Tag Archives: women

Holy See expresses alarm over new digital technology being used to perpetrate violence against women

Archbishop Ivan Jurkovic

GENEVA – Archbishop Ivan Jurkovic, the Holy See’s Permanent Observer to the United Nations here addressed a session of the Human Rights Council on 20 June 2018 on violence against women.

The Holy See has expressed alarm that the means of communication and new technologies are being misused to perpetrate violence and abuse against women and girls.

“Violence against women continues to be one of the greatest human rights concerns of our time,” said Archbishop Ivan Jurkovic.

“Despite the progress achieved, violence against women and girls, in its different forms and various contexts, remains a grave scourge at every level of society,”  he told a session of the Human Rights Council on violence against women.

He noted that violence often causes deep wounds and long-lasting consequences that may profoundly disrupt their lives as young girls, wives, mothers, or workers.

Archbishop Jurkovic expressed alarm that the mistreatment of women is exacerbated by the improper use of modern means of communication and that new technologies remain powerless to protect adequately the dignity of women, as well as their privacy and freedom of expression.

He said it is high time to stop violence against women that is facilitated, in particular, by the daily use of insufficiently protected social networks and various online applications.

He lamented that instead of representing a momentous tool for the eradication of every form of discrimination, as well as structural inequities and violence against women, digitalization has actually become an instrument to perpetrate new forms of violence and abuse against women.

The Holy See official noted that achieving full respect for women involves more than simply condemning violence.  It also requires strong efforts to promote and educate respect for the other, to raise awareness, especially among new generations on the value of an authentic dialogue, where the proper understanding of the human person and of her own dignity is a precondition to truly human and effective communication. – Robin Gomes, Vatican News

Pope says no to women priests, yes to women in curial leadership

Pope Francis meets with a woman at the general audience in Paul VI Hall, 13 Jan 2016.  Credit: Daniel Ibanez/CNA

VATICAN CITY – In an interview with Reuters, Pope Francis said more space has to be created for women to take on leading roles in the Roman Curia, but that priestly ordination is not an option.

Responding to a question about women’s ordination to the priesthood, the pope said “there is the temptation to ‘functionalise’ the reflection on women in the Church, what they should do, what they should become.”

“We cannot functionalise women,” he said, explaining that while the Church is referred to as a woman, the Sacrament of Holy Orders is out of the question “because dogmatically it doesn’t work.”

“John Paul II was clear and closed the door, and I will not go back on this. It was something serious, not something capricious,” he said, adding, “it cannot be done.”

However, Francis stressed that while the priesthood is out, women do need to be given more opportunities for leadership in the Roman Curia – a view he said has at times been met with resistance.

“I had to fight to put a woman as the vice-director of the press office,” he said, referring to his decision in 2016 to name Spanish journalist Paloma Garica Ovejero as the Vatican’s deputy spokesperson.

He said he at one point offered a woman the job of heading the Vatican’s Secretariat for Communications, but she turned it down because “she already had other commitments.”

Women in the Curia “are few, we need to put more,” he said, adding that it can be either a religious sister or a laywoman, “it doesn’t matter,” but there is a need to move forward with an eye for quality and competency in the job.

“I don’t have any problem naming a woman as the head of a dicastery, if the dicastery doesn’t have jurisdiction,” he said, referring to the fact that some Vatican departments have specific functions in Church governance that require a bishop to do the job. Lay men are also ineligible to oversee offices that require the jurisdictional authority of a priest or bishop.

For example, the Vatican’s Congregation for Clergy has jurisdiction, so it has to be led by a bishop, but for others, such as the Vatican’s Secretariat for the Economy, “I would not have a problem naming a competent woman,” Francis said.

Women must continue to be promoted, but without falling into “a feminist attitude,” the pope said, adding that “in the end it would be machismo with a skirt. We don’t want to fall into this.”

