Category Archives: Catholic Sabah

Obediently listening

I just wish I knew God more,” she said matter-of-factly. “I mean, I just want to feel God.”

While this particular congregant’s woes are distinct to her story, her desire is something that is often echoed throughout Scripture, as well as in many current conversations in the church. There’s a deep longing to connect with God, for our desires to be fulfilled through God. And from what it seems like in our current reality, there are a lot of people who want to experience some sort of deep rest with God.

But ask anyone, and it seems like rest is the last thing possible in the relentless schedules of our days, weeks, months, and years. It would seem that we have grown up with a “go, go, go” mentality in which we have been measured by productivity for as long as we can remember.

In school, we are measured with tests, in family, we are compared with other family members, in friend groups, we’re measured on whether we’re good enough, and in society, we are met with an endless list of standards and expectations.

It seems like we can’t escape these expectations and unrealistic ideals anywhere we turn. Some of us turn to the church, hoping for refuge and maybe even a dose of peace. But we find, as from the passage today, that we are confronted with the jargon of “obey” and “diligently observe.”

In taking a look at the original language to gain some clarity, we find that the word translated as “obedience” is “shama.” Shama, while sometimes translated as “obedience,” is also translated “to hear,” “to listen,” and “to understand.”

Could it be that obedience might also mean that hearing, listening, and understanding are involved? Is it possible that to be obedient, or “to obey,” would include stopping, breathing slower, and becoming aware of what is before you? Could this passage mean that obedience might require us to be still? That to “obey the Lord your God” might mean listening or hearing God?

Listening to God could mean a whole host of things.   What does it mean to listen to God? What does that look like (or sound like)?

I think that every person can listen to God in various ways. However, I do think that a key aspect of listening to God, to truly hearing God, begins with the invitation to silence. An invitation to quiet your surroundings, to release your inner critic, to give yourself a break from strategising, and to simply be. To simply be with the one who has created you, who has been with you since your first breath, and has called you “Beloved” at every moment.

Obedience might begin with a deep inhale of rest and an exhale of “Here I am.” As you lean in, listen, and open yourself up to the one who was, is, and always is open to you, “…all these blessings shall be upon you and overtake you…” (v 2a). – Inallthings.org

Teachers told teaching is a noble vocation

Representatives bring forward the bread and wine during the Presentation of Gifts,  Teachers Day Celebration, 17 June 2017, St Mary Sandakan.

SANDAKAN – Catholic teachers in Sandakan were told that the teaching career is a noble vocation when the teacher is able to bring Christ into their career.

Father Christopher Ireneus said this during the Teachers Day celebration on 17 June 2017.

The celebration was organised by the Sandakan Catholic Teachers’ Guild (CTG).  The Mass at St Mary’s Cathedral was presided by Fr

The Mass at St Mary’s Cathedral was presided by Fr Ireneus, while the dinner was held at the Equatorial Seafood Restaurant.

During the celebration, Maureen Lai, CTG adviser,  was honoured as she officially retired from her service at the CTG.

Fr Ireneus reminded everyone that they were not just celebrating Teachers Day, but also celebrating teaching as a vocation.

He encouraged the teachers not to give up easily in the face of all sorts of pressure and obstacles.

He thanked the teachers for their efforts and acknowledged the efforts made by his former teachers at SMK Sandakan.

After the homily, the priest blessed the newly elected CTG office-bearers.

At the dinner, Bishop Julius Gitom called on all teachers to join the CTG, and encouraged them to take the NPQEL course for aspiring principals and/or school heads. – Martha Chia

 

Sandakan newly baptised members told to be bearers of good news

SANDAKAN – Fifty-one newly baptised members of St Mary Cathedral here were told to be bearers of good news at a welcoming dinner at the parish hall on 4 June 2017.

In welcoming them, Bishop Julius Gitom said, “Your baptism does not end here; rather your commissioning to go forth as part of this faith community, to bring the good news of peace and love to others, is just the beginning of your faith journey!”

This year the cathedral parish received 23 adults and seven children from the Bahasa-speaking community, 14 from the Chinese and five adults and two children from the English speaking community. They have all undergone the Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults (RCIA) programme for about a year.

The event began with the newly baptised entering the hall,  holding lighted candles, to the accompaniment of a sung hymn ‘Walk in the Light’ by the parishioners who had turned up to support them.

Lionel Randasan, catechetical committee head, thanked everybody for coming in support of the new members, and the organising committee for their tireless efforts in organising the event.

In his speech,  he said, “Practise what you believe, and journey together in faith with the brothers and sisters in the church.”

In his turn, Bishop Gitom expressed his gratitude to the Catechetical Committees, the RCIA facilitators and Sunday School teachers for their dedicated service in the ministry.

