Daily Archives:June 23rd, 2017

The sick are not forgotten in SHC parish fiesta

Joy is a gift of the Holy Spirit, Fellowship after Mass for the Sick, SHC, 23 June 2017.

KOTA KINABALU – The sick were not forgotten in the weeklong observance (June 19-25) of the Sacred Heart Cathedral parish fiesta here.

The parish organised a Mass for them on 23 June 2017, Solemnity of the Sacred Heart.

Almost 500 parishioners turned up for the celebration presided by Archbishop John Wong, concelebrated with his four assistants Fathers Rhobby Mojolou, Mitchelly Kiun, Maxmillianno Hontor and Joshua Liew.

In his homily based on the liturgical readings, Abp Wong reiterated the invitation extended to all to rest in the Sacred Heart of Jesus.

The anointing of the sick by the concelebrants took place immediately after the Mass.  This was followed by refreshments at the parish centre prepared by the Women’s League.

The parish organises the Mass for the Sick twice a year: on February 11 – Feast of Our Lady of Lourdes/World Day of Prayer for the Sick – and on the Solemnity of the Sacred Heart (movable feast).

Invitation to rest in the Sacred Heart highlighted in cathedral feast day Mass

Parishioners join the clergy in thanking the Lord for the gift of the love of the Sacred Heart, Solemnity of Sacred Heart, SHC, 23 June 2017.

KOTA KINABALU – The invitation to rest in the Sacred Heart of Jesus was highlighted in the Sacred Heart Cathedral titular feast day Mass on 22 June 2017.

This was brought out strongly by Father Cosmas Lee in his homily at the concelebrated Mass presided by Archbishop John Wong.  Joining them at the altar were Archbishop Emeritus John Lee, Father Charles Chiew of Keningau Diocese, and most of the KK priests.

No matter what kind of heart one may have – anxious, tired, angry, etc – the invitation is extended to all to find rest in the Heart of Jesus.

Lee concluded his homily requesting the prayers of all for the clergy to be holy shepherds after the Heart of Jesus.

Earlier in the day, the clergy prepared themselves for the event with a recollection cum study day.

Pope John Paul II established the Day for the Sanctification of Priests on the feast of the Sacred Heart in 2002 because the feast of the Sacred Heart celebrates God’s merciful love, that becomes tangible for priests in the Eucharistic Mystery, which they celebrate daily, and in the sacramental pardon which they administer and receive.

As to how the cathedral was named after the Sacred Heart, it is said that in Father Henry van der Heyden’s letter of June 1903, when the community was still stationed at the shop-house in Jesselton (now Kota Kinabalu), the Mission was already called Sacred Heart of Jesus.  Was it possible that, surrounding by, and experiencing so much human misery and suffering, Fr Heyden thought of God’s compassionate love for his children in Borneo, and remembered that Jesus also suffered and died for them? (cfr 100 Years of Good News, 1903-2003, Sacred Heart Cathedral Kota Kinabalu, 2003, pg 56).

Nobody really knows but it is good that all those who have received so many graces, favours, and services from the cathedral parish to make an effort to come together to celebrate the love of the Sacred Heart of Jesus on its feast day.




Philippines, Indonesia, Malaysia join hands to fight extremists

MANILA – The Philippines, Indonesia, and Malaysia plan to closely cooperate to halt the flow of militants, weapons, funds and extremist propaganda across their borders as they expressed alarm over recent attacks in their region.  Philippine Foreign Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano and his Indonesian and Malaysian counterparts gathered in Manila with top security officials Thursday to discuss a joint plan of action amid a disastrous siege of southern

Philippine Foreign Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano and his Indonesian and Malaysian counterparts gathered in Manila with top security officials on 22 June 2017 to discuss a joint plan of action amid a disastrous siege of southern Marawi city by militants aligned with the Islamic State group that has left about 369 combatants and civilians dead.

As the IS loses territory in Syria and Iraq, Southeast Asian governments worry that battle-hardened Asian fighters, including those from Indonesia and Malaysia, may return to exploit social restiveness, weak law enforcement, a surfeit of illegal arms and raging insurgencies to establish a foothold.  Many worry that the month-long siege in Marawi could draw in the returning jihadis.

