Reflection for Divine Mercy Sunday (2nd Sunday of Easter)

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First Reading
Acts of the Apostles 2:42-47
The first community of Christians grows as its members meet to pray and break bread.

Responsorial Psalm
Psalm 118:2-4,13-15,22-24
God’s love is everlasting.

Second Reading
1 Peter 1:3-9
We have new hope because of Jesus’ Resurrection.

Gospel Reading
John 20:19-31
Thomas believes because he sees Jesus.

Background on the Gospel Reading

The Gospels tell us that Jesus appeared to the disciples on several occasions after they discovered that his tomb was empty. Part of the mystery of Jesus’ Resurrection is that he appeared to his disciples not as a spirit but in bodily form. The bodily form was not one that the disciples recognised though. In John’s Gospel, Mary of Magdala does not recognise that the figure standing before her is Jesus until he speaks to her. In Luke’s Gospel the disciples who meet Jesus on the road to Emmaus do not recognise him until he breaks bread with them. The resurrected Jesus had a physical presence, but the disciples couldn’t recognise Jesus unless he allowed them to. His resurrected body, nonetheless, showed the marks of his crucifixion.

From readings such as today’s Gospel, we also see that in his resurrected body, Jesus seems to be free of physical constraints. He appears to the disciples despite the fact that the doors were locked.

Jesus greets his disciples with the gift of peace and the gift of the Holy Spirit. In doing so, Jesus commissions his disciples to continue the work that he has begun: “As the Father has sent me, so I send you.” During the meeting, Jesus also shows the integral connection between forgiveness of sins and the gift of the Holy Spirit.

The story of Thomas illustrates our Christian experience today: We are called to believe without seeing. In fact, all Christians after the first witnesses have been called to believe without seeing. Thomas’s doubt is hardly surprising; the news of Jesus’ appearance was incredible to the disciples who had seen him crucified and buried. Thomas’s human nature compelled him to want hard evidence that the Jesus who appeared to the disciples after his death was indeed the same Jesus who had been crucified. Thomas is given the opportunity to act on that desire. He is our witness that Jesus is really risen.

Our faith is based on the witness of the Church that has preceded us, beginning with Thomas and the first disciples. Through Baptism we receive the same Holy Spirit that Jesus brought to the first disciples. We are among those who are “blessed” because we believe without having seen. – loyolapress.com

Pope Francis’ 2017 Intentions

April 2017

Young People

That young people may respond generously to their vocations and seriously consider offering themselves to God in the priesthood or consecrated life.

Apr 9: Palm Sunday (Fast & Abstinence)

Apr 13: Holy Thursday

Apr 14: Good Friday (Fast & Abstinence)

Apr 15: Easter Vigil

Apr 16: Easter Sunday – Resurrection of the Lord

Apr 23: Divine Mercy Sunday

Apr 25: St Mark Evangelist

Over 300 turn up for Divine Mercy celebration

Devotees wait for their turn to venerate the Divine Mercy Image, 23 Apr 2017, SHC.

KOTA KINABALU – Over 300 turned up for the Divine Mercy celebration at the Sacred Heart Cathedral here on 23 Apr 2017 – Divine Mercy Sunday.

The celebration was held after the 10:45 am BM Mass.

Father Joshua Liew blessed the shrine with a copy of the original image of the Divine Mercy after the Mass as well as the different images of the Divine Mercy brought by some of the 350 devotees.

Henry Liew, coordinator of the Sacred Heart Divine Mercy Apostolate, gave an exhortation before the trilingual Prayers of the Faithful and the chanting of the Litany of the Divine Mercy.

Then all adjourned to the right wing of the parish centre for a potluck fellowship.

The devotees prepared themselves for the feast by a nine-day novena starting on Good Friday Apr 14.

The devotion was spread by St Faustina Kowalska, an uneducated Polish nun, in the 1930s.  She wrote a diary of about 500 pages recording the revelations she received about God’s mercy.  It had the support of St John Paul II who wrote an encyclical entitled Dives in Misericordia (Rich in Mercy) in 1981.  He designated the Second Sunday of Easter as Divine Mercy Sunday on 30 Apr 2000.

