Kuching YCS carols for Christmas

posted 3 Dec 2008, 10:19 by Stefan Gigacz   [ updated 8 Dec 2008, 04:59 by Stefan Gigacz ]

KUCHING, Malaysia (UCAN) -- Christmas caroling is next on the agenda, but members of the Kuching Young Christian Students (KYCS) took time recently to reflect on their spiritual commitment as young Catholics.

About 90 students from urban and rural secondary schools in and around Kuching, 980 kilometers east of Kuala Lumpur, attended the Joseph Cardijn Camp, held November 17-19. Organizers' goal was to conscientize students according to the spirituality of the late Cardinal Joseph Cardijn and to help them serve God through the YCS movement.

Students founded the movement in the 1930s, taking their inspiration from Fr later Cardinal Joseph Cardijn. Both employ a "see, judge, act" method of reflecting on issues in the light of the Gospel and have become international movements.

This year's camp was held at St Gregory's Chapel in Kampung Selampit, a village about 55 kilometers west of Kuching. It differed from previous years in that female participants stayed in groups with foster families in the host village, KYCS leader Julie Chow told UCA News. Male participants stayed at the chapel.

After the opening Mass, camp leader Lucy Gumek presented the first session, on "Calling and Following." She shared her experience of responding to God's call to serve as a full-time Church youth leader. Ms Gumek is coordinator of the Kuching Archdiocesan Youth and Vocation Commission.

Two seminarians from St Peter's College in Kuching, the regional major seminary, then shared on their response to God's call to ordained ministry.

Taize-style prayer followed. Typically this includes repetitive singing or chanting, meditation and reflection on Gospel passages around the crucifix. Lighting is kept low, usually with candles.

"During the Taize prayer, I really got to feel God's presence," Iain Bong told UCA News. The 15-year-old cited the biblical exhortation: "Be still and know than I am God" (Psalm 46:10).

The prayer had an emotional effect on Julie Chow, 16. "This was my first Taize experience, and I truly felt connected. I didn't realize how hard I was crying until I opened my eyes and saw my Taize prayer paper all wet from the tears," said the vice president of the YCS at her Green Road Secondary School. "I felt like a great weight was lifted off me."

The next day, two catechists of St Gregory's Chapel led sessions on the Good News. Then came the highlight of the camp, a pesta rohani (spiritual feast) that featured dance, song and drama performed by participants.

Angeline Audrey, 16, described the camp as "a success." She particularly praised the hospitality of the orang kampung (villagers) who hosted the girls in their homes. "I'm glad to be told that they're really happy to have us there," Audrey added.

Besides the Joseph Cardijn Camp, KYCS organizes an annual mid-year camp, usually around Gawai, a local harvest festival. Among other activities, the students who join this camp visit elderly and sick people, according to movement members.

At the end of the year, KYCS organizes a caroling group under Kuching's St. Joseph's Cathedral. Members start rehearsals a month before Christmas and go caroling house-to-house, on the request of parishioners, during the week before Christmas.

SOURCE: UCAN: High School Students Inspired By Camp Focusing On God's Call To Serve