Compiled by Sandakan DiocesanYouth Office
Photo contributed by Donn Arthur and King Constantine
SABAH, MALAYSIA - The 3rd BILA (Bishops' Institute for Lay Apostolate) on Youth was held from the 3rd to 7th August 2015 at Pace Bene FSIC Centre, Papar, Sabah, Malaysia themed "Catholic Youth - Transformed by Christ and His Church, Transforming Asia" refering to John 4 to re-live the experience of the Samaritan Woman throughout the five-day and four-night event.
The first BILA on Youth was held way back in 1997 at Tagaytay Manila, Philippines with the theme "Youth in Socio-Economic Development of Asia: A Challenge to Integrate Faith in Youth Life and Work" followed by the 2nd BILA in 2007 at MAJODI Centre Plentong, Johor, Malaysia with the theme "Youth Ministry in Asia: Reliving the Emmaus Story" and 3rd BILA on Youth was held for the second time in Malaysia.
Some 100 delegates from 18 Asian countries comprising of Arch / Bishops, Clergy, Religious, Youth Animators and Youth Leaders participated in the event, organized by the Federation of Asian Bishops' Conference (FABC) - OLF Youth Desk in collaboration with the Archdiocese of Kota Kinabalu Youth Commission as host.
The objectives of the 3rd BILA on Youth are;
1. To reflect on and evaluate the changing needs and concerns of young people vis-à-vis the present realities of Asia in the context of pastoral youth ministry
2. To encourage the bishops and youth animators in committing themselves further to assist and accompany the youth towards a personal and growing relationship with Christ and His Church
3. To empower the participants in motivating and shepherding young people as agents of the Gospel in the face of burning issues today (e.g. moral relativism, religious discrimination, the poor and the marginalized, and globalization)
4. To identify resources and establish networks that will recognize and support pastoral workers in youth apostolate in Asia
The event began with an Opening Mass celebrated by Archbishop John Wong followed by a grand welcoming ceremony by the local parishioners at Holy Rosary Limbahau, Papar Parish. It was indeed a lively and cultural welcoming for all participants especially when they were served traditional delicacies and entertained to some traditional performances projecting the local Kadazan Papar culture. The evening ended with a group photo together with the parishioners.
The second day, 4th August, of the BILA 3 Conference was filled with a series of events which were vital to the building up of the reason and purpose of the gathering. Shelia Fong (Singapore) was the Master of Ceremony for the day. The Executive Secretary of the BILA on Youth, Rev. Fr. Patrick Simon Gomes (Bangladesh) facilitated the first session. The participants were led to look back at the birth and gradual development of the Bishops' Institute for Lay Apostolate as a desk of the Federation of Asian Bishops' Conference, (FABC) with special attention to the Youth as a Ministry of the Church in Asia.
Picking up from the first presenter, Most Rev. Leopoldo Jaucian, SVD, the Director of the Episcopal Commission on Youth in the Philippines’ presented the keynote address. He began with such questions as, “How have we achieved the goals of BILA 2? What were the challenges that we continue to face? Where are we now as youth ministry?” The smiling bishop then proceeded to share what he calls, a “shared reflection” on the biblical passage from John 4—the encounter between Jesus and the Samaritan woman at the well. This, being the theme of the BILA 3: "Re-living the experience of the Samaritan," there were three points of reflection:
1. We all have to pass through Samaria. If Jesus took the time to pass through the outskirts of Judea, how do we, as youth ministers look at the young who are in the fringes of society? He then challenged everyone by saying, “We need to affect a positive, transformative relationship with the young. Let us offer them light.”
2. We have to offer Jesus to the young as their source of new life. “Let us be present where they are and offer to them the living water—Jesus Christ; not through a bombardment of sermons and what-to-dos but a listening ear.”
3. Young people are moved to transform others as a fruit of their own transformation in Jesus. “Our programs should lead young people to commit themselves to share to others their personal experiences.” Thus, forming young people to be Youth Ministers themselves. As a parting word, Bishop Jaucian invited his fellow Youth Ministers to “regularly renew ourselves; to seek to encounter Christ. For no matter how we think that we are not good enough, God does not call the qualified but He qualifies the called.”
In mixed groups composed of a Bishop, priests, the religious and lay youth ministers, the participants had the first group sharing of their first encounter with Jesus. All fourteen groups later sent their representative to share personal testimonies in the plenary hall.
Maria Lourdes Gutierrez of Catholic Organizations for Youth in Asia (COYA), presented to the participants the Statistics and Trends of the Asian Youth. She engaged them into a reading of ‘who’ and ‘where’ the young people are heading as they face challenges before them in this present society. “We need to meet the needs of the young people before they could get dis-engaged.” After a few questions for clarifications and response to the presentation, the Regional Sharing then followed wherein participants were asked to share the realities of their Youth Ministries.
The final event in the day was the exposure trip to different local churches within the Diocese of Kota Kinabalu in order to get in touch with the realities of the young people in these places. The typical warm welcome once again greeted the participants when they arrived at the different places: St. Monica, Moindang, St Teresa of Avila in Kogopon, St. Sabina in Titimnboungon, St. Joseph in Papar, and St. Patrick in Kinuta. Simultaneous con celebrated masses were held with the parishioners and the BILA 3 delegates and followed by a hearty dinner where delicious local food and drink were served. The locals eagerly presented their Church activities while interactions with the local young people were going on at the different tables. The day was capped with mutual exchange of good practices and mutual support in prayer.
The third day, 5th August began with a morning Mass presided over by the Director of Taiwan Youth commission, Bishop Tomas An- Zu Chung. In the midst of minimal light due to power outage, he was able to deliver his poignant experience of “being in Samaria” through a translated homily with the help of Fr. Timothy Maria de Belen, MMHC (Taiwan). The 3rd day of BILA 3 was animated by the Masters of Ceremony from Taiwan and Hong Kong in the persons of Joy Ampiloquio and Au Ka Wai Gary respectively.
|Sheila Fong (Singapore) - The MC for day 2|
|St Patrick, Kinuta - One of the Exposure Program|
It was the Youth Commission Director of Singapore, Archbishop William Goh’s turn to give his contribution to the on-going reflection of the theme. The topic this time was “Transformed by Christ.” The empathic archbishop shared several points like, “remove the misperception that the youth are not interested in Christ.” The young are constantly in search for an encounter with Him. He then called on the bishops to give retreats to young people so that they, too, can experience a sense of belonging; of being loved. Another point was, that we need to provide a space for the youth to a ‘kerygma experience’—an encounter with God because truth is not a word. It’s not even a good idea but an event. The human being is always in search for love and a relationship, thus Youth Ministers are called to create spaces of such encounters.
An update on the upcoming Asian Youth Day 2017 was presented by the host, Indonesia led by Rev. Fr. Heribertus “Hary” Purwantoro and his team. He shared on the “Joyful Asian Youth! Living the Gospel in Multiculturalistic Asia,” the theme of the upcoming event. The accompanying Scripture is from the Acts 2:1-2, “Speaking in our own languages the mighty deeds of God.”
|Morning Mass handled by South East Asia (SEA) 1|
|Archbishop William Goh - Transformed by Christ|
In the afternoon, the participants were divided into groupings of bishops, priests, religious, and three groups of lay Youth Minsters to share on the light and shadows in the Youth Ministry. A representative of each group presented in the plenary the fruits of their sharing. This was immediately followed by testimonies, worth sharing to the big group. After the group photo, the 3rd day was finally capped with an adoration of the Blessed Sacrament.
|Delegates from Malaysia|