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Malaysian church organizes vocation camp amid the pandemic

Vocation camp group photo

The Archdiocese of Kota Kinabalu in Malaysia organized a Religious Vocation Awareness Camp from May 1 to 3.

The theme of the in-person Religious Vocation Awareness Camp at Bundu Tuhan Retreat Centre (BTRC) was "Discover Your True Calling."

After two years of travel restrictions imposed by the Covid-19 pandemic, the vocation promotion team under the Kota Kinabalu Archdiocesan Council of Religious organized its first face-to-face religious initiative.

The country's borders reopening made it possible for the vocation camp to be conducted in person even though all planning has been done online.

Organizing committee members from various religious congregations discussed virtually and prepared for the camp as early as January.

They are namely, Franciscan Sisters of the Immaculate Conception (FSIC), Good Shepherd Sisters (RGS), Daughters of St Paul (FSP), Brothers of St Gabriel (SG), the Clerical Society of the Most Holy Trinity (SST), Order of Friars Minor (OFM), the Order of Friars Minor Capuchin (OFMCap), the Piarist Fathers (Sch.P) and Marist Teaching Brothers (FMS).

Archbishop John Wong recalled his own vocation journey and urged participants to cultivate a deep relationship with Jesus through prayer.

He urged them to be courageous in answering God’s call. 

"No matter what religious congregations you belong to, we serve the same God," he assured them. “Don't be afraid; give yourself a chance to be used by God," the Archbishop said.

Participants registered online the first week of April for the vocation camp, which attracted 56 participants (33 girls and 23 boys) from various parishes in the Archdiocese, as well as a few from Keningau.

Furthermore, 24 priests and religious women attended the camp to journey with the participants, and Father Robert Dalusung, Order of the Pious School from Manila, presided at the opening Mass, which was concelebrated by other priests. 

During the ceremony, the celebrant invited and led the participants to the vocation camp so that they could listen to him more attentively and discover God’s will for their lives. 

Chairman of the Religious Council of the Archdiocese of Kota Kinabalu, Brother Thomas Paul, Singapore (SG), welcomed all the participants to the camp.

He gave a safety briefing, reminding everyone that although Malaysia has relaxed the standard operating procedures (SOPs), the organizing committee required everyone to wear a mask throughout the camp as a precautionary measure.

Activities and inputs for the three-day program included praise and worship, Ice Breaking, My Expectations, Call to Holiness, Community Life, My Vocation Story, and Forums and Discernment Processes.

After each presentation, participants engaged in group discussions prompted by reflection questions prepared by each speaker and, based on the feedback, they felt the group discussion enriching. 
They could discern and formulate personal applications easier when they shared ideas among their friends in small groups and listened to one another.

The participants learned how the church prays (Divine Office) for morning and evening prayers, as well as the celebration of the Mass and other pious practices.

The Archdiocese of Kota Kinabalu is a Catholic archdiocese on Borneo Island in the State of Sabah, Malaysia. It covers an area of 4,993 square kilometers (1,928 square miles). 

There are many races living in harmony together in the country, including Kadazans, Dusuns, Muruts, Bajaus, Indians, Filipinos, Timorese, and Chinese. 

Kota Kinabalu serves as the metropolitan archdiocese of the province, and the Dioceses of Keningau and Sandakan serve as suffragan sees. 

Sacred Heart Cathedral Kota Kinabalu is the seat of the archbishop and has 19 parishes. - Anbu Selvam


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