Author Archives: AY

Carmelite Family celebrates Foundress Day

Fr Hon cuts the cake marking his 9th priestly anniversary after the Mass outside the Carmelite Chapel Kota Kinabalu, 15 Oct 2017.

KOTA KINABALU – The Carmelite Family – nuns, seculars and friar – celebrated the feast of St Teresa of Avila at the Carmelite Chapel here on 15 Oct 2017.

Friar Gregory Hon presided at the Mass.  It was also his 9th priestly anniversary.  He also facilitated the triduum for the feastday Oct 10-12.

After the Mass, he cut his anniversary cake at the breakfast prepared by the lay members.  Currently the lay order has three aspirants, four novices (one first year, three second year), one temporary professed and 15 definitive professed.

Born on 30 Sept 1963 in Kuala Lumpur, Hon entered the Order of Discalced Carmelites (OCD) in Singapore in 2002.  He made his first profession in 2003 and took his solemn vows on 14 Dec 2007 in Rome.  He was ordained priest on 15 Oct 2008.

In his homily, Hon gave a summary of the saint’s life and works as well as on prayer.  Limited copies of Conversation with Christ (on personal prayer by St Teresa) were immediately sold out after Mass.

Born on 28 March 1515 in Avila Spain, Teresa Sanchez de Cepeda y Ahumada lived in an age of exploration as well as political, social, and religious upheaval.  She was born before the Protestant Reformation and died in 1582, almost 20 years after the closing of the Council of Trent.

The gift of God to Teresa in and through which she became holy and left her mark on the Church and the world is threefold: She was a woman; she was a contemplative; she was an active reformer.

As a woman, Teresa stood on her own two feet, even in the man’s world of her time. She was “her own woman,” entering the Carmelites despite strong opposition from her father. She was a person wrapped not so much in silence as in mystery. Beautiful, talented, outgoing, adaptable, affectionate, courageous, enthusiastic, she was totally human. Like Jesus, she was a mystery of paradoxes: wise, yet practical; intelligent, yet much in tune with her experience; a mystic, yet an energetic reformer; a holy woman, a womanly woman.

Teresa was a woman “for God,” a woman of prayer, discipline, and compassion. Her heart belonged to God. Her ongoing conversion was an arduous lifelong struggle, involving ongoing purification and suffering. She was misunderstood, misjudged, and opposed in her efforts at reform. Yet she struggled on, courageous and faithful; she struggled with her own mediocrity, her illness, her opposition. And in the midst of all this she clung to God in life and in prayer. Her writings on prayer and contemplation are drawn from her experience: powerful, practical, and graceful. She was a woman of prayer; a woman for God.

Teresa was a woman “for others.” Though a contemplative, she spent much of her time and energy seeking to reform herself and the Carmelites, to lead them back to the full observance of the primitive Rule. She founded over a half-dozen new monasteries. She travelled, wrote, fought—always to renew, to reform. In her self, in her prayer, in her life, in her efforts to reform, in all the people she touched, she was a woman for others, a woman who inspired and gave life.

Her writings, especially the Way of Perfection, The Interior Castle, and Conversation with Christ have helped generations of believers.

In 1970, the Church gave her the title she had long held in the popular mind: Doctor of the Church. She and St Catherine of Siena were the first women so honoured.

Pope urges Christians to be vigilant against worldliness

VATICAN CITY –  In his homily on 13 Oct 2017 at the Santa Marta residence here, Pope Francis urged Christians to be vigilant against worldliness.

He was reflecting on the episode in Luke’s Gospel where Jesus casts out a demon, which some people interpret as through the power of the devil.

The Pope said the Lord asks us to be watchful in order not to enter into temptation.  This is why a Christians have to be awake, watchful and careful like a sentinel.  Jesus was not narrating a parable but was stating a truth, i.e when the unclean spirit comes out of a man, he roams about in abandoned places looking for refuge and not finding any, decides to return to where he came from, where the freed man lives.  Hence the demon decides to bring in “seven other spirits worse than him.”  Pope Francis emphasised the word “worse,” saying it has much force in the passage because the demons enter quietly.

