From the 15-17th September 2012, about 40 young leaders representing the various apostolates youth & campus ministry of the Melaka Johor diocese came together for the 3rd Annual Retreat & Planning Weekend at MAJODI Centre.
The first day was focused on resting, reviewing and reflecting. Using the stories of Elijah, David and Abraham, participants were guided with reflection questions and the option to try lectio divina. The reflection questions had been translated into Mandarin before hand and one participant shared on behalf of all the Mandarin youths that it was an excellent experience for them. For another youth, meeting older youths and working adults and listening to their experiences were the way that the Lord was speaking to him.
The retreat segment ended with an introduction to St Ignatius Imaginative Prayer style. A few found this style their cup of tea but also suggested that it be done when participants are still fresh and not tired.
In the afternoon, the participants were divided into their respective groups: English, Tamil, Mandarin and Campus, where they shared and discussed future plans together. Later that night, one person from each group shared what they had discussed. It was a new insight into each others’ ministry and opened up opportunities to share ideas. Besides embarking on some new projects in the Year of Faith, next year, the English programme Persons Are Gifts will be attempted in Mandarin and Tamil as well.
Deacon Adrian did the next talk on the New Evangelization. Except for a handful, none of the participants had heard the term before. Tracing the history of evangelization and the use of the term in the church documents, deacon concluded with some ideas of how youth leaders can teach their young people to evangelize. They are:
- Challenge young people with the question, ‘Why are you a Catholic?’
- Prepare young people to defend their faith. ‘How do you know Jesus is God’, ‘Why do you believe in the Catholic Church’ and ‘Why does the Catholic Church say ‘no’ to abortion, premarital sex, homosexuality etc’
- Encourage young people to start conversations about religion. Listen to their non-Catholic friends and ask, ‘What do you think is the meaning of life?’
- Teach them to share their story of Jesus, how their faith has changed their life.
Many found the input very informative and an eye-opener and wanted to bring this session back to their youths.
At the end of a long day, participants took part in some noisy, intellectually and physically challenging games. After each game, participants were asked to reflect on each game and what lessons it taught about youth ministry.
On the last day, the participants were briefed on the Diocese’s plans for the Year of Faith Conference 2013, World Youth Day 2013 and Asian Youth Day 2014. The participants also asked to suggest issues to be covered in next year’s leaders retreat and planning. Some suggestions were: spiritual development, leadership behaviour & attitude, solving leadership problems, time and financial management. Many of the young leaders shared that they want to continue the habit of journaling, prayer and Bible reading which they had found so meaningful at the camp.