Nurturing leadership and faith in service

The annual retreat for the Archdiocesan Office for Human Development (AOHD) unfolded against the beautiful backdrop of Genting Highlands.

Nov 24, 2023

The youth from East Malaysia leading the participants in a lively praise and worship session.

By Devon Chew, Social Comms, AOHD

The annual retreat for the Archdiocesan Office for Human Development (AOHD) unfolded against the beautiful backdrop of Genting Highlands. It drew more than 70 participants to the newly refurbished Villa Dominic for a weekend dedicated to connection, leadership, and learning.

Beginning on the evening of November 10, the retreat commenced with the Eucharistic celebration led by Archbishop Julian Leow, who travelled alongside the participants on the bus and stayed overnight.

The following day started with a morning meditation, setting the tone for an enlightening experience. Addressing the essence of Integral Human Development and the significance of serving the most marginalised in communities, retreat master Fr George Harrison, fresh from his work in the Dicastery for Promoting Human Development in Rome, led three comprehensive sessions on calling and mission. Participants found his sessions to be not just engaging but deeply insightful. An evening sunset Mass concluded the day’s intellectual and spiritual nourishment just before dinner.

Day three heralded the morning with Lauds, leading into a two-part session hosted by Aaron Mathew on the topic of Servant Leadership. The day provided a relaxed atmosphere, offering ample time for self-reflection and fellowship. It culminated in a Holy Hour, followed by a closing session conducted by Adira, the Project Officer of AOHD, encouraging participants to gather thoughts and reflections on the learnings from the entire retreat.

The sharings from the participants revealed a spectrum of experiences, from sheer enjoyment to feeling the profound presence of the divine through the sessions, inspiring a desire to share the work of God.

On the final day, Fr Albet Arokiasamy, the ecclesiastical assistant for AOHD, led the morning lauds and celebrated the closing Mass, marking a significant end to the retreat.

After breakfast, farewells were exchanged, bags were packed, and participants dispersed, some heading to the Sacerdotal Ordination of Deacon Gnana Selvam Berentis at the Church of St Paul the Hermit in Bestari Jaya, while others made their way back home.

Testimonials echoed the impact and diversity of the retreat experience:

Mary Teoh described it as “a retreat with a difference; the energy and the fusion of vibrancy, the team have truly made an impact.”

Yunita shared, “An eye-opening experience, I’ve met so many new and inspiring people and I have learned so much within the few days. I encourage others to join and to be enlightened as I was.”

Agnus reflected, “I have learned a lot even in this short period, from people with different ideas and opinions. I am confident that after this retreat, I will have a better understanding of how to help others in need.”

Matthew noted, “It was surprising to see so many young people here as there’s this perception that retreats are mostly attended by more senior participants. Even though it was a small crowd, the impact was huge and there were a lot of meaningful lessons I can take home with me.”

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