The demons thus start being part of the man’s life. With their ideas and inspirations, they help the man to live better and entering his life and heart and start changing him from within, but quietly without making any noise.  This method is different from the earlier diabolic possession which was strong, the Pope explained, adding this time it is a diabolic possession, something like in a “living room.”  The devil slowly changes our criteria to lead us to worldliness. It camouflages our way of acting, which we hardly notice. And so, the man, freed from the demon, becomes a bad man, a man burdened by worldliness. And that’s exactly what the devil wants – worldliness, the Pope stressed.

Worldliness, Pope Francis explained, is a spell, a seduction, because the devil is the “father of seduction.”  When the devil enters “so sweetly, politely and takes possession of our attitudes,” the Pope said, our values pass from the service of God to worldliness. Thus we become “lukewarm Christians, worldly Christians,”  a mixture, something that the Pope described as a “fruit salad” of the spirit of the world and the spirit of God.  All this distances us from the Lord, the Pope said and stressed that the way to avoid it by being vigilant and calm without alarm.

Watchful means understanding what goes on in my heart, the Pope said, adding, “ It means stopping for a while to examine my life, whether I am a Christian, whether I educate my children, whether my life is Christian or worldly?” And one understands this, as Paul points out, by looking at Christ crucified.  One understands where worldliness lies and is destroyed before the Lord’s cross.  The Crucifix saves us from the charms and seductions that lead us to worldliness.

The Holy Father exhorted Christians to examine themselves whether they look up to Christ crucified, whether they pray the Way of the Cross in order to understand the price of salvation, not just from sins but also from worldliness.  The examination of conscience, the Pope said, is done always before Christ crucified, with prayer, after which one has to break loose from one’s comfortable attitudes, through works of charity, visiting the sick, helping someone in need and so on.  This breaks the harmony and the spiritual worldliness that the demon together with seven others tries to create in us, the Pope added. – vatican radio

Rosary and Mass mark the Pilgrim Virgin’s visit to Taman Sinar

A pose for remembrance after the Mass, Taman Sinar Luyang, 12 Oct 2017.

KOTA KINABALU – Rosary recitation and Mass marked the Pilgrim Virgin’s visit to Taman Sinar Luyang here on 12 Oct 2017.

In May and October, the Parish Family Pastoral Network (PFPN) of Sacred Heart Cathedral Kota Kinabalu organises daily block rosary and weekly Friday Mass in the different tamans or housing estates within the boundaries of Sacred Heart Cathedral Parish.

Another activity is the two-week Advent Family Visits in early December.

Being the centenary of the Fatima apparitions (1917-2017), the Pilgrim Virgin statue visits different families each night (except the weekends) in the different housing estates in October.

At each visit, the parishioners staying around that area gather in one house, praying the rosary for peace and conversion of sinners.  Sometimes, it culminates with a Mass by one of the pastors of the parish.

Father Joshua Liew presided at the Mass following the recitation of the rosary at the home of Agatha Yap in Taman Sinar.

Several parishioners staying within the vicinity as well as friends participated in the event and joined in the fellowship after Mass.

Indah Jaya BEC goes on pilgrimage to Manila

Members of the two BECs pose for remembrance after the signing of the MoU, Quezon City, Sept 2017.

SANDAKAN –  Thirty members of the St Teresa of Calcutta Taman Indah Jaya  Basic Ecclesial Community (BEC)  here went on a five-day pilgrimage to Manila Philippines on 20 – 24 Sept 2017 with Father Thomas Makajil as spiritual director.

The pilgrims prepared themselves spiritually through a nine-day novena prayer.

The BEC was formed in 2010 with some 30 active families. Since its inception, the members have made two pilgrimages: one to St Anne Bukit Mertajam and another to the Diocese of Keningau.

