Reflection for 20th Sunday in Ordinary Time (A)

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First Reading
Isaiah 56:1,6-7
The Lord reveals his salvation to all.

Responsorial Psalm
Psalm 67:2-3,5-6,8
All the nations will praise God.

Second Reading
Romans 11:13-15,29-32
God’s favour to Israel is irrevocable.

Gospel Reading
Matthew 15:21-28
Jesus heals the daughter of the Canaanite woman because of her great faith.

Background on the Gospel Reading

Today we move ahead in our reading of Matthew’s Gospel. Last week we read about Jesus walking on the water and the disciples’ confession of faith that Jesus is the Son of God. If we were reading Matthew’s entire Gospel, we would have read about Jesus’ debate with the Pharisees about Jewish purity laws. Jesus argues that it is not what goes into us that makes us unclean; he is referring to the strict Jewish dietary rules. Instead, our words and our actions—what comes out of us—make us unclean because they emerge from a heart that is unclean.

Knowing about Jesus’ debate with the Pharisees helps us to understand today’s Gospel. In fact, the story heightens the surprise and shock we feel as we hear Jesus’ exchange with the Canaanite woman. The woman, who is not Jewish, approaches Jesus, requesting that he heal her demon-possessed daughter. At first, Jesus ignores her; he says nothing. The disciples ask Jesus to send her away, and Jesus agrees, remarking that he was sent to minister to the Jews alone.

The woman persists, paying homage to Jesus, and yet Jesus denies her request again. He even insults her, using a Jewish word of derision for Gentiles, “dog.” But the woman cleverly turns Jesus’ insult into an affirmation of faith. Only then does Jesus grant her request and heal her daughter.

Jesus’ unresponsiveness to this woman may strike us as uncharacteristic or shocking. Yet in Matthew’s Gospel, Jesus’ ministry is directed primarily to the people of Israel. At only a very few points, such as the one found in today’s Gospel, do we find Jesus anticipating the later Christian ministry to the rest of the world.

Behind Matthew’s text we can hear this early Christian community’s struggle to understand how God’s selection of Israel is consistent with two events: Israel’s rejection of Jesus and the Gentiles’ acceptance of Jesus. Just as Jesus was surprised by the faith expressed by the Canaanite woman, so too the first Christians were surprised that the Gentiles would receive the salvation God offered through Christ. In today’s second reading from Paul’s letter to the Romans, we hear the apostle Paul considering this same concern.

The faith that the Canaanite woman expresses is an affirmation of and confidence in God’s abundant mercy. Yes, salvation comes through Israel, but it overflows for the benefit of all. – loyolapress.com

Pope Francis’ 2017 Intentions

August 2017

Artists

That artists of our time, through their ingenuity, may help everyone discover the beauty of creation.

Liturgical Feasts / Anniversaries /Observances

Aug 01: St Alphonsus de Liguori

Aug 02: Sts Eusebius of Vercelli & Peter Julian Eymard

Aug 04: St John Vianney

Aug 05: Dedication of St Mary Major

Aug 06: Transfiguration of the Lord /Foundation of the Brothers of St Gabriel in Sabah (1998)

Aug 07: St Sixtus II & Companions / St Cajetan

Aug 08: St Dominic

Aug 09: St Teresa Benedicta of the Cross

Aug 10: St Lawrence /Foundation of the Putri Karmel Sisters in Keningau (1997)

Aug 11: St Clare of Assisi

Aug 12: St Jane Frances de Chantal

Aug 13: 19th Sunday in Ordinary Time

Aug 14: St Maximillian Kolbe

Aug 15: Assumption of Mary (Day of Obligation)

Aug 16: St Stephen of Hungary

Aug 19: St John Eudes

Aug 20: 20th Sunday in Ordinary Time

Aug 21: St Pius X

Aug 22: Queenship of Mary

Aug 23: St Rose of Lima

Aug 24: St Bartholomew

Aug 25: Sts Louis of France & Joseph Calasanz

Aug 27: 21st Sunday in Ordinary Time

Aug 28: St Augustine of Hippo

Aug 29: Death of St John the Baptist

Aug 31: Merdeka Day (1957)

18 Sandakan DFLC members attend half-day recollection

LAHAD DATU – Eighteen members of the Sandakan Diocesan Family Life Commission (DFLC) attended a half-way recollection on 22 July 2017 at St Dominic here.

