Let me journey with you to SYD4

Three hundred and sixty participants throughout the Diocese of Sandakan took part in the Youth Camp November 23-27 organized by the Sabah Youth Day 4

Dec 22, 2015

TAWAU: Three hundred and sixty participants throughout the Diocese of Sandakan took part in the Youth Camp November 23-27 organized by the Sabah Youth Day 4 (SYD4) Local Organizing Team (LOT), in collaboration with the Sandakan Diocese Youth office.

The five-day-four-night programme was designed for  youths aged 15 and above as a spiritual preparation to serve as volunteers, or as they are better known, as Friends of Youth during SYD 4 in June 2016.

This programme resulted from positive feedback received during the 10th Youth Festival that was held in Sandakan in 1988.

The theme was Taken, Blessed, Broken, Shared – Let Me Journey with You to SYD-4. This is very meaningful for the participants because it explores the four key points of Jesus’ personality: “He was TAKEN (1st Day) when He heard God’s call, He was BLESSED (2nd Day) in baptism at the River Jordan, He was BROKEN (3rd Day) on the cross and His life has been SHARED (4th Day) with humanity for 2000 years.”

The theme for the 2nd Youth Camp was taken from 2 Cor 3:2-3 You yourselves are our letter, written on our hearts, to be known and read by all; and you show that you are a letter of Christ, prepared by us, written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God, not on tablet of stone but on tablets of human hearts.   The theme is fitting for the participants who will be “Friends of Youth” during SYD-4.

There were various programmes and activities, including daily Mass, Welcome Night, a presentation session, Taize Prayers, Personal Reflection, SYD-4 Walk and Commitment to Surrender.

The rational behind the programme was to prepare the youth spiritually, physically, mentally, emotionally and socially.   They would also learn how to be open, accept criticism, improve their weaknesses and become a uniting factor among the various organizations, as well as getting to know one another in order to create mutual understanding.

The camp began in the afternoon of Nov 23 with a symbolic procession by the youth, from the Parish Hall to the Church, a walk for the youth to reflect on their own personal journey and in their ministries in the Church. Bishop Julius Dusin Gitom was the main celebrant for the Opening Mass, with Msgr Nicholas Ong and Fr Johnny Raju concelebrating.

"I hope that we will be able to use this time to open our hearts to God’s guidance, open our hearts to the Holy Spirit  to enable us to become willing agents of God,” said Bishop Julius in his homily. He also urged those who would become Friends of Youth to concentrate fully during this camp to strengthen their relationship with God.  After Mass, the youth had dinner in the canteen before  the first activity, Welcome Night.

A prayer, adapted from Asian Youth Day in the Philippines, was held on the second morning, Nov 24. The participants were each given a bowl of rice. Rice is the main meal in Sabah, a daily meal, whether one is rich or poor, old or young. In holding the bowl of rice, the participants were asked to remember those who work hard and struggling to make ends meet.

The first session on the second day of the programme was by Sr Dora Obod, fsic, Vice Coordinator of SYD-4 on Sabah Youth Day. The participants were given the opportunity to learn about the background, the rational, the objectives and its development through photographs, video clips and an interesting slide presentation. They were also able to share their experiences and the challenges facing them. There was also a Question & Answer session on their concerns about Sabah Youth Day.

The topic for the second session “Why me?’ was conducted by Dominic Lim from the Office of the Archdiocese Kota Kinabalu to make the youth more mindful of the characteristics of becoming a Friend of Youth and what kind of attitude is needed to become one. “You are the host of SYD-4 and you are the face of SYD-4.” Using a jigsaw puzzle as an example,  he told them that we are all pieces of a puzzle that make up the Church. He quoted 1 Cor 12:18, “But as it is, God arranged the members in the body, each one of them as he chose.”

The second day focused on recognizing oneself, through lectures and activities to foster friendships among the youth.  On the third day, Nov 25, the talk was ‘A Servant’s Heart’ was given by Sr Terry Loukang, fsic from the Archdiocese of Kota Kinabalu. The participants were reminded to be conscious of what a servant’s heart means, especially as a member of Friend of Youth. 

An SYD-4 Walk was held on Day 3. The participants were brought to the exact location of where SYD-4 will be held.  This was a fun activity because the participants were able to see the place for themselves, before the actual day.  It also gave them a new experience because many of the Friends of Youth are not from the same parishes. 

On the 4th day, Nov 26, the participants were entertained by Fr Johnny Raju, on the topic “Commitment.” His style of presentation made it very easy for the participants to understand the meaning of the word commitment.

“Commitment to the Church is something spiritual and it is a blessing from God,” said Fr Johnny during this session. The participants were also urged to pray constantly so that their relationship with God will become closer and stronger.  He said that, whatever commitment we undertake will receive God’s blessings as long as we believe in ourselves and because God will always be there to help in whatever path chosen.

Before the close of the Youth Camp, the participants were given the option to make a commitment to being a Friend of Youth through the “Commitment to Surrender” on the 4th day. After that, the participants were divided into groups to perform the Pilgrim’s Dance as a sign of thanksgiving and gratitude.

Msgr Nicholas told the participants that the youth are the leaders of today and tomorrow; thus they should continue to strengthen their faith and bring the Good News to the world.  In his homily, he referred to 1 Cor 11:23 on the Institution of the Lord’s Supper. He said that God gives life through Holy Communion and we should give thanks to God because, through the receiving of Holy Communion, we truly receive the Body and Blood of Christ. “Promote Jesus as an example – Love, Serve, Suffer, Sacrifice and Save,” said Msgr Nicholas Ong during the closing Mass.

The Youth camp ended on November 27.

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