It was a bright sunny Wednesday afternoon that saw about 160 Magis/World Youth Day delegates from Asia Pacific gather in the courtyard of Ignatianum University in Krakow. For many, it was a happy reunion of friends met at the first Magis Asia Pacific held last Christmas and for others, an introduction to the new Jesuit Conference of Asia Pacific Youth Ministry.
Magis 2016 General Coordinator Fr Waldemar P Los SJ commended the initiative to organise Magis Asia Pacific saying, “I think it’s important to build a smaller community, which can help motivate and support smaller communities or people who are not familiar with Magis to come to the next big Magis. Keep in touch, motivate also the European countries to organise some small Magis meetings. We are still waiting for some invitation or ideas where to do a smaller Magis event in Europe.”
The July 27 gathering was a great team effort with country groups responsible for different parts of the programme. The Indonesian and Timor-Leste groups were in charge of welcoming their fellow Asia Pacific delegates from Australia, Cambodia, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Macau, Korea, and the Philippines, and distributed special Magis Asia Pacific “business” cards.
The Korean group led an ice breaking game which included dancing and running around the courtyard in a long human chain. When they first arrived at the courtyard, most of the delegates were still too shy and only stood in their group, but the ice breaking game got them talking to delegates in other groups.
Then the Cambodia group shared what they had done since Magis JCAP. Fr John Duhyun Kim SJ said that Magis workshops and gatherings had been held in Cambodia in the past, but there seems to be a need for an on-going formation programme for young adults seeking a bit more in their faith journey. So the Cambodian group had a three-month “try-out”, using elements of the Magis Asia Pacific programme.
Magis Cambodia was run at two locations – with four participants in the north (Siem Reap/Kampong Thom) and 14 in the south (Phnom Penh). All of them were 20 to 30-year-old university students and working young adults.
Over three meetings, they covered (1) Introduction to MAGIS, the examen and journaling, (2) Life of St Ignatius and writing one’s own life story, and (3) Principle and Foundation. With just these meetings, they could already see fruits in some participants who were able to reflect on their own lives deeply and seriously.
But the programme did not suit those who wanted activities rather than to engage in deep reflection. According to Fr Kim, age and maturity appear to be a factor in this. He shared that they do not know yet how to address this and other challenges but recognise that it is important to be open and to accommodate Cambodian youth where they are, while introducing a way of life – spiritual and prayer life – in the footsteps of St Ignatius.
At the end of the gathering, Fr Song Yong Choe SJ gave the country coordinators Korean masks as a welcome symbol, and suggested they bring them to the next JCAP Magis gathering, following the Asian Youth Day in Indonesia 2017.
The gathering was short, but the hour spent with other young people from Asia Pacific, when they were so far from home, was enough to warm the hearts of many delegates and start new friendships.
One of these was Hae Bin Min from South Korea who had participated in JCAP Magis. “I’m so happy to meet MAGIS AP friends here. It was a very impressive experience for all of us in Yogyakarta. I learnt many things about Ignatius and I think the regular Magis Asia Pacific meeting is very important for us to maintain our local communities and our relationships,” she said.
For Filipino Joaquin Gabriel Amante, this first experience of JCAP Magis has made him keen for more. “Magis AP gathering is very fun. Nice to meet new people and I’m excited for the next gathering,” he said. “I hope there will be people from Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand and Myanmar also.”
Fr Pawel Kowalski SJ, Coordinator of the Magis 2016 Media and Preparation Programme, encouraged the group to persist. “All you Magis participants, if you are willing to have a regional Magis program, step on the Jesuits’ toes, keep pushing them to organise such meetings in your region, because the big Magis program is once every three years in different parts of the world and it is expensive and sometimes very difficult to reach. The experience of internationality in sharing and praying, you can have it everywhere, so keep pushing!”
Read a reflection by So Hyun Kim of Magis Korea on her Magis 2016 experience.
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