1988 was the year when I first met the Good Shepherd Sisters. A team of them came to Sabah to set up the Women’s Crisis Centre. Years went by, but I knew little about the Sisters other than what I had heard from the church network that they were still active in Sabah.
I left the seminary in 1993 and pursued my studies while working at Outward Bound Sabah, Singapore, Hong Kong and Australia. Having to work and support myself through school, and other personal struggles, I felt a strong urge and passion to work with youths and families in their natural family setting.
My own deep love for my parents and family led me to organise gatherings and camps for my family members, including nephews and nieces, to build family bonds. Gradually, these activities were extended to my village families, communities, NGOs and churches in Sabah. Due to the popular demand, I decided to turn it into a business.
One day in 2003, I was surprised to receive a call from Sr. Imelda and Sr. Sandra asking for a Youth Teambuilding Programme. This was the start of my involvement with the Good Shepherd mission. I was very happy to meet local Good Shepherd Sisters helping local youths, a much-needed service.
At the end of the programme, Sr. Sandra invited me to be on their list of partners to help out with future programmes. I accepted the invitation readily. This led to much co-operation and collaboration in running youth programmes over the next few years.
In 2006, the youth programme was expanded to include the Uplift, Encourage and Empower (UEE), Youth Leadership and Facilitation (YLF) and Family Building and Reconciliation (FBR) to cater to different groups and needs. They were developed in consultation with Sr. Maria Depal, who is currently overseeing the development of the programmes in the Archdiocese of Kota Kinabalu, and the Dioceses of Keningau and Sandakan. Sr Maia helped to design and deliver the programmes. It was challenging, but fulfilling and enriching work. Many participants experienced changes in their lives after attending the programmes.
The good responses to the programmes served to motivate me and allow me to be God’s instrument of change. The programmes and activities are my way of helping the participants to experience the love and presence of Gode. I must say that the Sisters are very hospitable and friendly and they make me really feel at home working with them and learning from them.
As a family man and businessman, I do have challenges managing my time. But I see it as a matter of priority to also devote time to the youth programme. I thought, “If not me, then who?” The words of Mother Mary, “Let your will be done,” strengthens my commitment to carry on. Hopefully, I’m able to reach out to the many people in need via the Good Shepherd Sisters in Sabah, and in the spirit of St Mary Euphrasia, to touch many hearts.
The solid support from the Good Shepherd Sisters has been really uplifting, encouraging and empowering to my family and me. Thank you, Sisters.
~ Terence J Dolinting ~