Thanksgiving and Testimony: The University Communities of OYP Part 1

 

On the 23 August 2017, His Grace, Archbishop William Goh commissioned the new leaders of the various university communities at the Cathedral of the Good Shepherd. The leaders of these communities share their struggles and the factors that led to their decision to step up in their communities. May their testimonies inspire you to be shepherds in your own community and spread the joy of the Gospel to all you meet.

 

NTU Catholics Students’ Apostolate(NTUCSA)

James Chong

I am James, a student from NTU, and I will be taking up leadership in NTUCSA in the upcoming academic year.

In my journey with NTU CSA thus far, I have experienced a lot of love and acceptance, not just from the friends I made in school, but from the wider community in OYP and the other university communities as well. It is in seeing how God has sent all these people into my life to love and care for me that kept me coming back, even in times when I did not want to.

I had never imagined that I would take up leadership in a Christian community, let alone the position I have been called to serve in. But having truly felt God’s love in my life, it compelled me to respond in obedience and in surrender to the one Lord who knows what is best for me. So when the Lord called me to submit myself to Him and His plan for me, I responded out of my own free will. But, having my own ideas of how I wanted to live my life, there were moments where I felt I was responding to His call out of obligation, and my ‘yes’ to Him was one of reluctance and anger, emotions which I was not afraid to express to Him and the people around me.

However, while I openly spoke out against Him for calling me to leadership, God remained faithful to me, and began to turn my heart to Him as well. At the School of Cristian Leadership(SOCL) this year, after months of struggling and wrestling with God, He showed me how He had called me out of love and that He never intended to restrict my personal freedom, but to really let me be free to live a life for Him. Slowly, I started to accept His call upon my life for the next year.

Since then, He has done nothing but shower encouragement and reassurance on me. Even in the times when I have felt unworthy or have been unfaithful to Him, our Lord continues to affirm me for saying ‘yes’ to Him and equips me with the greatest tool needed for ministry, a heart for others that taps on His love for me. Looking back, I am more joyful now than I would have been if I had done it my way, and am blessed to have a God that looks out for me.

But I am not without flaws, and I continue to struggle in prayer and conviction of His love for me. I humbly ask for your prayers, not only for myself, but for my other leaders and the entire CSA community as well.

I hope to get to know all of you even more, but I can be slightly awkward and shy, so do not be afraid to approach me! Looking forward to journeying with every one of you.

 

NUS Catholic Students’ Society (NUSCSS) 

Winnie Ng

Hi! I am Winnie, a fourth-year Geography major in NUS. I have been involved with NUSCSS over these past four years in various capacities; I started out attending weekly cell group sessions and learning how to play Frisbee with the community, and soon found myself facilitating and serving at camps and retreats. This April, I stepped up for the incoming Exco in response to the Lord’s call for me to take up some form of leadership in the community to share with others the immense treasure of the love of God and of the Catholic faith, in return for all the graces He had showered (and still showers) upon me.

One particular grace was that of being able to stay with some Sisters from the movement of the Home of the Mother last December, after my exchange program. Over three weeks of sharing in their community life, I witnessed their depth of conviction in their faith which was expressed in every aspect of their daily lives, and how they continually renewed their desire to give totally of themselves to the Lord. The experience had also shaken me by opening my eyes to the reality of the impure motives with which I had served the CSS community in the past, which caused me to be sorely lacking in humility, self-forgetfulness and docility. Most importantly, I was reminded to seek the Lord’s will for me in everything, and to respond with my own ‘yes’ in imitation of our Lady’s perfect fiat. This inner transformation of my mind and spirit did not cease or fade away even after I returned from my exchange program in January. I felt deeply the universal call to sanctity, and to fulfil the mission of glorifying Christ’s name by being conformed to His image and likeness.

Hence when I experienced the call of the Lord to step up for a second term in the Exco, despite some confusion over the prerequisite criteria of availability (I would be overseas for most of summer), He gave me the grace to choose to say ‘yes’. ‘Yes’ through the inevitable difficulties of a transitioning spiritual leadership; ‘yes’ to trusting that He would provide for my needs in the upcoming semester and ‘yes’ to allowing me to have the humility to overcome my own pride.

Encountering much reluctance to make this ‘yes’ to God, who has given me everything and deserves so much more, showed me just how much I still need to grow. Yet it has also borne the fruits of peace and joy in my walk with Christ, even as I face new struggles and challenge myself in various dimensions, be it giving of my time and energy with more generosity, or learning to be more disciplined in guarding my prayer time with the Lord. I very much look forward to working in the vineyard of the Lord with my fellow brothers and sisters in CSS, and also across all the other university communities.

“You did not choose Me but I chose you.” John 15:16

SMU Fides

Ambrose Lee Jian Yi

Good day friends, and peace be with you all. My given name is Jian Yi, baptised as Ambrose as of Easter last year (2016), and I am the incoming president – leading the 16th Core Team of Fides, the Catholic community present in SMU.

I am studying business in SMU and am entering my fourth and final year of studies. I hail from a loving family of 5, of which I am the only Catholic Christian; I converted to Catholicism at the age of 23. Some of my personal interests include devouring music spanning diverse genres (beginning with a love for glam rock/hair metal of the 70s and 80s, oddly enough), the occasional dram of whisky, and the beautiful sport of tennis.

I had just begun my Rite of Christian Initiation for Youth (RCIY) journey at my parish, St Ignatius, when I was introduced to Fides. It was my 2nd year of university education, and I was approached by my friend from RCIY and fellow SMU student, Aaron, to attend the Fides Freshman Orientation Camp, which kick-started my relationship with this Catholic community and more importantly, my relationship with God. There was no dramatic, singularly pivotal moment in my faith formation, but I would say that journeying with both communities and experiencing the love and mercy of God through them, gradually established the foundation of my spiritual life.

By the grace of God and through Fides, I received much spiritual nourishment, experienced internal conversion, and the fires of faith were kindled within me (Fides is in fact Latin for “faith”). Through the weekly formation sessions and vulnerable sharings by brothers and sisters of the community and how the community reached out very intentionally to me – a non-Catholic at the time – sparked a desire to know Christ, and a seed of faith was planted in my heart.

It was a culmination of these, and especially a combination of the Fides-initiated iLove 8 mission trip to Phnom Penh and subsequently entering the OYP School of Christian Leadership (both in 2016) that I grew more formed in my faith, and the sheer need for the love and peace of Christ had become increasingly evident to me. It was in all these that I encountered the very real presence of Christ in the world today, aside from the abstract theoretical understanding of God that had initially sparked my conversion. Through ministering to the materially poor and unexpectedly recognising the spiritual poverty of myself and the people around me – I came to witness a phenomenon Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI termed the “people on the existential margins of society” which has been the basis of my service, loving others, especially those who need it most, as I was once shown love; I am – with the greatest sense of joy – committed to cooperating, through these modest efforts, with the Lord and His mission of finally reconciling the world to Himself.

Friends, I will invariably fall short and be disheartened at times, so please pray for me and all the University communities’ leaders, that we seek true humility with all our hearts and heed the words of St Paul, that it may be “no longer I, but Christ (who) lives in I”, remembering that this mission is not some endeavor achievable by human effort, but merely a participation in the life of Jesus. Truly, “he is the head of the body, the church”, and we are all called to worship and glorify the Lord by our very lives; let us build His kingdom in our universities with whatever we have been given through His providence. God bless.

This is part 1 out of 2. The testimony from the remaining communities will be released