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TAWAU – Sabah Youth Day-4 organising team gathered for the ‘Spiritual Preparation for SYD-4 Organisers’ held in Holy Trinity Church, Tawau, from 4-6 Mar 2016. The team consisted of 140 young people as well as religious sisters and three spiritual advisers from all three arch/dioceses; Fr Sunny Chung of Sandakan Diocese, Fr Jeffri Gumu of Kota Kinabalu Archdiocese and Fr Ronny Mailap of Keningau Diocese. This was the second level of preparation for the upcoming Sabah Youth Day-4 which will be held June 6-10 in Holy Trinity, Tawau.
The first spiritual preparatory was for the Rakan Belia. Rakan Belia are local youths from the hosting diocese, that is, Sandakan. As host, they are encouraged to make others feel at home. Kem Rakan Belia was organised where inputs were given in preparing them to play their part as a ‘rakan’ or friends to other participants during the whole course of SYD.
The recent meeting was a spiritual preparation for all organisers consisting of Main Organising Team (MOT), sub-MOT, Local Organising Team (LOT) and all contingent leaders. There will be a third meeting scheduled in April which is only for MOT, sub-MOT and LOT. The difference between them is the scope of work. The MOT is composed of leaders for various aspects of the event for eg liturgy, and each leader will have their own team under the sub-MOT. Meanwhile, LOT comprises local Tawau youth who will look solely into the logistic and venue for SYD, with Fr Phillip Muji as their adviser. Contingent leaders are youth leaders from each parish.
Besides daily prayer and Mass, the programme gave two solid spiritual inputs. They first read the Pope’s Message for World Youth Day. Since the themes for both WYD and SYD-4 are similar, they delved into a deeper understanding of his message “Be merciful like the Father”. And then they discussed the questions, “Why do we need to be merciful?” and “Have I experienced the mercy of God in my personal life?” Second input was focused on getting to know the Merciful Jesus.
Most of the participants said, “Since God has first shown me mercy, so I need to be merciful to others.” They experienced this especially in terms of forgiving others and accepting others as they are, which they said was very difficult.
The other aspect discussed was the physical preparation for the event: the programme, role of each parish, rules and regulations, health care, discipline; which they summed up and named it ‘Recipe of SYD-4 Success.’ Then the group set aside a fair amount of time to see the venues; the programme will be conducted in Holy Trinity Church hall and its compound. The participants will stay overnight in allocated rooms such as meeting rooms and Sunday school rooms. Since there is not enough room in the Church, some of the female participants will stay in SM St Ursula Convent and SK Holy Trinity while some male participants will stay in SM Holy Trinity and Tadika Holy Trinity.
The programme during SYD-4 will start with an opening Mass by Apostolic Nuncio Archbishop Joseph Marino on the first day. They have daily prayers, sharings, youth animation, confession, family night, gallery walk, catecheses, Way of the Cross, thematic night, synthesis and evaluation on the last day. Archbishop John Wong will preside the closing Mass and then he will announce the next host for SYD-5, which will be in KK but the venue is still under discussion.
At the parish level, contingent leaders will replicate what they have gone through in Tawau as preparation for their participants. They were given all the materials which they could adjust according to their parish need. In order to experience the mercy of God, they are encouraged to dive deep especially into the theme, to go to confession in their parish, and to make an effort to carry out any of the corporal and spiritual works of mercy.
At the grassroot level, contingent leaders play an important role in leading a strong and well-prepared youth towards the major event. They will have the support and guidance of the other organisers, they can also go to their parish priests or the spiritual advisers for advice. The team is confident that these grassroot leaders are ready to carry out the tasks.
Two thousand people from across all arch/dioceses have registered for SYD-4. Invitation is opened to other dioceses too. The dioceses of Sibu, Melaka-Johor and Brunei have registered their young people. The team has actually received more applications but since the facilities in Tawau parish can only accommodate 2000 people, they have to limit it. For local parishes, participation varies between the lowest 11 participants and the highest of 100 youth.
The team asked for prayers and encouragement for the youth from the parishioners. In last year’s PAX gathering, all parishes agreed that the three pressing issues (proselytisation, apathy and secularisation) are happening in their area. SYD is an effort to help the youths so that they will not be easily challenged or influenced by these issues.
On the final day Msgr Nicholas Ong, the parish priest of Holy Trinity, expressed his support to the organisers, “Dear youth, you are not leaders of tomorrow but you are leaders of today because you are born during Vatican II era and you are equipped with the latest technology. I am not really well but I am certainly moved by you…SYD-4! I just trust in God and surrender to Him. Pray for me. I am happy to see all of you and I know you are happy to see me too!” He received cheerful applause from the youth. – CS / Publicity and Documentation Team SYD-4