He reminded them that it is “the Holy Spirit who is at work in touching the hearts of the neophytes to commit themselves to the Lord” so that no one would take the credit for God’s work.

Quoting St Paul in his first letter to the Corinthians, ‘Nobody can say Jesus is Lord….unless the Lord touches his heart’  (cf 1 Cor 12:3), the bishop acknowledged that there is nothing anyone could do unless the Lord touches their hearts.

“I thank the neophytes for responding to the Lord’s invitation,” he said, affirming the newly baptised.

He concluded by encouraging the new members to join the many ministries and communities in the church and to channel their God-given talents in serving the church.

During the dinner, some of the newly baptised shared their personal testimonies. – Dalius LL

HDC Inanam organises seminar on church social teaching

INANAM – The Human Development Committee of St Catherine Parish here organised a one-day seminar on church social teaching on 16-17 June 2017.

Father Stanley Anthony of College General Penang facilitated the seminar.

Over 250 participants, including parish pastoral council members, catechists, communion ministers and other community leaders from St Catherine Inanam, Good Shepherd Manggatal and Holy Family Telipok turned up for the seminar.

Parish priest, Father David Sham, in his opening words, emphasised that preaching and living the Word of God should not be confined to Sunday Mass, but more so after church service.

“There is no point behaving as good Christians only within the church, but act differently outside the church compound. Every Christian is duty bound to act in accordance with the Social Teaching of the Catholic Church,” he said.

Fr Anthony delivered lively sessions throughout the seminar, inspiring and reviving the spirit of the participants.

He told the participants that the church must be united in facing important issues affecting the people.

“As Christians, we have responsibilities and social obligations to maintain justice, equality and good governance,” said Fr Anthony.

The seminar concluded with a Mass presided by Fr Anthony.

This was the second seminar facilitated by Fr Anthony in the year.  The first was held at the Sacred Heart Parish Centre on March 11-12.  – Michael Guntili

SOCCOM members exhorted to give “good news”

Msgr Ong accepts the gifts brought forward by SOCCOM members, HTC Tawau, 27 May 2017.

TAWAU – Members of the Holy Trinity Social Communications Committee (SOCCOM) were exhorted to give “good news” to the people.

The exhortation was given by Msgr Nicholas Ong at the Mass marking the 51st World Communication Day on 27 May 2017 at Holy Trinity Church here.

He quoted from Pope Francis’ message for the occasion:

 “I would like, then, to contribute to the search for an open and creative style of communication that never seek to glamourise evil but instead to concentrate on solutions and to inspire a positive and responsible approach on the part of its recipients. I ask everyone to offer the people of our time storylines that are at heart ‘good news.’”

Echoing the sentiments of the Holy Father, Msgr Ong said “You must share good news everywhere through your words, actions and the media. The world today offers constant bad news:  war, killing, murder, suicide bomber, terrorism and so on.  But don’t forget that we are children of the Good News, that is, Jesus Christ Himself.”

He added, “So share your good news with others; of the love, mercy and forgiveness which you have experienced from God. Let the world know and acknowledge that this “good news” offers hope and affirmation.  Without God’s love, guidance and protection, we will be without hope.”

SOCCOM members took an active part in the liturgy as presenters of gifts, readers and commentator.

Msgr Ong introduced the SOCCOM members to the parishioners before the Dismissal of Mass, and expressed his gratitude for their hard work and contribution in the dissemination of faith through various forms of media, as well as updating the documentation of parish activities.

SOCCOM Holy Trinity provides voluntary service, including photography, for all church events.  The photos are documented and kept in the archives of the parish so that the history of the church could be preserved. Reports of events are channelled to church-based bulletins and websites such as the Diocese of Sandakan News Update (DOSPO), Catholic Sabah and The Herald. – Julita Kantod

Tawau pastor says all are gifted with faith in the Holy Trinity

Msgr Ong cuts the cake to mark the parish feast day at the Tawau parish hall, 11 June 2017.

TAWAU – The pastor of Holy Trinity Church here said the faithful have been gifted with faith in the Holy Trinity.

“We are all blessed for God has gifted us with the faith of believing in the most controversial statement by most religions,” Msgr Nicholas Ong said in his homily on Trinity Sunday, 11 June 2017.

Msgr Ong explained, “Our faith teaches us very clearly that The Holy Trinity is the mystery of love, communion and peace, which is visible in the person of Christ, our God and Saviour.”

He continued,  “By His suffering, death and resurrection, God is with us in the form of the Holy Spirit. By God’s grace and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit, we are indeed in communion with God. You do not see the full meaning of the Trinity but you experience it around us.”

