Two World Youth Day participants tidy up a grave at Lim Chu Kang cemetery. Fifty-eight of them attended a retreat from June 24-25 as part of their spiritual formation for the international celebration in July.Two World Youth Day participants tidy up a grave at Lim Chu Kang cemetery. Fifty-eight of them attended a retreat from June 24-25 as part of their spiritual formation for the international celebration in July.

Fifty-eight people attended a 24-hour retreat as part of their spiritual formation for World Youth Day (WYD) in Poland in July.

They were introduced to the Magis – Latin for “more” or “better” programme – which they would be participating in Poland before the official start of WYD.

The June 24-25 retreat, organised by the MAGiS WYD 2016 Organising Committee from the Church of St Ignatius, incorporated elements of Ignatian spirituality. These included morning prayer, “experiment” activity, the “examen” and the Magis circle, a sharing group for people to reflect on their day and learn to appreciate and value its richness.

The highlight of the retreat was the “experiment” activity in which participants chose from six ways of practising spiritual and corporal works of mercy. Some of these were feeding the hungry, visiting the sick, comforting the afflicted, and praying for the living and the dead.

WYD participants at the Green Corridor (left) and visiting a one-room flat at Redhill.WYD participants at the Green Corridor (left) and visiting a one-room flat at Redhill.

In one of these activities, called Turning Strangers into Friends, participants paired up and went to Ghim Moh Market where they struck up conversations with strangers.

“This was really a step out of my comfort zone,” shared Ms Monica Zhang, 29. “The experience was not as bad as I imagined and it felt nice to spend some time talking with strangers, getting to know them and the lives they lead.”

Another “experiment”, Caring in the Cemetery, brought pilgrims to Lim Chu Kang cemetery, where they took time to pray and helped to clean the graves.

“I found the experience peaceful in the quiet and serene environment, and was pleasantly surprised that people were friendly and open when approached,” said Mr Matthew Lim, 25.

The Loving in the Heartlands “experiment” led pilgrims to one-room flats at Redhill where they spent time with residents. They also worked with the Society of St Vincent de Paul from the Church of St Ignatius to distribute food to them.

Mr Leon Vincent Chan, 23, shared that “there were moments after hearing their stories and learning about their situation, where even though I very much wanted to help, I had to learn to accept that helplessness.”

Other “experiments” include feeding and chatting with residents of the Gift of Love home in Boon Lay, run by the Missionaries of Charity, and a walking pilgrimage to MacRitchie Reservoir and the Green Corridor.

The retreatants also rehearsed for the Festival of Nations segment in WYD in which each country is invited to create an artistic presentation of one aspect of its culture while expressing how God has blessed their country.

This group of pilgrims will also perform a mime to Song for Singapore, written by singer-songwriter Corrinne May, as it touches on family, community and people’s hopes and dreams for the nation.

The MAGiS-WYD 2016 Singapore contingent comprising 64 pilgrims will be travelling to Poland on July 14. WYD this year will be held from July 25-31.

By Joan Toh

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