PENANG – EMI, the Episcopal Commission for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerants, organized the 4th edition of the Exodus Retreat, themed The Mission of Jesus Unto Me, at the idyllic Stella Maris Retreat Centre in Penang Jan 29-Feb 1. Fifty participants came from various parishes and lay organisations of Malaysia as well as from ACMI, the Migrant Commission from Singapore.
The aim of the retreat was to update and reinforce the awareness of those who are involved in migrant ministries, as well as to grow and deepen their spirituality.
The first day of the retreat was spent in discussing policy updates on migrants, trafficking and refugees. The subsequent days were spent in reinforcing the participants’ spirituality and how they could apply it in their ministering services. Daily Eucharists were celebrated, the first being presided by Bishop Sebastian Francis from the Penang Diocese.
The panel of speakers were:
1. Sumitha Shaanthinni Kishna, Assistant Director from the Malaysian Bar Council for Migrant Refugees & Immigration Affairs Committee who discussed the legal standpoint of migrant worker’s issues
2. Aegile Fernandez, Director of Tenaganita, a local NGO that works directly with trafficking victims
3. Richard Towle, representative for the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) in Malaysia
4. Jude Antoine, Kerygma Catholic Charismatic Renewal Lay Missionary who lectured on the heart of Christian leadership
5. Andre Ong, Lay Missionary from the Cathedral of the Holy Spirit, Penang who spoke on Exodus of the Christian Minister and provided the music backing for the prayer sessions
In between sessions there were opportunities for the participants to mingle and discuss common problems.
Positive feedback from participants
John Peng Thang, from the Holy Family parish in Kajang, Selangor, who himself was a refugee said, “This is my first time attending an Exodus retreat and there were great, interesting sessions. This gives me confidence, helps me decide what to do when in difficulties. I will definitely recommend this to other people.”
Dave Kameron from the New Thessalonian Apostolate, a Catholic Lay Association based in Kedah said, “Spirituality and social work is a great mix; it’s a good place for networking with kindred spirits. It’s good to know that you’re not alone and makes you feel you have a family.”
Sr Anita James Lintanga FSIC from Kota Kinabalu in Sabah said, “Very Inspiring! Speakers were professional. A fresh way of looking at a familiar topic. The location is very suitable. The time taken was just right and good. The Eucharist celebrated was very special and very fruitful. The group sharing was enriching and I found the talk by Sumitha very useful.”
It was all not prayer, discussion and lectures for the participants; on the second night, they were brought to visit the famed Batu Ferringhi night market after the day’s sessions were over.
The final day was spent in providing feedback and listening to mini presentations from a few lay organisations, which ended with a Mass celebrated by Msgr Bernard Paul from the Penang diocese. – Don Gurugay