The devotion consists of (1) Chaplet to the Divine Mercy (2) Novena which begins on Good Friday and ends on Easter Saturday and (3) the Hour of Mercy – 3 O’Clock Prayer & Stations of the Cross.

The devotion spread to Sabah in 1998 and first took root in St Michael Penampang before spreading to other parishes.

The devotion started in Sacred Heart Cathedral Parish in September 2007 under Henry and Jenny Liew.  The devotion in English is held on Saturdays at 2 pm; in BM on Sundays at 2 pm while the chaplet is recited in Chinese before the 7 am Mass on Sundays.

700 attend Third Franciscan Night

Invited guests and sponsors pose with their banners after the ribbon-cutting ceremony, 22 Apr 2017, Hakka Hall Likas.

KOTA KINABALU – Some 700 people attended the Third Franciscan Night at Hakka Hall Likas on 22 Apr 2017.

The event was organised by the Alumni of St Francis Convent Schools headed by Datuk Hajah Aminah Ambrose in aid of the secondary school building fund.

The attendees were mostly former students and teachers with their families, friends, and donors.

Datuk Jainah Ahmad, Community Development and Consumer Affairs Minister, read out the speech of Chief Minister Datuk Seri Musa Aman.

“It is my hope that former students, many of whom are successful in their respective career paths, will continue to serve the community and also encourage students at St Francis to strive for excellence in all that they do,” he wrote.

The minister also promised to remind the chief minister to release the remaining half a million to the school for the building fund (he promised RM1m at the 2016 dinner).

Leena Toyoi, head of the fundraising committee, said this year’s ribbon-cutting garnered RM108,000 which will help in meeting the RM2.5m needed to complete the building project.  The project is scheduled to be completed in September this year.

Mock Cheque Presentations were held after the Ribbon Cutting ceremony.

In her speech, Mary Florence Gomez, chairperson of the Board of Governors, acknowledged the role of the Alumni and the Parents-Teachers Association in assisting the progress of the construction of the new school buildings sited at Bukit Padang, which started in September 2015.

Present also at the dinner were Archbishop John Wong, the adviser of the Board, and Toh Puan Rahimah Stephens, the patron of the Alumni.

Stage entertainment was by students currently enrolled in the school.

 

Almost 900 churches worldwide to celebrate Mass for late Abp Sheen

NEW JERSEY – Almost 900 churches across the world have pledged to celebrate Masses to mark the birthday of the late Archbishop Fulton Sheen.

A grassroots effort calling on Catholic churches around the world to celebrate a special Mass on May 8 could see its goal of 1,000 Masses soon reached.

As of last week, close to 900 churches had pledged to celebrate a Mass in memory of the prelate, who was an Emmy-winning televangelist and who spread the Gospel message far and wide as head of the Propagation of the Faith from 1950 to 1966.

Lo Anne Mayer, a New Jersey Catholic, is one of those who launched the Mass effort in January. She also knew and greatly admired Archbishop Sheen, who is a candidate for sainthood.

Mayer told Catholic News Service the idea for the Masses is to not only celebrate the archbishop’s life, ministry and legacy but also to “storm heaven” with prayers for his canonisation.

She felt he was a saint the first time she met him. When he spent time with her and her husband and their six children, she observed his gentle manner with the children and how he spoke to them about Jesus and his sacrificial love – all of which convinced her even more he was a saint.

He was “so clear about God’s love for us,” said Mayer, who first met him when she accompanied her mother to her parish church, where Archbishop Sheen was asked to speak on Ash Wednesday.

“My mother knew everyone in the church. She was the first one in and the last one out,” recalled Mayer, now 76. “I waited and waited for my mother to stop talking to a hundred people. I was following her around with a coat and as I got to the altar Bishop Sheen came up and as I looked at him, [I saw] something very special.”

“I would like your name and address and I want to send you something,” he told her. He waited as she scrambled for a piece of paper and a pen to write down her address for him, Mayer recalled. A few days later, she received a package from him with a Bible and other books for her children. “[It was] like a Christmas box,” she said, adding that he would call regularly and ask what the children were learning. He also baptised her youngest child.

Archbishop Sheen, who won the 1951 Emmy for outstanding television personality for his show “Life Is Worth Living,” was born on 8 May 1885, and grew up in Peoria, Illinois. He was ordained a priest for the Peoria diocese on 20 September 1919.