The pastor urged the parishioners to share the mystery of the Trinity to others, the mystery that is tangible in “the unity and communion that we build with the people around us.”

Referring to the Vision and Mission of the Diocese, Msgr Ong stressed the importance of unity in diversity, and the need to journey together to achieve the Vision as “One Big Family” of God, which was also the theme for this year’s parish feast day celebration.

After Mass, all adjourned to the parish hall for fellowship, which was spiced up with some cultural presentations by the various groups.

The gathering, which was attended by over a thousand parishioners, also included a short sharing on the Vision and Mission of the Diocese presented by Mario (on the Vision statement) and Julita (on the Mission statement).

The presentation of the Vision and Mission Statement was to enhance the awareness and understanding of the parishioners of its existence and purpose, as well as their role in making the Vision and Mission a success.

In spite of the inclement weather, parishioners gathered from far and near, from the various communities, groups, ministries and the nearby chapels. The participation of St Clement Brantian and St Thomas Bombalai from Kalabakan, and St Jude from Semporna added to the number and merriment of the event.

Msgr Nicholas Ong expressed his gratitude to all parishioners for their effort and unity in celebrating the parish feast day and in fully participating in the liturgy by the various groups. The different colourful costumes were a symbol of the unity, understanding and friendship that exist among the faithful.

There was the usual anniversary cake cutting ceremony, followed by lunch and then games for the families. The parish event ended with a closing prayer by Franciscan Sister Martha. – Julita Kantod

KK clergy takes time to reflect on their priestly ministry

In this section of the 29 priests present at the concelebrated Mass on the Solemnity of the Sacred Heart, stands Fr Lee (front L) who delivers the homily for the occasion, 22 June 2017, SHC.

KOTA KINABALU  – As part of their programme marking the World Day of Prayer for the Sanctification of Priests (WDPSP), the Kota Kinabalu clergy took time in the morning to reflect on their priestly ministry on 22 June 2017 at Vianney Home Dontozidon.

The day of prayer was instituted by Pople John Paul II in 2002.  The Feast of the Sacred Heart was chosen because it celebrates God’s merciful love, and that becomes tangible for priests in the Eucharistic Mystery, which they celebrate daily, and in the sacramental pardon which they administer and receive.

Father Peter Abas facilitated the reflection.  He challenged the participants to look into their own priestly ministry – whether they feel the joy, peace and happiness in being a priest, a bishop, while reflecting on the confession of Pope Francis that he not only likes to be pope, but he also “enjoys being a priest in a parish, the rector of a faculty and also a parish priest — I like both callings very much. I also enjoy doing Sunday school, children’s Mass…. I like this. Always, being a priest is something that I have always enjoyed very much.”

Fr Abas also urged them to look for Christ in the Sacraments, especially the Eucharist and the Sacrament of Reconciliation

In the evening, at the homily during the concelebrated Eucharist with the faithful at the Sacred Heart Cathedral Karamunsing, Father Cosmas Lee tied up the reflection with the meaning of holiness for the priest.

“To be sanctified, to be made holy, is to have the heart of God, which is the heart of Jesus, the Good Shepherd, the one who is not a hireling that would run away in the face of trial, of inconvenience, danger, but one who would give his life for his sheep,” he said.

Fr Lee concluded his homily with a plea for prayers for the priests.

“Please pray for your shepherds, your priests.  May they be graced to know that to be good shepherds, there is nothing more important than to be holy, and to be holy is to have the Sacred Heart of Jesus,” he said. – CS

Fr Lee explains the relevancy and love of the Sacred Heart of Jesus

KOTA KINABALU  – “Never before has the unconditional love of the Sacred Heart been as relevant as it is today!” according to Father Cosmas Lee.

Spoken like the prophet of hope, Fr Lee delivered a message of hope derived simply from the “symbol of God’s love” found in what Jesus has done for humanity in His Sacred Heart, quoting Matthew 11:29:   “Learn of me for I am meek and humble of heart and you will find rest for your soul.

Fr Lee was the homilist at the titular feast day Mass of the Sacred Heart Cathedral on 22 June 2017, which also marked the World Day of Prayer for the Sanctification of Priests.

The Mass was presided by Archbishop John Wong, and joining him at the altar were Archbishop Emeritus John Lee and 29 priests from the archdiocese, and over a thousand parishioners who turned up at Mass for the dual purpose of celebrating the feast day as well as to support their priests and bishops with prayers and affection.

“Theologians are saying that amid chaos,” said Fr Lee, “it is necessary to capture the transcendent in a symbol that is relevant for you; in other words, to capture the unconditional love of God in a symbol that is relevant for me.”

