It does not matter whether one has been living a faithful and religious life. One does not need to be a Catholic in good standing to come for this camp; and if one is, all the more it would be good to come! In fact, speaking from personal experience, you will find a place here even if you are not a Catholic!
Above: Zhi Ler helping out at FOC 2015, after his first FOC experience!
I went for the CSS FOC in 2014 as a freshman. At that time I was not just a freshman to university life. But also a freshman to the Catholic faith. For around 2 years I had been exploring and learning about the Catholic faith. I was keen and curious, but my knowledge about it, and about the Church and her teachings are no more than book knowledge. At that time I was in fact quite contented to stay that way, attending mass every Sunday while I ‘figure things out myself’.
Then I had a friend from army who went to NUS a year ahead of me and, when he found out I was going to NUS, sent me an invitation to come for the FOC.
I don’t know what compelled me to sign up for it though. But I guess this is one of those wonderful little surprises that God so loves to arrange. Still, I signed up and went for the camp with a very uncertain mindset, not knowing what to expect. But it turns out my experience at FOC marked a major milestone in my faith journey. This was when I first experienced the warmth, the support and companionship of a community of faithful believers. I had lots of fun, and laughter, and late night convos, and a hot day out at the beach.
However, this is unlike any other camp you find in NUS. It is more than just about having fun. It is not just about being wild and crazy.
It is also a time of recollection, of learning, of discovering. In my first FOC, I learned how a community prays together. I discovered how lovely it is to attend mass among new-made friends – a feeling I didn’t know going to Church alone every Sunday. I also found out how to open up and share about personal feelings, and sometimes secrets, in a group of people who had only been strangers not too long ago. Sharing was uncomfortable for me initially. I am not a talkative person, nor am I inclined to open up about myself. But through the camp I found myself learning how to do so and realised how much it benefited me. Through the sessions and through the sharings, I managed to find support and encouragement and even guidance to prepare (spiritually and academically) for a new phase of life. But most memorably, I also had a tearful evening in front of the Eucharist (first Adoration; not an emotional person too, but strangely and tremendously moved by that touching experience).
These experiences I had in those four short days are really unique and amazing to me. In fact, FOC gave me the conviction I didn’t have before to sign up for RCIA at my parish.
I believe beginning the challenging university journey by returning to God marks a good start. Many of us come in from a long period of busyness and stress. Be it A-levels in JC or FYPs in poly, or -for the men- army life, FOC gives a wonderful opportunity to recollect, to rediscover our true calling and purpose, to find God once again in our lives, and to pick up our identity as Catholic students (not Catholic students – 2014 FOC tagline!).
Now, having served as a facilitator for last year’s FOC, I get to meet even more Catholics coming from all walks of their faith life. It does not matter whether one has been living a faithful and religious life. One does not need to be a Catholic in good standing to come for this camp; and if one is, all the more it would be good to come! In fact, speaking from personal experience, you will find a place here even if you are not a Catholic! The friends I made at FOC also became important sources of support for me for the next 2 years of my university life. Journeying with this group of supportive, faithful and encouraging people was really edifying and enormously beneficial for me. For these experiences, and for these companionships, I will always be thankful to God.
Zhi Ler is a Year 2 (going on Year 3) studying engineering 🙂 Thank you Zhi Ler for sharing your testimony!! Even if you’re non-Catholic, we hope this testimony will encourage you to join us and check out this community 🙂 Indeed as Zhi Ler has put it so well, “FOC gives a wonderful opportunity to recollect, to rediscover our true calling and purpose, to find God once again in our lives, and to pick up our identity as Catholic students.”
NUS Catholic Students’ Society Freshmen Orientation Camp (FOC) 2016: A Disciple’s Guide to HiKing registration is now OPEN: http://tinyurl.com/NUSCSSFOC2016
When: 27th June to 30th June 2016
Where: Church of the Holy Cross (Just beside NUS Utown)
If you have any queries email firstname.lastname@example.org!