January 28, 2019 — World Youth Day brought together young adults from all over the world, especially those representing the global Ignatian family who attended MAGIS 2019 in Central America.
From January 11-22, young pilgrims from as far away as Lebanon and Korea prayed, served, learned and reflected on their roles as members of a living, breathing international church during MAGIS, an international immersion experience of Ignatian programs and events for young adults from Jesuit schools, parishes and ministries immediately preceding World Youth Day.
Fr. Arturo Sosa, SJ, with participants at MAGIS 2019 in Panama.
After an orientation in Panama, the participants dispersed across Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador, Costa Rica and Panama on “Ignatian experiments,” activities based on the life experiences of St. Ignatius of Loyola, founder of the Jesuits. Assignments included embarking on a pilgrimage in Costa Rica, volunteering at an orphanage in Panama and visiting the Hospital of Divine Providence in El Salvador, where St. Óscar Romero was assassinated while celebrating Mass in the hospital chapel. Upon their return, the pilgrims shared their experiences with Fr. Arturo Sosa, SJ, Superior General of the Society of Jesus. “You are called to be a sign of the times,” Fr. Sosa said, “hope for the church, unifiers in a broken world.”
He thanked them "for having made this journey without fear, without knowing what could happen; in doing so, they went out in the ways of Jesus."
At World Youth Day, Pope Francis highlighted similar themes at the opening Mass on Jan. 24, saying that the difficulties pilgrims faced and the sacrifices they made to travel to Panama made them “true teachers and builders of the culture of encounter.”
Pope Francis watches as young people carry the World Youth Day cross and icon during a welcoming ceremony and gathering with young people in Santa Maria la Antigua Field in Panama City Jan. 24, 2019. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)
During his time in Panama, Pope Francis also met with 30 Jesuits from the province of Central America, many of them novices. According to Jesuit Father Antonio Spadaro, who was present, the pope answered questions freely about his life and was generous with his time.
Pope Francis met with 30 Central American Jesuits at the apostolic nunciature in Panama. (Photo: Fr. Antonio Spadaro, SJ)
The pope autographed a flag from MAGIS 2019. (Photo: Fr. Antonio Spadaro, SJ)
An estimated 700,000 pilgrims from over 155 different countries attended the closing Mass of World Youth Day on Jan. 27. “We may possess everything, but if we lack the passion of love, we will have nothing. Let us allow the Lord to make us fall in love!” Pope Francis said.
After the announcement of the location of the next World Youth Day in 2022 — Lisbon, Portugal — Pope Francis greeted Portuguese President Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa, who attended the Mass.
Until the next meeting of global youth, the pope sent the young pilgrims off with a challenge to live as the voice of God in the real world. "You, dear young people, are not the future but the now of God,” Pope Francis said. “He invites you and calls you in your communities and cities to go out and find your grandparents, your elders; to stand up and with them to speak out and realize the dream that the Lord has dreamed for you."
[Sources: Jesuit Curia (Young people themselves are "a sign of the times," Ready to be surprised); Catholic News Service (Keep God’s love alive, pope tells young people at World Youth Day, Next World Youth Day to be held in Portugal); Vatican News; America Magazine]