Canisius Students Celebrate World Youth Day

August 21, 2016


Nine Canisius students were among 2.5 million other young people from 187 countries to celebrate World Youth Day (WYD) in Krakow, Poland from July 13-July 31. The Canisius students who attended WYD participated in MAGIS ( Latin for “more”), a meeting of young people from all over the world who are interested in Ignatian spirituality.

The group was walked 125km on a Pilgrimage route, sang God’s praises in a choir all week, and used photography as a means of spiritual reflection.

The Canisius students include:


  • Ben Brasley '16, a mathematics & statistics major who graduated in May
  • Daphne Sietz '18, a junior religious studies major
  • Helena Mazurek '17, a senior animal behavior, ecology and conservation and psychology dual major
  • Maxine Osetinsky '18, a junior animal behavior, ecology and conservation and psychology dual major
  • Ellen Uba ’18, a junior business economics and finance dual major
  • Mary Woodruff '18, a junior animal behavior, ecology and conservation major
  • Matt Pernick '18, a junior accounting and finance dual major
  • Megan Smith '16, a communication studies major who graduated in May
  • Rachael Sparacino '19, a sophomore international relations and European Studies dual major


Pope Francis delivered his welcome address at a prayer service on Thursday, July 28. On Friday July 29 during the Ways of the Cross, Megan Smith ’16 was in close proximity to the Pontiff.

“Through my interactions with other young adult Catholics from around the world, I rediscovered God’s love and mercy that is within all of us,” said Smith, regarding her participation in WYD. “By sharing my faith and standing in solidarity, I made genuine, human connections that reminded me that we are all God’s children.”

Mike Hayes, director of campus ministry, and Greg Rusch, computer support technician for ITS accompanied the students.

“Both MAGIS and World Youth Day inspired us to step up and shake hands with our own personal spirituality, “ said Hayes.  “Pope Francis challenged each of us to bring youthful energies (even those of us who are not so youthful!) to solve big issues like poverty and injustice.  We were inspired to know that we are more than enough for God and that with even small efforts we can help change the world.”

World Youth Day is organized by the Catholic Church and is led, in part, by its spiritual leader, Pope Francis.  The event is a unique way to deepen one’s faith and grow closer to Christ, by means of prayer and the sacraments, together with other young people.

Click here to view a video of Pope Francis’ motorcade.

Click here to view more photos of WYD.

Canisius College is one of 28 Jesuit universities in the nation and the premier private university in Western New York.