The participants came from St Mary Sandakan (5), St Martin Telupid (3), OLOF Beluran (2), St Dominic Lahad Datu (4), and Holy Trinity Tawau (4).

The theme of the recollection was “Do as you say,”  the words spoken by the three angels to Abraham in the book of Genesis (Gn 18:5).

Recollection began with an opening prayer led by Franciscan Sister Evelyn Tivit,  followed by self-introduction of each member.

The session continued with an inspiring input presented by Eva Siruno, DFLC chairperson, on the meaning and purpose of commissioning which they would later be given.

She said the commission given by the risen Jesus to his disciples (Mt 28:19-20) is the “most sacred commissioning” because it came directly from Jesus’ lips.  Jesus’ promise to be with us always is the “most consoling part of our mission,” she added.

Jesus’ promise to be with us always is the “most consoling part of our mission,” she added.

Siruno said that through the commissioning, “we gain affirmation from the Lord” through the church “in our commitment to each other,” and provide “us a time where we can rejoice and give thanks together.”

She noted that the people’s prayer can “charge us up” and most importantly, “we inspire others to serve in the church.”

A video on the nature and mission of the Catholic Family: “Garden of Holiness” was screened.  It touched on the challenges of being  a father, mother or child in the family to create an environment of holiness.

Sr Evelyn facilitated a short reflection session wherein the participants recalled their experiences in serving the church and the struggles they faced.  This was followed by group sharing.

Later the participants went to the chapel for personal reflection using a guided reflection based on Pope Francis’ catechesis on the family.  It helped them to recall their experiences and challenges in the ministry.

Time was given to the participants to share their experiences and how God sustained them when they were on the verge of giving up.

In the evening, the participants were commissioned by Father Marcellinus Pongking after the homily at the Sunset Mass.

The next day, July 23,  the participants from Sandakan and Lahad Datu joined the pre-marriage course team in giving sessions to 23 couples in Tampenau, Lahad Datu.

Parish Family Life Ministry established in Beluran

BELURAN – The Parish Family Life Ministry (PFLM) was established in Our Lady of Fatima Parish here on 29 July 2017.

Thirty participants from St Paul Ulu Dusun, St Anthony Bukit Garam, Emmanuel Church Jaya Bakti and neighbouring Beluran chapels.

In his opening remarks, Bishop Julius Gitom said, “It is about time to have your own Family Life Ministry in order to find out the challenges faced by families in your own parish. If you do not know your enemy, how can you overcome them? Therefore, be aware and identify them then together we find solutions.”

He added that if a family is strong in its faith, “then our Church will also grow  stronger.”

Cesar Siruno, Sandakan PFLM chairman, presented a slideshow on the scope of the family life ministry at different levels: pre-marriage course, marriage enrichment programmes, natural family planning, coordinating activities for senior citizens and single parents, collaborating with other commissions and ministries in organising activities relevant to family life.

Dimeh Koyopo, of St Mark’s Church, shared: “It was through our (with his wife) experience in handling couples under crises that I was attracted to serve in this ministry. You need to be faithful and committed to your service. It is important to pay attention to my own role and responsibility as a father and as a husband, first of all, before I can tell others to do so. The words “I’m sorry” for a husband is not easy to say, but knowing our “marriage vow” should become a common practice in the home if I were to lead the parish.”

Gabriel Bali, newly elected OLOF Family Life Chairman shared “I always think of a family in small groups, but now we need to spread our wings, knowing that we have a Mission to do in our parish starting from our family.”

