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Soccom’s YoM message reaches outstation parishes

A SOCCOM ADKK member sharing on what God’s mercy means for him and his family

Kota Kinabalu – Members of the Social Communications Commission of the Archdiocese of Kota Kinabalu (SOCCOM ADKK) visited two parishes during this year’s season of Lent with the purpose of communicating the Gospel message of God’s mercy to the people.

They were at St. Pius X, Church, Bundu Tuhan, and the St. Peter’s Church in Kudat  on April 5, and April 12 respectively, to carry out its Year of Mercy (YoM) programme there.

The Jubilee Year of Mercy, from 8 Dec 2015 to 20 Nov 2016, was proclaimed by Pope Francis as a special time for believers to grow stronger and more effective in giving witness to the mercy shown by God the Father.

Fr Thomas Madanan, the Commission’s Spiritual Advisor, who led the Soccom team in conducting the YoM programme, told the gatherings that for Christians, seeking God’s mercy and showing mercy to others is an endeavour of a lifetime.

That was the reason why, he said, that the Commission has decided to continue with its special YoM programme, despite the fact that the Jubilee Year had ended in November 2016, in order to convey to the people of God at the parish level on, “What Mercy Means to Me and My Family”.

This year, the Soccom ADKK members joining Fr Thomas in presenting the programme were Sr. Bibianah Dunsia,fsp, Ruben Sario, Gideon Abel and Joseph Leong, who jointly gave the catechesis, based on the Gospel message on Zacchaeus (Luke 19:1-10), and to give personal witness on the mercy of God shown to them in their life.

The speakers invited the parishioners of the two churches to be reconciled with each other in their respective family by way of forgiveness and other acts of mercy, particularly during the season of Lent.

By way of its special YoM programme, Soccom ADKK continues with its mission to spread the Gospel message not only in writing but by word of mouth as well, personally sharing the good news of love and mercy of Jesus Christ.

They have organized the programme also as part of its outreach to parishes in the Archdiocese updating them on latest activities of the Commission and encouraging them to establish new or strengthening the existing social communications or publicity committee.

The programme was conducted in both churches on a Friday following the Station of the Cross and a Holy Mass. It received full support from the parish priest Fr Michael Modoit at Bundu Tuhan, the chairman of the Parish Pastoral Council, Joseph Akiu,   together with  the parishioners (around 150 people) who stayed back to listen to the talk.

Meanwhile, at the St Peter’s Church, Kudat , among those who attended were about 50 parishioners including 39 youth who were having a weekend camp in the parish to prepare them for the World Youth Day celebration on Palm Sunday in union with youths throughout the world. Some members of PPCs were also there. Likewise , dinner was served at the parish hall just before the talk.

Previous occasions when the Soccom YoM event was held were at: the Holy Rosary Church, Limbahau (Nov 11, 2016); the Holy Nativity Church, Terawi (April 28, 2017); St Catherine’s Church, Inanam (Aug 18, 2017); St Joseph Husband of Mary, Kiulu (Mar 2, 2018), and St John’s Church, Tuaran (Mar 9, 2018). – kkdiocese.net

Archbishop John Wong’s Message for Easter 2019

The encounter with True Love is in the silence

AS the Universal Church rejoices at the Resurrection of Jesus Christ our Savior, let us together proclaim “The Lord is risen indeed! Alleluia!”

It is in this Rising from the dead that has given significance to the birth and death of Christ. The world experiences births and deaths every day and many a time, these experiences give and take away hope and joy respectively. Yet, it is in the Resurrection of Jesus Christ that has set the foundation to true Hope, true Joy because we are promised with Eternal Life.

When I reflected on the accounts of the Passion and Resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ, I could not still fully describe and comprehend the immensity and intensity of the Love that is given so generously to us. “It is proof of God’s own love for us, that Christ died for us while we were still sinners.” (Romans 5: 8) It is not just any love that the world is promoting and living by today. This Love gives of Himself (1 John 4: 8) fully and freely, even unto death. It is called the Sacrificial Love, one that is given willingly for the good and life of the others. Yet, through my own experience, I believe anyone who has truly encountered this Love could not ever resist it. Moreover, this Love would draw one to be committed to lead a life transformed in the way of Christ.

With the signs of times and urgent issues the Church and the World are facing, we see clearly that the love of the world centers on the interest of the “I”. During the season of Lent, I was very moved when the psalmist said “Save me in your Love, O Lord” (Psalm 31:16). It has drawn me into a deeper contemplation of what this Love means and how it could save. It has convicted me more and more that the only remedy to these issues could only be countered purely from the decision of each person to will the good of the other person, just as Jesus Christ has chosen to lay down His own life for our salvation (John 10:18).

