Oct 13

Summary of the first week of synod


The first week of the Synod of Bishops on the family ended with near unanimous calls to be more positive in describing family life today and to show more appreciation for Catholic families living close to the church’s ideals. But there were also widespread questions among synod participants about the work they are expected to produce.

After listening to speeches and working in small groups Oct. 5-8, synod participants listened to the small group reports Oct. 9.  In this synod, they have been asked to amend the synod’s working document.

The speeches in the synod hall the first week and the discussions in the small groups focused on the first chapter of the working document; all the small group reports offered suggestions for improving the text while some criticized it harshly.  The working document is meant to be analysed and ripped apart, according to Cardinal Tagle of the Philippines.

“The working document includes input from so many different people that the main aim in drafting it was to get everyone’s opinion in and not to produce “a synthetic, cohesive treatise on the vocation and mission of the family,” said Cardinal Tagle, who helped draft the text.

Almost all the groups insisted whatever document the synod produced at the end would need to be clear, simple and realistic. – CNS

Oct 12

Being a catechist is not a title

The participants listen attentively to the speaker Abp Wong.

The participants listen attentively to the speaker Abp Wong.

KOTA KINABALU – Participants of the half-day recollection for catechists on 16 Sept 2015 were enlightened on who a catechist is: “Being a catechist is not a title; it is an attitude of abiding with him, and it lasts a lifetime.  It means abiding in the Lord’s presence and letting ourselves be led by him.”

Father Rhobby Mojolou quoted the above from Pope Francis in his session with the English speaking catechists at the recollection organised by the Sacred Heart Cathedral Catechetical Ministry at the parish centre.  Participants included catechists serving at the subparish of Mary Immaculate.

Archbishop John Wong started the recollection with a grateful acknowledgment of their presence.  In his words of encouragement, he gave them a poser “Why am I a catechist?” to start them off.

The prelate facilitated the Chinese-speaking catechists while Fr Jeffri Gumu facilitated the BM-speaking, and Fr Rhobby Mojolou facilitated the English speaking catechists.Time was allotted for small group discussions and sharing of experiences with one another.

In bringing the recollection to an end, Archbishop John Wong affirmed the catechists, “The reason you are called to be a catechist is because God sees the potential in you, and He has chosen you.”  The catechists were commissioned during the Sunset Mass on Sept 19. – Victoria Voon

Oct 12

Prelate thanks his lay co-workers for their prayers

The archbishop poses with his lay co-workers before the cake-cutting ceremony.

The archbishop poses with his lay co-workers before the cake-cutting ceremony.

KOTA KINABALU – In a short speech addressed to the members of the Sacred Heart Cathedral Parish Pastoral and Finance & Property Councils as well as members of the Church of Mary Immaculate Pastoral Committee on 1 Oct 2015, Abp John Wong said, “Fifth anniversary [episcopal] . . . so fast!  I don’t even know what I have done.”   He attributed his experience of the abundant blessings of God to the prayers of all.  “I am not alone.  God is with me.  The emeritus is with me.  You are with me,” he said.

The above happened at a simple dinner organised by the newly commissioned PPC members after the opening Mass of the Rosary Month at the cathedral.

As he was preparing to leave for the Synod of Bishops Oct 4-25, naturally he focused on the topic of the importance of the family. He underscored that  “in the face of being challenged and pressured, we must build together the parish family as well as your own family by coming together as one, and praying for one another. If there is no family, there is no parish,” he said. (For more details please get a copy of Oct 18 Catholic Sabah in your parish outlet).



Oct 12

In remembrance of Cesar Clemente

A framed photo of the deceased.

A framed photo of the deceased

KOTA KINABALU -Cesar Clemente, 79, went home to the Lord on 27 Sept 2015, after failing to recover from a road accident. Clemente joined the Sacred Heart Cathedral parish office in 1994 when Fr Cosmas Lee was the parish priest.  Staff remember him to be a jovial, thoughtful and charming person. He would always remember the birthdays of the priests or of his colleagues. “We also have the pleasure to find a bag of goodies or a present from him on our birthday or Christmas on our office desk or delivered to our home (hanging on the gate),” one of the staff recalled.  His passion in taking photographs could be seen in his enthusiasm in attending all parish activities, and shooting pictures with his camera, and later distributing them to the persons involved. – RL

Oct 12

FSIC jubilarians have a combined service of 130 years

The jubilarians pose with the concelebrants after the Mass.

The jubilarians pose with the concelebrants after the Mass.