Pope Francis spoke during an interview with American journalist Phil Pullella of Reuters, which took place on 17 June 2018 at the pope’s Vatican residence, and was published June 20.

In the interview, the pope touched on a variety of topics, including a possible deal with China on the appointment of bishops, clerical abuse and the ongoing scandal in Chile, the reform of the Roman Curia, and criticism he’s faced.

On the topic of women, Francis said that in his experience, things are usually done better when there is a mixed group working on a task, rather than just men.

“Women have an ability to understand things, it’s another vision,” he said, noting that whenever he has visited prisons run by women, they “seemed to do better,” because women know how to be “mothers” and care for inmates and their needs in a unique way.

“Women know how to manage conflicts better. In these things, women are braver,” he said, adding, “I think it would be so also in the Curia if there were more women.”

Francis noted that some have said inviting more women into the mix might mean there is more gossip, however, he said he does not believe that would be the case, “because we men are also gossipers.” – Elise Harris, CNA/EWTN News

LiFE community members attend silent women’s retreat

The retreatants pose with Sr Josephine Preza RVM (standing middle row, with bouquet) after the retreat, 10-11 Mar 2018, Kokol Prayer Summit Manggatal.

KOKOL, Manggatal – LiFE Community of Sacred Heart Cathedral created a space for Catholic women to quiet down and contemplate on the reflections given in a two-day silent retreat, 10-11 Mar 2018 at Kokol Prayer Summit, with the theme, Beauty for Ashes (Is 61:3, 35).

The retreat was facilitated by Sister Josephine Preza of the Congregation of the Religious Virgin Mary Philippines on her fourth visit to Kota Kinabalu.

Sr Jo, as she is known, presented the story of the prodigal son, inviting everyone to put themselves in the story. Most of the retreatants were able to identify themselves in it and shared their encounters.

Gathered around the cross, Sr Jo invited everyone to hold their pain and to not let it just past as it is an uncomfortable feeling that one usually wants to get rid of.

The gesture of lighting a candle and putting it into a decorated glass jar helped everyone to focus on the ritual. The letting go of pain through the power of the cross, allowing Jesus’ wounds to meet theirs and encounter redemptive suffering was a healing experience for many.

Prior to the weekend retreat, Sr Jo facilitated a five-day Retreat in Daily Life. Two women shared their prayer experience after completing the retreat.

One of them shared on how she hurried prayer time and treated it as another task to be done in her day. Giving time to God in prayer during the weekday retreat brought revelation and healing to her.

Another woman shared about the discovery of her anger with God for having an autistic son. Times of prayer and embracing the identity of being blessed by God helped her to see her life differently.

The other retreatants said they were able to relate with their sharings as they too felt like they have been hurrying prayer time and blaming God for the difficulties they are facing. Beatrice Chong

Below are some of the reflections of the retreatants.

Improving communication with God

The silent retreat has a tremendous effect on me where I’ve learned to improve my communication with God. Apart from coming there to rest, be refreshed and to discover Beauty in Ashes, I’ve had the opportunity to learn the importance of being silent and listen to God as well as how to enter into a relationship with Him which I had been longing and searching for all of my life.

For me, I’ve experienced God’s unconditional and unlimited love, forgiveness, peace, acceptance despite that I’m a terrible sinner and am just like the “Lost Son” coming back to his father as in Luke 15:11-32.

During the communal prayer on Saturday night, it was a very touching experience where I’d been taught how to hold and release, past life, all my anger, hurt, worries, frustration, and sadness to God.

Sister Josephine taught me to put it all in Jesus wounds by presenting my lighted candle (in a glass jar) to Jesus. Upon presenting my lighted candle to Jesus, I felt lightened, released, peace and I saw the image of Jesus inviting me so he can embrace me. It was truly a wonderful moment and experience for me.

I had also learned to do personal reflection in silence through scripture. We were taught to take note of what word or phrase stands out to ourselves and thereafter, come back to that word or phrase throughout the day, being present to its impact and invitation.