He was an auxiliary bishop of New York. After his nearly 30 years as national director of the Propagation of the Faith, he was bishop of Rochester, New York, from 1966 to 1969 and given the personal title of archbishop when he retired. Archbishop Sheen died on 9 December 1979.

His Cause for canonisation was officially opened by the Diocese of Peoria. Archbishop Sheen’s heroic virtue and life of sanctity were recognised in 2012 by Pope Benedict XVI, who granted him the title “Venerable.”

If Archbishop Sheen is canonised, he would not only be the first American-born male saint but also a saint who influenced many people who are still alive today, like Mayer and Larry Schumann.

Schumann and his wife, Bernadette, live in Williamsburg, Virginia, and are members of St Bebe Catholic Church. He said he first became associated with the Sheen Foundation and other efforts supporting his canonisation Cause in 2003 and over the past 14 years has done what he can for the Cause.

Archbishop Sheen officiated the marriage of the Schumanns in 1964, and baptised their youngest daughter in 1975. His wife worked at the Propagation of the Faith’s headquarters in New York City for 11 years, during some of the years when Archbishop Sheen was its director.

Schumann, 80, told CNS in an email: “It is our prayer that with these Masses on 8 May 2017, throughout the world, the Holy Spirit will move his Cause forward, and that his beatification and canonisation will soon be realised.”

Archbishop Sheen “was very important to us growing up. He was like another grandparent,” said Rosemarie Costello, 54, of Edmond, Oklahoma, where she belongs to St John the Baptist Church. He often visited her family. The archbishop introduced her father to her mother met; he married the couple. Archbishop Sheen baptised their six children, gave them their first Communion and confirmed them.

“His message is timeless,” Costello said. “I read something he wrote and hear something he said and can’t even believe it was [in] 1950. It’s applicable to the world today. His involvement in bringing Christ to people – it didn’t matter if you were Catholic or not – he was very ecumenically minded at a time when that was not happening [elsewhere].”

She added: “My mother felt so strongly he should be proclaimed a saint I remember being a little girl and she’d say: ‘You know the bishop is going to be a saint some day.’” But even as a child Rosemarie could tell “we were certainly in the presence of an extremely holy man. He was a big part of our family … We loved him very much!”

SH fiesta programme has something for everyone

KOTA KINABALU – The Sacred Heart Cathedral Fiesta programme has something for everyone.

The weeklong programme is scheduled for 19-25 June 2017.  Preparing for it will be the block rosary in the homes and taman Masses on all Fridays starting May 5 (1 taman), May 12 (4 tamans), May 19 (5 tamans), May 26 (5 tamans), June 9 (5 tamans) and June 16 (5 tamans).

In its fourth year now, the parish fiesta is aimed to help all parishioners to grow in oneness in mind and spirit as a parish family.  To this end, a special prayer has been composed for it.

A triduum of prayers will be held on the first three days  – Mon-Wed, June 19-21 – at the Blessed Sacrament Chapel from 7 am – 12 noon.  Parish groups (by language) will take turns to adore the Lord in the exposed Blessed Sacrament: Mon (BM); Tue (CH); and Wed (EN).  Benediction will be held at 11:45 am followed by Mass at 12:15 pm.  Talks related to the Feast of the Sacred Heart will be held in the evening at 7:30 pm: Mon (EN), Tue (CH) and Wed (BM).  The 6 am morning Mass will be on as usual.

Friendly soccer matches will be held on Wed June 21 at Penampang Stadium A, 4 pm – 5 pm.  Each team (SHC, CMI, St Paul Dontozidon, OLQP Kobusak, Aspirants/IY, Clergy) will play for 10 minutes (5 minutes in first half and 5 minutes in second half).

Another event for sports buffs is friendly badminton matches for all: veterans (ages 45-50), youth (12-17), others (18-45) in the following categories: individual, team, mixed double.  Registration begins on Apr 23.  Preliminary rounds are held every Sunday starting Apr 23.  The final rounds are held on Friday, June 23 from 2 pm to 5 pm.  All matches are held at the Sacred Heart Parish Centre.