The office bearers for 2017-2019 are Gabriel Bali (chairman), Camillus Bikanis (asst chairman), Linda Marcus (secretary 1), Anthony Valentinus (secretary 2), and Cristina Heresilles (treasurer). – newsupdatedospo.blogspot.my

 

Elias Carmelite Family celebrates founder’s golden jubilee

At the altar L-R: Bp Cornelius Piong, Fr Yohanes Indrakusama (jubilarian), Fr Peter Hwang of Limbang, Fr Anthony Mikat, 13 Aug 2017, Golden Jubilee Mass, Kaingaran Tambunan

KAINGARAN, Tambunan – The Elias Carmelite Family celebrated its founder’s golden jubilee of priesthood on 13 Aug 2017 at St Mary Magdalene Chapel here.

Visitors from Indonesia, China, Sarawak joined the local Putri Karmel (Daughters of Carmel), Carmelitae Sancti Eliae (CSE) and Komunitas Tritunggal Mahakudus (KTM) in celebrating the 50 years of priesthood of their Founder, Father Yohanes Indrakusama OCarm, 79.

Bishop Cornelius Piong presided at the thanksgiving Mass.  Joining him and the jubilarian at the altar were CSE Superior General Rev Sergius Paulus, Rev Giovanni C Sugau CSE,  Rev Peter Hwang of Limbang,  Anthony Mikat, Bede Anthonius, Gilbert Lasius, Joseph Gapitang, and Mario Tong of China.

Young dancers in traditional attire led the entrance procession from the St John Catholic Retreat Centre to the chapel accompanied by the beating of the gongs.

In his homily, the bishop told some 500 people present that he came to know the jubilarian in 1984 while attending a Charismatic Renewal Convention in Indonesia.

When he became the bishop of Keningau in 1993, he welcomed the Putri Karmel into the diocese in 1997 where it took root and flourished on a 32-acre of land at Kaingaran Tambunan.

After the Mass, there was a fusion of Chinese and Murut cultures in the performances by the Fook Xing Dragon Unicorn Lion Dance Troupe Tambunan, firecrackers and fireworks display outside the retreat centre in spite of the inclement weather.

The reception was held at the hall below the chapel where a video clip on the life of the jubilarian was screened.  The Elias Carmelite Family also entertained the guests with a variety show.  An exhibition on the founder’s life and history of the Elias Carmelites was displayed outside the dining hall.

Born in 1938 in small East Java town into a Chinese family, the jubilarian began his novitiate in a Carmelite monastery in 1960. Ordained as a priest in 1967, he pursued his studies in theology in Rome and Paris and later worked in various parts of the country. In the mid-70s, he spent time in a hermitage involved in contemplative life.

He founded the Putri Karmel on 19 March 1982 in Ngadireso, a small village in Malang Diocese East Java, followed by the Carmelitae Sancti Eliae on 20 July 1986 and the Komunitas Tritunggal Mahakudus on 11 January 1987.

On 12 Jan 2013, the St John of the Cross Institute (philosophy and theology) in Pontianak West Kalimatan founded by the jubilarian was officially opened by the Pontianak Archbishop.

Putri Karmel is a religious community of women, whereas CSE is for men and KMT for lay people.

The two religious communities have the same spirituality, way of life and ministry. Fundamentally they follow the spirit of the Carmelite Rule and Traditions, accentuating the contemplative aspect, integrated with the Charismatic Renewal.

The  Charismatic Renewal brings about the experience of God in the power of the Holy Spirit, and the Carmelite Spirituality is a very rich tool to deepen it and settle it down.

The members may give counselling, retreats, seminars, or offer prayers for individuals.

Currently, there are 43 Putri Karmel Sisters, 16 CSE Brothers, and over 1,800 KTM members in Malaysia.  Aside from Indonesia and Malaysia, there are also communities in China, Italy and USA.

On 12 April 2017, Sister Maximilliane Soon became the first superior of Malaysia-China District with two communities each in Malaysia (Keningau and Sibu) and China (Xingtai Hebei Province in the North and Fuqing Fujian Province in the South) respectively while Sister Geraldine Marie is the local superior of Kaingaran.

DOPP drafter gives his take on its impact on diocesan life

PENAMPANG – The Diocesan Organisational Pastoral Plan (DOPP) of Kota Kinabalu Diocese was drafted by a core team in 1996.  It was accepted and launched on 16 Sept 1997.  Twenty years later (14 Aug 2017), Dominic Lim, one of the drafters, was asked to give his views on how it has affected the life of the diocese since then.

