Reflection for 30th Sunday in Ordinary Time C


First Reading
Sirach 35:12-14,16-18
God hears the prayer of the poor.

Responsorial Psalm
Psalm 34:2-3,17-18,19, 23
The Lord hears and answers the cry of the poor.

Second Reading
2 Timothy 4:6-8,16-18
Paul perseveres in faith, confident that God will rescue him.

Gospel Reading
Luke 18:9-14
Jesus tells the parable of the proud Pharisee who prayed from his self-importance and the tax collector who prayed humbly.

Background on the Gospel Reading

The second parable that Jesus tells in Luke 18 addresses attitude in prayer. In contrasting the prayer of the Pharisee with the prayer of the tax collector, Jesus teaches his disciples to pray in humility before God. Jesus again surprises his listeners by showing the tax collector as the example of faith, rather than the Pharisee. Remember that Pharisees were members of a sect of Judaism active in Jesus’ time. They taught an oral interpretation of the Law of Moses as the basis for Jewish piety. If anyone would be a model for prayer, a Pharisee was a likely candidate. In contrast, Jesus offers the tax collector as a model for prayer. Tax collectors were collaborators with the Roman authorities in a system that allowed the tax collectors to line their own pockets by charging in excess of the defined taxes. Yet, in this parable, Jesus offers the humility of the tax collector as a model for the prayer of a disciple. The parable reminds us that when we pray, we must remember our need for God in our lives. If we are too full of ourselves, there is too little room for God’s grace to work in us.

World Mission Sunday

PrintA Global Day of Giving

World Mission Sunday is one of the most special days in the global Catholic Church. It unites Catholics all over the world in prayer, mutual friendship and support; both spiritual and material.

Annually, on the penultimate Sunday of October, Mission Sunday is celebrated in every parish around the world!

In 2016, to close Pope Francis’ ‘Year of Mercy,’  World Mission Sunday focuses attention on the work the Catholic Church is doing to bring healing and reconciliation to the people of Rwanda.

Over twenty years ago the Rwandan genocide shocked the world. Although physical wounds slowly heal, emotional scars remain. This is what makes the work of the Church so vitally important; helping survivors find the strength to forgive and delivering God’s love in the most difficult situations.

On Sunday 23 October, through World Mission Sunday, every Catholic church around the globe whatever its circumstances, will give what it can to help ‘Heal the Broken-Hearted’ in Rwanda and throughout the world. –    

30 youth join inaugural Filipino youth camp

Among the activities  were setting up camps, Word of God,  inputs on service and teamwork, workshop, team talent show and also some free time to enjoy nature.

In her input, Jessielyn Monton  touched on serving the church individually and as a team. “Usually youth have lots of initiative, and are creative, energetic, displaying a variety of gifts, ability and talents. Being one body in Christ, all of us have different functions in contributing to the spiritual and social growth in this community as well as in this parish,” she said enthusiastically.

“Usually youth have lots of initiative, and are creative, energetic, displaying a variety of gifts, ability and talents. Being one body in Christ, all of us have different functions in contributing to the spiritual and social growth in this community as well as in this parish,” she said.

During the workshop session on deepening of relationships with the parish community,  some suggestions gathered among others were:  Filipino youth to organise one  of the Masses, prayer meeting, blood donation campaign, setting up of a musical band, leadership camp, social activity, fellowship with Youth Counselling Centre, and organising talks on social teaching of the church for the younger generation. Jessielyn Monton

Alpha promotes film series for youth and campus students


PENAMPANG – Kuala Lumpur-based Alpha Malaysia was in Sabah for a four-day SINAR Pre-Conference to promote the fairly new Alpha Youth Film Series (AYFS) recently.

The pre-conference started with a luncheon at a local restaurant in Penampang on 8 Oct 2016.  Around a hundred people joined Wini Heron, Alpha Malaysia National Director, and Aaron Anand, Development Coordinator Alpha for Youth, for the meal.

Those who came included the Sacred Heart Alpha Team, teachers and students from schools currently running AYFS, pastors and leaders from other churches.

