Our life experiences no doubt have a big role in shaping who we are. In this inspiring reflection, STEPHANIE SIM, a graduate from last year’s Youth Formation Programme (YFP), shares how her formation experience has impacted her faith journey.
18th March 2009, 12.32 pm (UK)
A friend of mine who recently decided to go for RCIA lessons to get baptised as a Catholic, asked me this: Eh, how did you learn all this stuff about the faith arh?
It got me thinking – catechism? I think all that years of just “going to class” and not really remembering much – still had an impact on my faith formation. Weekly mass? Likely – since it has been a good couple of years that the readings have been repeated and explained to me through the homily. YC? Yes, the people I meet, how they lead their lives, their sharings, and their guidance in my life. But the one thing that came to my mind was: YFP.
Without a doubt.
Being here overseas, and joining in the faith formation programmes that are here, I come to appreciate what is there in Singapore. I can’t deny that the personal teaching and mentoring of the priest here (5 students to 1 priest) is definitely something I won’t get in Singapore though – but the difference in culture becomes a bit more apparent here. No doubt there are morning/afternoon/evening prayers and mass every day, as well as bible study, there seems to be no opportunity to learn as much.
Back at home, you have YFP, a programme that on hindsight, I realised, is a highly comprehensive, insightful way to grow in Youth Ministry. YFP not only covers core aspects of faith in a systematic way, it teases out from each individual difficult yet fundamental questions about faith. Not only that – a programme that get you to connect directly to the bible and read the passages confidently, with deeper “beyond the first layer of onion” understanding. It also gives you the opportunity to lead in praise and worship, imparting skills for leading others in the future. I think all these skills – if you ask me, can I get them here overseas – the answer tends to a no. There are programmes here, but very specific ones like – abortion conference, youth2000-retreat etc.. but not one quite like YFP, where it arms you with so much all in the name of serving Him.
It is almost like a crystallisation of what all our church seniors/mentors have gone through in their life, learnt tirelessly through reading books, going for seminars, going for pilgrimages, going for external classes – into one tight programme. That is something I find I am doing now without the opportunity of such a faith formation programme and as a deepening of what I have learnt through YFP. Without YFP, I really will not know where to start/begin my journey into understanding the nuances of our faith. It is truly – a gift from the “shepherds” in the church to those “sheep” who are discovering.
Purpose of me writing this? Cherish the opportunity to be in YFP! Every single aspect – from the community aspect of journeying with fellow youths, to the bible-reading, to the praise and worship training. Keep asking questions, keep staying aware to the opportunities God is giving you to, keep daring to be holy.
On top of that, also know that being in Singapore – a small country with an extensive archdiocesan network, it is easy to go for events all over the country and participate in camps/workshops. Don’t miss out a great opportunity to go for them, and meet other young Catholics from other parishes! You’ll come to see that our Catholic community is growing from strength to strength. There are alot of youth I meet from other churches that inspire me alot to do so much more for God – and their stories motivate me. I was just sharing with my friend in Warwick that day that – I really see a new revival in this generation. There are people with passion bursting out of them – I wish we all have the great chance to meet them and feel the power of the Holy Spirit they exuberate!
So, to the question of “Eh, how did you learn all this stuff about the faith arh?” – I would say it was the entire experience in being in Holy Family all through my life. But I must point out, emphasize, and affirm those who were touched by God to bring in YFP, that YFP has been that starting point. We all search for meaning in our lives – and embark on journeys to find them. No, the YFP experience was not the end to all my questions, nor my search for understanding. It was rather, the milestone experience that equipped me with a powerful map – showing me the directions to the places of spiritual growth and understanding that we all deep down inside yearn for.