Asked on its positive impact, Lim, 60, said the desired end of the DOPP is the attainment of the Diocesan Vision viz to be a communion of Christ-centred communities journeying together in the faith, hope and love of Jesus Christ, empowered by the Holy Spirit to build up the Kingdom of God.

In this area, he continued, many of the faithful have been active in church groups such as parish committees, basic ecclesial communities, and quite a number have made long-term commitments in ecclesial movements.

Lim noted that there is a greater sense of belonging to the diocesan family through participation in diocesan programmes organised such as Jubilee Year 2000, Diocesan Silver Jubilee 2001-2002, Eucharistic Congress 2004, ordinations and anniversaries of clergy and religious, the Priestly Year, the Year for Consecrated Life, Jubilee Year of Mercy, and others.

“I see these as positive signs of moving towards a communion of Christ-centred communities, a greater effort to journey together. The journey towards the dream will take time. DOPP as a Pastoral Plan has only a 7-year timeframe and in fact it has expired. It is too short a time to achieve our Vision. But the signs are there. We just have to continue to remind each other of our Vision, move together towards  that common direction and continue to allow the Spirit to empower us,” he said.

As for striking changes, Lim said, “We have moved away from a centralised pastoral structure (PAX Board of Directors) that decided the direction we moved as a diocese to a more consultative and participative approach with the Vision as our common direction.”

While he admitted that there is still much room for improvement, the parish community is now able to plan and move from where they are towards the Vision though some [parishes] are still struggling to “grasp the elements of the Vision, others are already implementing the Objectives stated in the DOPP.”

He saw this as “something more realistic in being Church because the maturity level of our communities differs from place to place.”

Lim pointed out that the emphasis on ongoing personal and communal conversion is “the key” to a total and integral renewal.

This, he added, is enhanced by living out the commitments spelt out in the Mission Statement, that is, living out a life of prayer nourished by the sacraments and the Word, guided by church teachings, unity in communities, respecting values of other faiths, responsible stewardship of the environment, and promoting justice and peace in society.

Lim noted that since the DOPP, there are more people attending daily Mass and coming forward to help in RCIA, Alpha and other church activities.  Many seminars, recollections, retreats and other faith formation programmes have been conducted.  There are also more inter-church activities.

“And there has been a greater awareness of our faith response to societal issues. All these were not very visible 20 years ago,” he said.

Lim, who works in the archdiocesan secretariat, pointed out that the mission ad gentes of the archdiocese was enhanced through the setting up of new pastoral structures such as the Social Communications Commission and Human Development Commission, the Montfort Youth Training Centre, the Sacred Heart Charity, Pusat Kebajikan Good Shepherd and other welfare programmes of the lay movements, and the strengthening of the church’s role in mission schools.

As for ways and means to maintain the DOPP spirit, Lim recalled the speech of Bishop John Lee during the launching of DOPP on 16 Sept 1997 at the Sacred Heart Cathedral.  The bishop admitted that the DOPP was quite technical but as long as “we adopted and lived the spirit behind the whole planning exercise, we would have achieved something – our new way of being Church begins not in what we do but how we live with each other in the Church and with the world around us.”

He said that to maintain the spirit, streamers on the Diocesan Vision and Mission were printed and hung on the walls of many chapels and halls to remind the people of their common direction in pastoral life.

In addition, Lim continued, the Diocesan Prayer was recited and continues to be recited on Sundays and feast days.

“The seminar on pastoring together in 1998 had laid the foundation for a better understanding of collaborative ministry while the bishop’s keynote addresses at subsequent PAX Assemblies after 1997 touched on elements of the Diocesan Vision to promote and maintain the DOPP spirit,” he added.

Lim noted that the changes from PAX Board of Directors to Diocesan Pastoral Council in 1998, from Parish Council to Parish Pastoral Council in 1999 had concretised collaboration among the clergy, religious and laity in pastoral leadership and mission of the Church in line with the Diocesan Vision.

