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Friday, October 24, 2014

A story must be told ~ Let the world know!

DS / st
Kunak : On our (Anna Teresa and Sharon Tan from The Sandakan Diocesan Youth Office) way back to Sandakan from St. Thomas Chapel, Bombalai Tawau, we stopped by St. Peter's Church, Kunak to pay a visit to the young people who were around at the church compound in the late afternoon, 12th October 2014.
L-R : Jerry Ompoy, Larry Ompoy, William Ortega, Janehope Ortega, Joenifer Tumala Ortega, Richard Ortega Visitacion and Marcelina Ortega Jr.
We were introduced to seven young gentlemen from Tingkayu, located in Kunak district. It is some three-hour ride by road to the church. It is surrounded with palm oil estates and there is a palm oil mill and a paper factory. These young gentlemen have to travel on motorcycle to attend catechism classes since January 2014 at St. Peter's Church Kunak every Sunday.

They shared that there is no Catholic chapel in or around their place. Hence they have to spend six hours on the road for a return trip. There is no Catholic pastoral worker or catechist reaching out to them. Other denominations often visit them in their place and share with them about Christ. 

However, they chose the Catholic faith over others. That's why they brave the journey because of the faith. According to Richard Ortega, his sister is a member of the Catholic Youth in St. Peter's Church. After joining the youth ministry in the church, they saw positive changes in her attitude and behavior. That is one reason that attracts them to stay faithful with the Catholic church.

"We are born in a Catholic family and we want to learn more about our own (Catholic) faith and love has brought us here" - Richard Ortega Visitacion

"Our hope is to share what we have learned here and our beautiful experience encountered in the church to our family members and other Catholic families in Tingkayu. They do not have the opportunity to attend  church." - Joenifer Tumala Ortega

We were inspired by the story related to us. It posed a challenge to us and may be to all other Catholic youths. We stay close to the church and we don't need the three-hour drive to reach the nearest church yet we have many excuses not to attend church. We are blessed and glad that we have met these group of young people who desire to meet Christ. Their story has a message for all Catholic youths; to stay close to Christ in all circumstances. 

He said to them, 'For truly I tell you, if you have faith the size of a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, "Move from here to there", and it will move; and nothing will be impossible for you' - Matthew 17:20

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