by Jayronna Johnny (Extern Aspirant, Sabah, Malaysia)
On 7th to 8th of March 2020, I participated a Vocation Search-in at Keningau Diocese Retreat Centre. Putting aside my workload in Sandakan, my friends and I made our journey to Keningau to join the vocation program, not knowing what it will offer us and who are we going to meet when we reach there. Upon arrival at the retreat house, we were greeted by Father Roberto Dalusung and Father Tu who came down all the way from Vietnam to Sabah and the amiable Brother Robbie Ibarrola. They were so friendly and hospitable as if we have known for such a long time but I guess that is what it is when you are a Piarist. After registration, we were welcomed with a sumptuous lunch prepared by the Bethany lay community at the retreat house. After a while, our program started off with the first introduction session given by Brother Robbie, followed by a session by Father Tu, and the adoration at night. On the second day, we kicked off the day with the Eucharist and resumed our session with reflection and individual conference led by Father Roberto.
During the Mass after Homily, we had a special ritual where we made our commitment as the new members of Calasanzian Young Lighters (CAYL) for Sabah Chapter and that automatically made us the External Aspirants for Piarist in Sabah. It is an organization of the Piarist Fathers in order to assist those who are discerning their vocations in life. I was ‘reassured’ at that moment and thankful to God for such an amazing experience. In fact, during the homily by Father Roberto himself, he expressed his emotional joy for having us as the participants for their first Piarist breakthrough in Sabah. Before we bid farewell, we had a finishing session at the chapel and went to the dining hall for our last sumptuous lunch. Overall, I can say that the program was very relaxing and the sessions were light and comprehensible. Moreover, the hospitality given by the Piarists made us feel like home. We were treated like kings when it comes to food but who would not love it? Thanks to them for arranging. Truthfully, my heart was a bit sad to know that only a handful came and registered for that vocation activity but to learn that this is the first Piarist Search-in in Sabah was astoundingly blissful. Though we were small in quantity, we are bigger in quality and we hope this could be the stepping stone for our next Piarist vocation program in Sabah. Who knows, with God’s Grace, we will have our first badge of Piarist Religious Priest in Malaysia? Amen to that! Even though it was only a brief encounter, we had so much fun and we hope that we can set our plan for our Manila trip for Come and See experience someday! Terimakasih!