Magis Panama Centro America and World Youth Day 2019

 By Jabulani Shaba 


The World Youth Day (JMJ/WYD) is one of the most popular events in the Catholic Church where young people gather together with the Pope in prayer, song and meditation.

 The World Youth Day was instituted by Pope John Paul the Second in 1985 with the sole purpose of uniting all the young people around the world to unite and find God through sharing their diverse cultures and lifestyle. 

This year’s gathering was hosted by Panama, Central America and the Zimbabwean Delegation with youths from different parishes around the Archdiocese of Harare were part of this historic and prestigious event. 

Prior to the official World Youth Day, pilgrims took about a week in different provinces of Panama where they were immersed in the Ignatian Spirituality which prepared them for the final World Youth Day and an encounter with the Pope. During these weeks the pilgrims from all over the world were divided and mixed into groups in which they were sent off to help the marginalised communities.


The build up to the World Youth Day was the MAGIS Centro America experience. The Magis philosophy is described by three key concepts which are Service, Spirituality and Companionship. 

It was within the confines of these 3 essential themes that the Magis experiments were premised on. Some were sent off to perform ecological tasks and others helped in the areas that needed attention. 

The experience was designed to take the pilgrims out of their comfort zones and their daily normal routines to a different and unfamiliar environment.

Pilgrims had the chance to visit the homes of the people of Panama to experience their culture and way of life. Some families were living in abject poverty but one thing that stood out was the way in which they seemed content and happy with the little that they had, a lesson which the pilgrims had to learn. 

Young people got the time to visit old people’s homes in which they got to appreciate the importance of love and an appreciation of the fact that life is very short and as families there need to take care of our loved ones not only when they are old and weary but through every step of the way.  

Love is a force which unites families and lack of it is characterised by desolation and heartbrokenness. There was one man who had been in the old people’s home for 5 years and not even a single family member had visited him. One could feel the tragedy and pain that this old man was going through and this was one of the eye opening moments for the pilgrims. 

The pilgrims from Zimbabwe also got the platform to showcase the Zimbabwean culture through performing the traditional dance which left the crowd in awe and amazement. The Festival of Nations therefore gave all the pilgrims around the world an opportunity to appreciate the different diverse cultures around the world. 


This was the ultimate event that had made all pilgrims gather in Panama and witness a historic moment with Pope Francis in a week of prayer and devotion. All the pilgrims from every corner of the world were in place and the atmosphere was electrifying.

One of the most important lessons was the Pope’s message for the young people all over the world. The Holy Father emphasized to the youths that the way of the Cross is painful and is filled with suffering but there is beauty behind the pain. It is through the Cross that Christ identifies and unites with the suffering, He therefore unites with everyone’s situation and transforms it. Pope Francis also stated that as humans we have deviated our eyes not to see and our ears not to hear. There is so much injustice going around the world and as young people what are we doing about this?  How do we react to the cries of the afflicted, do we console and comfort these people? Are we peacemakers? Like Mary we should be patient and we should open our eyes and hearts from paralysis, fear and confusion but we have the strength and courage to always say ‘here I am’

The ‘yes’ of Mary has been carried and has echoed from generation to generation. As young people you should also have the courage to say ‘Yes’ to the Lord and embrace life as it comes. Brace your fears and take it to the Lord in prayer.

Pope Francis also reiterated that, ‘The Church is a community of communities recognizing the uniqueness of everyone’  Each and everyone has a key role to play in the Church and therefore no one should feel inferior. 

The Latin American people have so much love and open hearts, they welcomed all the pilgrims from all the corners of the globe with warmth.

This is one such feature which shows the universalism of the Catholic Church. This is the same love which should be shared within our own Church here in Zimbabwe and more importantly amongst the Catholic young people. Divisions and separations based on the amount of money one has should be removed. Young people should not form these groups based on classes and levels of wealthy. This has been one salient problem affecting growth of the Church and unity among young people. If this can be addressed and dealt with, our Church will definitely grow. 

The youths from the other side of the world are geared towards safeguarding the growth of the Church through their activities which unite every individual. Their level of competence is quite exceptional and so is their administrative skills. These are some of the key variables that need to be incorporated and fused within the Zimbabwean young Catholics. Administrative skills especially within the leadership of the Youths in the diocese should be improved in events such as the local World Youth Day. 









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