The trilingual Eucharistic celebration at 7:30 pm on Thursday, June 22, will be the highlight of the weeklong celebration as it is the liturgical celebration of the Solemnity of the Sacred Heart, titular feast of the cathedral.  The clergy will prepare themselves for this celebration with a recollection in the morning.

The sick and the elderly of the parish will have their own Mass on Friday, June 23, at 10 am at the cathedral.  It will be followed by the anointing of the sick and concluded with a fellowship at the parish centre.

For movie buffs, a movie night will be held on Friday, June 23, at 7:30 pm at the parish centre.  A movie on family life will be screened.

The youths are not forgotten – they will organise the family night and dinner on Saturday, June 24 – based on the theme The Mighty One has done great things for me and holy is his Name (Lk 1:49). It will be a night to remember with cultural dances,  songs, and testimonies in different languages by the different parish groups and communities.  There will also be a surprise number.

The culmination of the weeklong celebration will be the parish family carnival on Sunday, June 25.  Parishioners are encouraged not just to enjoy the day but also to give back something in return in the form of a blood donation drive in front of G1, parish centre foyer after the 7 am Mass.

In addition, parishioners will get the opportunity to sample international dishes – Kadazandusun, Indonesian, Filipino, Korean, Western and others.  Not only that, there will also be a acultural show displaying the various types of cultural attire and explanation of their significance.

Moreover, parishioners can avail of the free professional advice/services of lawyers, doctors, and nurses at the different booths set up for them.  There will also be a special children booth.

Senior parishioners (60 years above) will have a designated coffee corner for them in gratitude for their past services and contributions to the parish.

Children will not only be performing on stage, but they will also take part in a bible quiz.  Younger ones will get the opportunity to play with inflatables.

Events on carnival day will intersperse with lucky draws.

Indeed, the organisers hope that parishioners will benefit from all the events drawn up and move towards becoming a parish family in heart and spirit.

Pastoral staff gather for Easter fellowship

A group photo was taken after the Mass in front of the Sacred Heart Parish Centre, 20 Apr 2017, Karamunsing.

KOTA KINABALU – Around 80 pastoral staff gathered for Easter fellowship at the Sacred Heart Cathedral Canteen on 20 Apr 2017.

The staff came from Catholic Archdiocesan Centre Penampang, Cathedral Parish staff, Church of Mary Immaculate Bukit Padang, St Paul Dontozidon, as well as the domestic staff of the two prelates.

Present also were the 20 aspirants and their English teachers.

Archbishop John Wong presided at the Mass held at the cathedral chapel.  Joining him at the altar were the four assistant pastors, Fathers Rhobby Mojolou, Max Hontor, Mitchelly Kiun and Joshua Liew.

In his homily, Abp Wong exhorted those present to remember what the letters JOY stand for in their service: J=Jesus, O=Others, Y=You (following St Teresa of Calcutta).

After Mass, all adjourned to the canteen for the fellowship.  Aside from lunch, there were games, quiz and lucky draws.  Joining them for the fellowship were Aspirant Director Father Wilfred Atin, and Father Charles Chiew of Keningau Diocese.

The event concluded with a prayer-blessing by the archbishop.

St Catherine Inanam to host WCD celebration

Meeting in progress, Inanam, 7 Apr 2017.

INANAM – St Catherine Church here will host this year’s World Communications Day scheduled to be held on 28 May 2017.

The selection of St Catherine Inanam as host for the event was conveyed by Father Thomas Madanan, spiritual adviser to the Archdiocesan Social Communications Commission (SOCCOM ADKK), to Father David Sham, pastor of St Catherine, during his courtesy call on Apr 7.

Fr Madanan was accompanied by Joseph Leong and Irene Obon, SOCCOM ADKK chairman and committee member in charge of Special Events respectively.

According to Fr Madanan, Inanam was chosen as St Catherine (C) follows Bundu Tuhan (B).

Perhaps the selection committee did not realise that Bundu Tuhan is the name of a place whereas St Catherine is the name of a church so the selection could have been different. However, since everything has been set, Fr Sham graciously agreed to host this year’s celebration.

A few programmes will be conducted prior to and after the event. Members of the archdiocesan commission offered their help including preparing the leaflets to ensure that everything will run smoothly. – Michael K Guntili

Kelantan night-market ruling draws flak from some quarters

Night markets are popular with locals and tourists.

