– Miguel Augusto
Macau welcomes for the first time the “Joyful Feast 2019 – Eucharistic Congress & Youth Festival FYI” taking place on the campus of the University of Saint Joseph in Ilha Verde. One of the founding members of TOUCH, Sherman Luk, told O CLARIM about the activities and intentions of the event, as well as the invited keynote speakers from abroad and the spirituality that will be present in these days until Sunday.
Sherman Luk stressed that the program “is aimed at young people, and we want to receive them in a very lively, vibrant environment. We have music, songs, drama, and other activities in the program. A very vivid presentation of our faith.” Sherman tells us that everything revolves around the four pillars that always accompany the event – Devotion to the Eucharist; Devotion to Our Lady; Conversion and Confession; Consecration and Vocations.
Sherman said that the first approach will focus on sin and its effects. “It seems we are in an age where people have lost their sense of what sin is. We have to make young people aware of sin and make them aware that we are living a Spiritual Battle.” For Sherman, as young people become aware of this reality, they move on to the next step, which is to cleanse this sin by the sacrament of confession. “That’s why we always invite about ten to fifteen priests who offer hours and receive the young people in the confession.”
As for guest speakers, one of the interesting figures this year, according to Sherman, is the presence of Father Emmanuel who lives in Europe, who will lead a workshop named “Evangelization Fever” this afternoon. “It is an activity in which we requested three churches frequently visited in Macau by tourists, with hundreds, thousands of visitors during the year. Usually, people who visit the churches will see its architecture, appreciate its interior, seek to know its history. But one never visits a church in the sense of going to meet the Eucharist.”
According to Sherman, the Blessed Sacrament will be exposed in these three churches and they will ask some of the young participants to become missionaries and speak to the people. The young in this context, pointed out Sherman, can lead the visitors to the Blessed Sacrament, the Lord who inhabits the church and they will speak of the values of our faith. Sherman adds that they will also have the opportunity to talk about Our Lady and tell them: “She is Our Mother. Tell them why we call her Mother, what she did, her virtues.” Sherman emphasizes that it is important to instil in young people this feeling – “the courage, the challenge of proclaiming the Lord in front of people.”
Of the various celebrations, Sherman Luk highlights the Eucharistic Procession and Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament scheduled for tonight. “Young people need this encounter with the Lord and prayer, for we live in a generation that is bombarded with innumerable pressures and challenges. In the field of friendship, studies, family and profession. Sherman adds that in this depressed environment, it is necessary to find a place where one can breathe; where one can find peace, where one can meditate on the meaning of life. “And this is where religion, prayer, adoration comes in and people feel touched because they find a peace that the world does not offer.” But for this, Sherman says that it is important to create an atmosphere that is conducive to the meeting of peace in prayer. “Many of the young people who in the past participated in this type of events nourished a love for Eucharistic Adoration instantly.” There, in that peace, he tells us that the young people confront themselves with the presence of the Lord, and He speaks to them. “For everything is centered on Jesus; all that happens in the event is to lead us to the Lord who transforms hearts and works miracles.”
Sherman recalls that Marian devotion will be very present these days. Saturday, we will have a night around Mary with the Procession of Our Lady and consecration to the Mother of God. He reminds us of another “key” moment scheduled for Sunday afternoon, saying “it is directed to vocations, an invitation to give our life to Jesus according to His will in each one’s life. It may be marriage, the priesthood, whatever it may be, to give it to Jesus.”
As far as guest speakers are concerned this year, Sherman emphasizes that usually the concern is to bring the best and from the diverse corners of the world. “They help us to open new horizons, new perspectives to the local community.” Sherman tells us that most speakers do not speak Chinese, and there will be people who will help in simultaneous translation to Cantonese and Mandarin.
Sherman pointed out the two keynote speakers for the event. “One of the keynote speakers is Fr Joseph Mary Deanne of the Congregation ‘Franciscan Friars of the Renewal.’ He was recently sent to Ireland, where he is responsible for the youth ministry. He is a very experienced pastor, also linked to the healing ministry.” The other speaker, adds Sherman, is Fr Emmanuel from a contemplative community in Europe. “He conducts many youth retreats in Asia and is very well received.” Sherman tells us that Fr Emmanuel comes with another brother of his community to bring us “the spirit and experience of evangelization that arose in Cologne, Germany, on World Youth Day in 2005 where they started this ministry that has evolved and they gained much experience; so we invited them.”
For Sherman Luk, the expectations for this year are to bring the young people of Macau together and those who are young at heart – regardless of their culture – to communicate that “we need the Eucharist; and not because it is a devotion, but because it is the center of our faith as the Catechism of the Catholic Church tells us.” He added, “If we do not believe that we need to build a life centered on the Eucharist, it means that we do not believe in the real presence of Jesus in the bread; then we have a huge problem with our faith.”
Sherman Luk concluded by saying, “We try to bring everyone around the Lord, regardless of the region, be it Hong Kong, Macau, China or another place in Asia, and we want to help build a Eucharistic culture that we hope will bear fruit over the years, thanks to the Blessed Sacrament.
The full program of the event can be viewed at www.touchcommunity.org/joyfulfeast2019.
NOTE: To learn more about the “TOUCH Community” founded in 2002, the experiences and spirituality of the Youth Festivals in the model of a Eucharistic Congress that they organize since 2011, and how it was possible to bring the event to Macau, see the last edition of O CLARIM (July 12) a brief interview could be found with founder Sherman Luk.