KOTA KINABALU – Although only 260 people registered for the Gaudium et Spes (Church in the Modern World) seminar, almost 400 turned up for it, taking the organisers by surprise. The seminar, conducted in Bahasa Melayu/Bahasa Indonesia on 28 Nov 2015 at the Sacred Heart Parish Centre here, was held in conjunction with the 50th anniversary of the Second Vatican Council by the Archdiocesan Human Development Commission (AHDC).
The speaker was Fr Paulus Toni Tantiono, a Franciscan Capuchin Friar from Pontianak, Kalimantan. The document, released in 1965, deepened and expanded the Church’s self-awareness as a People-in-Community, called together by Christ to love and serve God, each other, and all the human family. The speaker touched on the two parts of the document: (1) The Church and Human Vocation – human dignity, human community, human beings at work in the world, the Church in the modern world; and (2) Some Major Concerns – marriage and family, development of culture, socio-economic life, political life, and peace. He also took time to explain its shortcomings.
A spokesperson for the organisers said that plans are afoot to invite the speaker back to talk on the other social encyclicals. He said it was the first time the AHDC has organised such a seminar on a specific document although the commission has gone to the parishes to raise the awareness of the social encyclicals in general. The unexpected large turnout manifested a sign of the people’s hunger to understand more the Church’s teachings on relevant socio-economic-political issues touching their lives.