PETALING JAYA –  The ruling to compel night market traders, including non-Muslims, in Kelantan to cease business during maghrib prayers drew flak from some quarters.

Kelantan MCA state liaison committee secretary Datuk Lua Choon Hann said the requirement did not take into account the long-term effects on the local economy, people’s livelihoods and the “erosion of non-Muslim rights”.

“The Kelantan government should introduce policies to revive the economy, and promote local delicacies and the skills of Kelantan’s cottage industry which foreign tourists are keen on, rather than be so obsessed with restricting and stifling business,” said Lua in a statement on 18 Apr 2017.

The day before, Apr 17, Kelantan’s Local Government, Housing and Sports Committee chairman Abdul Fattah Mahmood said entrance to the night markets would be closed five minutes before prayers and reopened shortly after the maghrib prayers ended.

He said the ruling was imposed under the Kota Baru City Council by-laws 10 years ago and last year [2016], the ruling was expanded to the entire state in a move to standardise enforcement.

Abdul Fattah said those who failed to comply risked having their licence suspended.

Meanwhile, former Kota Baru lawmaker Zaid Ibrahim said that he would file a suit to challenge the ruling, saying in a tweet that the ruling is illegal.

“The ruling to disallow traders from opening their shops before 3 pm during Ramadhan is also illegal. Kelantan leaders are irresponsible and many of their policies have no basis in law,” said Zaid.

Related to it, Bishop Emeritus Paul Tan of Melaka-Johor said the ruling is a “confirmation if at all that is needed” that Muslim strictures will eventually be imposed on non-Muslims in Malaysian.

“All this while, we have heard with great scepticism assurances by proponents of Islamic ordinances that these won’t be imposed on non-Muslims,” he said.

He added that the Kelantan state government ruling that non-Muslim-owned shops must all close during maghrib prayers is “proof incontrovertible” that eventually Muslim laws, if given reign, will be imposed on non-Muslims in Malaysia. – Various sources

Pope emeritus celebrates 90th birthday with a mug of beer

VATICAN CITY – Benedict XVI, who resigned as pontiff in 2013, celebrated his 90th birthday with a mug of beer and the company of visitors from his native Bavaria in Germany on 17 Apr 2017.

At his birthday party on Monday, Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI told his guests that “My heart is full of gratitude for the 90 years which the good God has given me.”

Photos by the Vatican newspaper L’Osservatore Romano of the celebration showed Benedict sipping a beer. His brother, Monsignor Georg Ratzinger, also joined the party and enjoyed a beer.

Looking happy, the frail Benedict also admired a gift basket whose goodies included pretzels.

He was born on 16 April 1927, in southern Germany. But since the birthday coincided this year with Easter Sunday, Benedict was feted on Monday.  On a sunny, mild day, guests sat outside the monastery on Vatican City grounds where Benedict has lived since he became the first pontiff to resign in 600 years, stunning the Catholic Church. – AP

Members of second Neocatechumenal community renew baptismal promises

The members pose with Abp Wong after the Easter Vigil, 15 Apr 2017, SHC.

KOTA KINABALU – The second Neocatechumenal community at Sacred Heart Cathedral here made their solemn renewal of Baptismal promises at the Easter Vigil Mass on 15 April 2017.

The 41 brothers and sisters of the community, dressed in white robes, had celebrated the Election Stage of their catechumenal journey during the season of Lent.

Before the final prayers and blessing, Archbishop John Wong, who is also rector of SHC parish, led the congregation in congratulating the community on reaching the final stage of their journey in faith with warm applause.

There are three priests in this community: Fr Tony Mojiwat, assistant parish priest at Holy Trinity Church, Inobong; Fr Simon Williams, who is on mission in Iraq; and Fr Ernesto Lagan, who is serving a parish in Kaohsiung, Taiwan.

The first community of the Neocatechumenal Way in SHC, with about 25 brothers and sisters celebrated the same stage in 2011.

These two communities have been brought through the various stages of the Way of faith by an itinerant catechists team, led by Fr Giuseppe (Pippo) Lauria, together with Fernando Valdes and Kathryn McGarr.

During Easter, the communities celebrate the daily Eucharist together at the parish, wearing the white robe.

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