Vocation Camp Group Photo 

By Bibianah T. Densia

May 20 2022

BUNDU TUHAN – “Discover the Path to Your True Vocation” was the theme of the in-person Religious Vocation Awareness Camp held at Bundu Tuhan Retreat Centre (BTRC) May 1-3.

It was the first face to face religious initiative organized by the vocation promotion team under Kota Kinabalu Archdiocesan Council of Religious after two years of travel restriction due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The reopening of our country’s borders for international travellers was good news. It made possible the in-person actualization of the Vocation Camp even though the planning was all done online.

The organizing committee, comprising of representatives from various religious congregations and  orders, 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), met virtually via zoom  to discuss and prepare for the camp as early as January.

The online registration for the Vocation Camp commenced on the first week of April.  It attracted 56 participants (33 girls and 23 boys) from various parishes of the Archdiocese of Kota Kinabalu, as well as a few from Keningau Diocese.

In addition, 24 religious men and women came to the Camp to journey with the participants. Fr Robert Dalusung, Sch.P, from Manila, presided the Opening Mass, and concelebrated by other priests.  The celebrant reminded the participants that it was the Lord himself who has invited and led them to the Vocation Camp so that they could listen to Him more attentively and discover His Will for them. 

After the Opening Mass, Br Thomas Paul, SG, chairman of the religious Council of the Archdiocese of Kota Kinabalu, welcomed all the participants to the Camp. He gave a safety briefing and reminded that although Malaysia has relaxed the SOP, the organizing committee required everyone present to put on face mask throughout the Camp as a precautionary measure.

Inputs and activities prepared for the 3-day program included:  Praise and Worship, Ice Breaking, My Expectations, Call to Holiness, Community Life, Video on Charism and Spirituality, My Vocation Story, Forum and Discernment Process.  Speakers for the various sessions were assigned from among the religious men and women of the organizing committee.

Group Sharing

Group sharing followed after each session with some questions for reflection prepared by each speaker.  Based on the feedback, the participants found the group sharing enriching. Aside from having the space to share among friends in small groups and listening to each other, the sharing also helped them understand the input better and made personal application both practical and easier to discern and formulate.

The Camp gave the participants the opportunity to experience and to have a peek into religious life. They were exposed and introduced to how the religious pray using the prayers of the Church (Divine Office) for morning and evening prayers, as well as other practices of piety such as the holy hour and the daily celebration of the Holy Eucharist.

The Vocation Camp was lived in an environment of community life, one of the essential and important characteristics of religious vocation. The various groups worked and collaborated together as a team after each meal for task such as: washing plates, wiping tables and cleaning the refectory.

Their dedication and joyful demeanour touched the kitchen staff of BTRC. Much to the surprise and encouragement of everyone, they thanked the organizers and participants for their inspiring example.

On the whole, the Vocation Camp went smoothly, with lots of fun and beneficial learning experiences for everyone. Based on the evaluation at the conclusion of the camp, the participants were satisfied with the overall program, as well as were truly grateful for the opportunity for counselling and the Sacrament of reconciliation.

Archbishop John Wong presided the concluding Eucharist. In his reflection, he shared a bit of his own vocation journey. He reminded each participant of the importance of cultivating a deep relationship with the Lord in prayer, and challenged them to be brave in answering His call. He assured them, “No matter what religious congregation you enter, we are serving the same God. So, do not be afraid; give yourselves a chance to be used by God”.

Sr Terry Loukang, FSIC, coordinator of the Vocation Camp 2022 acknowledged all who contributed to the success of the Camp. She thanked God for His constant  guidance and blessing, the Archbishop for celebrating Mass and for the complimentary accommodation at BTRC for the participants, the Carmelite Sisters and others who have been interceding for the Camp, the participants for without them there would be no Vocation Camp, the clergy for their support, the kitchen management headed by Sr Caroline Duli and Ms Olga for the wholesome food for the entire duration of the Camp, and the organizers.

Sr Terry hoped that through the Vocation Camp all the participants would be able to gradually discern their true vocation.  She suggested that at the concluding Eucharist they offered their entire lives and future to the God who knows and sees all.

As in the previous year, the various presentations were recorded and would be uploaded at the YouTube channel created specifically for Sabah Religious Vocation Awareness Camp.