Letter from Sarawak and Sabah

20/06/2023  |  By: Dr Charles Sim, PhD

It has been almost four years since I last visited Kuching, Sarawak.  My first impression of Kuching was memorable, a peaceful, quiet and friendly place.  It was in the mid 2000s when I first visited the city to conduct basic counselling training at the St Peter’s Major Seminary, and for the local Catholic community, individuals hoping to be trained as lay counsellors for the local Archdiocese of Kuching.  The pause of life and its surrondings did not change much over these years, except for some new shopping centres and hotels. Thus, it was a welcome change to the life in Singapore!

I was in Kuching for a week in mid-April 2023 to conduct two training workshops, Marital First Responder (MFR) and Person-of-the-Therapist (POTT) for the local lay and professional counsellors, respectively, including a public talk on Mental Health: It’s A Family Affair targeted at the parishioners there.

Dr Charles Sim with MFR Participants

“Family is the most important institution, every little aspect begins from the home (and) having the priviledge to participate in this training course will prepare each one of us to be more sure of our role as ‘someone to talk to’ when we are approached in unexpected moments”, Fr Michael Modoit, one of the MFR participants and Spiritual Advisor of Archdiocesan Family Life Commission of Kota Kinabalu, shared.

MFR Participants in a supervised role-play session

All these three events were well attended and received by the participants, especially the public talk, where the Archbishop of Kuching, Simon Poh sat quietly through the two-hour session on a Wednesday evening.

It was encouraging to see the desire of the participants to learn and acquire the necessary helping knowledge and skills, needed within the parish communities. However, there is an urgent need for a systematic and continual formation of those lay and professional counsellors, including qualified clinical supervisors for the local Catholic communities. A task/mission that needs to be addressed in the coming months and years ahead!


This article is an extract from MAS Beacon – the newsletter of the Malaysia-Singapore Region of the Society of Jesus (15 May edition).