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Sandakan campus students gathering focuses on church social teachings

1LAHAD DATU – The Catholic Campus Student Gathering (CCSGS) is an annual program organised by the Sandakan Diocesan Youth Apostolate, Campus Ministry team. This year, the 3rd CCSG focussed on the Catholic Social Teachings (CST), held at St Dominic Church, Lahad Datu, June 5-7. Dominic Lim from the KK Archdiocesan Human Development Commission (AHDC) shared the teaching to 18 young people who are still studying in the University and colleges as well as some graduates from YouthPrepLink.

The Catholic Social Teachings are Church’s reflections on the “Signs of the Time”, issues which are connecting to and affecting human society. These reflections are based on the Scriptures and the doctrines of the Church, and are spelt out through the Popes’ encyclicals, beginning from Rerum Novarum of Pope Leo XIII in 1891.

Quoted from YouCat, Dominic explained why the Church has her own social teachings: “Because all men, as children of God, possess a unique dignity, the Church with her social teaching is committed to defending and promoting this human dignity for all men in the social sphere. She is not trying to pre-empt the legitimate freedom of politics or of the economy. When human dignity is violated in politics and economic practices, however, the Church must intervene.” (No.438)

In line with this, he then facilitated the various themes of CST: Life and Dignity of the Human Person; Call to Family, Community and Participation; Rights and Responsibilities; Dignity of Work and the Rights of Workers; Solidarity; Option for the Poor; and Care for Creation. Through the process of Experience-Analysis-Reflection-Action, the participants were led to understand social issues from the Catholic perspective.

Dominic indicated that by expressing their views, the participants were encouraged to enter into a process where they were also exposed to others’ views and be prepared to be challenged. But the final analysis would need to fall back to what the Social Encyclicals say about such issues. This See-Judge-Act methodology was mentioned in Pope Paul VI’s encyclical Populorum Progressio.  It is a process to engage in bringing about social change towards the building of a civilization of love, especially in upholding and defending the human dignity. The participants were told that the CST is a constitutive element in the evangelization mission of the Church. By our actions in defending truth, justice and peace, we spread the Good News.

The sharings were an eye opener to most participants. Now they realize the Church is called to transform the world because “The joy and hope, the grief and anguish of the men of our time, especially of those who are poor or afflicted in any way, are the joy and hope, the grief and anguish of the followers of Christ as well.” (cf. Preface, Church in the Modern World)

To move forward in living out the CST, the participants were encouraged to apply ‘See-Judge-Act’ in dealing with social issues.  They were urged to pray for guidance from the Holy Spirit for wisdom and courage to share and apply the CST in daily living.

The young people were inspired by the two-day sessions which helped them to be a better Catholic and hopefully to become more like Jesus whose actions were driven by love. Indeed that is the basis of the Catholic Social Teachings, namely love.

Since 2014, AHDC has gone to parishes around KK Archdiocese and other dioceses to promote the CST. Though the process is slow and gradual, more efforts are needed to transmit this “Best Kept Secret” to all Catholics.  – Mazdollyna Majalin/CS

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