By Herald Malaysia

Oct 3 2023

ANNA Teresa Peter Amandus from the Diocese of Sandakan is one of the two Malaysian delegates from the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Malaysia-Singapore-Brunei (CBCMSB) chosen as voting members at the 16th Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops, Oct 4 – 29, 2023. What is it like being in Rome and being a part of the synod assembly? Read on as Anna shares her experience with us.

My Journal (29th – 30th September 2023)

First and foremost, I would like to praise the Lord that I finally arrived at Rome safely. It was indeed a very long and tiring journey. But it was worth going through, because I know that God will always be with me and accompany me through the days.

I hope to share with HERALD readers some snippets of my experience while I’m here. Do join me in this journey which I’ve named ‘Anna in Rome’.

Arriving at Vatican City

I was so grateful and blessed to have finally arrived at Vatican City. It’s so huge and rich in culture and heritage. I am amazed by the arts, statues, and the people who come to this to place.

On September 30, I attended the Public Ordinary Consistory at St Peter’s Square, during which I witnessed the elevation of Rt Rev Sebastian Francis, Bishop of Penang to the rank of cardinal. I was so happy to meet some of our fellow Malaysian clergy, religious and laity. Thank you Cardinal Sebastian Francis for inviting me to be part of this historical event.

Since it was my first day in Rome, I did not know where to take the bus to attend the Public Ordinary Consistory. So I downloaded UBER and it took me less than 30 minutes to arrive at St Peter’s Square.

In the afternoon all those participating in the XVI Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops met one another for the first time (for most of us) at St Paul VI’s Hall. Personally, this was a super wow experience! Again, I am blessed to meet the Cardinals, Archbishops/Bishop, Priests, and laity from all around the world. And I was so happy to see my Asian Group. 

The day ended with the Ecumenical Prayer at St Peter’s Square with the Pope. I was so happy and so excited to see to see the Holy Father, who passed by about 2 to 3 meters from where I was seated. My heart leapt with joy at this almost ‘close encounter’. I hope to be able to meet him again during the one-month Synod.

As with every new experience or journey, there are bound to be challenges and these are some that I faced:

• I was physically tired and experienced jet lag due to the time difference. Rome is 6 hours behind Malaysia. So, everything was interrupted.
• Language barrier – I had a hard time communicating with the local people on my first day here since they hardly speak in English. So I downloaded the English–Italian translation and used it to communicate with them.
• The food is a bit different since bread, pasta and wine is not my usual food intake. 

Nevertheless, despite all the challenges I faced this past two days and whatever challenges that may come my way during my time here, I see this experience as God’s invitation to me. God is inviting me to be opened to possibilities ? possibilities to learn local cultures, to meet new people and make new friends, to savour good food and wine, and to be open for a great experience with great people every day.

As you read this, I will be at the Scrofano Retreat Centre for a two-day retreat to prepare ourselves spiritually before embarking into the synod assembly on Oct 4. – Herald Malaysia