Pedestrians walking along the intersection of Lorong Low Koon and Upper Serangoon Road recently would have noticed a new signboard proudly proclaiming the presence of the Office for Young People (OYP) of the Catholic Archdiocese of Singapore.
This development coincided with a week of many firsts for OYP – its first School of Christian Leadership, its first Nox Gaudii (Night of Joy) and its first Kickstart event for university freshmen, all conducted on its very own premises.
Students from the various universities (JCU, NTU, NUS, Yale-NUS College, SIM, SIT, SMU, SUTD) spent a week at the School of Christian Leadership so as to begin “Leading With the Shepherd’s Heart”, as the programme was themed.
OYP co-chaplain Fr Jude David, in his opening address, noted that the May 11-17 programme began on Good Shepherd Sunday.
The 39 participants were immersed in an environment of prayer and community living as they were exposed to various topics such as the Father Heart of God, Sin and Salvation, the Holy Spirit, Servant Leadership, Growing as a Community of Disciples and Dreams and Visions.
They also attended daily Mass celebrated by the chaplains of the various university Catholic communities, including Fr Christopher Soh (NTU Catholic Students’ Apostolate), Fr Samuel Lim (SMU Fides) and Fr Jovita Ho (NUS Catholic Students’ Society).
One participant, Ms Gladys Seah, 22, from the Church of St Bernadette, commented, “My biggest takeaway is that I was affirmed of God’s love for me. Previously I could only accept that message in my head but not in my heart. I think this new understanding of God’s radical love definitely equips me to love myself and others better, which translates into an increased desire to serve Him through the people in my communities.”
The young participants were also tasked to reach out to others during OYP’s inaugural Nox Gaudii (Night of Joy) on May 16.
The event attracted about 400 young people and included praise and worship, preaching, adoration of the Blessed Sacrament and ministering through the Sacrament of Reconciliation, ending in fellowship over light snacks.
Preaching from the account in Ezekiel 37:1-14 of dry bones being covered by flesh and subsequently being given life by God, Fr Jude David exhorted the young people to identify their own “dry bones” and to allow the resurrected Christ to raise them to new life, to rise up from their “graves” and to live life to the full.
Commenting on the event, Mr Nicholas Loo, 21, from the Church of St Ignatius, said, “It’s an exciting time for the youth scene in Singapore – everything [is] coming together at the same time. I feel that this is a great avenue for youth to express their love for Christ.”
The School of Christian Leadership concluded with Kickstart, a combined freshmen gathering organised by OYP in collaboration with the student leaders of the university Catholic communities.
The atmosphere was warm and lively as seniors mingled with freshmen during an afternoon of games and sharings over life on campus and the spiritual support they can receive there.
During the sunset Mass, the students were reminded that they are one body through Christ, regardless of university affiliation.
The evening ended on a fun note with a buffet dinner and live band performances.
Mr Samuel Lau, 21, an NUS Freshman from St. Anne’s Church shared, “The event brought people together and it was comforting to know that we are not alone in this journey of faith.”
According to OYP, the organisation seeks to “raise up a generation of young people passionately in love with Jesus and His Church; committed to a lifestyle of discipleship and communion whilst being animated by the Spirit to use their gifts and charisms in the mission of evangelisation”.
Nox Gaudii will be held every third Friday of the month. Fr Erbin Fernandez will be preaching at the next one, which falls on June 20. For more information on OYP, visit www.oyp.com.sg or call 6285-2571.
By Timothy Soo