Heron introduced the film series while two students from St Joseph Papar and Limbahau shared their experiences. “What makes my heart leap is when I hear a young person say ‘I can now share Jesus with my friend (through Alpha),” said Wini.

“What makes my heart leap is when I hear a young person say ‘I can now share Jesus with my friend (through Alpha),’” said Heron.

SHC Alpha team has introduced the film series in more than 10 high schools around Kota Kinabalu and Papar since 2015.

Alpha Malaysia has developed a series of training videos on how to run AYFS, consisting of three episodes, for churches across the nation. It is readily available on their website in three languages, English, Bahasa Melayu and Mandarin.

Besides Kota Kinabalu, the pre-conference was also held in three other districts – Lahad Datu, Tawau and Sandakan. All pre-conferences are in preparation for the main SINAR Conference Alpha for Youth and Campus 2016 which will be held on Nov 25-26 in Sandakan.

In his turn, Anand  spoke about the upcoming Nov conference which will start with Alpha Party and Vision on the first day, and four sessions plus a workshop on the second day. It is open to all churches that are running AYFS, including  participants who are mainly young people. Registration fee is at RM100,  and will end on Nov 15.

Heron said that currently Alpha Canada is filming AYFS 2.0, which will relate more to the universal culture rather than just western culture as featured in current AYFS. She called for prayers for the production team who are currently filming in several different regions.

The next conference by Alpha Malaysia will be Alpha Conference for Bahasa speaking audiences in June 2017,  in Kota Kinabalu. Linda E.

MCYMC holds annual meeting in Bundu Tuhan


BUNDU TUHAN – The Malaysia Catholic Youth Ministers’ Committee (MCYMC) held their annual meeting on 26-29 Sept 2016 at the Bundu Tuhan Retreat Centre.

The meeting is a gathering of full-time youth ministers serving in the Malaysian arch/dioceses. This year all nine arch/dioceses, represented by 30  delegates, were present at the meeting.

Prior to this meeting, the group met  with the Catholic campus leaders on Sept  in Pace Bene

The Bundu Tuhan meeting started with a recollection  facilitated by Fr Joshua Liew.  He led the participants to reflect on their past relationships and events that led them to  full-time ministerial work. The session was further strengthened with adoration and sharing. The recollection ended with  Mass presided by Archbishop John Wong,  attended also by St Pius X youth and parishioners.

For the next two days, each diocese shared on the progress of its youth ministry as well as its future direction. They  discussed pressing issues confronting the youth and needs of the Youth Commission in Malaysia. These issues and needs were presented to Archbishop Julian Leow of Kuala Lumpur on the final day, to be brought up at the next Bishops Conference.

These issues included proselytising, youth migration, lack of proper documentation leading to fear of being involved in minstry, and lack of patriotic zeal. Meanwhile, MCYMC suggested that each youth

The MCYMC encouraged the youth ministers to undergo appropriate formation, especially skills-building, in order to effectively face these issues.

At the meeting, the  MCYMC presented its improved census system for migrating students/workers/youths by making  its  forms available online on their website at Those who are migrating will be directly connected to the arch/diocesan Youth Ministry Office in the destination country. The committee called on all migrating parishioners in Malaysia, regardless of age, to fill in the form and make full use of this support.

The committee agreed that the Malaysian Catholic Campus Student Day (MCCSD) will be held in Penang in June 2017;  the translation of reading materials to be headed by Melaka-Johor.  There will also be a Malaysian contingent to Asian Youth Day 2017 in Indonesia and World Youth Day 2019 in Panama.

It was also agreed that Kuching Archdiocese will be the coordinating office for 2017 cooperation and building up of youth ministry offices in Malaysia while the host for 2017 MYCMC will be Sibu Diocese.  – Imelda Soidi, KKAVPT

KK Archdiocese hosts MCYMC Campus Ministry Meeting



PAPAR – Kota Kinabalu Archdiocese hosted the Malaysian Catholic Youth Ministers Committee (MCYMC) Campus Ministry Meeting on 23-25 Sept 2016 at Pace Bene FSIC Retreat Centre here.

Sixteen students and 23 youth ministers from seven dioceses (except for Sibu and Miri) in Malaysia participated in the meeting.

