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A scant three months after its return from the JCAP Magis Asia Pacific programme held in Cambodia, the eight-person delegation from Myanmar has organised the first Magis Myanmar.

Scholastic PV Joseph Buan Sing SJ, who accompanied the group, shared that they returned from Magis Asia Pacific in January with rich experiences and a desire to enable others to have such an experience of Ignatian Spirituality.  Although the Jesuits have been accompanying the youth in Myanmar for several decades through their schools, the Magis programme was a way to introduce Ignatian Spirituality to the youth.

Deeply encouraged and supported by Myanmar Mission Superior Fr Mark Raper SJ, the team started planning the first ever Magis Myanmar.  Two months later, the plan became a reality, with a week-long programme based on the Magis formation book prepared by the Indonesian Magis team.

April 11 to 17 saw more than 65 youth and Jesuits from across the country gather at St Peter Faber Jesuit Candidate House in Taunggyi for Magis Myanmar.  The participants learnt about Ignatian Spirituality, which is marked by cura personalis (personal care), discernment and magis (more), and were taught how to practice the examen, discernment, meditation, journaling and Ignatian leadership.  Then they embarked on their experiment, which involved either going on a three-day Ignatian Pilgrimage walking a distance of 78 kilometres, or living for three days with ragpickers, orphans and lepers.

Those who went on the pilgrimage found it an experience of the generosity of people and God’s providence. Francis Xavier Akhar Lay, a participant from St Aloysius Gonzaga School in Taunggyi, shared, “I truly learnt the meaning of ‘Emmanuel – God with us’ in this pilgrimage. Indeed, God is always with us and he walks with us.”

Joseph Seng Naw from St Luke’s College in Myitkyina chose to live with the ragpickers, and found it an eye-opening experience of how poor people are perceived and treated.

Being with the ragpickers and following their work taught me about some people’s opinion on the poorest of the poor in our society. After six hours of ragpicking and begging for food, luckily, we found Ks 20,000 ($14.87) and went to several restaurants. Two shops refused us, and the third one half-heartedly allowed us to buy some food for the eight of us,” he said.

Sophia Soe Soe Moe from Campion Institute learnt a valuable lesson after living with lepers. Being with them offered me a great lesson that giving one’s time and energy is far greater than just giving money,” she shared.

By the end of the programme, the participants proudly identified themselves as “Jesuit Youth” to distinguish themselves from the other youth groups in the country. One participant who is not a Christian said, “Ignatian spirituality is so rich and profound; it transcends religion and race. I think everyone can practise it and find meaning in their lives and learn to be an agent of change.”

Re-Published from JCAP