LIKAS – Over 1,000 youth across the Kota Kinabalu Archdiocese participated in the local Youth Jubilee of Mercy (youth jom) on 15-17 Sept 2016 at the St Simon Educational Complex here with the theme Do Not Be Afraid! Be Merciful.
Organised by the Youth Commission, the objective of the event was threefold: to celebrate the unconditional mercy of God; to be in communion with the merciful Jesus; and to be the agent of mercy in line with the objective of the Jubilee Year of Mercy.
This event came out of the dialogue held by the Youth Commission in February this year on how to bring the burning issues identified by the 2015 PAX Assembly – secularisation, Islamisation, apathy – to the awareness of the youth as they are the ones most affected.
This was clearly brought out by the three speakers during the open forum: Dominic Lim (secularisation), Waky Taim (family issues) and Dr Felix Tongkul (apathy) with Alex Paulus Jiran and his companion as moderators.
Lim defined secularisation as the process in which God is excluded from both public and private domain while Taim said the model for family life is the holy family of Nazareth in meeting challenges faced by the family. Through anecdotes and powerpoint presentation, Tongkul explained that apathy is basically a selfish attitude that looks at the self and does not care much for anything or anyone else.
The issue of Islamisation was tackled during the Q&A session. Its antidote is “to go inward (deepening one’s faith and relationship with God), go smaller (be in a support group/community), and go outward (sharing one’s faith with others).”
At the root of all these issues, Tongkul summed up, is the lack of a personal encounter or relationship with Jesus, when faith is only head knowledge and not a personal relationship with God.
He then challenged the participants to create an environment conducive to experience God’s mercy in their homes and parishes with the Holy Family as the role model. He also pointed out the way to counter the challenges – the way of the three Rs – Remember (the mercy received from God), Repent (of one’s sins due to apathy), and Renew (through all spiritual means and support given by family, church and community).
Tongkul reminded the participants that apathy is a tool of Satan to drive them away from God.
Earlier, the 766 girls and 508 boys were divided into four groups for the first session: Leadership of the Merciful Father. Joannes Jomitol took charge of young men aged 21 and above (Taska/Tadika Hall) while Michael Phoon animated those below 21 (Volley Ball Court). Similarly, Melissa Nicholas animated young ladies aged 21 and above at the Maktab Nasional Canteen while Serena Wong took care of the girls below 21 at the SRS Hall.
The night before, the participants celebrated their gathering with a concert featuring dance, solo and duet singing, and skits based on the corporal works of mercy.
Other than the first session, all other activities took place in the SRS Hall.
The last session of the day was thematic in the sense that participants were grouped by parishes to present performances -worship dance, praise and worship, drama – based on the event’s theme: Blessed are the merciful. The last presentation was the Rite of Reconciliation/Service of the Light to prepare the participants for confession and Mass presided by Abp John Wong and concelebrated by the priests who came to help out with the confession.
The day concluded with adoration of the Blessed Sacrament with sacramental confession for those who needed it.
On the third and final day, the participants were animated on how they can be agents of mercy by asking the Lord to make them instruments of His mercy at home, in school and in the workplace.
Again, Abp Wong presided at the closing eucharist and sent the participants off as agents of God’s mercy.