Father Joshua Liew presided at the Opening Mass.  In his homily, he encouraged everyone to be rooted in Christ in everything they do and to let Christ “steer” them throughout the meeting.

The meeting was a platform for the students to meet and share challenges and struggles at national level.  They also spent  time evaluating the national-level event, Malaysia Catholic Campus Students’ Day (MCCSD) held on 14-20 July 2015 in Kuching Sarawak.

They  discussed  what needed to be improved and inserted in the next MCCSD, including the four elements; Prayer, Scripture, Mass, and Mission. They proposed the next MCCSD to be held during the Hari Raya holidays 2017.

The Campus Ministry Meeting finalised several issues which would be brought up during the MCYMC Meeting in Bundu Tuhan on Sept 25-29. Father Simon Anand from Penang diocese concluded the meeting with a Mass. Sheerah Yangus, KK AYPT

Migrant couples attend marriage convalidation programme


TAWAU – Twenty-four Indonesian couples  attended a convalidation programme on 16 Sept 2016 in St Paul Balung,  an outstation under the care of Holy Trinity Church here.  Balung is located about 50km from the main parish center.

The programme,  run by the Parish Family Life Services Committee (FLSC),  is one of the several activities  to assist couples who want to enter into valid Catholic marriages (convalidation ceremony in the Catholic Church), and to offer them pastoral and spiritual support.

The sessions aimed to help the participants understand the convalidation requirements. Catholics are bound to observe a certain form of marriage ritual in order that their marriage be valid, and that they enter into marriage by free mutual consent witnessed in a church by a  priest or deacon and at least two other witnesses.

These couples have entered into marriage outside the Church.  When they are ready and free to do so, they celebrate what is called a convalidation, from the Latin word meaning “to firm up” or “to strengthen.” This is sometimes referred to as the blessing of a marriage.

The committee, comprising of three married couples, and Spiritual Adviser Sr Liza Augustine fsic, was led by Mario Domingo.

Aside from assisting couples, FLSC also spent time with potential leaders, training them how to present topics in Sunday School classes in the outstation.

A participant expressed his gratitude and thanked the committee for their efforts because he and the others did not know the importance and need of blessing for their marriages.

In the concluding session, Julita Kantod encouraged the  participants to understand and to follow the teaching and traditions of the Church, to live them out in their daily lives, especially in the area of family planning,  husband-wife relationship, and parenting so that they become the first faith formators of their children in the passing on of the Catholic faith. – DOSPO/CS


Exorcism seminar draws crowd of over 300

exorcism-seminarSANDAKAN – An exorcism seminar at St Mary’s Cathedral here drew about 350 participants recently.

The 350  participants came from the four parishes in  Sandakan Diocese: Telupid, Lahad Datu, Tawau and Sandakan.  The seminar on exorcism, organised by the Catholic Charismatic Renewal Service Team (CCRST), took place on 9-10 Sept 2016.

Organising chairperson, Adaris Sintan, said the decision to organise such seminar was because so many Catholics treat too lightly the existence and the interference of the power of darkness in their lives, especially in trying to break up the institution of Christian marriage and family.

Bishop Julius Gitom presided at the opening Mass Sept 9, concelebrated with Father Charles Chiew.  In his homily, the bishop underscored the need to organise such seminar in order to correct the misconception of what exorcism is.

He added that Fr Chiew was qualified to speak on the subject since he had taken courses on it in Rome.  The seminar was meant to help the participants to grow closer to Jesus, the source of strength for them in all situations.

Fr Chiew, a clinical psychologist, emphasised that not all cases are cases of exorcism.  Before a case can be referred for exorcism, the person must undergo a medical and psychological diagnosis in order to establish whether it is a paranormal case (diabolical possession).  He said many cases are psychological in nature because of depression, which does not require exorcism.

The speaker also presented a talk on the powers of darkness.  The seminar ended with a special session for CCR leaders or elders.  These leaders and committee members were given a special blessing and sent forth to serve the people during the Mass Sept 11.

In one of  his Masses at St Martha’s House in Rome, Pope Francis affirmed the existence of the devil: “The devil does not want people to follow Christ so he tempts them.  This is not an old-fashioned rhetoric because the devil is here even in the 21st century.  We must learn how to fight against Satan.”

