Tag Archives: sharing

Maria Baidolly shares how Alpha takes her on a spiritual journey to her true self

I joined Alpha in September 2016 for round 28. I thought it was just going to be like a course about Jesus and that was it. But instead Alpha has become to me a “beautiful spiritual pilgrimage” journey from my old self, old thinking, old behaviour and beliefs to an all new me and this journey has just begun. I must thank the persons who introduced and brought me to Alpha, Bapa Francis Liew and Donny Mapat.

Alpha came into my life just at the right time when I needed healing the most from a broken heart and business challenges. Bapa Francis is a figure I look up to when it comes to motivation and running a business. I was looking for him in late Aug 2016 for guidance in business but instead, he came to me with a Rosary and told me to pray more. At the same time, he invited me to Alpha “free buffet dinner” and I just came not knowing what it is all about, at the Sacred Heart Parish Hall at room F7.

Here, I met a lot of new friends whom I considered my “special friends” and are now very much like family members. I felt welcomed and loved which made me wanted to stick around and continue to join the next rounds. It is always that welcoming faces that you see. This changes my perception about Catholics: I thought that we are all solemn and cold but here, everyone is so warm and friendly.

I love the groupings where we get to share about our life experiences – it makes me feel that I am not alone that there are others who are also struggling. Real people with real life stories – and that really strengthens my faith.

I am Timorese by race and come from a mixed religion family. My dad is of a different religion and my mom is a Catholic. So I think I have some knowledge about Jesus and the Trinity but I don’t really understand about the Holy Spirit until the Alpha Weekend Away. I felt overwhelmed and felt a deep sense of love which I couldn’t describe in words and tears flowed profusely for no reason. The praying over session helped me to break the chain that has held me back from receiving God’s fullest love through His Holy Spirit that is the feeling of unworthiness.

After that weekend away, I fell in love with Alpha and I told myself maybe I could help out a little bit with arranging chairs but instead I found that Alpha has rearranged my life. I then continued my journey with inner healing seminar, going for retreats and sharing of spiritual growth together with other sisters in Christ. All this is because Alpha has introduced me to God and opened doors for spiritual growth.

From that moment of weekend away to date – nine months – I changed from less time for God to making time and communicating with God, from holding grudges to forgiving, from an ignorant daughter to a responsible one and it’s all because Alpha had taught me about God’s love.

From Alpha, I have also learned about the power of prayers, that we too should pray for others and let others pray for us. I am also now serving in the Alpha for schools around KK and Papar.

Alpha has also automatically affected my career and business life. I begin to put God first before I start my work daily. Bring my teammates to pray together and even invite them to join Alpha. The challenge as a young entrepreneur is tough and I have many times thought of quitting when challenges come.

But as I come to understand more about the Holy Spirit and how wonderful our God is, I begin to take heart in every aspect of the business. Believing that He is a great provider and that He is holding and guiding my hands and mind in every decision I make, I have come to realise that everything I have is not mine; it is given to me by the Grace of God as a blessing to be shared with others.

I used to have a very self-indulgent thinking that earning more in life would make me happy and was entangled with too many obstacles until I learnt that the secret of “success” is learning to be happy (joyful), loving, confident (trustfulness) in the Lord and peaceful regardless of outer condition. And who else can better teach us these values but the Holy Spirit Himself.

Sabah seminarian shares his experiences at Penang College General

Minsun (2nd L) with some companions at the Divine Mercy Church, Sungai Arah, Penang.

Seminarian Ziffyon Minsun of Telipok, first-year philosophy, shares his experiences at Penang College General. 

It is a privilege as well as a challenge for me to share my personal testimony as a seminarian.

In 2015, three of us were sent to Penang College General:  I, from the Archdiocese of Kota Kinabalu (Holy Family Telipok) and one each from the Dioceses of Sandakan and Keningau.

After completing two years of English Enrichment, I am now in my first-year Philosophy (2017).

How does one survive?  The world has become more and more advanced, people are learning at a faster speed in a fast-changing environment.  There is a need for priests to be more critical in their thinking, in their formation, and more open-minded in this multi-culture and multi-tradition environment of the seminary.

My first experience in Penang College was a steep learning curve of being independent.  Leaving my comfort zone – studying and living far from home – was for me a challenging step to look after myself and having to sort out my own affairs.  At this stage, I find changes in the way I think and begin to see things differently which I have previously taken for granted.

Entering the college was like entering into a new culture, and embracing this new culture has a tremendous impact on me.  Living in the rather small community, but consisting of many people from different background, has helped me to develop social skills which I know I would need later in my life, for example, self-esteem in communication, self-knowledge, and solving of conflicts.

The openness to be immersed in the new culture is important as it helps to create unity in the community.  It helps us to be transparent, to respect each other, and to be free to offer and embrace new ideas.

Coming from a traditional Dusun background which is typically less exposed, I find difficulty in breaking away from it, and in understanding the English Language and its slangs.  By the grace of God, the openness to face the challenges has enabled me to face the fear of changes.