In conclusion, this silent retreat has greatly impacted me. Now I can see myself getting closer to God, learning to be silent at the same time listen to Him even in my daily busy life, as a working mother and wife. I started to read the daily readings and bring my Bible to the office to read during my lunch hour. –Susan Liew

The retreat helps me to be silent and still

I went to the retreat with my mom and sister and also with a pain in my heart, hoping and searching that I’ll get an answer. Surely, I got my answer.

This women’s retreat with Sr Jo was indeed fruitful and helpful for a person who is constantly busy with work, hardly having a full focus on “God time.”

It helped me to focus and be silent and still, disconnected with the world and just be connected to God. As I was contemplating on the scriptures given by Sr Jo, God showed me an insight of the answer to my pain as I reflected Jesus on the cross. It’s like he wants me to know that to love is also to understand love in pain and to be willing to suffer for love. – Desiree Laban

The Father embraces me

I would describe my relationship with God and others as a “safe” relationship before I attended the retreat. I love but am not too loving. I care but not too much. In short, my sole purpose of loving was making sure I was not hurt.

During the retreat, God brought many painful memories alive. The past wounds of betrayal and losses felt raw once again. I was in great agony during the whole process and for the first time I ‘saw’ our Heavenly Father was there. He was crying harder than I was. I had never seen Him shed so many tears for me “I am sorry, my child, I know it hurts. I am here. You are made for love,” he said gently.

I continued to feel the pain and cry out to Him. Just when I thought my heart was going to burst from crying, I felt a sense of warmth. He was embracing me like a father would embrace a little baby. I was small, wounded and fragile. Being in His embrace, I felt safe.

My heart finally had the courage to admit I felt hurt by God. He hurts me for allowing losses and betrayals to crush me. I cannot see Him in my darkest moments because I refused to go through the darkness with Him. I now know God can be found in the darkest moments of my life but I have to reveal the darkness to Him.

Vulnerability is letting my true self be seen and admitting that I am afraid. It’s true that being vulnerable is scary but God has shown me the path to love authentically is being vulnerable to people who love and care for me. – Jessica Rine

 Get in touch with my deepest being

This was my first time joining a silent retreat and the experience was extraordinary. It allowed me to get in touch with the deepest, truest part of my being, by spending personal and quality time, one to one with God in silence.

The theme ‘Beauty for Ashes’ together with the chosen scripture of the Prodigal Son for me to contemplate on had made me realise that as human, we may fall into the darkness of sin, as dark as the ashes, but the Light of the beloved Father will never fail to always save us in His warm embrace and make known to us the greatness of His unconditional love.

On top of all that, this experience continues to strengthen my trust in His unfailing love, to always believe and never give up on Him. – Sarah Michael

The Father waits for my return

The retreat was a truly amazing experience for me. I was at a point of my spiritual journey, where I looked back and wondered how I have drifted away from the close relationship I once enjoyed with Jesus. From spending an hour in prayer each day in my youth, I had slowly allowed it to become shorter with time.

When I became a mother, I had to be satisfied with a quick 10 minutes here, and 5 minutes there! And now, the babies had grown up, and I had grown apart from God. So, my personal aim of the retreat was to reignite my personal prayer time with the Lord again.

From the beginning of the retreat, Sr Josephine was encouraging and clear in her instructions and guidance as we prayed with scripture. The Prodigal Son was the passage that moved, yet troubled me most. Having associated myself often with the character of the dissatisfied and unforgiving elder brother, it scared me while I was in prayer, and saw myself as the beaten prodigal son, lost and dirty in the dark pig-sty…. paralysed in misery as I realised my past mistakes. Worse still I felt unable to return to God! I was so unworthy to return to my Father. I felt so ashamed. It was my fault, so I had to suffer the consequences.

Then, Sr Josephine’s words reminding me that God gave up His only son for me. He is waiting for my return, imagine the agony He goes through while waiting….so how could I continue to cause Him pain by not returning to His loving embrace?