“We expect that those who will be displaced there will go to Asia and because of the Marawi uprising, the Philippines is like a magnet,” said Philippine military chief of staff Gen Eduardo Ano, who took part in the closed-door security conference.

Indonesian Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi condemned the attack in Marawi and said her government was ready to help.  “Your challenges are Indonesia’s challenges and your challenges are also the challenges of the region,” she said in her opening speech, adding that the threat of terrorism is imminent and that “no action is not an option.”

The three neighbours expressed concern over the recent incidents of terrorism and violent extremism in their countries and their desire to plot joint strategies to combat it.

On May 23, about 500 militants, including about 40 Indonesian, Malaysian and other foreigners, stormed the business district of Marawi, a lakeside centre of the Islamic faith in the largely Roman Catholic country’s south, taking a Roman Catholic priest and other hostages, occupying buildings and installing IS-style black flags.

Of the 276 militants who have been killed, at least three were Malaysians and one came from Indonesia, Ano said, adding that the arrest in Malaysia last week of an unspecified number of militants who were suspected to be bound for Marawi showcases the crossborder cooperation needed to secure the region. – Vatican Radio  

SDYA has some new blood in its commission

SANDAKAN – The Sandakan Diocesan Youth Apostolate (SDYA) has some new blood in its commission when it organised its 20th meeting on 27-28 May 2017.

Twenty-six members took part in the recollection cum meeting at the Pastoral Centre Sandakan.

The new members came from Tawau, Lahad Datu, Beluran, Telupid, Paitan Mission, and Sandakan, including two full-time lay people, a religious sister and a priest.

Since Nov 2016, the apostolate has gone through a transition period of recruiting new members to serve as some existing members have served for over six years since their youth. Now that they are married and with children, they have decided to step down and put their family as a priority.

This has created an opening for new blood to come in, together with several members who have chosen to continue to serve in the apostolate.

Anna Teresa, coordinator of the Apostolate, in her introduction, said that the journey to serve does not always start smoothly.

“It needs the effort of all members to plant seeds of Jesus’ love and mission in your own hearts as youth leaders in your respective parish,” said Anna.

In the recollection, Sister Lilian led the youth to see how old and new members can work together harmoniously, taking the excerpt from Pope Francis’ 32nd WYD message, that the new must learn to appreciate the past, and that youth has the energy while the old has memories and wisdom.

Sr Lilian said that the new members need to know and be familiar with the roots of the Youth Apostolate to enable their journey to continue.

In the meeting on the second day, among topics discussed were guidelines of service, familiarisation of the Apostolate’s organisational chart, youth programmes in each parish and at the diocesan level, and challenges they are facing. SDYA

A pilgrim learns much about Korean Catholicism

JENNIFER CHONG, a young adult from Lifeline-College & Young Adults Ministry, Sacred Heart Cathedral, took part in the formation-based pilgrimage to South Korea on May 1-8, 2017, guided by formation director, Deacon Sherman Kuek. The contents of the formation are history of persecution, history of Catholicism in Korea, sainthood, martyrdom and relics. Here is her personal sharing.


Our bus driver loved to shout this while saluting me at unpredictable times which (almost) always scared me out of my skin. He was from the Marines as he flaunted his badge pinned to a cloth next to his seat. P’ilsung means “Sure victory!” is a motto declared as one salutes when in the Marines or Navy in South Korea.

We had just touched down at Incheon Airport. Soon we found ourselves en route to discover what South Korea has to offer. Of course, this was no ordinary trip. This was a pilgrimage. A pilgrimage to South Korea? Pilgrimages like those to Holy Land and Rome? That kind of pilgrimage? Yes. This pilgrimage is part of the Asian Church Series organised by Splendour Project. Admittedly, I signed up for this largely because I have longed to visit this country. Secretly, I wanted to bump into any of the cast of Running Man.

Whilst drifting in this imagination, my roommate and trip partner-in-crime, Felicity, struck up a conversation. We had only first met when at the airport. But who knew we had such good chemistry from the start. Felicity had visited South Korea back in 2014 for the 6th Asian Youth Day and shared one of the stories she learned of.

