Melaka-Johor Diocese held its first Youth & Campus Leaders Assembly from 29th – 30th October at MAJODI. In the wake of a new Bishop, the Diocesan Synod and PMPC IV, this Assembly was to orientate the ministry in a new direction and level of cooperation among the different campuses and four language groups. There were about 70 participants representing 11 parishes and 8 campus communities. The participants were predominantly bumiputera, reflecting the demographics of the Malaysian Church.
The process followed that of PMPC IV. The Assembly began with the Lord in a Eucharistic celebration and in his homily, Fr Adrian Mathews shared his 3 essentials of youth ministry: Spirituality, outreach and joy. This was followed by Youth Minister Matthew Wee who gave a brief summary of the Synod and PMPC IV before breaking up the group to share the contributions of their particular ministry and propose ways to be more creative, inclusive and bridge-building. A summary of what was shared was given to Bishop Bernard who responded accordingly.
The Campus students suggested more music-based events. Within the parameters of the General Instructions of the Roman Missal, they asked for more lively music where young people can participate, Bishop concurred with their sentiments and shared that some of the music in the parishes were more suitable for funerals. While many felt the Bible studies were helpful, some also suggested creative ways of learning the Scriptures. Mission trips had already exposed some of the leaders to build bridges with the poor but there was also a call to be inclusive in inviting friends from Protestant and other religions to join our programmes and vice versa.
The Youth Ministry requested Family Ministry and Catechetical Ministry to provide formations for parents to help them in their role as primary catechists of their children perhaps through a Parents Conference. They also asked if there could employ more full-time youth ministers for the districts and for other language groups besides English. But the most pressing call was for a Malaysian multilingual facebook page or website or publication that would cater specifically to the needs of the young people.
Besides Holy Hour on the first night and the multilingual Rosary and Bible sharing the next morning, the Closing Mass was memorable. Bishop Bernard placed the cross on each participant, inviting them, “Are you ready to deny yourself, carry your cross and follow me?” What surprised the young people was when Bishop himself asked to be commissioned, reflecting his humility and solidary with the young people.