I needed to forgive myself and return to my Father’s loving embrace…not because I deserved it, but because not doing so would continue to wound His loving heart! Thanks be to God! I concluded my retreat with the resolution to begin spending an hour a day with my beloved Jesus…once again! Amen. -CChang


Papal commission asks Francis for synod on women’s role in the Church

Credit: Bohumil Petrik, CNA

VATICAN CITY – The Pontifical Commission for Latin America has proposed that Pope Francis convoke a synod on the role of women in the life and mission of the Church.

The proposal is contained in a 15-paragraph statement approved by the Pontifical Commission for Latin America’s plenary assembly one month ago, and published on 11 April 2018 in L’Osservatore Romano.

The Pontifical Commission for Latin America stressed that the Catholic Church “must be freed from prejudices, stereotypes and discriminations” women are subjected to, and for this reason a “pastoral conversion” is needed in order to ask women’s forgiveness “for all the situations” in which Christian communities “have been and are accomplices of attempt against women’s dignity.”

The document also challenged local dioceses to be courageous, and to “denounce all the forms of discrimination and oppression, of violence and exploitation” to which women have been subjected.

The commission warned against “cultural and ideological colonisation” spread from “well organised lobbies” sometimes “instrumentalising feminist claims” in order to argue against the truth of marriage and family.

The Pontifical Commission of Latin America asked the Church to “multiply and widen the places and the opportunities of women’s cooperation to pastoral structure” in parishes, dioceses, episcopal conferences and in Roman Curia.

It is – according to the document – “a needed and urgent opening,” that requires “an investment in the Christian, theological and professional formation” of women – whether they are religious sisters or members of the laity – so that they can “work at the same level with men.”

The statement promoted an education tackling “male chauvinist resistance, frequent paternal and familiar absence, and irresponsibility in sexual behaviour.”

It also promoted research on those issue in Catholic universities, as “the era of feminism might be a good liberating occasion,” that might “claim the full respect of women’s dignity and at the same time a responsible paternity” committed to “raising children, at the mother’s side.”

The statement said that the modern era requires “a change of mentality and a process of transformation” similar to that which Pope Francis “made concrete” with the two synods on the family “that led to the apostolic exhortation Amoris Laetitia,” to be followed by the upcoming bishops’ synod on Young People, the Faith, and Vocational Discernment, to be held in October.

The plenary assembly of the Pontifical Commission for Latin America was held March 6-9. The theme, chosen by Pope Francis, was “The woman: a pillar in the edification of the Church and society in Latin America.”

Exceptionally, the plenary assembly included some women, unusual because all members and consultors of the commission are cardinals and bishops. Topics of discussion during the assembly were the promotion of the woman in Latin America, the presence of the Virgin and the role of women in evangelising Latin American people, and also the woman as “pillar of the family,” and the role of women in catechesis, society, politics.

It is expected that the role of women will be discussed at a Special Synod for the Panamazonic Region in 2019, and at the October 2018 synod on young adults and vocations. It is possible that the next Ordinary Synod Bishops, scheduled for 2021, could also be dedicated to a discussion on women.

Pope Francis has often spoken about the importance of the role of the woman in society, and in 2016 he set up a commission to study the possibility of ordaining women as deacons.

Archbishop Luis Ladaria, prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith,  was appointed president of a commission composed of 12 members, 6 men and 6 women. The members are:  Msgr Piero Coda; Sr Nuria Calduch-Benages; Francesca Cocchini; Fr Robert Dodaro; Fr Santiago Madrigal Terrazas; Sr Mary Malone; Fr Karl-Heinz Menke; Fr Amailble Musoni; Fr Bernard Pottier; Marianne Schlosser; Michelina Tenace; Phyllis Zagano.

According to sources, the commission is drafting its final report, expected to be presented to the pope within this year.