Persecution of the Catholics

Back in the days of persecution of the Catholics in the 18th and 19th century, there was a time where soldiers raided a village of Catholics. They had been hiding and staying at this village to avoid capture. The villagers told the soldiers that they knew they were there to bring them to Haemi Castle to be executed. But since it was late, the villagers offered the soldiers their place to stay and rest. The next day, the villagers marched with the soldiers towards Haemi Castle to face the inevitable onslaught. On the way to Haemi Castle, a child asked his mother: “Where are we going?”  The mother replied: “To meet Jesus.”

This story brought me back to reality…the reality of my faith. Why did the villagers not run when they were raided? Even offering their persecutors a place to rest before facing their execution? How is the mother so peaceful to comfort her child with such simple yet powerful words?

It dawned on me that this is the nature of martyrdom. Martyrdom is one that accepts persecution with peace whilst standing on the truth. When Jesus died on the Cross for our sins, he did not say to us: “Repent! Then I will die for your sins.” No. Jesus died for us while we are still sinners. This is the attitude we need to bring with us when sharing God’s love to others. A love that is absolutely unconditional. This story was the pivotal point to my life-changing experience in this pilgrimage.

What amazed me as much as the courageous martyrs of South Korea, is the fact that Catholicism entered the country via lay people through books, not missionaries. It is interesting that in those days, Catholicism was seen as a religion of modernity and science. Yet now, the faith is often mistaken to be quite the opposite in our days of relativism.

Korean Catholic youths in late 18th century

In the late 18th century, the youth wanted to learn how to build cranes for constructing larger buildings and how the earth goes around the sun – instead of debating abstract and scholastic ideas. But this was not a matter of interest in the neo-Confucianism era and the intellectual questions were regarded as irrelevant and trivial. Naturally, these young people began to read Western treaties on technology, astronomy, and physics. Such books were being imported into Korea from China since the early 1700s and retained a number of positive references to Christianity. Eventually, these young intellects read other translated Christian texts as well. Many of them felt that they had finally found the truth and embraced the Faith.

This was just a snippet from the vast sea of historical information and reflections that was prepared in the booklet prepared by our formation director, Deacon Sherman Kuek especially for the pilgrimage. Deacon Sherman also prepared us through daily formation before we set out – which I am sure the pilgrims agree, helped us delve deeper in our reflections during the pilgrimage.

Martyrdom gives some more when nothing is left

As we stood before the few tombs of martyrs at Chon Jin Am, the local priest that hosted us shared some stories relating to the martyrs. One entails a father willing to kill his son for his faith so to keep their influence and power in society. Others were executed in various ways, including decapitation. Even our non-Christian tour guide cum translator started choking at the stories told upon hearing the stories for the first time. Standing in a circle, the priest then asked us to put our hands on our heart and recite: “Jesus loves me, as his heart is shattered”. After repeating twice, he then asked us to go round the circle and recite to each person: “Jesus loves you, as my heart is shattered.”  It was clear that most of the pilgrims were moved and this was a moment of closeness for us.

Shattered. One might be familiar with the phrase “taken, blessed, broken, given” which is reflected upon in Henri Nouwen’s book, The Life of the Beloved which echoes the life of Jesus – who was taken, blessed by God, broken on the cross, and given to the world. To be given for the world, we need to first be broken as Jesus was. I used to think that martyrdom means to be caught for my faith and to die for it. I learned from the Korean martyrs, that really, being a martyr is to be a witness for the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Simply put, martyrdom is by giving until I have no more to give – and when I have nothing left to give, to give some more.

Truly, their fervour in the Christian faith is as such that they would not renounce their faith even at times of great oppression. It is no wonder Catholicism thrived even during grave persecution for a prolonged period. For the Korean Catholics to calmly and courageously receive from God the glorious crown of martyrdom is a conviction that Christ has trampled over sin and death. Seeing the staunch and unwavering faith of the Korean Catholics, one cannot help but be inspired by their lives and confidence in Christ’s sure victory! P’ilsung!

This is a more personal account of the pilgrimage to South Korea. For the main article of the pilgrimage, visit www.splendourproject.com/blog. The Splendour Project will be organising another pilgrimage to South Korea in March 2018. Head over to www.splendourproject.com/pilgrimages for more information.


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