This time around, the BEC responded to the call of Bishop Julius Gitom to establish links with other BECs in the diocese or beyond in order to learn from one another. With that in mind, the BEC decided to make a pilgrimage to the Philippines and twin up with one of the local BECs in Quezon City. The committee got down to preparatory work in 2016.

Aleona Natalio, a formator at the Institute of Formation Fondacio, (IFFAsia) was on hand to greet and welcome the pilgrims at Ninoy Aquino International Airport on Sept 20.  IFFAsia trains Asian Christian youth leaders who are willing to commit and participate in the revival of the Church and the civil society.

Upon arrival at the Institute, housed at Radio Veritas Asia in Fairview, Quezon City, the pilgrims feasted on a variety of traditional cuisines prepared by the students, including lechon the popular local roasted pig. We were briefed on the organisation structure of the Institute and were introduced to their formators as well as the students coming from the Philippines, Malaysia, Myanmar, Thailand, Laos, Vietnam and China.

They were briefed on the organisational structure of the institute and were introduced to their formators as well as the students coming from the Philippines, Malaysia, Myanmar, Thailand, Laos, Vietnam and China.

IFFAsia is well connected to the Diocese of Sandakan as four youths from Sandakan have graduated from the institute. In 2011, the Sandakan cathedral parish hosted their mission project comprising 23 participants: students and formators. A part of their exposure was an encounter with St Teresa of Calcutta BEC.

Apart from the warm welcome and good food, the pilgrims were also entertained with presentations from the students. The event was interactive providing a platform to get to know one another.  In support of their upcoming mission project in Thailand, the pilgrims bought souvenir items prepared by the students.

The pilgrims were housed at the Franciscan Sisters of St Elizabeth Retreat House across the road, opposite IFFAsia. Surprisingly, there were several Indonesian sisters in the congregation so they had no problem communicating in Bahasa Indonesia. The retreat house offered comfortable twin sharing air- conditioned rooms with toilet attached, serene setting and a beautiful chapel where Fr Thomas celebrated daily Mass at  6:00 am.

The pilgrims divided into three groups of 10 people.  They visited seven cathedrals and churches with significant historical and architectural values: St Agustin, Manila Cathedral, San Sebastian, Baclaran Church, Quiapo Minor Basilica of the Black Nazarene, Espirito Santo, and Good Shepherd Cathedral Shrine Fairview.

Fr Thomas was a good guide as he had done his master’s in pastoral theology at Santo Tomas University Manila.

One profound experience was the visit to Baclaran Church – the National Shrine of Our Mother Perpetual Help run by the Redemptorist Fathers. They were welcomed by a priest in charge of pilgrims. They were honoured to take the Cross in procession to the altar where the pilgrimage prayer was said at the sanctuary.

Another memorable visit was to the Daughters of St Paul Media Centre and their convent in Pasay City. Sister Rosalie Lojiu, the niece of Fr Thomas, briefed the pilgrims on the Pauline apostolate and provided light refreshments for them.

During the visit, Fr Thomas took time to visit the three surviving pioneers who started the congregation in Sabah in the 1960s. All of them are now in their mid-90s and have to depend on walking aids. These sisters used to visit Fr Thomas’ family when they were in Penampang, he was in primary school then.

It was rather nostalgic and emotional for them as they shared their fond memories of North Borneo/Sabah.  They surprised the pilgrims when some of them could still remember the popular Malay lullaby, Burung Kakak Tua.

The highlight of the pilgrimage was to enter into an understanding between BEC of St Teresa of Calcutta Indah Jaya Sandakan and the BEC of Cathedral Shrine and Parish of the Good Shepherd (CSPGS), Fairview Park, Quezon City, Philippines, with the following objectives:

  1. Share resources on the development, sustenance and advancement of BECs
  2. Share information regarding events happening in the BECs
  3. Share on similarities and differences
  4. Foster good relationship bond among members, especially the youth of the twinned BECs

On hand to welcome the BEC members were the parish priest Father Mario Sanchez and his two assistants, Father Bong and Father Sanders, together with the members of BEC-CSPGS.

In his welcoming address, Fr Sanchez encouraged the twinned BECs to propagate and promote BEC. He said that through sharing, it will prompt learning from each other and will bring growth in their relationship with the Lord. He said that BEC is one of the ways to reach out to more people and through BEC they will get closer to God and to others in the community.

The visit was important as it coincided with the Filipino year-long celebration of  2017 as the Year of the Parish as a “Communion of Communities, Participation and Mission” with emphasis on BECs.

In response, Fr Thomas expressed his gratitude for the warm welcome rendered and he said that the similarities of the guests and host made them feel at home. He said that the BECs in the Sandakan Diocese is in its infancy stage as the diocese is merely 10 years old and has much to learn from them.

Clarita Salvan, the team animator, briefed the visitors on their history while Francis Tan provided an insight into the BEC of St Teresa of Calcutta,  followed by a group discussion on the way forward for BECs.

After Sunset Mass at the cathedral, the memorandum of understanding (MoU) was sealed between the two BECs by the respective chairpersons at the parish hall, witnessed by the priests.

Limbahau PPC chairman requests for residential pastor

LIMBAHAU – Limbahau Parish Pastoral Council (PPC) chairman requested for a residential pastor during the annual pastoral visit by the archbishop on 8 Oct 2017 to Holy Rosary Parish here.

In his speech after the Mass wherein 95 boys and girls were confirmed by Archbishop John Wong, Sylvester Joseph conveyed the longing of the parishioners for a residential pastor.  He also urged the parishioners to pray for this request to be granted.

He said that the proceeds from the day’s bazaar would be for the Catholic Centre building project fund as the parish has pledged to contribute RM220,000.00 towards it.  Other fundraisers have been initiated as well.

Joseph then touched on the parish’s two-year family programme which he hoped would be fruitful.

Earlier at 8 am, Abp Wong had a breakfast meeting with the two pastors, Father Thomas Yip and Father Rayner Bisius, and PPC members who presented reports under their various portfolios, present and future programmes such as KKG-ku (Keluarga [family], KKD [BEC], Gereja [church]), Belia Masuk Kampung (youth enter village), and altar servers camp, in response to the Archdiocesan Pastoral Thrust.

In his turn, Abp Wong encouraged the parishioners to deepen their faith, the confirmands to be active church members, and married couples to have more children despite various challenges.

He pointed out that small families mean reduction in the overall Catholic population and challenged the parishioners to have trust in God to provide for their needs.

After the speeches, the prelate launched the new parish logo.

After Mass, all went in procession to the Fr A Amandus Hall, accompanied by traditional toggungak music, for lunch, cake-cutting commemorating Abp Wong’s 7th episcopal anniversary, choral presentations, prize presentations for sports and recreational activities, and lucky draws.

The prelate, accompanied by parish leaders, toured all the stalls selling food, drinks, local produce, meeting the people where they were.

Later, the PPC presented Abp Wong with a mock cheque of RM40,000 as proceeds from the bazaar.

Representing the state government, Datuk Johnny Mositun presented several units of PA systems to Limbahau and  Papar parishes, and to some outstation chapels.

The evening before, Oct 7, Abp Wong celebrated Sunset Mass at St Sabina Titimbongon Papar, the first time the chapel was visited by a bishop. – William Charles Mindus

Bongkud community organises vocation programme

The children dressed in different religious attire sitting in the front row during the programme, St Victor Bongkud, 8 Oct 2017.

BONGKUD, Ranau – The Catholic Community of St Victor Chapel here organised a vocation programme for the youths of Bongkud and Kibbas on 8 Oct 2017.

The programme began with a Mass wherein Pauline Sister Laura Anggie was invited to share her vocation story.

After lunch, several Sunday School children gave a presentation dressed in religious habits of the congregations present in Sabah.