KIULU – This year’s jubilarians from among the Franciscan Sisters of the Immaculate Conception have a combined service of 130 years.  The jubilarians are Sr Gerard Chong (50 years), Sr Jane Sandalun (40 years) and Sr Veronica Kandaung (40 years).  Their jubilee Mass was held on 10 Oct 2015 in a jampacked St Joseph’s Church here, presided by Msgr Primus Jouil, and concelebrated with Bishop Julius Gitom of Sandakan, Fr Isidore Gilbert, Fr Daniel Jomilong and Fr Max Hontor.  The ceremony began and ended with the beating of the gongs outside the church while the people processed down the road to San Damiano Convent below the hilltop church for the fellowship meal.


Oct 12

Religious pay a visit to St Anne Kg Penampang Baru

Participants show their approval during the group photo taken at the end of the visit.

Participants show their approval during the group photo taken at the end of the visit.

PAPAR – This October, members of the religious institutes paid a vist to the community of St Anne’s Chapel, Kg Penampang Baru, Papar.  The community of around 200 members warmly welcomed the religious on 11 Oct 2015 with an entertaining progamme and fellowship in the mini hall after the service presided by catechist Fredoline Jolly, and a sharing on the different religious orders serving the Kota Kinabalu Archdiocese by Franciscan Sr Tina Basil.

“It was the first time that we see so many religious here,” said Bernard Amelius, chairman of the community, in his welcoming speech.  He expressed the hope that the religious will continue to visit them.

What was notable in this community was the presence of several young people.  In fact, it has produced two religious: Carmelite Sr Mary Ann Ponsoi and a postulant in the Capuchin Order of Friars Minor in Melaka-Johor Diocese.  The first chapel (now the mini hall) was built in 1982.  A bigger building (the chapel now) was constructed in 1999 and blessed by Msgr Primus Jouil in 2000.

The next visits by the religious will be to the community of Assumption Sugud Nov 8 and to St Augustine Kinarut Dec 13.

Oct 10

Journey of the Youth Cross

TERAWI – The Youth Cross arrived at Holy Nativity parish at 5.30 pm, Sept 5, from St Paul Dontozidon. Two hundred Terawi youth welcomed the Cross with the beat of the traditional gong. Fr Peter Abas received the Cross with joy, urging the youth to be open and to accept each other and their respective opinions. He encouraged them to once again take Jesus into their lives to share His joy, hope and love to others.

DUVANSON – The Cross was brought to St Simon Duvanson Sept 10, where parishioners and youth from the four churches around joined in the march vis-a-vis from St Simon Duvanson, St Peter Tombovo, Olof Talang Taun and Holy Nativitiy Terawi.

TANJUNG ARU – On Sept 12 youth from Holy Nativity parish, Terawi arrived in Stella Maris parish to hand over the SYD-4 Youth Cross. For this event, Terawi sent 50 of their members, while 40 came from Stella Maris, and five from St Catherine. Also present were some youth delegates.

The “handing-over” began at 5.45pm from the front gate of the rectory, and proceeded to march towards the church doors where the procession to enter the Church took place.   Fr Thomas Madanan presided the Sunset Mass, which was followed by a fellowship dinner at the parish hall.

The youth from Terawi and Stella Maris, and the delegation from the Youth Commission and St Catherine came together in a time of praise & worship led by Henneslie and the CCR prayer meeting music ministry. The youths responded with dancing, singing and cheering with much gusto.

The event concluded with Fr Thomas leading the closing prayer and all the youth kneeling before the Youth Cross. The Cross would be at Stella Maris Church for one week before proceeding to the next station, St Catherine parish Inanam.

The cross and icon arrive at Stella Maris Tg Aru.

The cross and icon arrive at Stella Maris Tg Aru.

Oct 10

BILA Youth’s recommendations for youth workers

BILA logo

BILA logo

PAPAR – Inspired by the Gospel story of the Samaritan Woman, ninety- five (95) delegates from various episcopal commissions and Catholic organizations for Youth in Asia (COYA) gathered together at Pace Bene FSIC Retreat Centre, 3-7 Aug  2015 for the 3rd Bishops’ Institute for Lay Apostolate (BILA) on Youth, under the auspices of the Federation of Asian Bishop’s Conferences – Office of the Laity and Family – Youth Desk (FABC-OLF-YD).

At the end of BILA III, they make the following recommendations:

For all who care for the young in Asia:

  1. To be continually transformed through prayer and daily encounters with the Lord.
  2. To continue to respect and value the youth as gift and vital part of the Church today and its future.
  3. To provide regular opportunities for dialogue between Church leaders and young people as well as youth ministers.
  4. To empower the youth and provide opportunities for them to minister to their peers.
  5. To lead the youth to discover the treasure of the Church’s teachings and experience encounters with God through the Mass and the other sacraments.
  6. To explore new methods and ways of reaching out to the young especially those who suffer in the peripheries.
  7. To lead the youth intentionally to become disciples through the ministry of presence, dialogue and witness.

