The night before the weekend, the parents were invited as the primary catechists to share with them an overview of the programme. Although only a handful came, they expressed their appreciation of the programme as they felt really helpless to talk to their children about sexuality. After the session, some resources were offered for purchase.
In the morning after a simple icebreaker and Praise & Worship, Deacon Adrian asked the group consider the various sexual crimes that were happening in the nation. Behind all these crimes was a hunger for love. And the love between man and woman point us to God’s love for mankind. One participant put it this way: ‘When you’re finding for love, you’re finding for God’. We were created for love of God and to love others.
Deacon Adrian tried something different in Session 3 by introducing the Seven Steps Gospel Sharing Method. Although it was not as reflective as it ought, it was an opportunity for the young people to read for themselves, the Bible text from Genesis 2:18-25 before the Deacon explained Pope John Paul’s interpretation of these verses. Many challenging concepts like Original Solitude and Original Unity were explained.
After lunch, there was another Group Dynamics that brought out the message that the body has a language of its own. Martinian Lee introduced the DVD segments featuring Brian Butler, Jason Evert and his wife Crystalina. Next, Deacon Adrian played and explained the segment of ‘Free, Total, Faithful and Fruitful’. Jesus defines love for us by demonstrating this in his life and invites us to a mutual response in the Eucharist. Gwendolyn Hay remarked that ‘by choosing to hold back a part of us from God and then accepting the Eucharist, we are also lying with our bodies’
As the participants were exhausted, the organisers postponed the next session on “Hope and Redemption’ to the next day’. Crystalina’s conversion testimony was very moving and helped the participants to believe that the struggles they face can be overcome through confession, effort and time; ‘this session really touched my heart and given a hope in life’ said Vanessa
In Session 5 on Marriage and Vocation, catechist Mark Lee shared the movie story, “A Walk to Remember’ which later led into a discussion on the kind of spousal love that they would want. Later, he showed ‘Fishers of Men’ that moved some participants to reconsider the priesthood. Martinian also gave an emotional sharing on his decision to join the seminary.
In the last session on ‘Dating withPurpose and Purity’, Martinian gave some general points followed by a breakout Q&A session for the guys and the girls, with Felicitas helping to facilitate the discussion for the girls after the video segment. Participants appreciated the opportunity to talk frankly and learnt that ‘purity is not just saying NO to sex but YES to love and the responsibility that comes with it’. This was a very popular session.
This weekend proved that Malaysian 15-year olds were mature enough to handle the content of the Theology of the Body for Teens. Although Malaysian youth are generally still more conservative than Americans in their dating lifestyle, it was a unanimous response that more teenagers should go through this programme. However the teens also shared that watching the videos for a prolonged period could be tiresome.