Currently, there are 250 priest-exorcists worldwide. – DOSPO

Francis Tan: When commissions and ministries engage one another in pastoral outreach, we will have a greater force

File photo: Francis Tan poses with SK St Mary Labuk Board of Governors, 9 Nov 2013.

File photo: Francis Tan poses with SK St Mary Labuk Board of Governors, 9 Nov 2013.

On the occasion of the 9th anniversary of the Sandakan Diocese on 15 Oct 2016, Francis Tan, former Executive Secretary expressed his thankfulness to God for the privilege and honour to serve the diocese as the executive secretary for almost eight years,  In his recent interview with SOCCOM Sandakan Diocese, he shared his thoughts and aspirations for the Church.  Tan is a retired teacher (33 yrs)  and a convert to the Catholic faith.  He had served in the Parish Council for three terms as a secretary in the 1990s under the late Father Tobias Chi.

What was the most meaningful and memorable achievement during your pastoral service in the Diocese of Sandakan?
I am glad that over the years, twelve commissions were established and formalised. Each one is able to move on its own. The Diocese has adopted as its pastoral thrust to build communities through the Basic Ecclesial Communities and as of date there are 157 BECs spread across the four parishes. People are responding to the call to live and journey in community. The Partnership on Migrants between Flores (the sending diocese), Tg Selor in Kalimantan (the transit diocese), and Sandakan (the receiving diocese), is proof that we are responding to the call to reach out to the poor and the marginalised.

What do you hope to see in the Diocese of Sandakan in five years’ time?
I hope there will be more collaboration among the commissions, and for that to happen, members need to come together to understand each other’s roles and explore ways to work together. Similarly, this applies to ministries at parish level. If such opportunity is absent, we will see that each commission or ministry will move on its own in its own compartment. When commissions or ministries engage one another in pastoral outreach, we will have a greater force. With seminarians at different stages of formation, we will eventually no longer need to lament on the shortage of priests to cater to the pastoral needs of the people. Let us continue to pray for more young people to respond to the call to the priesthood.

What would you like to say to all the faithful in the Diocese of Sandakan?
The time has come that we must take heed of the Holy Father’s call to move forth and not to be complacent within our confine. We are called to show more concern for those less fortunate, those in living in the margin, to engage in corporal and spiritual works of mercy. – DOSPO

Bishop Julius shares his thoughts and visions


File photo: Bishop Julius poses with members of the social communications commission, 27 Apr 2014.

On the occasion of his 9th Episcopal Ordination anniversary, 59th birthday, and the 9th Diocesan Day, Bishop Julius Dusin Gitom of Sandakan shares his thoughts and reflection:

What is your most fond memory at your installation Mass?
As I was already residing at St Mary’s Parish one month before my Episcopal Ordination I had a chance to witness firsthand how all the communities worked as a team in preparing for the big occasion. It was a manifestation of a true Church in action. Such community  spirit was one of the most important ingredients for growth as St Mary’s Parish would be elevated to become a cathedral parish after the erection of Sandakan Diocese. For me personally,  the installation made me aware of  the enormous responsibilities ahead that I had to shoulder.

What struck you most when you were informed about assuming a new role of leadership?
When informed of my appointment to be a bishop, I had a deep sense of unworthiness as I also realised my weaknesses and limitations. It is hard to explain in words how I felt at that time.

Knowing that your life would change significantly, how prepared were you to tackle these changes?
Honestly, I was not prepared at all because in the Church, as we all know, unlike in worldly position of leadership, one is not groomed to take the office of bishop, and certainly, the one that is eventually picked for the office never seek nor desire to become a bishop. However, I believe in the participation of the laity, religious and the clergy in carrying the responsibilities in the Church. That is why we speak about cooperation, co-responsibility and collaboration among the people of God. Most importantly, as we all know that the Church is a divine institution and therefore the Lord is present in the Church, through the Holy Spirit, to uphold, to protect, to direct its course according to His will.

