Sandakan : A three-day trilingual (English, BM and Mandarin) Altar Servers' Camp from 19th – 21st March 2015 was organized at St Mary’s Cathedral Sandakan. The camp, facilitated by Rev Fr Sunny Chung attracted 98 participants from St Mary’s Cathedral, St Joseph’s Church, St. Mark’s Church, St. Paul’s Church Ulu Dusun and Our Lady Of Fatima Church, Beluran.
The camp began with a welcoming speech by Fr Sunny, followed by an ice-breaker session. The Opening Mass was presided over by Fr Sunny. After which it was followed by a BBQ dinner. Also in attendance were the Parish Priest, Fr. Thomas Makajil and the PPC Chairman, Pilis Malim.
The theme 're-ignite the spirit of serving and to build friendship' was chosen for the long awaited camp. Many Altar Servers commented that they have never had such a big camp before. Usually, such camp was organized at church level but this time around it was organized at the parish level involving all churches.
The theme is self-explanatory and clearly projected the real purpose of the camp. Likewise, the input sessions given by Fr. Sunny had moved us to recommit ourselves to serve better.
At the second day of the camp, the first input session entitled 'Vocation to a Special Ministry' was to encourage all the Altar Servers to realize their identity and they are all called to be special ministers of the Altar. Altar servers are not there at the Altar just to fulfill their duty but most importantly, they are called by God like other ministers to bring all the believers closer to God through their actions.
After realizing their true identity and their calling, they were introduced to the 'Patron Saints for Altar Servers' – Saint John Berchmans, patron saint of Altar Server and St. Tarcisius, the martyr of the Eucharist. The patron saints are there not only to guide them in their ministry but also to set an example of faithfulness and self-giving in the ministry on which they are called to.
The third input session, called 'Back to Basics' stressed on the task as an Altar Server at the altar and recognizing the sacramental utensils used in the liturgical celebration. At the last day of the camp, all participants were called to observe on how they would serve when they are back to their respective churches, so that all Altar Servers will have a similar way of serving at the Altar; yet still changeable according to the circumstances and settings of each church.
All participants had a great time during the three-day camp. They had the opportunity to know more friends, having a lot of fun through games and a new perspective of their ministry as an Altar Server.
'I am very happy that I am able to participate in this camp. From this camp, I learnt a lot about the role of Altar Servers during Mass. I am especially glad to get to know many friends from the different language group. I am looking forward to the next one.' ~ Desmond Loo (SMC- CCC)
'I am truly happy to be able to attend this camp. With the initiative and guidance of Fr Sunny Chung, the 3-language group of Altar Servers were able to come together and spent 3 days in the camp. From this camp, I am able to understand better the role of an Altar Server. Through talks, sharings, games, etc., I learnt about the joy of serving as Altar Server. It is my hope that this camp will be held annually.' ~ Allan Francisco Tsen (SMC- CCC)
'I am extremely happy to make new friends from the different churches in our parish. I am glad to learn that so many young people are serving as Altar Servers. I pledge to continue serving the Church as long as I am needed.' ~ Anthony Sin (SMC-CCC)
'I am very happy to have attended this camp. From the camp, I learnt about the roles of an altar server in the Mass. At the same time, I got to know many new friends.' ~ Jonathan Chin (SMC-CCC)