KOTA KINABALU — Why aren’t young men and women entering religious life today? What do the young think about consecrated life? How then can we tell today’s youth about the beauty and the good of consecrated life?
These are some of the questions the Council of Religious (COR) grapples with as it celebrated the World Day for Consecrated Life in KK Archdiocese 2 February.
The general assumption that today’s youth find it difficult to consider obedience, chastity and poverty as values, and, above all as a lifestyle choice, contrasts with what Don Bosco says about young people, “that young people are capable of great dreams and demanding enterprises, because even in the most wretched of the young there are points sensitive to what is good…”
However, contemplating their desire for securities like money and a nice husband/wife, and enjoying a high living standard despite the economic crisis, is hardly something that will fuel their interest in consecrated life as a life-project.
Nonetheless, the COR takes up the task of an educator with a vocation so as to bring forth the existing good, however small it may be, in order to rebuild strong youth who stride for God and His Church.
To this end, the COR has planned a Religious Awareness Seminar for both male and female participants in March 2020 targeting secondary students, particularly school leavers.
Staggered between Apr-Sep, the Council intends to make parish visits (dates and venues to be determined) to bring awareness to the parishioners on the various Religious Communities serving in the Archdiocese and the services they render, so as to prepare a more receptive ground for promoting religious vocations.
A Mass to observe the World Day for Consecrated Life in the Archdiocese 1 February, at St Paul’s Chapel on the Hill in the Montfort Youth Training Campus Kinarut, was presided by Archbishop John Wong.
2 February is also the Feast of the Presentation of Jesus Christ, also called the Candlemas Day, an occasion which saw the Archbishop blessing candles of attendees. The Presentation of Jesus in the Temple is an eloquent icon of the total offering of one’s life for all those who are called.
For the occasion, Archbishop Wong assures the Religious of his prayers for them daily.
Picking up the lyrics from a song sung during the Mass Liturgy “I have found treasure in the field”, he posed to the Religious for their reflection: What is your treasure? Where did you find it?
Thirdly, he invites the Religious to “work together” for the common goal of building the Kingdom of God in this part of the world and not to shy away from going out and dirtying their hands and feet, quoting a popular saying of the Holy Father, Pope Francis.
The 300-congregation comprised the various Religious Communities that exist in the Archdiocese: FSIC, Daughters of St Paul, Marist Brothers, Montfort Brothers, De La Salle Brothers, Good Shepherd Sisters, Clerical Society of the Most Holy Trinity, and the Lay Apostolates of OCDS and SFO, as well as clergy and parishioners.
Preceding the Mass, the COR, under the current head Montfort Br Thomas Paul, held the traditional three-day Triduum, this year, at three different locations: the Carmel Monastery, Stella Maris Church Tanjung Aru and Holy Rosary Church Limbahau.
The focus of this year’s Triduum was to pray for an increase of priestly and religious vocations in the Archdiocese.
While keeping in mind the confinement of the Carmelite Sisters to the Monastery and the senior Franciscan Sisters at the Stella Maris Home, the venue at Holy Rosary Limbahau was chosen so as to soak the parish with prayer for a fruitful harvest of vocations after a lengthy period of dryness.
After Mass, all adjourned to a simple fellowship meal at the MYTC Hall, which was sponsored by Montfort Youth Training Centre headed by Fred Mah.