Contributed by Harold Ong
KOTA KINABALU: Youths from the St Simon Catholic Church Likas parish attended the 4th Sabah Youth Day (SYD4), hosted for the first time by the Sandakan Diocese, held at Holy Trinity Church Tawau, on June 6-10.
The nine-member delegation, led by Aldric Thien, left for Tawau on June 5 and it was the second such participation from the parish, the previous one being the SYD3 event in Tambunan in 2012.
Among the highlights for the Likas youths was Family Night, which helped them to realise how they can share God’s mercy starting from home.
The event left a deep impression on the youths as they reflected on their relationship with their family members, friends and those around them via WhatsApp “conversation” with Jesus. The reflection was followed by reaching out and reconciliation, where youths were encouraged to call their family members. It was a heart rendering moment to many who were there.
With the theme “Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy”, the event was organised with the objectives to: (1) help the youths to celebrate their faith as Catholics; (2) help them see the presence of the kingdom of God as a true gift to all who believe in Him; (3) mould youths to become agents of change as they witness to God’s love and mercy to those around them.
Prior to the main SYD4 event, the Youth Cross (Salib Belia) and the accompanying Marian Icon had travelled to all parishes in Sabah, including at the St Simon Church parish. The youths organised activities at their parishes while taking turns to host the cross and icon for a week.
Over 2,000 youths from parishes across the Archdiocese of KK, Diocese of Keningau and Diocese of Sandakan attended the five-day event, and participated in the daily masses, adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, Taize prayer, prayer of the Divine Office, exhibition of the history of the church in Sabah, catechesis, small group discussion and praise and worship, among others.
The event explored three different themes: “Blessing”, “Hero in Mission” and “God’s Mercy”. Each theme invited the participants to reflect on who they are as Catholic youths and what roles do they play as agents of change and as children of God.
The opening mass was a spectre to behold by itself, as the participants marched from their accommodation in SRK Holy Trinity, SM Holy Trinity and SM St Ursula Convent to the Holy Trinity Church decked in their traditional costumes. Truly our Catholic church is a universal church! The participants come from many ethnic groups, including Kadazan, Dusun, Murut, Rungus, Chinese, Indian, Timorese, Javanese and Filipino as they celebrated their Catholic faith together.
One of the popular shoutouts during the event was, “I’m Catholic! I am alive!” It is hoped that the youths left SYD4 formed, inspired and ever ready to become the agents of change and to share God’s love and mercy to those around them.
The fifth edition of the event will be held in Papar under the Archdiocese of Kota Kinabalu. It is hoped that more youths from St Simon Church parish will be able to join the next Sabah Youth Day!