, carol singing, Christmas tree, etc. More and more parishes are now enacting the way of the cross during the holy week, reliving the passion of Jesus (final hours of suffering and death). Many parishes also organized a day long praise and worship, night vigils and recollections during the season of lent. Special days were also celebrated such as Women day, Mother’s day, Father’s day, Children day and honoured them for their contribution and also prayed for them.
Cultural programmes during Christmas season across parishes not only kept the youth active but also engaged parishioners across all ages and cultures. Youth are instrumental in organizing various competitions such as bible quiz, painting, singing, essay writing and many such activities. Most parishes have yearly pilgrimage, which again is coordinated and managed by parish youth. Some parishes, youth are also instrumental in taking catechism classes in absence of regular catechism teachers, bible study classes, debates on social issues and causes, learning new songs, etc.
Future Action Plans:
We (JYMSA) plan to organize an Assistancy Level MAGIS program on November 3 (5 pm) to November 7 (5 pm), 2016 at St. Joseph’s College, Bangalore on the theme “To Give and Not to Count the Cost.” The Central Figure of MAGIS program is Jesus Christ. The purpose of the entire event is to help the participants to meet Him, experience His unconditional love and discover His presence in their everyday life and reach out to others in service. I have requested all the parish priests of our province to mobilize more youth to take part in this event.
We have a very strong AICUF (All India Catholic University Federation) Unit in Jaipur and is well appreciated by AICUF National team. I am grateful to Fr. Gilburt Camillus and Fr. Joshy for their kind help and support. Efforts are on to start a new unit of the AICUF in St. Xavier’s College, Nevta, Jaipur. Thanks to the Principal Fr. Augustine Perumalil, SJ.
Encouraged by the Holy Father’s message to the youth – “to make a mess and organize it well”, I seek your prayerful support and blessings to strengthen and to guide the youths to have a free heart to meet Jesus and to become true witnesses of the good news.