The JCAP youth ministry is going from strength to strength. At just their second Magis Asia Pacific gathering, the youth were teaching each other about Ignatian spirituality. Instead of the usual model where a Jesuit serves as the teacher and the youth as the student, in this gathering the young people were actively helping each other learn about Ignatian Spirituality.
The participants from Indonesia took the lead in facilitating the Magis modules. Thanks to the long-running Magis programme of the Indonesia Province, these young people have been living Ignatian Spirituality for years in their Magis community and in their daily lives.
Their efforts were greatly appreciated by their fellow participants in the Magis Asia Pacific gathering held in Seam Reap, Cambodia from December 26, 2017 to January 3, 2018. They were also encouraging.
Emmanuel from Myanmar, for example, was encouraged by Winni Rulianti’s explanation of the basic prayer exercise, which included the examen, journaling and praying through reading. “If she can live Ignatian Spirituality more deeply, I too, must be able to do it,” he said.
The Magis core team believes that is the power of young people learning from other young people. “If it were a Jesuit who explained it, maybe they would say ‘Ah, it’s too difficult … We live a different life’, etc, but by learning from fellow youth, they felt more encouraged to do the same thing,” said Fr John Nugroho SJ, JCAP Youth Ministry Coordinator.
The participants, who came from Cambodia, China, Macau, Taiwan, Indonesia, Japan, Korea, Malaysia, Singapore, Myanmar, Philippines, Thailand, Timor-Leste and Vietnam, shared their experiences and reflections in both mixed and same country groups called Magis circles.
“We learned to listen carefully to what our friend shared, to appreciate the other, and at the same time we were enriched by our friend’s experience and reflection. We became each other’s friend, student and teacher,” said Scholastic Leo Perkasa Tanjung SJ.
They also drew inspiration from the gathering’s theme, “I know where my heart is”. The words are those of Richie Fernando, a young Filipino Jesuit scholastic who died saving students from a grenade blast in Banteay Prieb, a Jesuit vocational school for persons with disabilities in Cambodia. “If Richie could realise where his heart was in his life, as youth, we are also invited to figure out where our heart is and really live it,” said Scholastic Harry Kristanto SJ who coordinated the Magis youth in Cambodia, who hosted the meeting.
For the organisers, the success of the gathering was confirmation that young people are able to live and apply Ignatian Spirituality in their daily lives, and share it with other youth. Fr Nugroho told the 91 participants, including animators and committee members from 13 countries, “You are the key persons among our youth in Asia Pacific. After getting back from here, please spread the ‘fire’, share your experience to your friends and ask them to live according to Ignatian Spirituality like you do.”
Fr Oh In-don SJ, delegate of the Korean Provincial to the Cambodian Mission, who accompanied the participants throughout the meeting, hopes that in discerning where their hearts are, young people also think of others.
“I hope through this theme they understand where their heart is. And I hope that by knowing it, young people will not only think about themselves, but about becoming men and women for others,” he said.
Fr Oh will not be disappointed. The Magis gathering helped participants realise where their heart is or where it should be. “Our heart is in Jesus,” proclaimed Geny Anggara Pramana Jati. “And that means to serve others.”
The three-day immersion experience played a large part in this realisation. Sent off to one of seven immersion sites, the young people were asked to reflect on two main questions: 1) How can I find God in the life of the people through their kindness, their love, smile, help, and through the surrounding environment; 2) What was my experience of the life of the local community – how do I reconcile their financial poverty with the richness the people have in their very simple life.
“In Ta Om, there were lots of poor families. Instead of sadness or depression, I found peace and love inside the family. Their humility touched my heart, but it also felt like a slap on my face. I realised I was being arrogant. They reminded me to become humble and grateful for everything that I’ve got,” said Monica Effendi from Indonesia, who went to Ta Om parish for her immersion experience.
The JCAP Youth Ministry hopes that even though the gathering has ended, the ‘fires’ lit will be kept aflame and the participants will be pioneers in spreading Ignatian Spirituality among the youth in their home countries.
Watch highlights of the 2nd Magis Asia Pacific gathering: