Daily Archives:July 4th, 2017

Tg Aru celebrates Pentecost with a difference

Fr Abas (R) poses with the members of the Eucharistic Adoration Ministry at their booth, 4 June 2017, Tg Aru.

TANJUNG ARU – Stella Maris Parish here celebrated the Solemnity of Pentecost with a difference on 3-4 June 2017.

Through the initiative of Father Peter Abas, assistant pastor, the various parish groups and ministries took part in a procession, followed by setting up of booths to showcase their diverse ministries and charisms.

In his homily, Fr Abas pointed out that the various talents and skills possessed by individuals are meant for the building up of the Body of Christ.  He urged the parishioners to make an effort to contribute positively: “Be a gift to God.” – Teresa Alberto

Four confirmands give their takes on Confirmation

L-R: Alban, Crystal, Grace and Jude pose for a shot after the ceremony, 11 June 2017, SHC.

KOTA KINABALU – Four from the 300 confirmed by Archbishop John Wong at the Sacred Heart Cathedral here on 11 June 2017, gave their takes on the sacrament.

Jude Escarraga, 16, flew in from New York, just to catch the Rites of Confirmation on time. “I wouldn’t miss this for anything, after all I have prepared for this since young and being able to come back has been made possible,”  he said.

Jude, who is currently studying Grade 11 in New York, looked at Confirmation with positiveness and hoped that the Holy Spirit will strengthen his faith further, and brings him closer to God. He sensed that with faith strengthened, he will be protected from harm and temptation.

Crystal Yong, 16, brimming with excitement, looked forward to have her faith finally confirmed and strengthened by the Holy Spirit, after knowing the existence of the Holy Spirit through the formation programme.

Having been introduced to the gifts of the Holy Spirit, she would like to ask from the Holy Spirit the gift of understanding so that she may understand who and what it is she is being given. Next she wants to be gifted with kindness so that she would know how to have a kind word for others. Last but not least, she asks for charity, “It’s hard to give. I want to be able to give good clothes away, not just those that I don’t want. I want to be able to give myself more generously, and not just for the show of it.”

Grace Ralon, 16, looked forward to be renewed in her faith by the Holy Spirit. “I have read and learned about the Holy Spirit from the sessions and from the Bible. But now I am going to be filled with the Holy Spirit. He will help me to understand more about the Gift God has given me. Because He is in me, I can now pray to the Holy Spirit and ask Him for guidance for my life,” she said.

Alban Maluda, 16, proud to be a Catholic, said “Now with Confirmation, I am fully ‘authorised’ to be a member of Christ’s family!”

He recalled his First Holy Communion interview when he was told that First Holy Communion was the ‘first part,’ but the greater part to come was Confirmation.

With Confirmation, he is sure that his faith will be so strengthened “that I will not stray away.”  Raring to go, he asked to be equipped with the virtue of humility so that he could empathise and sympathise with those in pain and in need. He looked forward to growing up to the point of being able to be actively involved in passing on his faith. He seriously thought that the formation programme needs younger faith formators! – CS

Pastoral use of the Bible

Below is a reflection on the pastoral use of the Bible in conjunction with Bible Sunday, 9 July 2017:

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” (John 1:1)

Divine Revelation as God’s self-revelation

Our Catholic faith is based on divine revelation. Before Vatican II, the concept of “revelation” was referred to as a list of truths which disclosed information about God. In Vatican II, however, our understanding of revelation evolved into God’s self-revelation in the person of Christ, who is the Word made flesh. Christ, the Eternal Word, comes to reveal the face of God to humanity as well as to invite each man and woman to enter into an intimate communion in the life of the Holy Trinity1 (Dei Verbum 2).

In fact, Christian faith springs from an encounter with Christ. When Jesus who is the Word of God speaks, He calls for openness on the part of the listener to respond to Him in faith by allowing Him to transform and orientate his/her life. As Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI wrote in Deus Caritas Est, Being Christian is not the result of an ethical choice or a lofty idea, but the encounter with an event, a person, which gives life a new horizon, and a decisive direction” (#2).

The Bible and the Catholics of today

Nowadays, people tend to have little or no time and space to be quiet as they rush to meet deadlines and aim to be productive. As Catholics, we too can be stuck in the busyness of getting things done, even in the church arena, that we forget what is most essential, that is,  to encounter Christ. It is easy to busy ourselves by undertaking charitable activities and organisational duties in parishes and neglect cultivating an inner life of prayer with the Word of God. The more we grow deaf to His Word, the greater the risk that our faith becomes rancid and dry. As Fr James Meehan once said, “Don’t work so hard for God that you forget the God for whom you work.”

Prayerful reading of the Word of God is not a common habit among Catholics. In fact, numerous families possess Bibles but many keep them as part of religious items on display. They are not used to reading the Bible. Some even mistakenly think that the Bible has no place in the Catholic tradition.

The Word of God, for some Catholics, does not make sense to their life circumstances as they search for life’s direction, grapple with sickness and old age, deal with pain and loss, labour to make ends meet, etc. However, they have yet to discover that the pages of the Scriptures do in fact contain answers to their problems and questions. God speaks to them through His Word and leads them to find the quiet joy of His presence amid the peaks and valleys of daily life. Through this, they would then be able to give an account for their hope to those who ask for it (1 Pet 3:15).

It is also a common view among young people that the Bible is simply a book with lots of verses that instruct them as to what God expects of them. Many find that the Bible does not provide adequate explanation to the complex world around them.Therefore, most young adults today find the Bible to be uninteresting and irrelevant to their lives and do not see the need to read it. What can the Church do for the faithful in order that they may come to a closer contact with God’s Word?

Letting the Bible inspire all pastoral work

The role of the Church is to facilitate and promote such intimate grace-filled encounters between Christ and His people through His Word. Thus, it is of great importance for all Christian faithful to be encouraged to attentively listen to God’s word and have a prayerful reading of the Bible, in order to live their faith passionately.

“Along these lines the Synod called for a particular pastoral commitment to emphasise the centrality of the Word of God in the Church’s life, and recommended a greater “biblical apostolate,” not alongside other forms of pastoral work, but as a means of letting the Bible inspire all pastoral work.”  This does not mean adding a meeting here or there in parishes or dioceses, but rather of examining the ordinary activities of Christian communities, in parishes, associations and movements, to see if they are truly concerned with fostering a personal encounter with Christ, who gives himself to us in his word. 5(Verbum Domini)

As People of God, there are many areas in which we, as lay catechists, religious, priests, parents, grandparents, teachers, etc. can commit to make the Word of God more central in our own lives as well as in the Church’s life, and foster a life-transforming personal encounter with Christ.

To initiate and sustain this personal relationship, we must recognise the essential role of those entrusted with the proclamation of the Word of the God daily. For the Word of God to be the foundation of the Church’s life, the faithful need to hear it proclaimed authentically by preachers who themselves are people who pray and live the Word out in their daily lives. The Homiletic Directory published by the Congregation for Divine Worship and Sacraments states: “The homily will be delivered in a context of prayer and it should be composed in a context of prayer.”  Therefore, preaching is a sacred duty whereby preachers speak from the heart to the listeners and place them with Christ, only Christ. Preachers must be people of prayer so that none of them will become an “empty preacher of the Word of God outwardly, who is not a listener to it inwardly.” (St Augustine, Sermons)

The Word of God touching the realities of life

The parish must be the hub where the faithful, as diverse people, can gather as one community of faith to listen to and apply God’s Word to their lives so as to journey toward a greater authenticity as Christians. Priests and the faithful of each parish must be creative in offering opportunities for the Bible to be heard, prayed and shared. Too often, biblical texts are used as aids to draw lessons in morality or simply as a tool to indicate a time for discussion. Lay catechists, youth leaders, faith formators, etc have the responsibility to create conditions in which Catholics, young and old, may develop their inner ability to listen to Jesus and personally experience the transforming power of His Word.

In order to make the Bible more relevant to the lives of the people, parishes can consider having a pastoral-biblical care ministry that provides responses from the Bible to human problems such as sickness, racial divisions, injustice, death, etc, in order for people to bring their life circumstances into the light of the Word of God. This was the experience of St Augustine whose life was transformed when he allowed the Word to resonate with his personal struggle of living a chaste life. While praying in the garden, he heard a child’s voice saying, “Tolle, lege!” (“Take and read!”) St Augustine took his Bible and read the first passage his gaze fell on. It happened to be Romans 13:13. The biblical text made sense to St Augustine whose life changed after that personal experience with the Word of God.

Bible and the young people

Our Catholic community can help to promote the Bible through resources like Bible-based music or comics or artwork that draw young people to appreciate more the Word of God. There can be more youth ministries that are primarily centred on the Bible where young people can encounter the living Christ through praying and sharing the Word. Parents and godparents play an essential role in forming the faith of children and youth by setting examples and being people whose foundations are rooted in God’s Word. Pope Francis, addressing parents and godparents in a homily, said: “Every day, make it a habit to read a passage of the Gospel, a small one, and always carry a little Gospel with you in your pocket, in your purse, so you can read it. And this will set the example for your children, seeing dad, mom, their godparents, grandpa, grandma, aunts and uncles, reading the Word of God.”

Lectio Divina

Vatican II states that “the treasures of the Bible are to be opened up more lavishly so that a richer fare may be provided for the faithful at the table of God’s Word” (Sacrosanctum Concilium)

Average Catholics hear the Word of God when they attend Mass. Their interaction with the Word of God ends when they leave the church and head back to their daily routines. Thus, there is a greater need today for “pulling the Christian scriptures from the margins back to the centre as the text for living the Christian life deeply.” (Eat this book)

An effective way of putting the Bible at the centre of Christian living is by using the method called Lectio Divina, which is a traditional monastic practice since the 6th Century. It comprises 4 steps: Read, Meditate, Contemplate and Live. Lectio Divina can be used by any group in the parish. In fact, its straightforward method can be adapted to cater to children and youth groups in the parishes.

The first step of Lectio Divina is a prayerful and personal reading of a passage of the Bible. It is taking in a biblical text until it sinks into the heart of the person and opens him/her to dialogue with Jesus. The second step of Lectio Divina is meditating on the Word of God by placing the person’s gaze firmly on a word or a phrase of the passage. As the person starts to ruminate on the Word, he/she is slowly drawn from the matters of the mind to the matters of the heart. From the heart, the person starts to contemplate and enjoy the presence of God in the wordless silence. From prayerful reading, meditation and contemplation of the Word, the person is led to become a “doer of the Word.”   The Word of God becomes fruitful when the person starts to live it out and makes his/her life as a gift for others. As Pope Francis said, “The Christian life is this: listen to the word of God and practice it.”

Conclusion

On this Bible Sunday, let us, with humble hearts, give thanks to God for the invaluable gift of His Word. Christ never gets tired of speaking to each of us and inflaming our hearts with the fire of His love. May we always be eager to nourish ourselves with the Word so that we can be disciples of the Word made flesh, our Lord and God.

 

Questions for reflection

  1. As Catholics, do we take delight in the Bible as our spiritual treasure?
  2. Does God’s Word provide the daily nourishment for our faith?

HTC kindergarten organises sports event

TAWAU – Holy Trinity Kindergarten Mission School organised a half-day sports event before the school holiday on  25 May 2017.

Out of the 177 students, over a hundred were non-Christians, ranging from 4 to 6 years old. The students relished the joy of being “free” from classes.  Some 150 or more parents came along to support and accompany their children.

Other guests present were members of the Holy Trinity Kindergarten Board of Governor (BOG), Sister Mary Martha Jonik, Seminarian Raymond Lee and the Social Communications (SOCCOM) members.

The event began with the students lining up and marching into the field track. They then divided themselves into eight groups according to names derived from the Gospel: Love, Peace, Joy, Grace, Hope, Trust, Charity, and Faith.

Once the students had lined up, the national anthem was sung, followed by an opening prayer led by Sister Mary Julita Joseph, the head of the kindergarten.

In her speech, Agnes, the team leader of the event, said,  “It [the sports day] helps them [the children] to develop into healthy and active children. This event also contributes in fostering the spirit of brotherhood and also a sense of belonging, friendship and unity among them.”

She, together with 11 other teachers and some volunteers from the parent programmes, proceeded with the telematics and the giving out of prizes to the winners.- Julita Kantod

Boys Brigade participates in Hari Belia Sabah 2017

LIKAS – The Boys Brigade of Kota Kinabalu Division participated in the annual youth program Hari Belia Sabah 2017 organised by the Sabah Youth and Sports Ministry on 19-21 May 2017. The event was held in Likas Sports

The event was held in Likas Sports Complex and launched by Sabah Chief Minister, Datuk Seri Panglima Haji Musa Aman.

Some 3,000 participating youth from various organisations came and took part in the health and adventurous sports programmes, and other activities during the three-day event.

Some of the other youth organisations present were Girls’ Brigade, Pengakap, Persatuan Pandu Puteri Malaysia, Pergerakan Puteri Islam Malaysia, St John Ambulance, Angkatan Belia Islam Malaysia, Young Malaysian Movement, Gerakan Belia Bersatu Malaysia and Junior Chamber International (JCI).

The event attracted some 10,000 visitors which offered day and night programmes such as motivational talks, cultural dance and singing performances, recycle fashion show and sports tournament.

Government agencies, hotels and other organisations made their presence felt with exhibition booths showcasing their activities and offering advice on skills, entrepreneurship, opportunities of education and employment by the Youth and Sports Ministry.

The Boys Brigade of Kota Kinabalu Division sent a total of 150 members and officers to the event. Members had the opportunity to see how other organisations function, to learn new skills, and to explore new opportunities.

The KK Division BB, at their exhibition booth, promoted all the activities carried out throughout the year through the objectives of Boys’ Brigade; the advancement of Christ’s Kingdom among members and the promotion of habits of Obedience, Reverence, Discipline, Self-Respect, and everything that tends towards a true Christian character, including the 50th Boys Brigade International Camp which was held on 3-6 June  2017. Jeremy Chin

Seminarian feels emboldened to move on

Seminarian Arthur John (front, 2nd from L) poses with the Tawau youth.

TAWAU – Seminarian Arthur John has completed his four months’ pastoral immersion at Holy Trinity parish here and feels emboldened to move on.

“My worries about coming to Tawau vanish with your support, friendship, and hospitality. I am more confident, and am strengthened in my calling. I experience God’s love in your acceptance of me and in every task that I do with His help. I am also grateful for the accompaniment of my fellow seminarian Raymond Lee during this part of my journey,”  John said.

John was assigned to serve in the Tawau parish from 18 Jan to 18 May 2017. His pastoral assignments involved assisting the parish priest in the formation of altar servers, in supporting the various ministries such as youth, family life, pre-marriage, etc. He accompanied the parish priest on his BEC visits to families, on his rounds to the migrant learning centre, and his pastoral visits to the Neo-Catechumenate and St Vincent-PHDC apostolates.

Msgr Nicholas Ong, pastor of Holy Trinity, has a good word only about this lad:  “He is fully committed to any given task!”

John gave a parting word to the youth, “Do not be afraid to answer God’s call to the priesthood or religious life. Do not worry about your age. Be brave and step out of your comfort zone!” after assuring them of the reward of answering such a call and how it would contribute to build a better world.

The seminarian hails from Telupid. He is fourth in a brood of five, born to Nuini Tangkim and John Kisong. He entered St Peter’s College Kuching in January 2014 and is currently in his Second Year Theology. – Julita Kantod

 

Penang hosts regional young priests gathering

PENANG – The annual gathering of young priests, or popularly known as the Young Priests Gathering (YPG) for Malaysia, Singapore and Brunei, was hosted by  the Diocese of Penang on  8-12 May 2017. The gathering serves the purpose of an ongoing formation for priests ordained five years and below.

Out of the 27 priests who came from the various arch/dioceses, four were from Sabah; Fathers Florian Dompok and Mitchelly Kiun from the Kota Kinabalu Archdiocese, and Fathers Hilanus Simon and Harry Dorisoh from Keningau Diocese.

The gathering was held at the Stella Maris Retreat Centre.  It was also attended by Bishop Richard Ng of Miri who is in charge of ongoing formation for priests under the Catholic Bishops Conference.

Bishop Ng, in his address, stressed the importance of being a ‘good shepherd’ for the people.

“Every priest should try his best to give his life to look after his sheep and minister to their needs,” said the bishop, taking his cue from the just concluded celebration of Good Shepherd Sunday, which is also Vocation Sunday.

The second talk was delivered by Fr Stephen  Liew of Penang, based on the theme chosen for this year, taken from 1 Tim 4:12 “Let no one despise your youth, but set the believers an example in speech and conduct, in love, in faith, in purity.”

Fr Edmund Woon, a Certified Counsellor for the Penang Diocese, gave an interesting session on  stress management and avoidance of temptation as a young priest.

A ‘mission activity’ was carried out at Sacred Heart Church Kulim in Kedah, involving the young priests in vocation promotion.  As part of their activities, they shared about their vocation journey, inspiring the youth, while seizing the opportunity to remind parents of the need to encourage their sons and daughters to be open to the priestly or religious vocation.

A visit to St Anne’s Church at Bukit Mertajam, including climbing the Stations of the Cross, and a general tour around Penang were also organised for the participants.

The gathering concluded with the announcement that YPG 2018 will be hosted by the Kota Kinabalu Archdiocese. – Fr Mitchelly Kiun

Labuan parish celebrates feast day with procession

LABUAN – The parish of Blessed Sacrament Church here celebrated its feast day with a Eucharistic procession on 18 June 2017.

The procession took place after Communion from the church to the multipurpose hall where benediction was given.

It was also the time when Archbishop John Wong made his annual two-day (June 17-18) pastoral visit to the parish.

Ninty Sunday School students received the Sacrament of Confirmation during the Sunset Mass June 17.

The prelate spent the first evening mingling with the coordinators of the various ministries and community groups over a fellowship dinner when he was given a belated birthday surprise.

After listening to the feedback, he expressed his satisfaction at the commitment and unity among the groups and ministries.  He pointed out that the parish must take up the responsibility to look into the pastoral needs of the Catholic students from the higher learning institutes in Labuan.

Abp Wong urged the married couples of the parish community to have more children so that the church will grow.

In his homily at Mass the next day, the prelate called on the faithful to love one another as Jesus loves.

For the Presentation, the various groups presented individually a symbolic love offering.

The celebration concluded with a fellowship meal for some 1200 faithful.  The food was sponsored by the Parish Pastoral Council (PPC).

PPC Chairman Ambrose Steven Tati expressed gratitude on behalf of the parish, to the prelate for his pastoral visit in conjunction with their feast day.

At the fellowship, the archbishop shared his RROP way of living the faith: 1) Read the Word of God, 2) Receive the Sacraments, 3) Obey God’s Commandments, and 4) Proclaim the Good News.

Performances from various groups lent a festive air to the parish event.- Gerard Lean

AECEC organises workshop to improve teaching skills

Participants engrossed in one of the group dynamics organised at the workshop, 2 June 2017, Papar.

PURAK, Papar – The AECEC (Archdiocesan Early Education Committee) organised a three-day workshop for over 40 mission kindergarten teachers at Pace Bene here on 2-5 June 2017.

The workshop was specially designed to impart skills to the teachers on the effective delivery of lessons based on Christian values.

The teachers came from mission kindergartens across the archdiocese, as well as from Nabawan.

Topics presented included understanding the key values and objectives of mission kindergartens, the roles and responsibilities of mission kindergarten teachers, application of phonics, class management, scheme of work, the learning environment, science and mathematics activities applying the critical and creative thinking skills for the different age groups and also daily spiritual input.

What was different from a typical workshop was that with every topic, the teachers gained the knowledge of how to infuse spiritual and moral values based on the Catechism of the Catholic Church in their daily interactions with the children.

The workshop was facilitated by AECEC members, headed by Jennifer Anjek.  In her opening address,  Anjek explained that the design of the workshop was the outcome of taking into consideration parents’ expectations that mission kindergartens need to do more to distinguish them from other kindergartens.

Based on the active and vocal participation of the teachers, it was obvious that the participants enjoyed and benefited from the workshop.

Bibiana, the Head Teacher of Tadika Santo Simon Duvanson said that although she has formal qualifications, the workshop opened her mind to new ideas especially in integrating Christian values in her daily interactions with the children.

Joe of Tadika Kasih Bonda Ranau commented that the workshop was good for teachers and that he has gained new knowledge and experience, especially the method of integrating spiritual and moral values in the daily activities for the different age groups.

Durah of Tadika Sinar Sukacita Inanam has always wanted to do more for the children but did not know how to do it. The workshop made it clear for her.

Cabrinie of Tadika Harmoni Penampang was grateful that she was able to participate in the workshop which gave her lots of ideas from lesson planning to an assessment of the progress of the children.

Franciscan Sister Edana of Tadika Our Lady of Consolata Nabawan said that the workshop clarified for her the role of mission kindergartens.

Overall comment from the participants was that the workshop was well worth the three days that they had to spend away from home and looked forward to more such workshops. – AECEC

SM St Michael upholds its identity, character and ethos

PENAMPANG – SM St Michael, under the headship of principal Jennifer Asing, made a decision to uphold the identity, character and ethos of the mission school by a visible display of a crucifix to be affixed for each classroom.

On 25 May 2017, Father Wiandigool Runsab of St Michael’s Church Penampang blessed the crucifixes, which were then affixed to the door of each classroom of the St Joseph school block.  The crucifixes were donated by the school teachers.

Accompanying the principal to witness the event, were chairman of the Board of Governor, Donald Malinggang, catechist Lewis Juit, and members of the board and PTA.

Fr Wiandigool took the opportunity to visit the classrooms of the other two school blocks, named after the Archangels St Michael and St Gabriel.

The decision to make visible the essential identity, character and ethos of the mission school is in keeping with the Catholic roots and tradition to build a generation of Catholic students who grounded  in their Catholic faith, teachings and traditions.  It also serves as a reminder to incorporate Christian values into the daily teaching, as well as to inculcate or reinstate the culture and purpose of mission school into the mind of the school community, comprising the board, school heads, teachers, PIBG and students.

It is the school’s hope that it would produce and nurture boys and girls to be good citizens, who love God and neighbour, and who can enrich society with the leaven of the Gospel.

Asing pointed out the school motto Ora Et Labora (Pray and Work), and shared the belief that prayers and good management and teamwork would enable the school to maintain its excellence. – Soccom Penampang

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