Canisius Students Return from World Youth Day

BUFFALO, NY – Ten Canisius College students returned home from Rio de Janerio, Brazil today, where they celebrated World Youth Day alongside nearly two million other young people from 170 countries. World Youth Day is organized by the Catholic Church and was led, in part, by its spiritual leader Pope Francis.

“Our experience was incredible,” says Elizabeth Furhman ’16. “What other faith in the world could attract millions of people all for one reason and that reason is Christ. It was awesome.”

This was the Pontiff’s first visit to his native Latin America, since becoming Pope. He participated in a series of events throughout the week. The Pope delivered the World Youth Day welcome address on July 25, which was followed by a papal welcoming ceremony. On Sunday, July 28, Canisius students joined an estimated crowd of three million on Copacabana Beach, to hear Pope Francis deliver his final World Youth Day Mass.

“It was very moving to meet Jesuit students from all over the world, to celebrate Mass with millions of Catholics and of course, to hear the message from Pope Francis was just fantastic,” says Scott Paeplow of campus ministry.

The Canisius students who attended World Youth Day departed for Brazil on July 11 to participate in MAGIS, a service immersion program run by the Society of Jesus in conjunction with WYD. Open to students from Jesuit schools around the world, MAGIS (which means “more”) divides students into global teams, which are assigned to work at a Jesuit missions throughout Brazil. These missions stretch from the jungles of the Amazon to the slums of Rio.

“The experience sites we visited on our pilgrimage were one of the best experiences,” says Jess Bliss ’15. “I learned a lot about myself, about others and what this school (Canisius) means to me.”

At the conclusion of the service immersion experience, students reunited with the school teams for reflection and to celebrate Mass with the Superior General of the Jesuits before joining the World Youth Day celebrations.

World Youth Day was initiated in 1985 by Pope John Paul II. It is celebrated at the diocesan level annually and at the international level every two to three years in different locations around the world.

Click the images below to hear more interviews with students who made the trip to World Youth Day.

Alice Zicari video link

Mike Lillis and Amanda (Mandy) Demarco video link