Brothers and sisters in Christ, to be the channel of love, we are to first encounter Love Himself. For me, the encounter of this Love lies in the empty tomb. The tomb, to many of us, may signify darkness, sorrow, despair and death. Yet, J.R.R. Tolkein once wrote a profound quote,  “Christian joy produces tears because it is qualitatively so like sorrow, because it comes from those places where Joy and Sorrow are at one, reconciled, as selfishness and altruism are lost in Love.”

Likewise, I see this truth in the empty tomb. It is at dusk that the first sunlight will break through darkness. It is in the darkness of defeat, sorrow, despair and death, Jesus meets us there. As St Paul the Apostle wrote to the Ephesians (4: 8-10) “He went up to the heights, took captives, he gave gifts to humanity.” When it says, ‘he went up’, it must mean that he had gone down to the deepest levels of the earth. The one who went down is none other than the one who went up the heavens to fill all things. Jesus has Himself entered into this pit and won victoriously! Hence, we could proclaim “Death, where is your victory? Death, where is your sting?” (1 Corinthians 15: 55). Love Himself has conquered death!

Today, Jesus continues to meet us where we are, with the same Passion for our Salvation. It takes only our openness to respond with a ‘Yes” to reach out to His Hands which has been extended waiting for ours decision to want to be saved. This is where we will experience the power of love through the Resurrection of Jesus Christ. It brings us true Joy, true Hope and Eternal Life.

In order for us to encounter this True Love, I strongly urge us to “Listen”. Only when we choose to stop, be still and listen, we would encounter True Love Himself, for He is found in the silence.

Two very practical steps to listen are: (1) to soak ourselves in the Word of God, and (2) to frequent ourselves to the Sacraments, especially the Sacraments of Eucharist and Reconciliation.

The Word of God is filled with God’s Truth and His covenant Love for us. He wants to speak Love to us. Moreover, He wants to show us His tangible Love through the Sacraments of Eucharist and Reconciliation. When we avail ourselves to these Sacraments, it is in fact God initiating to give, reassure and restore us to fullness. He knows all that we are, but He remains faithful to love us totally.

Brothers and sisters, as we celebrate the victory of the Resurrection of Jesus Christ, let us also give our honour to our Most Holy Mother of God, Mary. She was present all through the life of Jesus, convicted by the life that they walked through together, that Jesus is the Messiah the whole nation of Israel has been waiting for. She remained standing even at the foot of the Cross, trusting that God’s Will is fulfilled. She encountered Love, carried Love and lived with Love.  Therefore, let us continue to ask for her kind intercession that we, too, will encounter this Abounding Love that can be found in Jesus Christ Alone. Carry this love, live and share it to all.

We are redeemed children of an ever-abundant Father! Be Courageous! Let Love reach you, touch you and motivate you to go forward. Have a Blessed Easter!

Religious Vocation Awareness Seminar 2019

Purak, PAPAR – A total of 162 participants (62 males and 100 females),  from various parishes in the Archdiocese of Kota Kinabalu, Diocese of Keningau  and even as far as from the neighbouring country Brunei attended the vocation Seminar held from 15 – 17 Feb 2019 at Pace Bene retreat Centre. This vocation Seminar was jointly organized by the Council of Religious (COR) in the Archdiocese of Kota Kinabalu which is currently headed by Br.Thomas Paul, SG. 

According to Fr. Valentine Gompok (OFM Cap), one of the members of the organizing committee, the Council of Religious (COR), initiated this joint vocation Seminar 10 years ago as a way of collaboration among the various congregations serving in the archdiocese of Kota Kinabalu for vocation promotion. Five years later the COR extended an invitation to other congregations from other dioceses within Malaysia to come and participate in the Seminar. And for the first time this year, the Order of the Pious School (Piarist) (Sch.P) Philippines secured permission from the Archbishop to participate.

This yearly vocation seminar is intended to be an eye opener and give a kind of exposure to the youths of the various religious congregations presently serving in the archdiocese as well as other dioceses within Malaysia or even outside Malaysia. 

