Day 3 of the MAGIS experiences (July 17) saw the Pontau, Rio de Janeiro pilgrims visiting an urban eco-park in the Vidigal favela (a Brazilian slum). Jason Welle, SJ reported the pilgrims (from France, Colombia, Portugal and Congo as well as students from Fordham and St. Joseph’s Universities) helped upcycle used soda bottles into self-watering planters. View the gallery at the end of this post for photos of Vidigal as well as of the other pilgrim experience sites.
The pilgrims in Belem continued to work on their musical but took a break to catch a double-decker river boat for a sunset tour up one of the branches of the Amazon river, complete with a very dramatic sunset, a rainbow arching into the rooftops of the colonial buildings and churches, a DJ, two MC’s, two professional folk dancers and obviously plenty of dancing pilgrims. Did we expect anything else out of MAGIS after the continuous partying in Salvador? Morning prayer involved concentric circles, with an outer circle bestowing affectionate actions on a blindfolded inner circle — give a hug, kneel and pray for the person, touch their feet, shoulder massage, cup their face, kiss their hands, etc. “Love fest all around…tears…and several reflections about the beauty of blindly receiving love and affection,” wrote Brendan Busse, SJ. “One LMU student noted that it was like Jesus coming to her as she had her eyes covered.”
Pilgrims walking to Aparecida continue to experience difficulties connecting to the internet in the mountains (no surprise). They began their trip on strange terrain – railroad tracks surrounded by slick rocks. “[It] sounded great at first, but was the most challenging thing ever,” wrote Emma Scuglik. “But people bore their crosses with great strength.” The pilgrims walked for nearly 11 hours due to a miscalculation. They did successfully count a small blessing, however: the pilgrims managed to glimpse the Southern Cross star constellation (only visible in the Southern Hemisphere skies) and offered their sufferings up. Thankfully, the weary pilgrims were greeted with open arms by welcoming sisters at the pilgrim house, plus well-deserved hot showers, at the end of their trip for the day.
Cascavel pilgrims were sent in pairs to stay with local Brazilian host families. Some pilgrims did activities in the city, including working with a private recycling company run by a local family or going to a soup kitchen operated by a group of local monks. The pilgrims reported they found the faith and commitment of the monks to be particularly moving. Others did activities in more rural areas, such as helping to build a chicken coop for 1,500 chickens, preparing for a community celebration of agriculture and the most basic of all farming tasks: milking cows. All the pilgrims at the various sites had large barbecues with a ridiculous abundance of food. Chris Schroeder, SJ described via email that they were blown away by the joy of the families and the generosity of their welcome.
As we await updates for day 4 of the MAGIS experiences, we’re happy to say that all our pilgrims scattered across this country shared with us a common sense of fulfillment and spiritual reassurance from their sites. We’re earnestly looking forward to writing the next post — be sure to join us in our anticipation and prayer for the pilgrims right here at the TJP Magis/WYD portal and on Facebook and Twitter (@Magis2013USA and @TJPOnTour).