The DOPP drafter pointed out: “DOPP as a Pastoral Plan was overtaken by events since its launching.  The two big events – Great Jubilee Year 2000 and the Silver Jubilee of the Diocese in 2002 were not anticipated during the formulation of the Plan but somehow the diocese was able to blend them into the spirit of the DOPP.”

Lim noted that though the DOPP implementation might not have been strictly according to the Timelines stated in the document, many of its Enabling Objectives have been carried out in various forms over the past 20 years.

In conclusion, he suggested that the term DOPP be dropped since the Plan has already expired.  Instead, the archdiocese should just focus on the Vision and Mission.

Another member of the DOPP Core Team, Magdalene Chu, described the process of coming together and thinking through the vision and mission of the local diocese was good.  She said it made concrete the universal mission of the church in the local church context.

The Archdiocesan Prayer still being said, she added, is good as it helps to remind everyone of the mission and needs of the archdiocese. (KK became an archdiocese in 2008).

DOPP turns 20

KOTA KINABALU – On 16 September 2017, the Kota Kinabalu Archdiocese will celebrate the 20th anniversary of the launching of its Diocesan Organisational Pastoral Plan (DOPP).

This document was launched on 16 September 1997 by then Bishop John Lee at the Sacred Heart Cathedral Kota Kinabalu in the presence of Archbishop Luigi Bressan, apostolic delegate in Malaysia.

At the launching, Bishop Lee said that the DOPP has spelt out the Vision, “the ideal Church that we want to be” but stressed that what is more important is “for us to uphold and live the spirit behind the whole planning exercise, namely personal and communal renewal in a new way of being Church.”

The need for the DOPP was prompted by a response to the increasing new pastoral challenges that came along in the diocesan journey as local Church.In 1996, one hundred sixty-four (164) delegates comprising bishop, priests, religious and laity from the whole diocese assembled to formulate the Vision and Mission of KK Diocese.  In September 1997 the Vision and Mission were formally adopted as both the rallying point and direction of the diocese.  In other words, they are the overall and continuing goal of all that we hope to achieve in our pastoral works, where all our available resources are to be used.

In 1996, one hundred sixty-four delegates comprising bishop, priests, religious and laity from the whole diocese assembled to formulate the Vision and Mission of KK Diocese. The 1996 workshop was the first effort of its kind to assess the realities and identify the problems and needs of the KK diocese, which was established in 1976.

In September 1997 the Vision and Mission were formally adopted as both the rallying point and direction of the diocese.

The DOPP has four main components: (a) Pastoral analysis of the Diocese (b) Proposed solutions (c) Common direction and (d) Action Plan.

Though quite technical, the essence of the document underlies some major concerns: (i) a deeper understanding of the Word of God (ii) the need for an understanding of the Church as Communion (ecclesiology of communion) (iii) the participation of all the people of God in the Church and (iv) the relationship between the Church and the world.

These four-fold concerns are in line with the concerns of Vatican II (Lumen Gentium 1964 & Gaudium et Spes 1965).

The DOPP, as a seven-year plan (1998-2004), expired by end of 2004. Bishop Lee declared in his January 2005 Pastoral Letter that “2005 is a time for evaluation, to see how much we have achieved in the process of renewal and how far we have journeyed towards our Vision.”

The whole diocese was mobilised to undertake the exercise. One major difference was the emphasis on learning. The exercise was to be “process-oriented” not “result-oriented.”

By emphasising the importance of the learning process, the whole exercise took on a pastoral tone. It provided the opportunity for self-examination.

Dominic Lim, one of those who formulated the Plan, said that the term DOPP should no longer be applied since the Plan has already expired.  Instead, the Church should focus on the Vision and Mission.

In March 2014, the Archdiocesan Pastoral Council (APC) 2014-17 identified three critical concerns the Church needs to be aware of, i.e. apathy, secularisation and Islamisation.

