Kuching, Malaysia, 4 September 2019 -- “When God closes a door, He opens a window.” I have heard of this saying a number of times before, but only now have I experienced it so true so strongly and so personally… In my case, it sounds more like “When God still keeps the door closed, He opens a window.” The door of having a Salesian school of our own here in Kuching remains closed, but God has opened a window for us to serve full-time in the Youth Commission of the Archdiocese. How can we not say “Terima kasih, oh Tuhan (Thank you very much, oh Lord)!”
We, the first (I use the adjective ‘first’ because I am very sure that we would be followed by more) SDBs sent here in Malaysia, in the Archdiocese of Kuching in Sarawak, have been here for more than two years now with the plan of putting up a skills training vocational school and boarding house to provide Catholic education and formation in the Don Bosco way. This we would do to the poor youth from the city and from the provinces all over. This institution will actually be owned by the Archdiocese but will be run by us Salesians. And up to now, this big and noble plan remains a dream.
Yes, we and the other stakeholders are doing our share in working for the realization of this significant endeavor, but for some factors, we still could not make it materialize. Among many factors, the land allocated for the project still needs to be under the name of the Archdiocese and, for some reasons, this is taking a very long time.
You see, this door, a school for us Salesians, remains still unopened.
Honestly, this makes me think sometimes that maybe God is not yet answering my ardent prayer of having our school here because He still wants to purify me and deepen my faith in Him, my devotion to Mary Help of Christians and St. John Bosco and my love for the Church and for the young. If only I have faith like that of a mustard seed….
But then, as we have said, God is making me realize that, indeed, “when He keeps a door closed, he also opens a window”. Since April of 2019, the Archbishop of Kuching, Most Reverend Simon Poh, has entrusted to us, Salesians, the animation of the Youth Commission in the whole of the big Archdiocese. We now run an office in the Archdiocesan Curia and Cathedral Pastoral Centre (ACCPC) with two very dedicated full-time youth ministers (Mariamella Will and Julian Christian Sim) and a good number of youth volunteers from all the parishes, chapel communities, schools and campuses.
We have been doing a lot of “journeying with the youth” here in the Archdiocese through a variety of youthful pastoral activities like Holy Masses, confessions, recollections, youth camps, Taize moments, praise and worship, formation sessions and… of course… a lot of bonding moments with them with or without mugs of coffee or milktea but always with smiles and kindness.
From 31 August 31 until 2 September, in fact, the Youth Commission organized this big gathering of around five hundred youth, servants and delegates from all the parishes and campuses, in celebration of the Kuching Archdiocese Youth Day 2019 with the theme SERVE… Thy word be done! #KAYD19serve. See them all have fun and welcome formation, watch them pray and praise in silence and in songs and shouts, witness them growing in friendship with one another and with Jesus and Mary, look at them serve with zeal and joy, hear their laughter, listen to their cries and feel their love. During those three grace-filled days (and the months and weeks and days prior to that for all the servants who did all the tedious preparations) you can really say that these young people are on fire! They burn with God’s love! And we, SDBs here, are witnesses and co-journeyers to these. What a wonderful window all these have been! To this we say… “Puji Tuhan (Praise the Lord)!”
And by the way, the Archdiocese has also provided us a newly renovated two-storey house as an SDB convent of our own… and we have been living there as confreres, praying together, eating together, since early August… and we have been opening our doors to the laity and youth for bonding with the Lord in our convent chapel and with one another in our living room as well. Puji Tuhan indeed!