Particularly for Youth ministers:

  1. To give sufficient attention to youth ministers’ needs and set-up support structures to enable them to address concerns such as loneliness and burnout.
  2. To help youth ministers remain relevant through ongoing formation.
  3. To keep youth ministers updated with technology and youth culture.
  4. To share resources between dioceses, offices and movements as a Church in communion.
  5. To call and train more full time lay youth ministers in our dioceses, parishes and organizations, and provide suitable remuneration.
  6. To plan for youth ministry ‘succession,’ respect the teams and work done previously and do proper documentation of events and tools for continuity.
  7. To channel the idealism and energy of the youth for social justice and address dehumanising issues in our cultures and societies.
  8. To provide spaces or create opportunities to train our youth to understand and engage in inter-religious and ecumenical dialogue.

To transform Asia, we humbly acknowledge and invite everyone to reflect further ways to reach out beyond our comfort zones to the ‘peripheries’.

Oct 10

Religious visit St Joseph Kokol

A child passes in front of the exhibit put up by the religious institutes.

A child passes in front of the exhibit put up by the religious institutes.

KOKOL, Menggatal – Members of the different religious institutes carried out a visit to the small community of faithful of St Joseph’s Chapel, Kg Kokol, Menggatal Sept 13 in conjunction with the Year for Consecrated Life.

Around 150 faithful turned up to warmly welcome the members from the Daughters of St Paul, Franciscan Sisters of the Immaculate Conception, De La Salle Brothers, the Marist Brothers, and the Religious of the Good Shepherd. Also present were two visiting Sisters from the Institute of the Immaculate Heart of Mary of Mirinae South Korea.

Franciscan Sister Tina Basil animated the faithful on what religious life in general is, the different religious charisms and ministries in the archdiocese after the Communion Service presided by catechist Patrick Lokuman of Good Shepherd Parish Menggatal.

This was followed by the religious mingling with the people at the vocation exhibition held at one of the rooms below the chapel. The event ended with a fellowship meal prepared by the faithful at the covered hall some steps below the chapel. Unfortunately, the view of the surrounding area from the hilltop chapel was blocked by the haze.

The monthly visit to rural chapel communities is part of the yearlong programme organized by the Council of Religious with the twofold aim of being with the people who are seldom visited by the religious and to share with them the beauty and purpose of religious life, and the services the religious contribute to the growth and development of the local Church.

So far the religious have visited the communities of Our Lady Immaculate Taipah Kudat (Jan 11); St Joseph Batutai Kota Marudu (Feb 15); St Hilary Timbang Kota Belud (Mar 8); St Victor Bongkud Ranau (Apr 12); St Philip Pekan Nabalu Bundu Tuhan (May 10); St Mary Topokon Tuaran (June 14); St Martin Malangang Kiulu (July 12) and St Flora Lapasan Telipok (Aug 9).

To be visited are the faithful of St Anne Ulu Kimanis Papar (Oct 11); Assumption Sugud (Nov 8); and St Augustine Kinarut (Dec 13).

Oct 10

Religious reflect on papal challenge to ‘Wake up the world’

The participants listen intently to the Apostolic Nuncio's address.

The participants listen intently to the Apostolic Nuncio’s address.

PLENTONG, Johor – Around one hundred and thirty-five religious men and women of Malaysia and Singapore gathered for a two-day theological symposium to reflect and celebrate consecrated life at the Majodi Centre here Sept 15-16.

The religious came from 18 congregations in the region with the Franciscan Sisters of the Immaculate Conception of Sabah sending the largest contingent (40 of them!).

The symposium, organized by the Conference of Religious Major Superiors of Malaysia-Singapore-Brunei headed by Friar John Wong ofm, and the Association of Religious of Melaka-Johor Diocese, was facilitated by Sisters Linda Lizada and Malen Java of the Religious of the Cenacle on Pope Francis’ challenge to the Religious to “wake up the world” in his apostolic letter on the occasion of the Year for Consecrated Life.

Providentially, this theme was highlighted by the Apostolic Nuncio, Abp Joseph Marino’s address to the participants Sept 15 through the three aims of this special year: looking to the past with gratitude, living the present with passion, and embracing the future with hope. Threading through this is the note of joy as reflected in Evangelii Gaudium (Joy of the Gospel).

Indeed, all five sessions were geared towards seeing where the religious are vis-à-vis the three aims, looking at how they are realizing the expectations for the year, and praying with some implications arising from this special year through inputs, points for prayer, personal reflection, liturgical celebrations, faith sharing, and fellowship.

The point of “waking up the world” is that the religious themselves must be awake themselves through their lives and ministries—people of joy—to bring hope to those who have none, to show the merciful face of Christ. As one participant put it: it is truly providential that following closely on the Year for Consecrated Life is the Jubilee of Mercy, a natural flowing over, so to speak. The Consecrated Life Year will conclude on 2 February 2016 while the Jubilee of Mercy will begin on 8 December 2015.