Six women religious congregations and eight male religious orders were present to showcase or share with the participants about their respective Charism and Mission: the Franciscan Sisters of the Immaculate Conception (FSIC), Good Shepherd  Sisters (RGS), Daughters of St. Paul (FSP), Franciscan Missionary of Mary (FMM) Sisters from Petaling Jaya & Singapore, Sisters of the Divine Saviour (SDS) or Salvatorian, based in Melaka Johor Diocese, De La Salle Brothers (FSC), Brothers of St. Gabriel (SG), Marist Brothers of the School (FMS), Clerical Society of the Most Holy Trinity of Mirinae (SST), Order of Franciscan Friar Minor (OFM), Order of Franciscan Friar Minor Capuchin (OFM Cap), Order of the Pious School (Piarist) (Sch.P) and Society of Jesus also known as the Jesuits (SJ). And though not physically present, the Order of Discalced Carmelite Nuns (OCD) was with the team spiritually. A presentation on their Congregation’s Charism and Mission was done by Sr.Bibianah,fsp on their behalf.

The seminar started with the registration, followed by opening Mass, concelebrated by 6 priests from various orders. After dinner there were ice-breaker activities and then the logistic and safety briefing before the night prayer.

A talk on religious Vocation was given by Fr. Valentine, OFMCap, on the Second day. He explained to the participants about the importance of prayers in religious life and the 3 vows which they profess. A topic on Discernment and some practical and helpful examples on how to discern their religious vocation was also given by Br.Egbertus Jaikol, FSC.

Due to the large number of participants, the organizing committee decided to divide the afternoon session on the second day into male and female categories. During this time, the various religious congregations accordingly took turns to present their respective charism and mission to the participants. On Sunday, another talk on Spiritual life was given by Fr. Raphael, OFMCap. He highlighted our connectedness with God in Spirit as we have been created in His image and likeness.

For the duration of the seminar, the schedule was arranged in such a way that the participants shared responsibility to clean the refectory and wash plates after each meal.  There was time for group dynamics, praise and worship, personal and community prayer, an hour of adoration, as well as allotted time for spiritual direction.  Before the Seminar ended a piece of paper with the list of the various congregations were distributed to the candidates and each candidate was encouraged to put a check on a particular congregation which they would like to know more and the next day return the filled up form to the congregation concerned. This way will be helpful to follow up the candidate and assist them to make further discernment in their vocation.

Jordan Juhakim from Stella Maris Parish, was grateful for having participated in the vocation Seminar. He came to understand better the life of religious priests, brothers and sisters. He said that he encountered various challenges on his way to Purak. He took a train to Papar and he lost his way. From the train station he had to walk for 2 hours 45 minutes to reach Purak. Notwithstanding the challenges along the way, it didn’t dampen his Spirit. Instead he learned patience and perseverance amidst challenges and he realized that Jesus is truly the way and the Truth and the life.

Likewise, Mary Kasmih from St. Peter Claver Church, Ranau, a first time participant expressed her joy and contentment for the opportunity to join in the Seminar. All the sessions had given her better understanding about religious life and she also learned many things from the various congregations.

After the closing Eucharistic celebration, Br.Thomas, SG, in his concluding speech thanked all the Franciscan Sisters, the staff and management of Pace Bene under the Supervision of Sr. Juliana, the superior of the Retreat Centre, who allowed the religious and participants to occupy the place for the weekend seminar free of charge. He also thanked all the various congregations as well as the participants of the vocation seminar from far and near who contributed to the success of the Seminar. It was surely a memorable moment for all especially those who participated in the Vocation Seminar for the first time. – kkdiocese.net

World day of Consecrated Life in KK Archdiocese

KOTA KINABALU – In union with all the religious men and women throughout the world, the various religious congregations in the Archdiocese of Kota Kinabalu gathered together on 2nd February 2019 at St. Paul’s Hill Chapel at Montfort, Kinarut to mark the 23rd world day of Consecrated life on the feast of the Lord’s Presentation. The World day of Consecrated life was first mooted by the late Saint Pope John Paul II in 1997. It was intended to help the entire Church to esteem ever more greatly the witness of those persons who have chosen to follow Christ by means of the practice of the evangelical counsels. At the same time, it is intended to be a suitable occasion for consecrated persons to renew their commitment and rekindle the fervour which should inspire their offering of themselves to the Lord.

In the Archdiocese of Kota Kinabalu, this is only the 12th year that we are celebrating the World day of consecrated life together as a religious body. It was initiated by the Council of religious (COR) in 2007 which was then headed by Br. Francis Chua, SG. As in the past years, the celebration this time was preceded by the triduum of holy hours in the evenings:  at the Carmelite Chapel on 30th January animated by the Marist and the La Salle Brothers, Stella Maris adoration chapel on 31st January animated by the Franciscan Sisters and at St. Michael’s Church Penampang on 01st February animated by the Good Shepherd Sisters and the Daughters of St. Paul. According to Br. Thomas Paul, the present chairperson of the Council of religious in the Archdiocese of Kota Kinabalu, it was a kind of a pilgrimage to prepare our hearts for the actual celebration of the World day of Consecrated Life.

