They could have been out enjoying the Christmas lights and festivities. Instead, 200 young people chose to spend four days in the Combined University Retreat (CUR), to prepare their hearts to receive Christ.
The retreat, organised by the Office for Young People (OYP), aimed to help university students have a deep encounter with the Lord, to journey with one another, and foster an understanding of a Catholic Church which transcends institutional allegiances.
It was held at the Office for Young People at Lorong Low Koon from Dec 18-21.
This is the second time that the CUR has been organised. It saw an increase in numbers and also the return of previous participants to serve as facilitators and in logistics, hospitality, music and intercession.
They served alongside young working adults who are also part of the OYP communities.
The retreat was themed Emmanuel, My Lord and My God, and the programme was also Advent-themed.
Students from eight universities in Singapore (NUS, SMU, NTU, SUTD, Yale-NUS, JCU, SIT, SIM) attended the retreat, so too were Singaporeans studying abroad.
Participants spent a large part of the retreat in front of the Blessed Sacrament, where they interceded for one another. They also went for confession.
Each day, the students listened to talks by priests and laypeople, and shared their faith.
The sessions helped them to ponder deeply the Advent season and what it meant to prepare the way for the coming of Christ in their hearts.
Mr Mark Boudville, a third-year student at the University of Queensland, said he was touched by the power of one such session, “I received a sense of what God has to say from the people interceding for me, and I felt a sense of calmness and reassurance knowing that God is really present,” he said.
Second-year NUS student Kristin Low, testified that God “surprised me in a lot of ways… I had a lot of questions but somehow in different ways, He answered all my questions and it’s amazing how everything falls into place.”
First-year University of Auckland student, Elisha Chye, said: “It’s very different being in a foreign country – their value system is just very different… and I think it’s really hard to live out your Catholic values when you don’t even have a community to fall back on.
“Coming here I feel like I’ve found that and I’m just really grateful that everyone’s been so welcoming.”
By Celine Ong