The Institute of Formation, Fondacio Asia (IFFAsia) based in Quezon City, Philippines was established in 2006 by the International Fondacio Community. It seeks to form young leaders from across Asia through a one year integrated formation program focusing on human, social, spiritual/theology and pastoral formation. As of date, some 130 young adults from 11 countries and 30 dioceses had been formed and are currently involved in mission work in their respective dioceses / parishes of their home countries throughout Asia. Currently, there are 15 graduates and seven other Malaysians undergoing formation in the 8th batch and are due to be sent off, this coming December 2014.
It has been a tradition for IFFAsia graduates from Malaysia to gather once a year. It was initiated in 2011 by the 1st to 5th batch graduates. This year's gathering is the 4th occasion. It was held at Permai Rainforest Resort, a 45- minute drive from Kuching City, from the 22nd to 26th October 2014. The five- day gathering was attended by seven IFFAsia graduates and three members of Fondacio Malaysia. Alice Tan, Director of IFFAsia, Philippines and Dina Firuana currently serving full time at the Kuching Arhdiocesan Youth Commision were present.
|"Whenever there is a gathering of people, friendship prevails and God is present!" |
Fr. Terry Burke during a Sunday Mass at St Joseph's Cathedral, Kuching
The first two days were all about relaxation and catching up with each other. It was totally a gateway for each one from the hustle and bustle in their daily life. The green scenery and quietness of the forest had indeed helped in recapturing the moment of being 'me' throughout the get-together program.
"Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God." Matthew 5:8 was taken as the theme for the whole gathering. It was divided into three parts; BLESSED, PURE IN HEART and SEEING GOD. It was so good to come together and to affirm and be affirmed and at the same time to remind ourselves the core message of our life and ministry.
Cecilia Ong's reflection on Luke 13: 6 -9 "Parable of the Unfruitful Fig Tree"
"I need to give a chance to myself and the people I serve. I can't give up! I need to share my burden with all, I need to live out a sense of "journeying with" and not journeying alone. Let God be my God."
"That's it! That's the goal of the Christian life! That's what we are living for - that we may live our life in such a way that we see God. If we see God, that will open up the treasure trove of all the blessings, not only for eternity, but also for life here and now. And the key to open that treasure trove is a pure heart!" ~ Imanuel Christian
God touches each one differently yet we feel the same love within. We acknowledge every hardship and challenge during our mission being "on the ground" as pastoral workers. Through this gathering, the spirit of togetherness and oneness had drawn us back to 'life'. It is a simple, modest yet wonderful sharing with one another. Everyone was motivated, strengthened, refreshed and renewed.
As pastoral workers, we need to be honest with our own tiredness. Nothing is easy and we are challenged to walk the talk. Yet with God's grace everything is possible!
We also took the opportunity to enjoy God's amazing creation by the seaside, waiting for the the sun to set down before our very eyes. It was so beautiful and its true that whenever we felt that we are at the end of a rope, hang on tight, just hang on there and look beyond the horizon, there is always hope!
Our three years plans from 2011 to 2013 have come to its end and praise the Lord we are able to achieve some of the plans. The greatest achievement we have done is the possibility to come together, help and support one another in mission. Just what we have done in St Peter and Paul's Parish, Mukah, Youth Leader's Camp and Chinese Youth Gathering in Diocese of Sandakan, K.A.Y.A at Kuching Diocese and Youth Leader's Camp at Diocese of Keningau. Looking back to what we have done so far, we decided to continue doing it and build up the sense of purpose in life and mission.
After the end of the gathering with a Closing Prayer, we set off to meet up with Wilfred James from the 2nd batch currently studying first year Philosophy at St Peter's College, Major Seminary for East Malaysia, Kuching.
We attended Mass at St Joseph's Cathedral as a celebration of thanksgiving for the happy and memorable moments we had throughout the gathering.
|Another way to experience God's love - A celebration of oneness and friendship|