The reality of hope

Vitality is a key ingredient for young people who want to transform society.


By Violet Cabral, The Cardoner Network

It’s 9pm, 2000 people from 80 countries stand in the scorching European summer sun, a chorus rises, carrying the melody of our collective endeavour: “We are creating a hope-filled future” (the MAGIS 2023 hymn). This harmonious anthem swiftly became a favourite replayed until, inevitably, it wore thin to some after a week.

Setting off on the MAGIS x World Youth Day (WYD), (“MAGIS” translates to “be more”) journey alone was a plunge into the unfamiliar. Uncertainty hung in the air: what to anticipate, whom I’d encounter, and where I would be sleeping. As it turned out, we ended up sleeping on the floor! For three whole weeks! I have now slept on concrete, floorboards, grass, wood and carpet. Did I forget to say rocks? Yes, I have now slept in a cave. I feel invincible! 

Leaving the comforts of familiarity behind was both daunting and exhilarating. I found that carrying myself with a positive attitude allowed me to embrace changes. More so, it was the people surrounding me who most helped me persevere. The friendships forged during this experience were nothing short of extraordinary, leaving me profoundly grateful for the remarkable individuals I met. I made genuine connections that made my experience and my whole spiritual journey all the more meaningful.

The sunset over a million pilgrims seen before the WYD sleep out and celebrating Mass with the Pope. Photo: Violet Cabral.

MAGIS offered an array of experiences: prayer, service, pilgrimage, ecology and arts. I chose to undertake a pilgrimage with 20 others from Australia, Portugal, Brazil, Ireland, Vietnam, and Timor Leste. Ironically, our pilgrimage encompassed all five facets: praying as we trekked through the picturesque countryside surrounding Coimbra, assisting those falling behind and struggling to walk, immersing ourselves in nature, and dancing and singing to keep our drained bodies and minds energised as the sun beat down relentlessly. The hikes each day in the scorching heat demanded physical and mental endurance. Within our MAGIS circles and examens each day I was reminded that growth often arises from discomfort and that true growth flourishes when we step out of our comfort zones and choose bravery over fear.

As we look around the world, we see countless challenges that demand our attention and action. It’s easy to feel overwhelmed, to believe that one individual’s efforts couldn’t possibly make a difference. Pope Francis spoke about young people having great dreams but fearing the worst and becoming discouraged before letting go of their dreams for a greater world. I found this very relatable because so many young people dream for a better world and a sense of peace but they’re just saying and wishing for this. If you want to create a better world you need to “be more” (MAGIS 2023 English translation) and not be afraid. “Do not be afraid” (Pope Francis WYD 2023).

However, at both MAGIS and WYD I witnessed a sense of hope that wasn’t just a distant concept, it was a tangible reality. Over the course of three transformative weeks full of challenges, prayer and solidarity, I witnessed over a million young people actively providing hope.

My favourite quote, which I have been using since 2019, perfectly encapsulates the vitality of young people in today’s society. “You are not the future but the now of God” – (Pope Francis WYD 2019). We are the now of God, we’re here, present today and have a mission to take action and work for tomorrow, starting now, starting today. “Do not be afraid” (Pope Francis WYD 2023), for we have the present hope.

World Youth Day 2023 & Magis

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Violet (second row, second from left) with her fellow pilgrims at the final MAGIS event before WYD week. Photo courtesy of Violet Cabral.