The “chaos” referred to the “lust for knowledge” that is the result of living in the information-centred society of the World Wide Web and the internet, and this “info-mania” has produced an unbelievable amount of information and data that could be stored in a small silicon chip and called forth at will.

“We can no longer see the forest for the trees,” lamented the homilist, “the sheer volume of all of this information has made this the age of the digest, the logo and the symbol.”

“The Sacred Heart of Jesus is the symbol of the fidelity of the love of God” Fr Lee underscored as he reminded all that “God loves us unconditionally with a love we cannot earn or ever be worthy of.”

“And He loves us for ourselves, not as we should be, or possibly could be, but as we are with all of our physical warts, psychological quirks and spiritual infidelities,” he added.

Quoting Pope Benedict XVI, the homilist attempted to explain, in biblical language, that the “heart” indicates the centre of the person where his sentiments and intentions dwell.

In the Heart of the Redeemer, we adore God’s love for humanity, his will for universal salvation, his infinite mercy. Practising devotion to the Sacred Heart of Christ therefore means adoring that Heart which, after having loved us to the end, was pierced by a spear and from high on the Cross poured out blood and water, an inexhaustible source of new life.” (Benedict XVI, Angelus 5 June 2005, Solemnity of the Sacred Heart of Jesus)

The priest went on: “Jesus was divine, the Son of God. He was also human, the son of Mary. He spoke with divine authority but he spoke in human language. He spoke in the simple language of ordinary people of his day about the things they were most familiar with…. And when he wanted to tell us of God’s love for us, he used the heart, the human symbol of love. He told us that we should learn of him that He was meek and humble of heart and we would find rest for our souls.”

Concluding his homily, Fr Lee drove home the point “The Sacred Heart of Jesus is most relevant today because not only is this the information-centred society, but it is also an age of anxiety, fear, insecurity and despair.”

He pointed out:  “Every year millions suffer heart attacks. Heart failure is the leading cause of death today. Heart failure is also the most avoidable cause of death because long before the patient is rushed to the emergency room, trouble has been going on in the heart: in the fearful heart, the anxious heart, the discouraged heart, the lonely heart, the rejected heart, the angry heart, and the sinful heart. The root cause of all of this heart trouble is the failure to know and trust the meek and humble Sacred Heart of Jesus.” – CS

Walk the talk, reduce wastage of food

Ramadan has just ended. Mainstream media have reported that “food waste had hit a peak during the final week of Ramadan when large quantities of untouched food packets were disposed of mercilessly. Photographs of heaps of uneaten food, in a wink, went viral on social media.” (Bernama)

Food wastage happens when too many are feeding the homeless without an organised system. Along with food wastage, other problems like cleanliness, uneven distribution of aid, health problems like food poisoning are created.

Rightly observed, what we need is “a more systematic way to distribute food to the target groups. Only then can food waste be curbed.”

Much has been said from many quarters. “Instead of paying lip service to this issue, they should walk the talk. They don’t have to wait until the next Ramadan or festive season.”

Take for example, Minu Pauline, a restaurant owner from Kochi, in southern India, recently made news headlines, not for her culinary expertise, but her awe-inspiring generosity. She maintains a fully stocked, unlocked refrigerator outside her restaurant, filled with free fresh meals for the homeless.

The fridge is always stocked with about 50 packets of freshly cooked food from the restaurant, for people to reach for when they are hungry.

Minu has two concerns though: 1) She may get sued if someone gets sick from eating her food; 2) her restaurant often doesn’t have the space to store leftover food while they are waiting for agencies to pick it up. Food banks may not have the capacity to transport or properly store the food, especially if it’s highly perishable. Furthermore, often she simply doesn’t even know where to donate their leftover food.

There is no reason or excuse for there to be even one starving person on this Earth in this day and age. The only missing ingredient is our collective willpower to come together and create the changes we all know the world needs, Minu opines.

Minu insists that their idea is to use what you already have, to donate the food that you might waste. She says that her restaurant bears the cost of the fridge and the electricity, and keeps it open for 24 hours a day, every day.” – Truthforfree

Tambunan choir organises workshop for Beaufort choir members

BEAUFORT – Sixty choir members of St Valentine Beaufort and its outstation KUK – mostly youths -participated in a one-day choir workshop organised by 25 members of St Theresa Tambunan Choir on 24 June 2017.

The purpose of the workshop was to highlight the importance of serving in the church choir, to provide the right vocal production techniques, and the proper voice harmonisation of the choir.

The organisers took the opportunity to serve as the choir for the Sunset Mass on June 24 and for the Sunday Mass on June 25 at St Valentine Church. They headed back to Tambunan right after the Sunday Mass. Simon Tay

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