The daily struggle was like planting small seeds, and after a while, a tree emerged.  After overcoming the fears through daily commitment, positive changes began to happen, which motivated me to keep moving forward.  This, I believe, is the work of God.  He has prepared for me the ways that I should walk during these formative years.

Despite the challenges of changes in a new environment, there are advantages of having peers from West Malaysia. It gives me the opportunity to understand their cultures and languages, and thereby enhances the quality of my learning by having a wider spectrum of opinion and expertise.

I believe in building a network across the different dioceses, which helps to build a stronger relationship among the dioceses, for today as for the future, to sustain the faith of the Church in the face of challenging issues.

In hindsight, living in a culture different from my own is both an exciting adventure and a challenging process.  Regardless of which state one comes from, it is common for all students to go through a period of cultural adjustment.  Understanding this adjustment process and getting support during the transition will help one to have a more fulfilling experience, spiritually, academically and personally.

 

Participant shares her experiences of silent retreat

The writer (back c in red jacket) poses with her sharing group in Bundu Tuhan.

PENAMPANG – The Light of Jesus Christ Covenant Community (based in Sacred Heart Cathedral Karamunsing) organised a silent retreat on 3-5 Mar 2017 at the Bundu Tuhan Retreat Centre.

One of the participants, Linda Edward, shares her experiences:

Way too many messages came into my WhatsApp, mostly from groups that I am a member of, voluntarily and also involuntarily.

Then came along one message, informing about a programme for a lenten retreat in Bundu Tuhan Retreat Centre on Mar 3-5, organised by LJCCC.  “Another retreat,’” I said in my heart. The picture was rather blurry but I could still manage to read every line; I skimmed through the daily programmes, but as there were no specific topics, it did not catch my utmost attention.

Until I saw the theme ‘Put out into deep water and pay out your nets for a catch’ (Luke 5:4), I thought, “this is interesting because of the word ‘deep.’   My mind is asking what is that deep water that the Lord wants me to know.”

So I decided to go.   Furthermore,  the testimony from the community members gives credit to Father Gregory Hon, a Carmelite friar, for being a good retreat master.

It turned out to be a three-day silent retreat. Some 80 people comprising youths, young adults and the seniors attended.

Carmelite Friars are known for their strong prayer traditions, guided retreats and contemplative spirituality.

There is only one rule: that we observe silence throughout the whole three days. We were drawn into a deepening of our prayer experience in the silence of our inner hearts.

It was relatively easy to be silent in the midst of 80 people, but when you were with friends, just four of us young adults, silence became, well, harder.

But I like it because I value silence and plus you don’t have to engage in small talks.

Through Fr Greg’s talks, God has revealed Himself to me as a God who is friendly, understanding and full of humanity.

With so many elaborations he gave about prayer, and in my own understanding, I am especially drawn to this statement he made: ‘Intimacy is real friendship.’

A heart that prays with all honesty and ‘being herself’ develops real encounter with Jesus. That deep water is the Word of God. Being immersed there, one finds guidance and consolations that one seeks daily from personal setbacks. And I learned that when Jesus asks to ‘pay out your nets for a catch’, it is a request for action on my side, be it to let go of hurts or to genuinely forgive or hundreds of other things.

And the best consolation I have received is that when one actually pays out the net,  Jesus guarantees a catch.   It is not ‘pay out your nets there might be a catch’!

So, may we find consolation in God’s Word, and in the depths of our heart, for it is like a fountain that wells up into eternal life.

Amylyn on IFFAsia programme: Many-hands-one-heart team to make Christ known

amy 2 (1)Amylyn Bihin hails from Kiulu, Tamparuli. After her tertiary education, she worked at Asrama Desa Pukak, Kiulu for about a year. The hostel, run by Good Shepherd Welfare Centre, caters for children from remote villages around Kg Pukak so that they may attend school regularly.

While at university, she was actively involved with the Catholic Student Group. As such, she had the opportunity to work closely with the Kota Kinabalu Archdiocesan Youth Campus Ministry. She is grateful to her sending organisation, the Archdiocese of Kota Kinabalu for the opportunity granted her to undergo an 11-month formation at IFFAsia, Quezon City, Philippines.

 Initially, I was worried whether my family would support me if I opt to serve full time in the Church. I realised that the formation process in IFFAsia would help prepare me to assume the post as a full time youth minister in the archdiocese. It took me a while to break the news to my family. I was not prepared. It was hard for me to arrive at a decision. It would be difficult for me to stay far away from my family for almost a year.

Two months before my departure, I broke the news to my family. They accepted my decision and supported me throughout my formation period. God has His way and a plan for me. I was relieved. I was ready to be transformed for mission. I left for IFFAsia in January and attended a one-month intensive English course in preparation for the 11-month formation programme which was conducted fully in English.

As I look back, IFFAsia has given me all the opportunity to grow and develop as a balanced individual. The community life in the institute, sharing various household responsibilities, ranging from marketing to general cleaning has taught me the importance of sharing responsibilities, being tolerant and acceptance of others. We were closely knitted. It was difficult for me to say goodbye to all my buddies coming from across Asia.

