Jesuits in Myanmar accompany youth amid challenges.
Amid the Covid-19 pandemic and political turmoil in Myanmar, theists were questioning where God was in this difficult time of misery, confusion, and uncertainty in the country.
On May 6, ‘Magis’ (a Latin word, it means "more" or "greater") Myanmar held an online talk to comfort and provide spiritual guidance to youth in these difficult times.
American Jesuit Father James Martin, who led the online event, said, “Often in trying times, we focus only on the difficulties and not where God might be. We are so caught up in the day-to-day events, and we miss where God speaks to us.”
The three pillars of the Magis program are spirituality, companionship, and service in the lives of the Magis youth.
The Magis Myanmar online ministry mainly focused on theological virtues—faith, hope, and love to help the youth to handle well the problems and difficulties of the religious life by sharing, listening, and strengthening each other.
Ms. Ellin Khyu Khyu shared her experience of “Magis Circle”. The faith-sharing is a sacred moment in one’s journey in life.
She could learn that everyone has his/her joys and sorrows, which are to be examined in the light of one’s faith.
“The online activity gives me sacred space where I am listened to and where I can also express my agony with confidence…. I pour out every burden in my heart. I receive inner peace amidst the war,” said one participant.
To overcome the challenges and hardships, the examination of conscience is a time to be aware of where God is working and to reflect on God’s grace one received in the past.
A participant in the Magis program, Alexander expressed, “Initially, I thought what a waste of time examining conscience twice a day. Nothing is new in life. However, during the immersion, I came to realize how the examination of conscience has helped me to know more about myself and how God spoke to me through people.”
Although the internet connection was unstable, the youth joined in these online events. This event was helped by Catholic youth, a group of those who are in foreign countries.
This activity is a weekly program with the topic of theology, psychology, sociology, and health as requested by the participants.
Another youth stated, “Some topics appealed to me with greater fervor than others. Every week, I learn something new to strengthen my spiritual, social, intellectual, and mental health.”
A diaspora youth expressed that he could not work for a month due to his worries about his family amid Covid-19 and political unrest in the country.
He said, “One day, I saw a program of Magis Myanmar on Facebook. Since then, I have been actively participating in the activities and have found friends who share my psychological trauma. The Magis Circles and the talks are spiritual and mental boosters for me.”
The origin of the Magis Myanmar: The eight representatives from Myanmar joined the Jesuit Conference of Asia Pacific (JCAP) Magis Pacific program in Cambodia in 2018.
After three months, they organized the first Magis Myanmar with the encouragement and support of the Jesuit Father Mark Raper, Myanmar Mission Superior from January 2011 to March 2022.
The first Magis Myanmar was a week-long program in 2018. The Magis program was intended to convey the Ignatian Spirituality in the youth.
This year 2022, the Magis Myanmar held the three-day event in Taunggyi, the capital of Shan State, Myanmar, 635 kilometers far from Yangon by road, from April 9 – 11, with 55 participants. - With reporting by Patrick Soe Htun
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