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Friday, October 25, 2013

Confirmation Retreat, St. Mary’s Cathedral Parish Sunday School

A jump-up shot of participants and facilitators of the Confirmation Retreat
SANDAKAN: Hoo haa! That’s the response given to the facilitators by the 29 participants who attended a 4-day Confirmation Retreat at the Fr. Mulder’s Catechetical Centre, the first ever conducted at the St. Mary’s Cathedral, Sandakan. The retreat was held on 10 – 13 October 2013 and animated by Bishop Cornelius Sim and his Confirmation team of 8 facilitators from the Vicariate of Brunei.
On the first evening, the participants (who actually consist of two classes) were treated with two fun icebreakers. They quickly warmed up to the facilitators, and they also gelled with one another from either class. After the icebreakers, Bishop Cornelius gave the first session “The Beloved of God.” The participants then returned home after they have completed their journal writing.
On the second evening, the participants checked in to the Catechetical Centre for their two-night stay. Bishop Cornelius gave the second session “Who is the Holy Spirit?” After the talk, the Brunei facilitators organized a Taizé prayer service. A light supper was served before the participants retired for the night. In order to acquaint themselves better with them, the facilitators opted to bunk with them for the duration of the retreat.
The third day was filled with many activities. They were divided into 5 groups, each guided by two or three facilitators. Firstly, participants were introduced to the Lectio Divina method of reading the Bible. Then they continued listening attentively to Bishop Cornelius’ next talk entitled “What does the Holy Spirit do?” After the talk, participants broke into groups again and each group was given specific items to make. They could only use materials provided by the facilitators and items found in the nature to come up with their items. 
After lunch, there was a brief fun game before the participants proceeded to Bishop Cornelius’ talk on “How to be filled with the Holy Spirit.” In preparation for Mass later in the early evening, the facilitators guided them in their Examination of Conscience for the Sacrament of Reconciliation. Father Philip Muji of St. Mary’s Cathedral assisted Bishop Cornelius in hearing the confessions of the participants.
At night, there was a healing and pray-over session. Before this retreat began, the parents or guardians of the participants were asked to write a letter of affirmation to their child, indicating their hope for them as confirmed Catholics. These letters were given to them to open and read just prior to the healing session. Many shed tears after they have read them. Every participant, including Sunday School teachers from Sandakan, went for the healing session.
After morning Mass and breakfast on the final day, the participants listened to Bishop Cornelius’ final talk on “The Rest of My Life.” At this juncture, the groups presented and explained the items they made the day before. For the remainder of the morning the groups were asked to come up with a presentation of what they thought and felt about the retreat. The presentation took place in the afternoon at the Conference Auditorium of the Diocesan Pastoral and Worship Centre. There were songs, skits and a native piece that invited everyone to dance the “Sumazau.”
Facilitators from both Brunei (front row) and Sandakan teams
As the retreat drew to a close, many participants asked for another one next year! The facilitators were given Sabah/Sarawak souvenir T-shirts as mementos of their visit here. Participants took pictures and exchanged contact details with Bishop Cornelius and the facilitators.

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