Then the religious congregations were given time to introduce their respective congregation: (1) Franciscan Sisters of the Immaculate Conception (FSIC), Daughters of St Paul (FSP), Marist Brothers (FMS), Putri Karmel (PKarm), Carmelitae Sancti Elias Brothers (CSE), Carmelite Nuns (OCD) by the Secular Carmelites (OCDS), and Order of Friars Minor (OFM).

All the congregations were given tokens of appreciation.

The programme ended with the youths visiting the different booths set up by the religious.

Vatican releases papal schedule for visit to Myanmar and Bangladesh

VATICAN CITY – The Vatican released on 10 Oct 2017 the schedule of Pope Francis’ apostolic visit to Myanmar and Bangladesh.   The two-nation papal visit was announced earlier by the Vatican on August 28.  ‎After visiting Myanmar, Nov 27 to 30, he will proceed to neighbouring Bangladesh,  Nov 30 to Dec 2.

He is scheduled to land in Yangon, Myanmar in the afternoon on Nov 27, where he will be given an official welcome.  The following afternoon (Nov 28) he will fly to the capital Nay Pyi Taw, where after meeting the president, government officials and the diplomatic corps, he will fly back to Yangon at night.

On Nov 29 the Holy Father will celebrate his first public Mass, meet the Buddhist supreme council and Myanmar’s bishops.  Pope Francis will wrap up his Myanmar with a Mass for young people on Nov 30 and fly to neighbouring Bangladesh in the afternoon.

After a welcome ceremony at Dhaka airport, the Pope will pay homage to Bangladesh’s martyrs and father of the nation.  He will then pay a courtesy visit to the president and address the diplomatic corps.  On Dec 1, the Pope will celebrate a public Mass with priestly ordination, meet the prime minister, the country’s bishops and representatives of various religions and Christian Churches.  On the last day, Dec 2,  the Pope will visit a home run by the Missionaries of Charity of Mother Teresa, address priests, religious seminarians and novices.  Before flying back to Rome in the evening, he will meet the young people. – vatican radio

Ranau parish conducts inaugural animal blessing

Pet owners pose with their pets and the concelebrants after the Mass, SPC Ranau, 4 Oct 2017.

RANAU –  Mass at St Peter Claver Church here was a colourful sea of snuggly animals, as over 200 people toted their favourite animals to be blessed on 4 Oct 2017, a long-time dream of Father Nicholas Stephen, the parish priest.

This scene of friends – furry and otherwise – was one of many throughout the world, as parishes celebrated St Francis’ feast day on Oct 4, in many places a week full of activities that included animal blessings, Transitus services, commemorations, festivals and special Masses.

The day before, the church celebrated the Transitus, remembering the death of St Francis. “Embracing Otherness” and “Engaging Francis” were the themes of some events that, in addition to honouring St Francis’ care for all creation, encouraged people to join social ministry projects and celebrate the colours, cultures and creeds of others, just as the patron saint would.

Fr  Stephen used the opportunity to reflect on St Francis as the patron saint of ecology. He said, “Have you ever wondered why many churches offer a special blessing for animals on the feast of St Francis of Assisi, the patron saint of ecology?”

He said, “People bring their pets for a blessing because they want to thank God for their non-human companions, for their friendship and beauty. But there is an even more important reason to bless animals, especially at this time of the unprecedented ecological crisis that we face. First, the blessing of animals reminds us that all creatures have been created and blessed by God. Their worth extends far beyond a mere commodity value that we humans ascribe to them. Second, the blessing of the animals offers us an opportunity to strengthen within us a sense of compassion for all God’s creatures. It can also reawaken in us our religious responsibility to protect them – much like Noah did – from a disaster.”

“In memory of the blessing of Francis, we give thanks, we simply give thanks, for gratitude is the memory of the heart.” Fr Stephen continued, “We thank those in all our ministries who have supported us and worked with us to help people (the poor, the missions, local works), and to pray that love will continue to live on in our lives and in our ministries as we fill our hearts with beautiful memories of Christ, of Francis, of Franciscan men and women whose work we continue into the next century.” – Friar Aiden Peter Jr OFM

Church congress on child protection in digital world issues call to action

People attend the World Congress on Child Dignity at the Pontifical Gregorian University, Rome, 3-6 Oct 2017.