The issue of women deacons had been discussed in the recent past. A 2002 report issued by the International Theological Commission, titled “From Diakonia of Christ to the Diakonia of the Apostles,” dedicated a whole chapter to the role of women deacons in the ancient Church.

With regard to the ordination of women to the diaconate, the documents stressed that “deaconesses” of the tradition of the ancient Church cannot be considered the same as ordained deacons. In addition, the document underscored that both the ecclesial tradition and the magisterium consider diaconal ministry an element of holy orders.

Based on those two points, the document suggested that women could not be ordained to diaconate.

Though he was aware of the work done in the past, Pope Francis wanted to appoint a new commission, in order to clear out any possible doubt and to have a final word on that. – Andrea Gagliarducci, CNA, 11 Apr 2018

145 attend women’s Lenten recollection

SANDAKAN – Around 145 women attended the Lenten recollection for them on 16-17 Mar 2018 at the Diocesan Pastoral Centre here.

Organised by the Diocesan Women’s Apostolate, the participants including three religious sisters, represented the five parishes and one mission centre in the diocese.

Good Shepherd Sister Maria Dipal facilitated the event together with Father Christopher Ireneus, the spiritual adviser to the DWA.

Organising chairperson Cecelia D’Souza welcomed the participants and went through the programme with them.

In his speech, Fr Ireneus reminded the women of their important responsibilities as wife, mother, sister in the family because the family is the “domestic church.”

The programme is one of the initiatives of the Women’s Apostolate to empower the women of the diocese to serve with love in line with the Diocesan Vision and Mission.

The five sessions helped the participants to look into the stage of their life journey – where they are, what are they looking for, the challenges they face, the crises they encounter – in the different aspects of life – and the tools to overcome them, enabling them to live in community and holiness, and so become peacemakers to all they meet.

The programme ended with a prayer-blessing by Fr Ireneus. – Adapted from Sandakan Diocesan Blog

Orange the world campaign kicks off at SHC

Some of the volunteers pose with Fr Joshua Liew (holding the booklet) in front of Sacred Heart Cathedral Karamunsing, Nov 2017.

KOTA KINABALU – An introduction to the ‘Orange the World’ campaign by Archbishop John Wong, followed by a video entitled “Broken Dreamers” which illustrated the unfortunate stories of human trafficking victims, kicked off the 16 Days of Activism for this year.

The event took place at the conclusion of the Sunset Mass on 25 Nov 2017, where staff and volunteers from Good Shepherd Services staged a two-day activity at Sacred Heart Cathedral to begin its commencement. Similarly, Sunday morning followed the same flow.

The parishioners leaving church were greeted by a group of “victims” – handled by their employers in the form of a pimp – lined the entrance of the church. The crowd were taking pictures and pondering, but more importantly, a significant insight into the dark world of human trafficking was gained.

To mark the start of the 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence with the theme “Leave No One Behind: End Violence against Women and Girls,”  Good Shepherd Services launched the booklet 16 days of Prayer for the Nation.

“This booklet gives a glimpse inside the maze of human trafficking. Each of the sixteen articles tells a story that speaks powerfully of the violence, trauma, and grief experienced by survivors and advocates,” said Chin Poh Choo, the Executive Director of Good Shepherd Services.

Each year, the global campaign kicks off with the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women on Nov 25 and ends on Dec 10, International Human Rights Day. Since 2008, the UN Women, under the “Orange the World” umbrella, has been galvanizing global attention and action to end violence against women and girls. The official colour used is orange, which symbolises a bright and optimistic future free from violence against women and girls.

This year’s Orange The World campaign is a maiden initiative undertaken by the Catholic Bishops Conference of Malaysia, Council of Churches Malaysia, National Evangelical Christian Fellowship and the Malaysian Consultative Council of Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Sikhism and Taoism, in collaboration with the Good Shepherd Services, to stand united as Malaysian Christians of all faiths, to raise awareness to eliminate this menace, to come together in prayer for victims of human trafficking, and to reflection and action to end violence against women and children.

