Sandakan : The second phase of the 12-day IFFAsia Mission Project held here in the St Mary's Cathedral Parish entered its 7th day today, 7th February 2011. Participants, students, interns, staff and volunteers of IFFAsia were kept on schedule with pastoral and social activities preplanned for them.
On the 3rd and 4th day of their pastoral exposure, participants had the opportunity to experience Chinese New Year with their foster families. They visited homes of the local Chinese parishioners and had the feel of the new year festival with CNY meals, ang pows, mandarin oranges and lion dances.
On the 5th day, participants had the day's session with the local youth through the youth encounter program centering on 'youth as agent of change'. The session allowed the youth to have an experience of God with the youth through the exchange of experience and to call and inspire young people to be agents of change through witnessing. The program included building relationship, introducing oneself in a creative way, sharing in small and large groups, games connected to the theme and testimonies by individual participants.
In the evening, participants attended the Eucharistic celebration, the fifth Sunday in ordinary time which was also the mass for the world day of consecrated life, presided over by Bishop Julius Dusin Gitom D.D. The prelate in his homily called on the people to join the religious sisters to give thanks and praise to God for the gift of religious life. He asked the people to be the 'salt and light' to the world as a single grain of salt could add taste to food and a little bit more could preserve it. Many needy out in the world actually need that kind of salt and light that we could share with them. The salt and light in that context is the essence of our faith.
After the celebration, participants and the local youth attended a talk on religious life of the local order, the Franciscan Sisters of the Immaculate Conception and Religious of Good Shepherd presented by Sr Appollonia fsic and Sr Maria Dipal rgs respectively at the former Kindergarten block.
On the 6th day, a Sunday, participants were with their foster families the whole day. Most had the opportunity to make a tour of Sandakan - a nature city. They visited the popular Sunday street fair, the Buddhist temple, Agnes Keith's House, the crocodile farm, the rainforest discovery center and the sepilok orang utan rehabilatiaton centre.