MAG+S 2016, South Asia: A Report
Behind every show of zest and enthusiasm radiant at a gathering of the young, there lurks the mounting hope and tiring attempts of persons to create moments that matter and memories that endure. As Pilgrims poured in from all the Jesuit Provinces and Regions of South Asia; the resultant mélange of Ignatian youth and youth Animators brought to life: MAG+S 2016.A true festivity of faith, in which the Church`s great heritage of communion was mirrored in and beyond the portals of St. Joseph`s College Bangalore.
Between the 3rd and 7th of November, numbers nearing 900 responded to the vocation of ‘Giving without counting the cost” through creative service and discerned responses to life situations: ‘En todo amar y Servir’
In an Atmosphere of Fraternity the gathering welcomed the pro-tem Provincial of the South Asian Assistancy Fr. Keith Abranches, and founder of the New Ark Mission or Home of Hope Mr.T .Auto Raja who inaugurated the event on the 3rd evening. The presentation of Magis Flags by the representatives of different Provinces dressed in their traditional best set the tone for a spectacular evening. After the MAG+S Oath was administered, participants leaned in rapt attention as Mr. Auto Raja engaged with a panel of youngsters responding to their queries and sharing the profound motivation for his mission of service towards the dying and the destitute. His convictions were a testimony of the gospel which transformed and later helped him live its call magnanimously on the streets of Bangalore. A thunderous applause rose to meet him as he encouraged the participants to ‘Live More’ and ‘Be More’ for others.
With Praise and worship led by Mrs. Corrine Rasqhuina and her team - long standing friends of MAG+S a dint of prayerfulness was palpable in the air. Pilgrims devoutly welcomed and venerated the MAG+S Cross; their life - support for the journey, a symbolic replica of the WYD cross handed over to the youth on April 22nd 1984 by St. John Paul II.
Later that evening she cut the ribbon at the entrance of the Prayer Garden, a silent spot for Contemplation and reflective seclusion for all pilgrims. Many were in awe of the giant Labyrinth extending its invitation to walk closer with the Lord, even if it meant walking in circles.
While seasoned pilgrims effortlessly shook a leg at ice-breakers and caught up with their companions, some strut around the stage whispering “What is MAG+S?” In The Subsequent days, albeit to their delight, they would not merely come to know but learn to live the spiritual dictum of “More” embodied in the “Five Pillars Of MAG+S”
- Personal Prayers +
- Apostolic Experiences +
- Holy Mass +
- MAG+S Circle +
- Ignatian Examination of Consciousness.
From its Inception in 2012, MAG+S South Asia has accompanied thousands of youth using this modus operandi charted by the “Sinner turned Saint’ –Ignatius of Loyola. It has opened many a youthful hearts to the promptings of the spirit that awakens.
On the Morning of the 4th, Personal prayer for the participants was enriched by sonorous praise and worship under the open sky. They were exultant when, pro-tem POSA father Keith Abranches celebrated the inaugural mass during which he submitted at the altar, a Diversity of petitions coming from all corners of the Assistancy. These culminated into one single prayer to the Lord for the success of MAG+S 2016 and the fruitfulness of our personal pilgrimage.
The gradual unfolding of the five pillars on a daily basis was as solemn and arresting as was it varied. While play-offs between different groups through Games, fun and frolic and cultural programs were the highlights of the evening, the better portions of the day were dedicated to community service and social outreach. Pilgrims actively attended to the terminally ill at Aids wards, leprosy Hospices and Cancer hospitals, some with tears in their eyes. Many were left mum and reticent at orphanages and old age homes, and quite a few returned to their dwellings exhausted after hours of cleanliness and awareness drives. Such display of generosity and selfless giving when strength and energy both were stretched beyond breaking point mirrored an outpouring of grace.
One of the Jesuit Co-coordinators emphasized the importance of the Ignatian Experiments in the following words. “…They encompass various activities that will lead to the participant’s personal and spiritual development. One gains the experience of living in community, of working with others, and of reflecting on these experiences. Therefore, the aim of these experiments is not to evaluate success or failure, but to help the participants discover themselves”
To this effect the Penitential Service on the eve of the first Experiments, bolstered the apostolic vigor of the pilgrims A score of priests administered the sacrament of Reconciliation , which was conveniently multi-lingual. A miniature MAG+S cross was handed to each in absolution. The Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament was simultaneously arranged at a different venue. A dash of fervor was seen when creative liturgical celebrations were held outdoors and in different languages. Pilgrims were energetic even at first light as validated on the 5th morning, when they joined Bengalureans on a ‘Fight against Cancer Marathon’ in Cubbon Park at 5:30am. Late in the day they undertook the cleaning of the infamous K.R Market premises, drawing the adulation of the BBMP mayor and the paparazzi’s. To shift our focus slightly, this year’s MAG+S brought to the fore an aesthetic rendition of “Laudato Si” through an inventive Sound and light program. It was delightful to see pilgrims adorning various roles as part of their Art and Theater Experiment. Talk about finding God in all things.
Between their Spiritual and Apostolic Demands, participants had a fair share of talks and presentations to attend. In some sessions the crowd flew into splits of laughter and at others they squirmed in their seats. The catechesis intended therefore was impactful and the dialogue enriching. In contrast to the commonplace chatter, MAG+S Circles gave the members time to draw positively form the experiences of one another. Day after day pockets of pilgrim would gather around their animators and reminisce gratefully - the newness of their encounters. Perhaps this was complemented by the Daily Examination of Consciousness. Conducted after supper around the MAG+S cross, at times guided and at times personal, the Cross tugged on organizers and participants alike as they turned towards Gods Presence in remote preparation for the day to come.
One might have expected the exuberance to wane on the sunny 7th morning. “Is it the last day? So soon? Does it come to an end now?” … But the answer was a candid NO. Rangolis and charts dotted the campus, as participants prepared for a final competition thematically titled “More – For the Greater Glory of God”. In effect, they managed to leave an impression of the vitality and color that MAG+S has come to represent. Post the concluding mass, Participants avidly received their awards at the valedictory. The organizers took center stage eventually and the efforts of Fr. Brian Pereira, Mr.Ebenezer Sam and their team of Ignitors were lauded. A few minutes later, the MAG+S after movie thrilled the audience.
Undeniably, 5 days of fellowship and Ministry was coming to a close, but in hindsight, it was this send – off that renewed our pilgrimage towards Universal Service. Been formed – reformed and transformed by a collective experience. MAG+S has consigned to all, the Light that only Christ can give. Bearing a purpose under the banner of His cross now implies that we dazzle the world out of its omnishambles. Our last day together was allusive of embarking on our journey anew! And thus in the silence of our hearts echo the words that “We shall not cease from exploration, and the end of all our exploring will be to arrive where we started and know the place for the first time.”
Ad Multos Annos
Sch. Reuell Paul S.J