It was argued that apathy is an internal weakness.  Such attitude could jeopardise the evangelising mission in building the Kingdom of God.  Secularisation and Islamisation are external forces which could undermine the faith of the people.  The degree of seriousness of these threats varies from parish to parish.  Nevertheless, they were reported as a prevailing phenomenon all over the archdiocese during the 2015 PAX Assembly.  The APC felt the need to address these concerns seriously.

The degree of seriousness of these threats varies from parish to parish.  Nevertheless, they were reported as a prevailing phenomenon all over the archdiocese during the 2015 PAX Assembly.  The APC felt the need to address these concerns seriously.

The three concerns were tabled in the 2015 PAX Assembly.  Subsequently, the archdiocese adopted a Pastoral Thrust for the next two years where every pastoral agent and institute, every community and family, and every baptised Catholic are to rally together to tackle the concerns.  The Thrust has a threefold movement which can either be simultaneously carried out or move at the level according to the need of the community.

(a) Go Inward

This is an introspective movement – self-examination, reviewing and renewing of one’s relationship with God and with one another.  By doing so it aims for a “conversion of heart and mind” where one becomes more convinced of one’s faith and will not be easily swayed by external influences.

How does one “go inward?”  In the Mission Statement of our archdiocese, concrete commitments are spelt out: an ongoing personal and communal renewal, a life of prayer nourished by the sacraments, and living the Word of God guided by the teachings of the Church.  Through this Mission Statement, our archdiocese (clergy, religious and laity) commit to returning to the basics – prayer, sacraments and Word of God.  To “go inward” is to get into the inner self to discover one’s true identity as a child of God with the help of prayer, sacraments and the Word of God, and live accordingly.

(b) Go Smaller

Facing the onslaught of external pressures, support from others in our faith journey is needed.  As our congregations get bigger, one can be reduced to mere statistics or number. There is a need to go smaller in order to nurture warmth and the sense of belonging to a community (e.g. BEC) for support. Go smaller may also imply reviewing our pastoral structures to make them more responsive to pastoral demands, and to optimise our resources (human and material) to make them aligned to our pastoral strategies in addressing the three critical concerns.

(c) Go Outward

Though a “little flock,” our baptismal vocation has set us apart to be “light of the world” and “salt of the earth,” to transform our society through words and deeds.  To go outward implies, among others, living our faith in our multi-religious society, involvement in social issues, caring for others outside of our circle, working with people of other faiths in addressing common issues, going beyond church boundaries, getting our hands dirty and so forth.  It is through our life witnessing that others recognise the gem of our faith and are attracted to the living Gospel in us.

“I prefer a church which is bruised, hurting and dirty because it has been out on the streets,” (Francis, Evangelii Gaudium).

Solemnity of the Assumption – August 15 (Day of Obligation)

Assumption Masses will be celebrated as follows:

Mon Aug 14
Sacred Heart Cathedral Kota Kinabalu – 7:30 pm (Eng)
Church of Mary Immaculate Bukit Padang – 7:30 pm (Mand)
St Paul Dontozidon – 7:30 pm (Kad)
Our Lady Queen of Peace Kobusak – 7:30 pm (Kad)
St John Kopungit – 7:30 pm (Kad)

Tue Aug 15
Sacred Heart Cathedral Kota Kinabalu – 6:00 am (Eng)
St Paul Dontozidon – 6:30 am (Eng)
Carmelite Chapel Kota Kinabalu – 6:30 am (Eng)

Over 25 participants attend inaugural BM catechists training course

One of the participants receives his certificate of attendance from Abp Wong, flanked by Fr Yasun (L) and Fr Stephen (R).

BUNDU TUHAN – Over 25 participants attended the inaugural BM training courses f0r catechists at the Bundu Tuhan Retreat Centre here in June 2017.

Twenty-nine catechists attended Level 1 (June 12-July 7) while 27 enrolled in Level 2 (July 9-21).

The two courses were organised jointly by the Archdiocesan Catechetical Commission and the Persatuan Katekis (PEKA).

Previous courses were conducted in English under the late Jesuit Father Peter Kim in the 1990s.

Father Nicholas Stephen, spiritual adviser of the commission, officially launched the course in the stead of Archbishop John Wong.

