Alpha Sigma Nu at MAGIS 2023

MAGIS, a gathering organized by the Society of Jesus, invites young adults from the Ignatian Family to come together in preparation of World Youth Day, a worldwide encounter with the Pope celebrated every three years in a different country.  With the support of an ASN member donor who funds the ASN Seelos grant, five pilgrim members participated in a week-long set of experiences with more than 2,000 pilgrims from 79 countries. 

What was the most memorable part of Magis for you? 

Henry: Far and away, the most memorable part of Magis was building relationships with people from all over the world; people who, despite our differences, saw the world very similarly. 

Brandon: I really enjoyed getting to learn about different cultures through the people I met. Specifically, I made friends from residents of Slovenia, Portugal, and Spain. This international cultural exposure is something that I have never experienced before and I was so blessed to get it. 

Elena: MAGIS was an enlightening opportunity to experience more closely the culture of encounter – to exchange everyday realities, personal reflections, and sincere smiles with people from different regions and cultures, and to realize how we can all live faithfully in harmony and peace.  For instance, admiring the very different shows and dances from all corners of the world exposed in the Festival of Nations on the last night of MAGIS, and bonding with great ease with anyone I met at the same time, showed me that it is not so much what separates us but much that unites us. 

Kayla: For me, the moment of Magis I will never forget was sharing in the refugee-led community dinner at the Jesuit Refugee Center in Gaia. After hours in the kitchen, sharing utensils and spices, offering taste tests, and swapping stories, we all sat down together to indulge in the fruits of our labor. Our meal was filled with love and tradition, a dinner I'll never forget.

How, if at all, did this advance your understanding of the Jesuit mission worldwide? 

Elena: Sharing a profound experience of spirituality surrounded by people from 80 different nationalities (and becoming good friends) has made me realize that faith unites the depths of people and that this union allows us to do wonders. #BeMagis means giving the best version of ourselves every day, in every place we are and with every person we meet. In a sense it seems simple, but it requires “being more” every day. It means moving away from myself, looking beyond (what is around us?), being present and always giving ourselves with love to those who need it. 

 Brandon: This experience was able to advance my understanding of the Jesuit mission because I was able to gain a deeper, more well-versed perspective of refugees. I was able to stay at a Jesuit Refugee Services center that houses and feeds refugees, seeking shelter from their situation. This is a topic that is affecting many people’s lives every day, specifically in Ukraine. I learned about what the Jesuits are doing to help refugees and what systems are in place to find refugees in need of resources. 

Kayla: Magis helped me put faces to the global church. Young Catholics from all over the world shared such varying experiences but one common love for Christ and faith.

Henry: I saw the connection between ASN and Magis most prominently reflected by a shared commitment to service, specifically the work of both organizations to curate more holistically educated, globally minded citizens. The Jesuits are a global network, an interconnected group connected far greater extent than I had previously realized. Moving forward in life, I’d like to make better use of that network in both my personal life and professional career.  

What is the greatest takeaway for you as you go on to the next stage of your life?  

Kayla: As I embark on my journey through dental school, I hope to treat all my future patients with the warm embrace I received from the Magis community. Every space is a chance to welcome a stranger and make them feel at home.

Brandon: My greatest takeaway is that although we may live different lifestyles than those in different countries, we are much more similar than we think. Religion is one faucet that connected us all at MAGIS but there were many other values and beliefs that we all shared together. I am finishing my Masters of Health Administration degree at The University of Scranton and am applying to fellowships currently. I will take my international experience with me into my interviews and future jobs. 

Elena: My greatest takeaway from Magis2023 is that we all have something in common:  All people from all places are needed to make this world better. This is a mindset I hope to grow as I start a new professional stage as a trainee of the European Economic and Social Committee and a fellow of the European Leadership Program (ELP) organised by the Jesuit European Social Center. I am convinced that combining these two enriching experiences will allow me to become a better leader for and with others, and to focus with determination on the areas of need where I can provide a reconciliatory stance and be of most help. 

Henry: The greatest takeaway for me is that we, human beings, are more alike than unalike. In the next stage of my life I will be teaching English in Zambia through the Peace Corps; I look forward to bringing this mindset with me and cultivating a life marked by shared goals within the community I will serve despite our differences. 

How do you plan to stay involved and in touch with Alpha Sigma Nu? 

Brandon: As one of the students on the board of directors, I will continue to join board meetings, connect with my Scranton chapter, and attend conferences to stay involved with Alpha Sigma Nu. I will help lead monthly meetings with the student presidents of each university’s chapter. I look forward to growing and continuing to support ASN. 

Elena: As I have become more involved in ASN, I have realised that being a member is all-encompassing, because the values for which I was inducted remain an integral part of who I am. So, I hope that in this new professional stage that I start in Brussels this fall, I keep (1) strengthening relationships with the amazing ASN members and good friends I have met over the years, (2) sharing worldviews and ideals about what could eventually come to fruition, and always (3) developing the desire to build a better world. 

Kayla: I look forward to sharing the highlights of my experience with my alma mater's chapter of Alpha Sigma Nu. I hope to encourage them to engage with the global Catholic community and seek out opportunities to learn more about Catholic scholarship in other countries.