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TANJUNG ARU – Stella Maris Parish (SMP) orgnaised a faith formation for men recently.
The parish was blessed to have two outstanding men to speak at its Men Faith Formation. Not only is Derek Chong an author (30 days – to a better Self Awareness), but he has been a columnist in the archdiocesan publication Catholic Sabah, a life coach and a known speaker in this region on evangelisation and faith formation for both youths and adults. Bro Thomas Chia from the Brothers of Mercy is based in Singapore and is well-placed to speak on vocation from his own experience.
Thirty-five men ‘braved’ all odds to turn up for the formation talks on 6 Aug 2016. The organisers have admitted that it was not easy to persuade or even convince men to come for an event like a faith formation when there were other ‘better’ things to do with their time!
The formation gave not only new information or knowledge but also provided for ample spiritual exercises to enable participants to ponder and to open up. Derek advocated that one must be able to reflect so as to ‘be aware and to serve.’
“Everyone is called in different ways for everyone is unique. The men would be called to serve as a husband, priest or even being single. And each vocation has a purpose,” added Derek.
He shared testimonies of his life and his experiences on the whys, hows and whats, and how he answered God’s call to be what he is today which has necessitated much reflection, leading to awareness, and culminating in selfless serving. He shared when he entrusted himself wholly to God…he saw how God provides…even the ice creams that he yearned for!
He reminded the men to continually grow in love each day and be excited in what they do and serve in the ways that they are called and to know and experience that faith in God is just awesome!
There was not a boring moment as Derek was able to hold the attention of the men through imaginative workshops … ‘What if you have RM10 billion, what would you do with it?’ and a lively discussion among groups on ‘10 wonderful things about yourself.’
Derek also took time to talk to the men during the breaks and whenever he could. His enthusiasm was contagious especially when he spoke of his book. He came through as a man who is God-passionate and believes that everyone has a chance to be who they want to be!
“Before one can dream a God-sized dream, one must have a relationship with God first…and that is faith and trust. Knowing that God has approved one’s plans, encourage one’s plans and will walk with you all the way!” was a vital point which he drove home to the participants.
He ended with a dare to the men to dream, “God has a beautiful plan! If He calls you, it is because He wants to save you!”
Meanwhile, Bro Thomas Chia was invited to share on his vocation as a religious brother, which aroused questions that he gladly answered, and hoped the answers would pique the curiosity and fuel more interest in the religious life
With a deepening of their faith, and a better understanding of ‘living in’ Christ, the men of the parish have discovered new ways of serving and understanding their role as a Christian leader. – Teresa Alberto