Explainer: MAGIS, the Jesuits’ World Youth Day celebration
This article first appeared in Portuguese on Ponto SJ, the online portal of the Jesuits in Portugal, and was translated into English with permission.
The Jesuits will begin their pre-World Youth Day program this Saturday, July 22, with the start of MAGIS 2023, which will bring about 2,000 young people from 82 countries connected with the Society of Jesus to Lisbon. After this 10-day long event, the group will join the thousands of pilgrims who are expected to attend the World Youth Day encounter with Pope Francis.
The event will kick off at Vila MAGIS—a dedicated space for the event located at Colégio S. João de Brito, a Jesuit school in Lisbon—with an opening ceremony and a Mass presided over by the provincial of the Jesuits in Portugal, Miguel Almeida, S.J.
The Jesuits will begin their pre-World Youth Day program this Saturday, July 22, with the start of MAGIS 2023.
On Monday, July 24, participants will depart for all the dioceses of Portugal and some parts of Spain for six days of MAGIS experiences. Each experience will comprise 20 to 30 young adults from at least three different nationalities.
During the 80 experiences (51 in Portugal and 29 in Spain), it is intended that pilgrims will live simply in a concrete, local context that fosters the creation of community and is focused on one of five dimensions: ecology and environment; faith and spirituality; arts and cultures; pilgrimage and journey; solidarity and service. From the rehabilitation and recuperation of impoverished neighborhoods to discovering the depths of prayer through body and dance, there are many possibilities for community building. These six days also have a profound transformative potential as they involve reflection and spiritual experiences intended to—as the motto of MAGIS 2023 states—inspire pilgrims to “create a hope-filled future.”
At the end of this week of encounters with the social and cultural reality of Portugal and Spain, pilgrims will return to the MAGIS Village to share their experiences with one another and participate in various workshops under the theme “Bring up your talents.” On July 30, they will take part in the Festival of Nations, a show that will feature a cultural presentation from each delegation.
MAGIS 2023 will end with the transition to World Youth Day with the Mass of Sending Forth, presided over by the superior general of the Society of Jesus, Arturo Sosa, S.J., who will also have a meeting with the young people to listen to them and address a few words to them. This conclusion of MAGIS will take place on July 31, coincidentally the day when the church celebrates the Solemnity of St. Ignatius Loyola, the founder of the Jesuits.
This final celebration, which will take place at Colégio S. João de Brito at noon, is not exclusively for MAGIS pilgrims. It is open to all those connected to Ignatian spirituality and the collaborators of the Portuguese Province of the Society of Jesus who wish to join.
Young people are linked to the Jesuits in Portugal through its two colleges; the summer camp movements CAMTIL, Campinacios and Gambozinos; and three parishes entrusted to the Jesuits. Since there is no age limit for participation in World Youth Day, the Portuguese Province of the Society of Jesus has also mobilized adults connected to its apostolic works to participate in the final celebrations with Pope Francis, as well as other small groups. Other adults from different provinces of the Society of Jesus around the world will also come to participate in this grand encounter with Pope Francis. In total, there will be more than 4,200 participants integrated into the Ignatian family.
The Society of Jesus is also collaborating with the organizers of WYD Lisbon 2023, providing a cultural and spiritual program that will be part of the Youth Festival, a series of activities for pilgrims that aims to fill the city of Lisbon with joy and culture. From Aug. 1 to 5, in Largo Trindade Coelho in Lisbon, the Jesuits will enliven the Largo da Misericórdia, a space that will be open to the whole world at the heart of the city and is a result of a partnership between the Society of Jesus and the Santa Casa da Misericórdia de Lisboa [a charitable institution in Lisbon, Portugal, which provides social services and support to those in need]. The final program for these four days will be announced this Friday, July 21.
Editor’s Note: America Media’s Ricardo da Silva, S.J, associate editor and Portuguese native, is at Vila Magis in Lisbon getting ready to cover the arrival of MAGIS/WYD pilgrims and to bring the highlights of the main events that will happen over the 10 days of MAGIS to America readers. At key moments during MAGIS, he will also go live on the Instagram account of Ponto SJ, the Portuguese Jesuits’ online portal, to offer a brief preview of the forthcoming attraction.
When MAGIS 2023 ends, he will join Gerard O’Connell, America’s veteran Vatican correspondent, in the World Youth Day press pool, where together they will report on the pope’s presence at the largest global gathering of Catholic youth. Follow MAGIS 2023 on Instagram and Youtube if you would like to pray with and participate in communion with all at the event.