VATICAN CITY – ‘The Declaration of Rome,’  the final document produced by participants at the World Congress hosted by the Pontifical Gregorian University on ‘Child Dignity in the Digital World’, issues an urgent call to action.

One hundred and forty participants from all continents gathered in Rome on 3-6 Oct 2017  for the first world congress focused on addressing the dangers children and adolescents face on the internet.

Organised by a UK-based global alliance called ‘WePROTECT’ and by ‘Telefono Azzurro,’  the first Italian helpline for children at risk, the congress drew delegates from countries across the world, including China, Russia, Saudi Arabia, South Africa and the United Arab Emirates.

Receiving participants at the event on Oct 6 in the Vatican, Pope Francis was handed ‘The Declaration of Rome’ by a young girl “on behalf of millions of young people around the world who need information and far more protection from the risks of sexual and other forms of abuse on the internet.”

“Using your own words,” she said to the Pope, “we believe that ‘A society can be judged by the way it treats its children’.”

While technology, she continued, has changed our lives in so many positive ways, it is also being used in the growing exploitation of children, millions of whom are being abused and exploited all over the world.

Explaining that increasingly extreme and dehumanising content is available at children’s fingertips, she said that some of the effects include cyberbullying, harassment and sextortion, while “online pornography is impacting the malleable minds of young children.”

Highlighting the right of all children to be protected, she called for unity and collaboration in seeking   “positive, empowering solutions for all.”

One of the main points of the document is the need for technology companies and governments to innovate to better protect children.

“This is a problem,” she said, “that cannot be solved by one nation or one company or one faith acting alone, it is a global problem that requires global solutions. It requires that we build awareness and that we mobilise action from every government, every faith, every company and every institution.”

“In this era of the internet the world faces unprecedented challenges if it is to preserve the rights and dignity of children and protect them from abuse and exploitation.  These challenges require new thinking and approaches, heightened global awareness and inspired leadership.  For this reason, this Declaration of Rome appeals to everyone to stand up for the protection of the dignity of children,” she concluded.

One of the participants at the Congress was Antoine Normand from Canada. Normand is the founder of BlueBear, a company that combats child pornography on the Internet thanks to the development of software which analyses and categorises image and video evidence files seized during child pornography investigations and that is used in collaboration with the Police.

Normand was at the audience with the Pope and sums up the content of “The Rome Declaration.” – vatican radio

Opus Dei community is now in KL Archdiocese

St John’s Cathedral Kuala Lumpur

KUALA LUMPUR – With the permission of Archbishop Julian Leow, the Cathedral of St John, Kuala Lumpur has been assigned to the Opus Dei community for their activities and gatherings with effect from 1 July 2017.

Opus Dei is an institution of the Catholic Church that teaches that everyone is called to holiness and that ordinary life is a path to sanctity.

Opus Dei is Latin for Work of God; hence the organisation is often referred to by members and supporters as the Work.

Founded in Spain in 1928 by St Josemaría Escrivá, Opus Dei was given final approval in 1950 by Pope Pius XII. In 1982, by the apostolic constitution Ut sit, St John Paul II made it a personal prelature — that is, the jurisdiction of its own bishop covers the persons in Opus Dei wherever they are, rather than geographical dioceses.

In St John’s Cathedral, the recollection is held every first Saturday of the month. For the women, it starts at 9:30 am and ends with Mass at 12:00 noon. The recollection for men begins at 2:00 pm and ends at 4:00 pm. These recollections are open to non-members who are interested in attending.

Related to this, Sabah has one Opus Dei priest, Rev Michael Chan Kok Vui, who hails from Tawau.  Based in Singapore, he comes monthly to give formation to some Opus Dei cooperators at the Sacred Heart Cathedral Kota Kinabalu since 2013.

For more information: please go to the official website of Opus Dei opusdei.org. – herald malaysia online / adkk soccom

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