Youth of Sacred Heart Parish and St Paul Dontozidon Parish gathered for the Eucharistic Adoration during diocesan-level 36th World Youth Day 

By Aline Lim

Nov 25 2021

KOTA KINABALU – This was the theme chosen for this year’s World Youth Day, which fell on Nov 21, coinciding with the Feast of Christ the King.

To mark the significance of the celebration, about 40 youth of Sacred Heart Cathedral gathered together to join the rest of the congregation, to participate at the Sunset Mass on Nov 20, at the Cathedral.

After the Mass concluded, we stayed back for a time of Eucharistic Adoration with our Blessed Lord, and were joined by about 60 youth from the parish of St Paul Dontozidon.

In his reflection and message to the youth, Fr Paul Lo, parish priest of Sacred Heart Cathedral, encouraged the young people to have courage and faith to be witnesses of Christ, despite the ongoing pandemic.

Then, three youth were chosen to share their personal testimonies. Marcus from Sacred Heart, who represented the Chinese youth, shared his challenges with online studies during the pandemic and how God has helped him through the challenges.

Natasha of Dontozidon shared how God helped her and her team with their challenges in organizing a youth camp in their parish. Finally, Elezebath, also from Sacred Heart shared about the adversities and hardships she faced in her life and during this pandemic. She praised God and shared that He is still the God of all the seasons in her life despite the hardships.

The following day, the youth of Sacred Heart Cathedral Parish gathered virtually once again for a time of sharing. Since the theme was geared towards being a “witness”, we felt that the testimonies of young people were vital and key to be shared.

Time of sharing and testimonies by the young people of the SHC parish

We had the privilege of hearing from Sylvester Wong, our seminarian who will be ordained this coming Dec 4, and Irene Chia, a full-time mum who also does coaching and training.

Sylvester began by saying, “Before we can become a witness, we must first encounter with Christ.” He went on to share his journey of faith and how he first experienced God’s tangible love for him in a Life in the Spirit Seminar in Singapore.

He said that it was not really about what or how God wants him to be, but how God accepts and loves him just the way he is. Sylvester shared how his former co-workers used to question him about his faith, how his social media circle found his faith-related posts offensive, and how he became a witness of Christ by loving them anyway.

Seminarian Sylvester Wong

Irene also shared how she first encountered Christ as a convert to the Catholic faith. She spent five years in New Zealand as a response to God’s call to lay mission, which was a fruit of the World Youth Day that she attended in year 2011.

There she found her passion for the pro-life cause and found her opportunity to be a true witness of Christ by loving those who persecuted the pro-life movement.

She further shared that upon her return to Sabah, she got married to her husband and later gave birth to her daughter. Shortly after, she was diagnosed with myasthenia gravis, a rare autoimmune disease, that affects 1 in 10,000 people. She shared that God continues to invite her to respond to Him, through her condition, and she continues to discover the sanctity of the body through this.

Irene Chia

All youth present at the virtual gathering also had their time to share in small groups on how they have been witnesses of what God has done for them in their lives.

As we ended the parish World Youth Day celebration, some of us came away with a sense of a deeper love for the youth in our parish.

Listening to the stories of each individual and seeing how God has been faithfully working in our lives, we are reminded that each one is created in His own image and likeness, loved and pursued by the Creator.

After the celebration, we could begin to acknowledge a little bit more, that the uniqueness of the youth of Sacred Heart lies in how God meets us at every stage of our lives – in our vulnerability, in our brokenness, in our joys and sorrows and how we are called to just be His children, allowing His Holy Spirit to equip us to be His witnesses not only in the extraordinary ways, but every small opportunity, seen or unseen.

At the end of the day, with the little that we can offer, by our lives, we proclaim – Christ is King. Viva Cristo Rey.