The annual Young Priests Gathering (YPG 2023) brought together 53 priests from Malaysia, Singapore, and Brunei from October 9 to 12. This gathering is organised to provide ongoing formation for priests ordained five years or less.
Bishop Cornelius Piong presided over the opening Mass. After the Eucharistic celebration, the prelate extended a warm welcome to the young priests and hoped their visit to Keningau would allow them to catch up, reminisce, and learn a thing or two from their pastoral challenges.
The YPG was also attended by Bishop Richard Ng of Miri, the prelate in charge of ongoing formation for priests under the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Malaysia, Singapore, Brunei.
On the second day, the priests visited the Keningau Diocese’s Holy Family Pilgrimage Centre, Nulu Sosopon.
They were briefed on the pilgrimage programmes currently conducted within the diocese. Patrick Marius, a team member responsible for these pilgrimages, presented information on the Marian pilgrimage. Following this, they participated in Mass presided over by Bishop Richard. During his homily, Bishop Richard reflected on the parable of the Good Samaritan and the story of Martha and Mary.
The prelate explained that the parable of the Good Samaritan serves as a guide for Catholics, emphasising the importance of showing mercy whenever the opportunity arises and actively seeking opportunities for charitable service
However, he cautioned against allowing genuine service to devolve into mere busyness, akin to Martha, who became preoccupied with many tasks. He encouraged the congregation not to let their service to others divert them from the core purpose of their service, which is ultimately centred on Jesus. This distinction was exemplified by Mary, who chose the better path, one that would remain with her and not be taken away.
Subsequently, the priests shared dinner with the local community at the Cathedral of St Francis Xavier in Keningau. In the evening, they were entertained by various cultural dances and musical performances.
The next day, the priests set off for Tambunan to engage in mission activities and were hosted by local adoptive families.
The YPG concluded with Mass on Oct 12 at the Church of the Holy Cross in Toboh, Tambunan.
There, it was announced that the Diocese of Sibu will host YPG 2024!
“Every year, this gathering is an event I eagerly anticipate. It offers a unique opportunity to openly share our struggles and faith among our peers, reminding me that I’m not alone on this challenging journey.
“Having served for 20 months as a deacon and priest in the Diocese of Penang, I, a Sabahan, found myself back in Sabah (hosted by Keningau Diocese) for the YPG this year. This experience reconnected me with the local people, its traditions and traditional local cuisine which I missed a lot! “
As a Franciscan friar, I was also fortunate to meet the Secular Franciscan family in Tambunan, where I encountered some familiar faces from my time in Sandakan, when I served in my parish as a youth, a long time ago.
“One of the highlights was living with my foster family in Toboh, Tambunan. Though our time together was brief, they welcomed me and another priest as if we had known each other for a lifetime.
“During my visit to Nuhu Sosopon, Toboh, and Tatal Retreat Centre, I was inspired by their longstanding practice of using reusable cutlery and plates. This sustainable effort has the potential to significantly reduce plastic pollution and single-use plastics, aligning with the Malaysian dioceses’ commitment to becoming an ecological dioceses in perpetuity.
“I hope that events like this will enable religious and diocesan priests, particularly those who received their priestly formation outside Malaysia, to deepen their connections and strengthen their bonds with those who studied locally.” — Friar Crispus Mosinoh, OFM, Diocese of Penang
“I am truly grateful for the opportunity to attend the YPG. This gathering is my second one and it has been an extraordinary experience that has immensely enriched me. Throughout the event, I was able to connect with fellow young priests from other dioceses of Malaysia and Singapore.
“One highlight was the session by Fr Michael Raymond OFM Cap who shared the reality and struggles of young priests. The messages behind it resonated deeply with me and inspired me to reflect on my own calling as a young priest. The session by Msgr Nicholas Stephen, who shared his stories of joy and perseverance in his priesthood helped me renew my sense of purpose and reminded me of the incredible privilege and responsibility that comes with serving in the ministry.
“Above all, the pilgrimage and fellowship among brother priests, the parishioners and my foster family reminded me that I am not alone on this journey and that I can lean on these newfound friends for support.
“As I reflect on this gathering, I express my gratitude to all those involved in organising and facilitating such a remarkable event. Thank you and God bless.” — Fr Terans Thadeus, Archdiocese of Kota Kinabalu