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MAGIS Pilgrims Embark on Ignatian Experiments in Poland, Czech Republic, Slovakia and Lithuania

By Doris Yu

July 18, 2016 — After a frenzied three days of singing, dancing, prayer and new friends, pilgrims attending the Jesuits’ international immersion experience MAGIS have brought the first stage of the program in Lódz, Poland, to an end. But the bulk of what they came for — the service, intercultural dialogue and deep introspection — will continue as they now embark on “Ignatian experiments” across Poland, the Czech Republic, Slovakia and Lithuania.

These “Ignatian experiments” consist of activities loosely based on the life experiences of St. Ignatius of Loyola, founder of the Jesuits. After a morning prayer, breakfast and sending-off Mass in the outdoor stadium at the University of Lódz where all 2,200 pilgrims had gathered, participants were split up into 97 different experiment groups to travel by bus or train. They will regroup on July 23 in Czestochowa, Poland, for a pilgrimage to the shrine of the Black Madonna, Our Lady at Czestochowa, and to share with each other the stories of their experiences.

Seattle University MAGIS pilgrims at morning prayer before departing to experiments. Photo by Seattle University Campus Ministry.

The experiments were designed with the theme of this year’s MAGIS program in mind, “To give and not count the cost” (a line from St. Ignatius’ prayer for generosity). During the registration process, participants were asked to choose among several major experiment categories.


“By going into different and little-known situations, Ignatius teaches us how to look at God, ourselves and others in a new way,” says Polish Jesuit Marek Firlejczyk, coordinator of the Ignatian experiments for MAGIS 2016. The experiments are “intended to give the participant an experience of living in community, working with others and reflecting on these experiences to help the participants to discover themselves.”


Pilgrims who selected the pilgrimage option will embark on a four-day hike to various religious sites, and those who chose the service option will minister to others in cooperation with partners of the Society of Jesus and in care for the environment.

Saint Louis University student Joao Lopes receives a blessing at the Mass before departing for the Ignatian experiments. Photo by Saint Louis University Campus Ministry on Twitter

Andrew Plaza, a student at the University of Scranton in Scranton, Pennsylvania, will be one such pilgrim hiking throughout the Bieszczady mountains in Poland near the border of Ukraine. “We’ll be hiking on day trips. We have a base camp in a town called Ustrzyki Dolne, and from there we’ll be hiking seven to nine hours per day and then going back,” he said. “Bieszczady is a really nice place. I knew that I wanted to hike somewhere, see a little bit of the landscape of Poland. I’m looking forward to having a lot of time to myself to think about things and exploring Poland.”

Patrick Veyret, a pilgrim from Australia, will be painting and restoring a museum in a rural Polish town. “I’m looking forward to meeting the other people in the group from different nationalities,” he said. “There’s people from Chile, France, America, Australia and India.”  


Hannah Joakim, a pilgrim from Kenya, will be doing a service experiment in Poznan, Poland. “I am so excited with this experiment because when I look at the theme of MAGIS this year — to give and not to count the cost — I’m really excited to help with the charity and work with the people in Poznan,” she said.

Spiritual category participants will explore deep prayer through different Christian traditions. The sociocultural category will focus on engagement and dialogue with diverse religious, cultural and social groups, and the artistic category will stimulate creativity through folk art, architecture, painting, iconography, acting, music, singing and other forms of expression.

Claire Lucas, a pilgrim attending Seattle University has been assigned to reflect and work at a monastery in Warsaw. “I’m excited to see daily life in a religious order,” Lucas said. “I’m also really excited because there’s a couple days of silence planned. In this part of MAGIS in Lódz, there’s been a lot of loud singing and praying and talking with one another, which is awesome but I’m more excited for the reflective part of it. I hope for some communication with God within myself.”

Regardless of the experiment category, each pilgrim’s day will be similarly structured with time for individual prayer, service, Mass, small group sharing, and an Ignatian daily examen or personal reflection on the events of the day.  Each group consists of 20-25 pilgrims of diverse nationalities, a leader and a Jesuit priest.

“I really hope that students come out with a different mindset after these experiences,” said Thiago Brito Lopes, a chaperone with the delegation from the University of San Francisco in San Francisco, California. “For me, World Youth Day changed my life, it changed my faith. It really changes your perceptions.”


Stay tuned for further updates on MAGIS and World Youth Day 2016, and follow the U.S. pilgrims’ activities on Facebook at and on Twitter: @MAGIS2016USA.

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