What does God’s Divine Plan look like for you in order to accomplish whatever He asks of you? Describe in some detail His Plan in terms of pastoral and spiritual needs of the diocese, the missions and the schools, evangelisation, faith formation, family life, vocations and consecrated life.
I have mentioned about co-responsibility and collaboration among the people of God. Concretely, though at a slow pace, we are building community through BECs. Evangelisation, faith formation, issues confronting the youth, issues related to family life and even vocation to the priesthood and religious life are points of reflection in BEC meetings. I could see that actually BECs give life and sustain the community in all the parishes. As I look back at the last nine years, I am proud to say that through the grace of God and commitment of all (the laity, the religious and the clergy) we have achieved much.

How far would you say His Divine Plan has been accomplished in these nine years?
We are very much aware of the importance of the vision and mission statement of the diocese, as the Book of the Proverbs 29:18 says, “Where there is no vision, the people perish.” In fact, we have started the process in 2010 and we are nearing  its completion and hopefully, by the grace of God, we will be able to launch our vision and mission statement during the 10th anniversary next year.

What would you say are the major challenges and setbacks, if any, that the diocese has encountered in the last nine years?
It cannot be denied that we still have to endure shortage of priests even with two ordinations to the priesthood and one to the diaconate since the erection of the diocese because the catholic population also increases. According to our statistics,  there is an increase of 20% catholic population in the diocese since 2007. Geographically, the Sandakan Diocese is very big, bigger than KK and Keningau dioceses combined, making travelling from one place to another very challenging. Therefore, to meet the spiritual needs of the people is also challenging especially in the remote areas such as Paitan and Telupid.

In this Year of Mercy, what among your diocesan goals have you hoped to revive, renew, strengthen, build, so that the diocese can be more and more the instrument of God’s love and mercy?
During this Extraordinary Jubilee Year of Mercy, we certainly have intensely fixed our gaze on Christ and through many spiritual activities, I believe we also have received abundance of spiritual benefits as well as personal experiences of God’s mercy. But God’s love and mercy are not to be kept as personal “property,” they must be shared generously with others. We, in the Diocese of Sandakan, are the recipients of many migrant workers from neighbouring countries.  Therefore,  in responding to the exhortation of the Holy Father, Pope Francis, we are committed (though not limited to migrant workers but also to all those in need) in helping the migrant workers in any way we can; to reach out to them so as to meet their spiritual needs, administering the Sacraments where possible.   We have also established one or two learning centres for the children of migrant workers, and we try to integrate them into our parishes.

Letting go of the logic of competition

opinion2With the 36th General Congregation, we Jesuits have  a process to elect a new superior general, four days of private one-on-one conversations called the murmuratio, which is actually designed to help Jesuit governance avoid the conspiracy and power-brokering that so often affect elections and transitions in leadership.

Acutely aware of the scandals and problems created by the campaigning and politicking that plagued the church of the 16th century, St Ignatius was adamant that members of the Society of Jesus should not ambition for offices. The basic logic was and is that anyone who wants the job very badly probably shouldn’t get it. That doesn’t mean we want someone who is incompetent; far from it. We want the very best man for the job. But what we need is someone who is fundamentally free.

Freedom in the sense we use it here is not freedom to do what you want when you want. It’s quite distinct from the exercise of power. Freedom in this sense means being detached enough, even from our own well-reasoned plans, insights and ambitions, to listen to the world and what God is doing in the world and then respond accordingly. And that kind of freedom starts from fundamental transparency and honesty and from a willingness to acknowledge exactly those attachments and failings that make us unfree.

We rarely see that kind of honesty in public elections or campaigns for political office, because we generally don’t reward officials who admit faults and failings, but instead drive them out of office and public life.

In contrast to political elections built on the logic of competition, the election of a Jesuit superior general is based on a spiritual reality. It’s based on the recognition that we are radically dependent on God, and this alters the entire tenor of the election.

That’s why this election is different. The “candidates” aren’t interested in preparing a perfect campaign pitch or assembling a winning platform; they aren’t even candidates. Anyone who wants the job, as pointed out above, is effectively disqualified in advance. In this election, we are called to prefer God’s plans to ours.