More than 100 religious from various congregations and secular institutes turned up for the celebration: Montfort Brothers (SG), La Salle Brothers (FSC), Marist Brothers (FMS), Clerical Society of the Holy Trinity (SST), Good Shepherd Sisters (RGS), Franciscan Sisters (FSIC), Daughters of St. Paul (FSP), and the third order of Carmelite as representative of the Discalced Carmelite Nuns (OCD).

Quoting from the Pope’s writings, the Archbishop, in his homily explained in brief the meaning of the presentation of Jesus, also known as the feast of the Encounter, where Jesus came to meet His people for the first time in the temple represented by Simeon and Anna who had the faith to recognize Him as the Saviour of the world. He said, regardless of whether we are old or young, Jesus comes continually to present himself to us in our daily life. He wants to meet us daily especially in the celebration of the Eucharist and wants to establish a relationship, an encounter with each one of us.

The Archbishop then posed a question, have you met him personally? When and what was your first experience in your encounter with Jesus in your life? Did we recognize him as did Simeon and Anna? Did our hearts burn with fire when we encountered Him? He reminded us to keep the fire of the first experience burn bright in our lives so that we can shine the light of Christ in the world and so that others in turn may recognize Christ through us.

After the homily, the religious renewed their religious consecration together in the presence of the Archbishop who accepted their prayers of commitment.

The joyful atmosphere of the celebration was enhanced with the attendance of some friends and families who lived near the Montfort residential campus and also with the full support and attendance of more than 150 students and staff from the Montfort training centre. They sang very well during the Mass and some of the boys even helped as altar servers.

After the final blessings, the chairperson Br. Thomas, thanked the Archbishop for his willingness to grace the celebration. He also thanked the Montfort Management centre for their kindness in allowing the religious to make Montfort Youth Training Centre a venue for their gathering this year.

Archbishop John Wong, on the other hand also apologized on behalf of his priests who could not make it to be with the religious on this occasion due to the fact that it was Saturday and the priests are busy in their respective parishes. The Archbishop went on to express his gratitude and appreciation to all the religious for their dedication and contribution of services in their various charisms in building up the Kingdom of God in the Archdiocese of Kota Kinabalu. He also assured the religious of his continual support and prayers for them in his daily recitation of the Holy Rosary.

As usual the celebration was not complete without fellowship. The festive lunch was graciously sponsored by the Montfort brothers.

Call for Catholics to bring new hope to the marginalised and the elderly

KOTA KINABALU – Archbishop John Wong, who heads the Catholic Archdiocese of Kota Kinabalu, has called on members of his flock to build themselves, their families, and our nation on new hopes.

In his message to mark the Lunar New Year, often referred as the Spring festival, he reminded Catholics that, “Jesus is our eternal Spring. He brings us eternal hope.”

As such, he says they are called to bring this new hope to those who live in despair, especially those who are marginalized, abandoned and forgotten; those resorting to drugs, wasting their life and youthfulness; and the elderly ones who long for love and concern.

Looking back on the past year’s events, Archbishop Wong recalled how the nation voted in a new government on May 9, 2018, “bringing the most extraordinary political change in Malaysia after six decades of the old regime.”

Referring to a Chinese saying, “A peaceful nation provides peace for her people”, he maintains that, “It speaks of the significance of a nation that is led by leaders who are fair, just and honest.”

He also stresses the importance to have state and national legislators who would ensure political stability, are able to enhance the people’s life with peace and happiness.

Reminding the people of their Christian duty to pray for the nation and her leaders, the Archbishop Wong says, “Prayer is the most effective force to guide our leaders as they tend to the needs of our people.”

He adds, “Besides pursuing the advancement and prosperity of our nation, we must not forget to pursue the kingdom of God.”

Elaborating further, he says, “Building the kingdom of God is to happen even here and now, through the offering of charity, care, humility, tolerance, fairness, justice, and integrity to society.”

He also expressed his pastoral concern by saying, “As we begin the New Year, I pray that we do not only pursue material wealth, which would not satisfy our spiritual thirst. We must above all remember to pray and to listen to the teachings of the Lord.”

The pursuit of spiritual wealth, he stressed, cannot be understated having witnessed the rise of suicides among the young people, who have found life empty, meaningless, directionless and purposeless.

Archbishop Wong calls on his faithful to enter into the season of Spring with hope so that they would be renewed. – SOCCOM ADKK

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