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Monday, January 13, 2014

Bishop Julius spends time with the youths


Bishop Julius seated 4th left with members of the Diocesan Youth Apostolate
Sandakan : 14 members of the Diocesan Youth Apostolate (DYA) and the Spiritual Adviser, Spiritual Assistant and a lay adviser gathered at a prominent hotel in Sandakan on Saturday, 11th January 2014 for a thanksgiving fellowship ~ celebrating Christmas and New Year. They had served a term of three years and would discern to recommit for another three-year term. Rt Rev Julius Dusin Gitom, Bishop of the Diocese of Sandakan was the guest of honor.
Anna Amandus, the Coordinator of DYA extended her appreciation to all members coming from across the four parishes for their effort to attend the event. The full attendance of team members augured well for the New Year, a sign of solidarity and support, opening an interesting chapter in the life of DYA.
She recalled the journey of DYA throughout the first three-year term. The team was commissioned and the official logo launched on 7th March 2010. A year later, the Diocesan Youth Office was established and currently is manned by two full-time youth ministers.
The initial stage was really challenging, travelling to parishes, visiting the Parish Youth Apostolate every month to cement the required relationship bond. The connection is now in place and communication among members is cordial. Among the many programs conducted included the annual Youth Leaders’ Camp, Youth PrepLink, Campus Ministry Gatherings, reaching out to students and the outstation youths and recollections. She highlighted her joys and sorrows, the ups and downs of her ministry and her hope for the ministry.
Hildy Albert from Telupid : ‘Youth programs had drawn many young people to the Church. A few had responded to the priestly vocation which was unheard of before that.’
Felsa May from Tawau : ‘We have established a strong team bonding through the process of youth programs. We have developed a strong sense of belonging making us a close-knit team.’
Fr David A Garaman, Spiritual Director : ‘The Parish Youth Apostolate has evolved over time. The many ‘hang-outs’ and ‘clubs’ and the reaching out to students of institutes of higher learning has left a strong impact on the youth, especially on matter regarding faith. The Youth Monthly Gathering is an effective tool in getting the young people together for regular and continuous formation.’
Vicky of Lahad Datu : ‘In DYA, we care and share. We learn from each another, the experience of each PYA. We adopt what is relevant and build on it. With that, we enrich our apostolate at parish level.’
Airene of Sandakan : ‘We begin to see the fruits of our Youth Apostolate. The many recollections have given us the opportunity to grow spiritually. We thank the Youth ministers in the Diocese for assisting us in our formation programs. And now, with Sunday, a trained youth pastoral worker from IFFAsia, we hope to see a more vibrant apostolate.’
Sr Lilian Unsoh fsic, Spiritual Assistant : ‘Members in DYA, though coming from different parishes are strongly connected. Their absence in any activity is strongly felt. We miss the person. There are always challenges and my aspiration is that DYA endeavor to reach out more extensively to the local youths.’
One drawback that the Youth Apostolate encounters is the lack of response from the young working adults to commit in serving the church. DYA will draw up strategies to lure them into the ministry.
Bishop Julius in winding up the discussion expressed his appreciation to the members for their faithfulness and zeal. Their commitments have enhanced the unity of the young people. The programs have proved effective in bringing about change.
The prelate shared his aspirations. Among which, he said that all faith formation programs should prioritize on the Eucharistic celebration, the source and summit of our Christian life. Minus the Eucharist in whatever programs is likened to merely tasting the icings and not the cake itself.
Programs are essential to bring people together. However it should be pastoral inclined otherwise we would end up throwing the feed to the pond to draw the fish, without which the fish is no where to be seen. Thus, we ought to look beyond the programs. We need consultation sessions to see to the reality of the youths and its relevancy. The pastoral inclined programs should be drawn up for them and by them.
Catholic youths should be proud of their faith and identity. They must be made aware of the truths of their faith and the constituitional rights as citizens of the country. They must stand up for the faith in whatever situations. Thus, they must be firmly grounded in faith.
Catholic youths should involve themselves in community especially in BECs and not to journey alone. If left alone as individuals we could easily go astray. The community helps us to grow spiritually. Being in community, we will gain support from the community, groups and ministries in our endeavor.
Members exchanging gifts
Members will express their recommitment to serve another term 2014 – 2016 and commission during the 3rd Youth Leaders’ Camp early February 2014 at St Dominc’s Church, Lahad Datu.

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