Franciscan Sister Dariah Ajap said the training programme was held because there is a felt need to have trained and well-equipped catechists in the archdiocese, not only to preside at services in the absence of a priest but also to be prayer leaders on various occasions.

To address the need, Abp Wong tasked the Catechetical Commission to organise and facilitate the training, with the involvement of priests, religious and lay leaders as speakers.

Topics covered during the course include Scriptures, Church and her documents, Prayer and Worship/Liturgy, Catechetics, Leadership, Spirituality and Vocation of Catechists, Missiology,  and practicum in the chapel outstations.

Level 3 has been scheduled for Sept 8-24 at the same venue for those who have taken Levels 1 and 2 and for those who are parish catechists.

At the end of the course, Abp Wong presented the certificates of attendance to the participants.

At the closing Mass, the archbishop reminded the participants to constantly read the Word of God, receive the Sacraments frequently, obey the commandments always, and to preach the Good News to all through their life witness.

The Jul 21 closing event was also an opportunity for the attendees to witness the launching of  Father Bruno Yasun’s “Pengenalan Alkitab” (Introduction to the Bible)  by the archbishop. The book is available for sale now.

All catechists who have attended the course will continue their services in their respective parishes. For the newly trained catechists, their parish priests will be the ones to give them their  assignments. – catecomkk

 

Local bishops urged to make the church’s mission more effective in the lives of the people

JOHOR BAHRU – At the 100th Plenary Session of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Malaysia, Singapore and Brunei (CBCMSB), eleven arch/bishops of the region were urged to “to make the mission of the Church effectively more present in the daily lives of the people entrusted to our care.”

For that to happen, the Church herself must constantly reform and purify herself, said Archbishop Joseph Marino, Apostolic Nuncio to Malaysia and Apostolic Delegate to Brunei.

He added,  “This is to ensure that nothing stands in the way, hinders or complicates the relationship between the Lord and His people for whom we are shepherds.”

Archbishop Marino, who opened the bi-annual meeting of the CBC, held at Majodi Centre, Plentong on 10-14 July 2017, directed his address to his audience based on the Holy Father’s reflection on reform dedicated to the Roman Curia in December 2016.

The pope said that this logic has been the theological basis or foundation for the reform of the Roman Curia (RC), adding that, “to assure that no one, as a result of the institution or its organisms, would feel removed, distant or even worse unable or impeded to approach the Lord himself.”

First, the Holy Father said, it should be interpreted as “conforming” itself to the Good News, the Gospel, which must be proclaimed joyously and courageously to all, especially to the poor, the least and the outcast (RC).”

The nuncio stressed that the Curia and by extension all institutions of the Church must conform to the signs of the times and to all human achievements, so that, as the Holy Father said, we can “better meet the needs of the men and women we are called to serve.”

Second, the Church structures are understood as assisting the bishop in his office as pastor, and therefore must be guided by an ecclesiology of service and care for the salvation of souls.

Reform then, the nuncio said, requires a sense of conversion and represents a sign of life in the Church, both at the universal level and the local level.

Pope Francis, he said, affirmed that the Curia “is not an immobile bureaucratic apparatus” but something that must always be changed as the Church walks on her pilgrim way.

The same is true for the local offices, structures and even programmes and pastoral approaches. No part of the Church is free from constant evaluation and reform.

To begin with, such institutions must be staffed by people who themselves are renewed and are open to change and conversion and purification. In any institution, “without a change in mentality, efforts at practical improvement will be in vain” (RC).

Simply put, reform, which is based on conformity to the Gospel and an ecclesiology of service for the good of souls, requires “an ongoing personal and structural process of conversion” (RC).

An authentic reform of the structures of the Church makes them more apt to serve the Gospel and the people of God.

After giving the theological/philosophical foundation for the reform, the Holy Father then listed twelve principles that have guided his reform of the Roman Curia, and they are: individual responsibility, pastoral concern, missionary spirit, organisational clarity, improved functioning, modernisation, sobriety, subsidiarity, synodality, catholicity, professionalism and gradualism.

