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Obrigada, Brazil

Senior Jessie Bazan was one of 12 pilgrims from
Marquette Campus Ministry who traveled to Brazil for Magis and World Youth Day. For her Magis experience, Bazan spent six days walking through rural Brazil with a small group of fellow Jesuit-inspired pilgrims from around the world. She shares some of the journey with Marquette Magazine.

"Thank you" is a sacred phrase in my book. After all, silent gratitude isn't much use to anyone. So, I ventured out on our Magis pilgrimage with just one word in my Portuguese arsenal: obrigada. It turned out to be exactly what I needed. 

During the course of the week, my Magis pilgrimage group walked 80 miles around Capim Grosso, an extremely rural area in northeastern Brazil where the bold blue sky greets the tree-laden horizon in such a way that you'd swear you're in paradise. We hoofed it in the mornings, and usually by early afternoon, we arrived at our host village.

As we ate, danced, played and prayed with our gracious hosts, I was awestruck by the unconditional love these people lavished upon us, complete strangers. And, how perfect, obrigada was all I could say to them. What else would I say to the 80-year-old grandma who slept on the couch so my sore body could spend the night in a bed? Or to the schoolboy who patiently taught me his favorite Samba dance? Or to the team of women who spent all afternoon chopping their only vegetables for our dinner?

It wasn't long before obrigada began directing my prayer life that week, too. Instead of praying to receive something, I found myself thanking God for His many blessings.

  • Obrigada for the silence, because without the distractions of beeps and buzzes, I was able to truly listen and talk with You.

  • Obrigada for the nature, because those views left me astonished at Your beautiful creations.

  • Obrigada for the companionship, because Your insights and desires were wonderfully evident in my fellow pilgrims. 

  • Obrigada for the games, because acting silly was rejuvenating my body and mind.

  • Obrigada for the discomfort, because getting through the challenges gave me a new confidence in myself and a deeper trust in Your protective presence. 

  • Obrigada for the liturgies, because each village's celebration of Your Good News left me radiating with a joy I've never before experienced.

Who knew one little word could mean so much?


Comment by Amy at Aug 05 2013 04:47 pm
It is a powerful word, isn't it? If you're going to learn only one word in a language, "thank you" is probably the best one. Side note- I went to WYD '05 in Koln with a group from MU, probably very similar to yours. At the end of a day where we had walked several miles and I was tired, hungry, thirsty, and more than a bit cranky, an elderly man gave me a peach. I wouldn't recognize that man if I saw him today, but I'll never forget that act of kindness at that moment, or how delicious that fruit tasted! Obrigada indeed. Blessings to you, Jessie!
Comment by A parent of the incoming class of 2017 at Aug 23 2013 08:03 am
How beautiful>>>I hope my daughter is able to experience all that you did some day.
Comment by Willem L. Turpijn at Sep 16 2014 10:16 pm
Hello, my name is Willem. I am one of the WYD Rio participant from Indonesia. It is very nice to read your sharing. As reflected on your sharing, I also felt such an energy after joinning the WYD, and after back to my routines after WYD, me and few friends of mine decided to initiate to make a non-profit portal to collect all stories about World Youth Day and the other Youth Day events stories. We believe that a story could strengthen the other Catholic youths over the world, then every single story about World Youth Day is very important. So, through this comment I would like to ask you whether you would like to share your stories about your participation in the WYD Rio. Please send your email including your stories to my email: We would be very happy to post your sharing in our website. Thank you and God bless :)
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