An estimated 21 million people are trafficked globally, out of which 71 percent are women and girls. About 5.5 million children are trafficked. This heinous business generates about US$150 billion in profits each year for those behind it.

“Human trafficking is an issue which disproportionately affects women and children, and turning a blind eye and a deaf ear will literally make us complicit in this crime,” said Chin.

Chin said: “As we listen to the voices of those that have been oppressed and exploited through the stories, it is our hope that we are also able to discern the voice of justice calling us to action for all trafficked women and children who are oppressed, exploited and in bondage.” – Mary Anne Baltazar

Religious sister expresses desire to see more women in church and societal leadership role

Sr Dipal

SANDAKAN  – A religious sister expressed her desire to see more women taking up a leadership role in church and society in a recent interview here.

“I would like to see more women taking up leadership in the Church and society at large,” said Good Shepherd Sister Maria Dipal,  in response to Pope Francis’ address to the Plenary of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue in Rome on 9 Jun 2017.

In his address, the pope said, “There is a need for greater recognition of women’s capacity to educate in universal brotherhood.  When women have the possibility of fully conveying their gifts to the whole community, the way in which society understands and organises itself will be positively transformed.”

The sister underscored that it is “time for women to make a difference, to be present, to speak the truth, to share wisdom, to recreate the world with love, beauty and harmony.  I feel that such issues as interreligious dialogue, justice and peace, health and education, human trafficking, etc, are important for all.”

Sr Dipal, who works with the “wounded and marginalised,” added, “In my experience, as I encounter their pain and suffering, I see the suffering Christ in our midst.  My own faith and relationship with God are challenged.  I am called to go deeper into the heart of the matter.  There is more that just a problem.”

She believes that women have the capacity to make a difference.  She said she is challenged to be “the change” that she would like to see in all the people she is accompanying or journeying with.

“Many a time in my difficulties and down moments, I realise that God is there with me, and continually revealing himself in the unexpected places…leading me to live out the spiritual path of ‘acting justly, loving tenderly, and walking humbly with God’ (cf Micah 6:8)” she said.

Sr Dipal serves in multiple areas undertaken by her congregation, including faith formation, family and community building, especially women and youth empowerment, as well as working with and for migrant communities. – CS


FABC reports on women and the impact of climate change

fabc reportBATTAMBANG, Cambodia – The Federation of Asian Bishops Conference (FABC) has furnished a report from the SE Asia Regional meeting on “Women and the Impact of Climate Change” which was held in Battambang Prefecture, Cambodia recently.

The Church and the United Nations has a special concern for women, especially those who are dependent on farming, who are the first to experience the hardship brought on by weather extremes which undermines their agricultural rhythms and food security. They are the ones who have to cope with increasing work but diminishing production as the land yields less and less. They are the first to suffer the impact of poverty brought on by disasters. When there is less food, women are most likely to do without while men and children are fed. When there is pressure on income, the girls are kept back from school and not the boys. The impact of climate change is to erode even further the rights and dignity of women and the girl child in situations where women are already discriminated and exploited.

Forced migrations, Human trafficking, increased prostitution,domestic violence are exacerbated by poverty and climate change is one major cause of increasing poverty today. There are other causes like wars, corruption and poor governance but Climate Change looms larger than all the rest.

For the six countries of SE Asia represented in the Seminar from 7-11 Mar 2016, all could resonate with the topic and found many examples where women are already experiencing the negative impact of unpredictable weather systems and a weak social and political response. Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Thailand and Philippines were represented by lay and religious women from their national Women’s Commissions. Two Bishops accompanied the process. Indonesian Archbishop Nicholaus Seputra of Merauke Diocese (West Papua) and host Bishop Kike Figaredo. There was a total of 32 participants.

