On both days, we introduced and practised the 7-Step Gospel Sharing Method as used by the BECs. For many of us, this initial experience was positive. On the first day, the text was ‘the Road to Emmaus’; one participant shared that this group Bible sharing helped her to understand the real meaning of the passage and the Gospel narrative became more than a story. Ronald Dass, the District Coordinator for Melaka felt that ‘this method will really encourage and help the youth to read the Bible’. Martinian Lee agreed and said that ‘it needs to be implemented; it’s wonderful to see young people reading the Bible and seeing them touched’.
In the next session, we looked at the Emmaus passage again but this time, guided by the Keynote Address given by Archbishop John Ha at BILA 2007. As we focused on how this story gave pastoral pointers for youth ministry, Deacon Adrian highlighted what the Archbishop said about walking alongside the youth: ‘Youth Ministry has to take the approach of Jesus, to break into the company of youths, especially at the individual level, and attentively listen to them with a view of getting them out of their shell. Response initially could be negative…there must be patience as well as readiness and willingness to waste time with the youth’.
The next day, we started again with the 7-Step Gospel Sharing Method. This time, Deacon Adrian took the reading surrounding the World Youth Day 2011 theme, ‘Planted and built up on Jesus Christ, firm in faith’ (Colossians 2:7). It was an even better experience for the participants as we had become familiar with the prayer method. For one leader, ‘it was very emotional; it struck at my conscience and emotions as well’. The Bahasa youth leader simply described it as, ‘Wah! Best-nya!’ After the sharing, Deacon Adrian also showed us how to read the verse in context and to cross-reference for a better understanding of St Paul’s ideas.
Next, Deacon Adrian briefly shared the ‘Stages of Discipleship’ as presented at the recent Malaysian Youth Offices Meeting (MYOM) 2010; and Melaka-Johor Bishop Paul Tan’s Directives as presented at the Diocesan Synod. The youth leaders were encouraged to keep these considerations in mind when planning next year’s Diocesan, District and parish level youth activities. Below were some of the comments on the five areas that Bishop had called to our attention.
- Migrants. We could support the Bahasa Apostolate and reach out to the Sabahan and Sarawakian students who come to study here.
- Social Communication. We need to take post more Catholic content on the internet as a counter measure to videos that draw us away from Jesus. Facebook is a way to publicise our events.
- Family Life. Youth today cannot talk to their parents because their concepts and ours are different. We can have talks to promote a culture of listening and communicating.
- Inter-Religious Dialogue. We can liase with the District IRD if they have any events.
- Mission and Evangelisation. We are not doing enough to reach non-Christians; an activity in the previous year to give out eggs on Easter is a good way to start.
There followed specific planning for next year’s Persons Are Gifts’ Camps, Youth Encounters, Easter party, Vocation Promotion, Diocesan Youth Day (to commemorate World Youth Day), District Youth Camps and leadership programmes. Mutual invitations were issued among the leaders to attend different apostolate and district programmes to gather ideas. Multi-lingual programmes could also be promoted by explaining to our respective language youth groups why we need to have common events and relationship with the youth groups of other languages.
Everyone felt that this weekend was a success although we were disappointed that not all the diocesan youth leaders were able to make it. The lengthy planning was exhausting and the suggestion is that next year, we will have breaks with team-building activities. But generally there was a lot of free time enabling wonderful fellowship. This really enabled the leaders to relate to each other as persons rather than as co-functionaries in ministry.