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Youth celebrate Catholic faith in SYD-4

celebrating faith

TAWAU – For the first time, Diocese of Sandakan hosted the 4th edition of Sabah Youth Day (SYD-4) which was held at Holy Trinity Church here. The event ran for five days, from June 6-10, 2016.

This once-in-four years youth festival was attended by an astonishing 1,965 young Catholics all over Sabah, including three youth delegates from Sibu Diocese and five from Apostolic Vicariate of Brunei. In line with the Year of Mercy, they celebrated their Catholic faith in the spirit of its theme from Mt 5:7 “Blessed are the merciful, for they will receive mercy.”

The presence of the arch/bishops and scores of priests and over 40 religious sisters throughout the five-day event, who dedicated their time and support, portrays a Church that is concerned for her young and their journey of faith. The youth felt welcomed to approach them as they offered a listening ear and a helping hand especially during counselling session, ministering of the sacrament of confession, or even just for a chat.

Faith formation programmes and inputs for spiritual strengthening were presented in various forms. Many said the inputs have equipped them. They have enhanced their understanding on issues that have been vague before, but now they have been enlightened. The youths also have the chance to build new friendships with those from other parishes.

SYD-4 festival organised ‘by youth for youth’ has demonstrated a talented Catholic youth in service, such as stage management, liturgy, arts – musical and drama and lots more.

When asked about the flow of the programmes, Maria Magdalena, 19, from Holy Trinity parish said it was well-organised; inputs were awesome and suitable for young people.

Anna Amandus, coordinator of SYD-4 from Sandakan Diocese said each of the youth is at a different stage in their faith and at a different level of their understanding and acceptance of inputs given. Therefore for more effective message delivery, they divided the participants into three age groups; teens 15-19 years old, youth 20-25 years old and young adults 26-45 years old.

Responding to how SYD-4 could help youth facing real challenges in life and in their service to the Church, Anna said it is not realistic to expect them to fully change from here onwards because transformation is a process.

She continued, “Everything happens in its own time. For all of them who are here, I hope some will rise and do something. While others, may not be today but along the journey of faith, in God’s time, I’m sure they will rise.”

Anna emphasised on the importance of these youths to feel a belonging to the Church and for us to be a friend to them, because that is how they will encounter Jesus.

Anna hoped to see more formation for youth leaders, she said, “I am grateful for the youth leaders who are serving the young people. I hope through our services, the Holy Spirit will inspire more of the young to rise up as leaders.”

Anna also highlighted the importance to ‘go smaller’ and reach out to families for more youth leaders formation, as they are the foundation of the Church communities.

Responding to the same question, Archbishop John Wong said, “I think our youth are ready to go out to serve, the question is how far are they willing to go? My hope is, after this SYD-4, that they will move in their communities and not as individuals because it’s harder to resist the current of the world on our own.”

“When they are back in their parish, they should not only move among themselves, but have constant dialogue with their parish priests,” added the archbishop.

Bishop Cornelius Piong said in his message, that he was confident that the festival would be able to help the youth to be united with Jesus, thus giving birth to a new friendship and unity among them.

As host, Bishop Julius expressed his highest appreciation to the organising teams and all who have contributed to the success of the event, including HTC parish priest, Msgr Nicholas Ong.

The final day in Tawau saw hundreds of youth stepping forward to the front of the altar to be blessed by  Archbishop Wong at the final SYD-4 Mass, when he invited the youth who felt a calling to be a priest or religious to step forward.

At the closing ceremony, Bishop Julius handed over the Youth Cross to Archbishop Wong as the next host for SYD-5.

The cheers among the youth grew louder when Archbishop Wong announced Papar and Limbahau parish as the next venue/host for SYD-5 in year 2020. – Linda Edward

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