I used to take my home, my family and even friends for granted. The human development module has opened my eyes to the mistakes I made. Through the self-discovery sessions, I now appreciate my family and friends more. It is a blessing to be part of a family and to be in the companionship of friends. We need to relate to one another as a relational being.

We may fall and fail in life. We all encounter trials and tribulations. In moments of difficulties, we need to turn our eyes to the Lord. He is always present to console us, as in Psalm 50:15… ‘Call upon me in the day of trouble, I will deliver you, and you shall glorify me.’

The many social and pastoral exposures; encounter with the youth, outreach to the children and the elderly and the mission project in Thailand have enriched me tremendously with the meaning of mission. It is in serving the poor that we actually serve Christ.

With new skills, knowledge and tools provided by IFFAsia coupled with the right attitude, I hope to be an effective missionary disciple as I return to my community in Sabah. I hope to be one of the many-hands-one-heart team to make Christ known to all.

Everyone has a place in the body of Christ, the Church. We are the living stones of the temple of the Lord. Each has a role and each has something to contribute for the well being of the Church.

Pope Francis said, ‘No one is useless in the Church. We are all equal in the eyes of God.’ Together, we are then the ‘many hands one heart’ team. What are we waiting for? Let’s go.

Sem Casimir: So far, the path is quite clear…

casimirCasimir Umar has completed his first year as a seminarian in Initiation Year at St Peter’s College Kota Kinabalu. He comes from the Archdiocese of Kuching, Sarawak.  He shares with us on his experience in the seminary.

Being different in character, point of view, style and so many other ways, these are the ingredients living in the IY Formation House. It helps me to see things in wider perspective without prejudice. It is not easy, but challenging. The experience living here will surely nourish and enlighten my future journey.  Other than my fellow brothers, the parishioners have also supported me in shaping my character and spirituality.

For me, Initiation Year in St Peter’s College, KK, is a year of reflection and discernment. Looking inward at my inner self is very crucial as it is a time for me to decide whether to proceed or to discern another direction. But so far the path has been quite clear for me to journey forward in this challenging formation. In order to stay focus and not overly ambitious, I motivate myself with the attitude of “taking one day at a time”.  It sounds so simple but consistent prayers have sustained me to be firm and focus. In short, Initiation Year Formation House is a “Prayer Playground”.

I didn’t feel like I’m the only Sarawakian among the ten residents here. It feels like in my own hometown as our cultures are more or less similar. Reaching out during the pastoral visits as we lived our our theme  “Joy of the Gospel”, has boosted my spirit to move on in this journey after seeing the enthusiasm in the youths especially in the rural areas.

Eagerness and determination to learn are my strengths. I have learnt a lot of new things here. Give and take is the atmosphere required living in a community. It’s vital to learn from the lecturers and teachers and to share knowledge and talents with the brothers.

Every minute is a mission for me. Yes, I could not become like the saints and martyrs but I would say at least I am inspired by their way of life.

I would like to take this opportunity to express my gratitude to my Spiritual Director, Fr Rayner, who has shown me the direction which I could not see, as well as all those who have given me words of encouragement.

Jellferlyne Joseph shares her experiences at IFFAsia

jefferlyneJellferlyne Joseph hails from Sandakan and works as a Programme Officer at the Good Shepherd Welfare Centre in Sandakan since 2010. She journeys with the migrant community, teaching the children of migrant workers the basic 3Rs, running community and capacity building programme and conducting women empowerment sessions. She has a rich experience in the migrant ministry.   She has just completed the 11-month formation at IFFAsia, at Fairview, Quezon City, Philippines.

When I was offered a place in IFFAsia, Philippines in January this year (2015), I was nervous and anxious with many questions on what IFFAsia has to offer. I did a research on IFFAsia and consulting my seniors from IFFAsia, based in Sandakan, had sorted out many matters that bothered me.

Initially I encountered many challenges and conflicts living in a community of various nationalities of different backgrounds, cultures and practices. It took me awhile to adapt to the setting. After some months in community living, I realised I had learnt more about myself and have grown more mature in my outlook. I am grateful that the environment in IFFAsia promotes the spirit of tolerance and acceptance.
I discovered more about myself through the human development module, one of the four modules of the formation process in IFFAsia. I am more aware of my own strengths and weaknesses. I appreciate and love myself for what I am and this leads me to see the beauty in others. God’s love is unconditional and I am grateful for what I am and it is an invitation for me to accept others as they are.

The one-month exposure and my encounter with the children and women of the Rohingya refugees in Thailand in September 2015 has opened my eyes to the pastoral approaches adopted by the Suratani Diocese. They have good programmes and strong support of the lay faithful in their outreach mission to the refugees.

IFFAsia has challenged me to go beyond my comfort zone. It has formed and transformed me. I am well prepared to implement my Development Action Plan.

Thank you, IFFAsia, my sending organization, the Good Shepherd Welfare Centre Sabah, all sponsors and supporters and my family members for the opportunity and support given me throughout the journey of my formation.

 

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