Franciscan Lenten Youth Mission in Malaysia | Franciscans, Youth and Faith

This article is the first of a series profiling the work that friars are doing throughout the world to accompany young people in faith. These stories are only a sample of the ways countless friars walk with young people today.  As we Franciscans prepare for the 2018 Synod of Bishops Young People, the Faith and Vocational Discernment. May these stories inspire all who read them to an ever-deeper commitment to sharing the Joy of the Gospel with our young sisters and brothers.

On March 17 2018, around 650 youths from villages across the Franciscan parish of St Ann’s Mission, Kota Padawan in the Archdiocese of Kuching, Malaysia, descended on the Church of St Peter, Kampung Simpok for a Lenten Youth Recollection. The recollection was organized by the friars of the Parish Team, in order to prepare the youths to celebrate the gift of the Resurrection at Easter with deeper meaning and significance. Through spiritual input, friars Don Ramerez and David Au proclaimed the Good News of the Father’s mercy and constant call to repentance.

The event included Praise and Worship, dramatic sketches on the parables of Jesus and capped off with an hour-long live Stations of the Cross which saw the participants trekking through the village streets. Besides prayer and fellowship, the friars also held a special session to listen to the joys and challenges of youth leaders and their groups in the various kampungs. Most were struggling with managing time with family, study and friends; others experienced challenges in leadership roles – yet, despite this, there was an evident hunger for Jesus in their lives.

Br. Don exhorted the youth: “You, young people, are our future. Carry Jesus in your hearts, always! Entrust yourselves to Him, so that He may mend our brokenness and heal our blindness… Then, be that light of Christ for the world to see!”.

At the end of the day-long program, many were clamoring for another youth gathering soon. By centering on Christ, the event brought together the young from different ethnic and economic backgrounds together for a day of deep encounter with the Lord and each other.

“I sincerely believe that such collaboration among the youths is very needed. Even before the day itself, the amount of time and effort they put in to prepare and rehearse their sketches and songs really reflect their desire to give their best to God. Programs such as these are definitely important opportunities for the young to play their role in building up the body of Christ,” Br. David Au added.