From that vantage point, Jesuit elections have nothing to do with proving an individual case. We don’t “run for an office,” because there’s nowhere to run until we’ve discovered what course God has laid out before us. All the delegates who have gathered in Rome spend four days having those one-on-one conversations in an atmosphere of penitent prayer.

The election of the superior general is a response to God already at work and to discernment in prayer and conversation. Campaigning or running for office makes no sense in this system. There is nothing to present or polish. No candidate “wins” this election; instead the new general is called into service. – Fr Eric Sundrup sj @America

Vatican issues new document on Christian burial and cremation

– The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith released an instruction Tuesday regarding burial and cremation, reiterating the Church’s teaching that cremation, while strongly discouraged, can be permissible under certain restrictions – and that scattering the ashes is forbidden.

Ad resurgendum cum Christo (To rise with Christ), published on 25 Oct 2016, states that while cremation “is not prohibited” the Church “continues to prefer the practice of burying the bodies of the deceased, because this shows a greater esteem towards the deceased.”

The document explains that after “legitimate motives” for cremation have been ascertained, the “ashes of the faithful must be laid to rest in a sacred place,” such as in a cemetery or church. It goes on to state that it is not permitted to keep the ashes in a home or to scatter them “in the air, on land, at sea or in some other way, nor may they be preserved in mementos, pieces of jewelry or other objects.”

“The burial, the last liturgy for us, is an expression of our hope for the resurrection,” Cardinal Gerhard Müller, prefect of the congregation wrote, “and therefore the Church continues to teach that the normal burial of the body is the normal form.”

As the document explains, “by burying the bodies of the faithful, the Church confirms her faith in the resurrection of the body, and intends to show the great dignity of the human body as an integral part of the human person whose body forms part of their identity.”

“She cannot, therefore, condone attitudes or permit rites that involve erroneous ideas about death, such as considering death as the definitive annihilation of the person, or the moment of fusion with Mother Nature or the universe.”

Rather, burial in a cemetery or another sacred place “adequately corresponds to the piety and respect owed to the bodies of the faithful departed who through Baptism have become temples of the Holy Spirit and in which ‘as instruments and vessels the Spirit has carried out so many good works.’”

The Vatican originally answered the question of whether or not cremation was allowed in 1963, but with the increase in both its popularity and in practices such as scattering the ashes or keeping them in the home, it found it necessary to provide a new set of norms as guidance for bishops.

The instruction emphasised that “following the most ancient Christian tradition, the Church insistently recommends that the bodies of the deceased be buried.”

A proper respect for the dignity of the body, according to Fr Thomas Bonino, an official at the CDF,  promotes the hylomorphic understanding of the human person as being composed of both body and soul.

“One must perhaps start from the idea of ecology,” Fr. Bonino told CNA, “meaning respect for nature. But the body is part of our nature, so a true ecology is also an ecology which takes into account the corporality of man.”

Fr Bonino explained that because “the body forms part of our identity” together with the soul, this teaching “must be reaffirmed” in preaching and in catechesis.

Practices such as scattering the ashes in nature can be a form of “pantheistic confessions, as if nature were a god,” Fr Bonino said. Or it can express the false ideology “that after death nothing of the person remains, that the body just returns to the earth and there is nothing more.”

The new norms address these issues, he said, while also reacting against the idea that death is only about the individual or the immediate family. “Death also deals with the community to which the deceased belonged,” he pointed out.

The Vatican document highlighted several other reasons for the importance of the burial of the dead, including that the Church considers burying the dead to be one of the corporal works of mercy.

“From the earliest times, Christians have desired that the faithful departed become the objects of the Christian community’s prayers and remembrance. Their tombs have become places of prayer, remembrance and reflection,” it stated.

By reserving the ashes of the deceased in a sacred place, we can be assured that they are not excluded from the prayers of their family and the Christian community, it continued, as well as provide a more permanent marker for posterity, especially after the immediately subsequent generation has passed away.

“We are Catholics … and we must try to understand all elements of our life in the sense of the Christian faith,” Cardinal Müller said.

“We believe in the resurrection of Jesus Christ our Lord and also we have the hope for our resurrection of our body… And therefore the big tradition as Christians has always been burial.” – CNA/EWTN News


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