The real challenge in these days was to keep the focus on the “Impact on Women.” The tendency was to get carried away with just doing many little things for protection of the environment but the important thing for the meeting was to see how one can support women who are facing the ongoing hardships in the various countries. Most participants could see clearly the connection between the deteriorating conditions for women and girls and climate change. There are many connections of course with the poor and other vulnerable groups but in a three day meeting it was not possible to address all the concerns.

In the Panel discussion on the third day, Fr Pichet explained that it is not enough to work against Climate Change as there are many agencies engaged already. For Christians, they have to work from within as the human person is central, starting with themselves, with the human person and then going beyond the human being to creation. On a similar note, Fr Allwyn called for a deeper reflection to be made, following the three step ‘See Judge Act’ Method.

The three day meeting ended with a much greater determination and conviction that all must act and all must act together. – FABC


SHC women ministries organise first ever gathering for women

The young women pose for remembrance.

The young women pose for remembrance.

KOTA KINABALU – Fifty-one women participated in the first ever programme for young women organised by the four young adult ministries of Sacred Heart Cathedral here on 12 Nov 2015 at the parish centre.

Elysian came to birth when a group of young adults saw the potential in young women in the parish who are full of life and zeal, having the capacity to create a space to build up a generation of women who would see themselves as gifts of Christ, as daughters of the King, and know their identity as women.

In response to this crucial issue in the parish, the four young adult ministries of Sacred Heart Cathedral – Efata, Lifeline, Sacred Heart Chinese Youth and Sacred Heart Young Adults Prayer Group, came together to pray, and eventually to plan a one-day programme.

While meeting with members from all four ministries, the name Elysian was chosen as it is the Greek word for beautiful or delightful. The theme for the event is “Returning to His Love”, taking the story of the Prodigal Son. The scripture was taken from Wisdom 2:23 the reading of the day – For God formed us to be imperishable; the image of his own nature he made us.

The one-day programme  was conducted in English but participants were allocated in small groups according to their language preference.

The sessions

The first session invited the participants to reflect on where they are in their journey. Three characters of women in the bible were introduced where participants were invited to choose which character they identify themselves with. Mary Magdalene represents abused women; Martha represents active but unacknowledged women in society;   the woman with the bleeding issue represents the identity crisis that is attacking our generation.

In the second session, the participants were presented with the same three biblical characters whose identities have been restored, and are welcomed by Jesus with love and acceptance. They were once again invited to identify themselves with these three characters. Every session was followed by group sharing where participants were given the opportunity to share their reflections.

The prayer of blessing

The participants were invited to make a crown that represents themselves as an expression of gratitude for their identity.

After some time of reflecting on the event theme based on the Gospel story of the Prodigal Son, the group leaders led each participant to wear their own-made crowns, signifying who they are today and to be presented before the Father. Following that, the participant was robed using their shawl as a symbol of the Father welcoming His daughter home, as in the parable of the prodigal son. In addition, the participants were being prayed with blessings and encouragement as they allowed themselves to enter into the Heart of the Father. We witnessed this as a time of healing and empowerment.

The workshops

Five workshops were offered with the purpose of exploring more of the participants’ gifts and talents. Some shared that the workshops had also been therapeutic and was a healing process for them.


The one-day gathering of women was the result of team work among the four young adult ministries in the parish. There was the positive element of sharing  gifts, skills and passion together which made the event fruitful.

The participants were  happy to have the opportunity to meet up for support, fun and bonding with one another. Many were able to identify themselves with the characters of the women in the bible and were able to share openly in the groups which was said to be essential in the programme.

They were glad to have the opportunity to participate in the various workshops. They would like to see more options of workshops in the future as it had helped them to relax and explore their talents.

Identity was affirmed and restored through the words of blessings by women in their groups in the final session.

The participants would like to have the event as an annual event, with more topics and workshops offered in a two-day gathering over the weekend. They are also encouraged to attend the various young adult prayer meetings for follow up.


