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BILA (Bishops' Institute for Lay Apostolate) III on Youth was organized by FABC-OLF-Youth Desk and hosted by: Archdiocese of Kota Kinabalu, Malaysia from Aug 3 to 7, 2015.

Venue: Pace Bene Retreat Centre, Archdiocese of Kota Kinabalu, Malaysia

Theme: CatholicYouth - Transformed by Christ and His Church, Transforming Asia
Re-living the experience of the Samaritan Woman (John 4)

Participants: There were about 100 delegates from 18 countries of Asia, comprising of Archbishops, Bishops, Priests, Religious, Youth Animators and Youth Leaders.  

The Indian delegation representing Catholic Bishop’s Conference of India (CBCI) comprised of Fr. Deepak K J Thomas (Director-elect, ICYM National Office), Percival Holt (Delhi Archdiocese), Joseph K. Antony and Manju Philip (Both from Faridabad Diocese).

Day 1: August 3, 2015 (Monday)
The conference began with a solemn concelebrated mass & a grand welcome ceremony at Holy Rosary Church of the Kota Kinabalu Diocese. The delegates were welcomed by the local people with their traditional instruments playing all through the road leading to the Church. His Grace Archbishop John Wong Soo Kau (Archbishop of Kota Kinabalu) presided over the celebration along with other Archbishops, Bishops, Priests, delegates and faithful of the local church and declared the conference open. After the mass the cultural events were staged and the delegates had the taste of Malaysian delicacy.

Day 2: 4th August, 2015 (Tuesday)
The day began with prayer followed by the Keynote address given by Archbishop Leopoldo C. Jaucian (Bishop of Bangued) who emphasized the 3 phases of the Story of the Samaritan woman in our lives –
 1. Passing through Samaria;
 2. Offer Jesus as a source of New Life;
3. Transform others as a fruit of their transformation

After this the delegates were grouped into smaller groups to share their life testimonies. In the post lunch session, Ms. Marie Gutierrez representing COYA (Catholic Organizations for Youth in Asia) presented the statistics on the changing realities of young people. Basing on the keynote address and the statics presented the delegates were divided according to the regions for the sharing. Our region – South Asia, had delegates from Bangladesh, India, Pakistan and Sri Lanka. Joseph K. Antony presented the Regional sharing report of South Asia region during the presentation session.

Following this, all the delegates departed to different parishes in separate groups, for an exposure and interaction with the local youth of the respective parishes. The parishioners warmly welcomed the delegates with love and great hospitality. After mass, all were led to a buffet fellowship meal and sharing of the culture, concerns and youth apostolate.

Day 3: August 5, 2015 (Wednesday)
The day began with mass followed by Sectional meeting, the plenary Report and a briefing of Asian Youth Day 2017 by Rev. Fr. Antonius Haryanto and his team from Indonesia. Post Lunch talk on “Transformed by Christ” by Archbishop William Goh of Singapore, in which he spoke about the youth today, their needs, expectations and ways of dealing with them. For the Sectional meeting the delegates were split into groups of Bishops, Priests, Religious and Laity. Fr. Deepak K J Thomas presented the sharing report for the Priest group in the sharing session. This was followed by sharing of life testimonies. Percival Holt from South Asia region shared his testimony. The day came to an end with the adoration of the Blessed Sacrament.

Day 4: August 6, 2015 (Thursday)
The day began with mass followed by a talk on the topic: “A Transforming Church” by Archbishop Julian Leow of Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia who spoke about the church today and how it has been changing for the service of people. The participants were then split into groups for a workshop on the topics - of interest for youth ministers,

  1. Pastoral care for youth ministers (By Charles Bertille)
  2. Stewardship of Creation (By Bishop Cornelius Sim)
  3. Theology, methodology and skills of youth ministry (Mr. Dominic Lim)
  4. Intentional Discipleship (By Mr. Henry & Mrs. Ann Hoo)
  5. Moral Relativism (By Bishop Julius Gitom)

In the evening, a synopsis of the workshops was shared. The drafting committee then presented the 1st draft of the statement of the conference, after which everyone spent sometime in adoration of the Blessed Sacrament. The day came to an end beautifully with a fellowship night, for which everyone came dressed in the traditional costumes of their countries. People presented their cultural programs and group performances.

Day 5: August 7, 2015 (Friday)
The final day’s animation and liturgy was taken care by the South Asian delegation. Morning Prayer was animated by Rev. Fr. Deepak. The chairman Bishop of the Youth Desk Bishop Joel Baylon presented the Pastoral Synthesis. The 2nd draft of the statement of the conference was presented and the suggestions and opinions were sought towards making the final draft.

BILA III on Youth came to an end with the concelebrated mass presided over by  Bishop Joel Baylon, the In-charge of FABC – OLF Youth Desk. The choir was led by the South Asian Delegation, which consisted of delegates from India and Pakistan. Post lunch, the Indian delegation thanked everyone for the hospitality, kindness and participation of all the host members and participants, and left for the return flight.

It was a very enriching experience for our team, who gained new dimensions to the youth ministry by sharing and learning from leaders from various other countries, along with the fellowship shared with everyone. The hospitality and food was yet another experience. Our delegates also shared Indian culture evidently at the conference, via their costumes, a cultural exhibition of India and by building a rapport and friendship with several people from other countries.

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