Fr Clarence started the camp by asking the students: ‘why do you believe what you believe?’ In smaller groups, they were asked to share about their reasons for their belief in God and to state it in one sentence. As each small group came to a consensus in articulating that statement, Fr Clarence asserted that this process was analogous to how personal faith experiences lead us to reason with the community of the Church.
After morning prayer and breakfast, Fr Clarence dived into ‘the Concept of the Human Person in Catholic Teaching’. Each participant selected an item that represented themselves and through that, they affirmed their unique differences. Yet every person, made in the image and likeness of God, is a unity of body and soul. Although, as Catholics, we start off holding on to this unity, very quickly, treatment of the external body becomes our main or only focus. We can reflect Christ through the compassionate was we deal with patients.
In ‘Moral Principles in Catholic Health Care Ethics’, Fr Clarence discussed the concept of ‘good’. A person of integrity exercises his freedom to do what is good from personal choice rather than from a sense of ‘need’-compulsion as a result of external forces. He also reiterated the Principle of double-effect; both the intention and the action must be positive although the effect may have unintended negative effects.
After lunch, Fr Clarence discussed the Sacredness of Life versus the Quality of Life. The former is absolute while the standards of the latter changes; and because it changes, society places itself on a slippery slope when Quality of Life becomes the only criteria. The discussion went into the difficult case of ectopic pregnancies and contraceptives.
In his last session, the participants looked at Luke 5: 17-26 and 19: 1-19 to see how Jesus healed. Both the physical and spiritual healing brings reconciliation with the self, the Lord and with the community. Andrea Goh from IMU shared that because of this session, she will try to see people differently; ‘I learned that healing works as a whole in the body and also the spirit’.
Dr Sheena Toyat came in on Sunday morning and shared some of her real life experiences with beginning and end of life issues. Another young doctor who had registered as a participant, Dr Anna Lim, also shared her experiences of the stress of facing three deaths in one night. Both doctors enriched the camp as they came from different specialized fields and in the future, we hope to involve a wider range of healthcare professionals to enrich these discussions.
The camp ended with a brief sharing by Dr Sheena on how her Catholic faith gives strength to her as a doctor. Perhaps one area that needs to be developed is clearer and widespread information about natural family planning methods. The participant received a momento of a prayer card of St Giuseppe Moscati who lived in the early 20th century.
One of the participant said that this camp has given her a greater awareness of the consequences of thoughts and actions as a Catholic medical student. ‘I will try my level-best to glorify God through this vocation, especially to patients, staff and other students that I meet’. Another said that as a result of this camp, he will look at the Catholic stand before making judgments on an issue.
Unanimously they said they want this camp to be annual and they would definitely return. In the meantime, we would like to remain connected and get to know other medical students in the country though the facebook group: Malaysian Catholic Medical Students. Contact Deacon Adrian Ng for more information at email@example.com or 016-2221089.