The pope further sub-defined the groups of principles under headings such as personal conversion, pastoral conversion and Christocentrism, which are rooted in His Apostolic Exhortation, The Joy of the Gospel.

The nuncio dwelt at length into the principles of pastoral and missionary conversion, personal and communal conversion, administrative and pastoral approaches, evangelical spirit, Gospel-centred and service-centred, path of synodality, etc (details found in The Joy of the Gospel).

Concluding his address, Abp Marino said it is the hope of Pope Francis that “we will move from remaining shut up within structures which give us a false sense of security, within rules which make us harsh judges, within habits which make us feel safe.”

He added, “What should rightly disturb us and trouble our consciences, is the fact that so many of our brothers and sisters are living without the strength, light and consolation born of friendship with Jesus Christ, without a community of faith to support them, without meaning and a goal in life.” – Vincent D’Silva

Over 200 youth attend 5th TIM youth camp

Finding the Sheep – one of the activities organised at the TIMYC, 24-27 June 2017, Kg Kironggu.

INANAM – Over 200 youth attended the 5th Telipok-Inanam-Manggatal Youth Camp (TIMYC) on 24-27 June 2017 at St Catherine Church here.

Out of the 246 participants were some Chinese-speaking youths who joined for the first time.

The theme of the camp was “The Mighty One has done great things for me” (Lk 1:49).

The camp opened with Mass presided by Father Rayner Bisius with Father Paul Lo as the homilist.

In his homily, Fr Lo used the examples of Mother Mary and St Joseph who were chosen by God for His mission, which led them to leave life’s comfort and to face many challenges.

He said that the devil would try to drag us from the Mighty One with many temptations and rewards. Many would fall into temptation due to their own problems. He then gave the example of how Mother Mary lived her life following God’s will without fear and doubt.

He told the youths that life is full of difficulties and challenges, and that we wouldn’t know God’s future plan, but we need to continue to trust and stand with him no matter what lies ahead of us.

Among the activities held were a welcoming session, Lectio Divina, theme-sharing session, screening of Mary of Nazareth movie, various talks by speakers, and compline (night prayer).

Serena Wong guided the youths to know themselves and to know God, the virtue of gratitude, and to identify their own dreams in a talk entitled ‘Who Am I?’

In her session, Franciscan Sister Elizabeth Munggai urged the youths to take Pope Francis’ advice to face the world’s challenges with courage and not to give up in the face of problems. She illustrated her talk with the life of  Mother Mary in following God’s will.

As many of the participants were students,  Dorin Peter introduced the Keep In Touch Always (KITA) programme to help them see the reality of campus life and how it will affect their faith.

The outdoor activities were held in Kg Kitobu, Inanam.  They went there by bus but had to make a two-km trip on foot as well.

At the site, they were given a pack of beans signifying faith. They carried the pack of beans along while  crossing a river, using a rope bridge, prostrating commando style, balancing wood crossing, making a fire using only three matches and building a fortress.

These challenges ended at Kg Kironggu, where they stayed for the night. At Kg Kironggu, the games continued with Finding the Sheep, The Longest and Paper Plane Flying challenge.

A Solidarity Night themed ‘A Night to Remember’ at Kironggu saw each group presenting a bible-based performance in the presence of invited guests and villagers.

All activities in Kg Kitobu and Kg Kironggu were handled by KUK St Michael Kg Kironggu and assisted by the TIM YC organising team.

On the last day, the participants hiked up the Kironggu Hill as early as 5.30 am to go back to St Catherine Church. The hike consisted of a rosary walk led by Kg Kironggu KUK. At the top of the hill, Fr Rayner led the prayer and praise and worship session, followed by breakfast.

Back at St Catherine, the participants attended the closing Mass celebrated by Fr Paul. He urged the youths to appreciate God’s gift to them through the camp. The Mass also saw four young men accepting God’s call to enter the priesthood.

At the closing, a flashback video was screened, alongside the sharing session and filling in evaluation forms. The organising team expressed their gratitude and appreciation to all who have sponsored and helped in the preparation of the camp and during the four-day camp. TIM YC Publication and Documentation Team

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