MY ARCHDIOCESAN YOUTH DAY (AYD) started with the first segment: activities and a specialized workshop at my parish of the Risen Christ. This was to prepare us for what we were going to experience during the second segment later in the evening: the Youth Rally held at Singapore Expo.
All the Secondary level confirmands from my parish gathered at the foyer at 11.15am where we collected our name tags, shirts and found out which of the four groups we were in. The people in the group I was in were different from the people that I usually go to catechism class with, and it gave me an opportunity to socialize with more people. We then made our way to Catholic Archdiocesan Youth Centre (CAYC) where our afternoon activities were to be held.
After ice-breakers, Risen Christ's Youth Music Ministry, Eternal Dawn, led us in praise and worship session, which got everyone jumping and singing in joyous praise for our Lord. In between certain songs there were also personal sharings which gave the session a special touch.
We were next separated into our four groups for a workshop which the facilitators and presenters had to attend a training session for.
The workshop touched on the story of "Jonah and the Big Fish", which highlighted the many decisions Jonah had to make. Using illustrations only, each group was asked to create a symbol that represented our journey towards confirmation, the story of Jonah, and the factors that affect our own decisions.
After dinner, it was finally time to make our way towards the Singapore Expo for the long-awaited event. When we reached, we spent some time searching for friends from other parishes and I felt a sense of fellowship that all the confirmands in the diocese were gathered here, united as one, in the Lord.
Andrew Lee, an advance helper that I spoke to, shared: "Youth Rally is the perfect way to strengthen my Catholic faith. As Jesus once said, 'When two or more are gathered in my name, I will be in their midst'. With 3,000 youths praying together as one, the feeling of the Holy Spirit is just indescribable."
My thoughts and feelings echoed his.
(continued on page 2)
Brother Benedict Chng spoke of trading his best friends, three Js - Jack (Daniels), Johnny (Walker), and Jim (Beam) - "for the only J that matters in my life, Jesus Christ" to the cheers of the audience.
The rally started with introductions, and a warm-up by the band and many of us began to jump around when our favourite song, "One Way" by Hillsongs, thundered through the hall.
We were then shown a video on the previous World Youth Days held around the world. I was awestruck and captivated by the beautiful scenes, and the sheer number of people who participated.
It felt something like what was taking place at the AYD rally.
When I heard Archbishop Nicholas Chia's inspiring speech which followed, I began to realize that as youths, we are the people of today, and that we play a major part in making a difference in the world.
When praise and worship later resumed, I was once again out of my seat. Many of us were jumping around, screaming our loudest before, during and after each song. People grabbed strangers to join in on their worship. Lots of people ran about the whole hall finding people they knew, and more importantly, meeting people they didn't. The love of our Lord is displayed so profoundly here, in the deeper meanings of the word - friendship.
The somewhat modern adaptation - depicted as a reality television show - of Jonah and the Big Fish was up next. This explained the workshop we went through. The play made us laugh, it made us think, and it helped us relate to the story of Jonah which we heard during the parish segment earlier in the day.
Each of us confirmands is like Jonah, confused and running away from the Lord maybe because of our own selfish desires, but He is always there, waiting for us to make the right choice, because He has faith in us. Everyone enjoyed the play immensely, the props were creative, the lines sometimes comedic but mostly thoughtful.
(continued on page 3)
Sister Margaret Wong, fdcc, came from Hong Kong specially to share her life story of brokenness and how God used this brokenness to call her to him.
After the play, Canossian Sister Margaret Wong then came up on stage to share her inspiring journey of faith. Though the trials and obstacles were horrible indeed, she made her way through.
Her voice was filled with adoration when she touched on her love for Our Lady, Mother Mary. Her smile contained joy when she recalled the vividly clear memory of her receiving a medallion from a nun at her school.
Sister Margaret's voice was full of emotion when she touched on her family. "I feel at home helping the handicapped. I am like them, broken one way or another." That line reminds us all that no matter who we are there is a purpose for us. No matter how hard our lives may be, someone will reach out to us, and we in turn have to reach out to others too. I won't forget her story.
During the adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, tears came to my eyes. I have never before felt so touched by the Holy Spirit in my life. I never felt so much peace. After the adoration, a few more songs concluded the rally, with all of us shouting for an encore. "One Way" was played again, and the atmosphere was filled with joy.
As Sarah Yap, 15, said, "I hope we have more youth rallies like this one in the future." I think this sentiment echoed everyone else's perfectly.
As we made our way home, I think we all took something home with us. Be it awareness, the desire to do something, love, faith, joy, fellowship; something went home with everyone that day. No one will forget this day; it will forever be in our hearts.
We are important to this world, we can make a difference, and we just need to make the decision to. Two- thirds of God's name is GO! So let's go out into this word to make a difference!