Amy Alison: ELYSIAN was my first experience of a women’s gathering in Church. I got to meet different women and bonded with some of them too. This event is a good way to bring women together and learn about God in our lives every single day. I am reminded where I stand right now in my life. At times, we are too distracted with all the noise in the world and have put God in the back seat. The workshop has helped us to relate our passion with God too. Thank you for creating an awesome experience for all of us!

Sarah:  After coming for the Elysian gathering, I have learned more about myself, how beautiful the Lord’s plan is for me.

Shirley Paul:  Personally, I was grateful for the opportunity to reflect on myself and my life so far – where I am at the moment, where I was in the past and where I see myself walking towards in the future. I was caught up with work and life’s ups and downs and did not take much time to reflect and identify where I was. By sharing my own thoughts and experiences and also by listening to others, I am reminded again of God’s infinite love and to keep on returning to his love no matter where life takes me. We are precious daughters of God. Therefore, we should never feel alone. In the future, I anticipate having a better relationship with God and finding peace in His love. – Debbie Douglas

GSS organises campaign vs violence against women and children

The campaign reaches Montfort Youth Training Centre Kinarut.

The campaign reaches Montfort Youth Training Centre Kinarut.

KOTA KINABALU – Good Shepherd Services Malaysia has organised a 16-day campaign against violence against women and children recently.  An annual event, it begins on Nov 25 (International Day against Violence against Women) and culminates on Dec 10 December (International Human Rights Day).

Pope Francis has often spoken out against violence towards women in his messages, and on 7 February 2015, at a meeting on women’s issues hosted by the Vatican Council for Culture, he condemned female mutilation and domestic violence against women, calling them degradations that had to be combated.o

The Church’s role in defending the rights of women is endorsed at the recently concluded Synod of Bishops on the Family 2015. Section 27 on “Women” of the Synod’s Final Report was emphatically approved and adopted by a resounding vote of 251 to 9.

Excerpts from the Synod’s Final Report on Women states that ….

“…. It remains true, however, that the status of women in the world is subject to large differences arising primarily from socio-cultural factors. The dignity of women needs to be defended and promoted. It is not simply a problem of resources, but of a different cultural perspective, as highlighted by the plight of women in many emerging countries. In many contexts, still, being a woman provokes discrimination: The gift of motherhood is penalized rather than valued.”

“….. We shouldn’t forget the growing phenomena of violence in which women are victims within the family. …. The emancipation of women requires a rethinking of the tasks of spouses in their reciprocity and a shared responsibility in family life.”

“…. A greater appreciation of their responsibilities within the Church can contribute to the social recognition of the role of women: their involvement in decision-making, their participation in the government of some institutions, and their involvement in the formation of ordained ministers.”

Various initiatives have been organised to create awareness and to spread the message in the three different states in Malaysia where Good Shepherd Services (GSS) has a presence.

This year in Sabah, GSS is also raising the awareness on Sexual Harassment, which is defined as any unwelcome and unwanted conduct of a sexual nature, and a violation of women’s human rights.

The Training-of-Trainers workshop held on 26 October 2015 at the Youth Prep Centre, Alamesra in Kota Kinabalu was to promote the 16 Days of Activism campaign and to encourage the participants, comprising the staff and volunteers of GSS, working adults and University students to carry out the campaign in their various organisations.

Following the training workshop, the participants drew up a schedule of activities for the campaign “ORANGE THE WORLD: Say NO to Violence Against Women and Children” to be conducted in their communities and organisations.

The campaign has reached the government’s Women’s Shelter, College youths, Montfort Training Centre, University Malaysia Sabah, Jabatan Tanah & Ukur & Kolej Yayasan Sabah, St Francis Xavier’s Cathedral, Keningau, St Mary Cathedral, Sandakan, St Joseph Catholic Church Kiulu, Dewan Bandaraya Kota Kinabalu, Kementerian Kesihatan Malaysia,, ASCOT Academy and others.


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