“I am preparing you for life, not just to be confirmed” said Martin Jalleh, the facilitator of the Confirmation Camp at the Church of the Divine Mercy, Penang (CDM). The stay-in camp was held at the beginning of the school holidays from the 24th - 26th May with the theme of “Empower Me”.
Martin began the first of the nine sessions by asking the participants their expectations of the camp. He then proceeded by asking them what they would wish for, if they were each granted a wish. Sadly, no one followed Solomon’s example in the Bible. He explained the four components of a person namely the body, mind, heart and soul. Going back to the Church before Vatican II, Martin elaborated on the new approach of the Church of being inclusive in the world. He went further to explain the seven types of intelligences and that academics is only one part of a person’s mind. They need to find their strengths and talents and then pursue it. He reminded the participants that attitude in life is everything and changes everything. These points were also emphasized to the parents when they attended the last session at the end of camp.
Martin used many life examples from previous people whom he had met to reinforce many of the things he said. The Youth of CDM came to conduct the Praise and Worship at the beginning of two sessions. They were also asked to share their views of what happens after confirmation when they go out into the world to further their studies. The general consensus was that they felt a feeling of being lost as they now didn’t come into contact with their old friends. New friends were accepted on a cautious basis as they were not sure of the sincerity of this new friendship. A feeling of complacency also cropped up after missing Sunday Mass a number of times. The general advice was to seek out a close Catholic community, to participate and belong to it fill the void of being away from old friends and family.
Throughout the camp Martin emphasized the importance of being Chosen, then Confirmed and Commissioned. Fr Martin Arlando, the parish priest of CDM showed his support by being present at the healing session and then conducting a Face-to-Face session with the participants late into the night. He gave answers to questions like “Why do we still pray to dead people like the Saints and Mother Mary?” “What is the best thing you find becoming a priest?” “Do you believe in Hell?” “What is the stand of the Church towards other religions that have shown good moral teachings?” and “Have you ever fallen in love with anyone at CDM?”
Overall, the camp provided the 24 participants and their parents a chance to laugh, cry, sing, receive affirmations but more importantly, to let go and Trust God to execute His plans for them. Martin asked the parents to encourage their children to join the Church ministries as this is the best training ground for them to discover and nurture their talents. The Church congregation is the most forgiving audience where their children will feel less threatened, valued and appreciated for what they do for the community.
The participants also did a summary of what they had learned at camp to display it for their parents to get an idea of what they experienced over the three days. In the closing of the camp the participants were told to understand that at this time of their lives was likened to them as a flying kite. They were reminded that parents were there to pull back the string in order to make corrections for the kite soar higher. The parents were also reminded to remember to slacken the string in order for the kite to float on its own to higher challenges in life.
Dr. Ivan Filmer
1st June, 2019.