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Malaysian Catechetical Commission Meeting 2018

SIBU – There were many catechetical issues discussed in the recent Malaysian Catechetical Commission (MCC) Meeting held at the Catholic Diocesan Centre in Sibu, Sarawak from Monday 27th August to Thursday 30th August 2018.

Fr Alvin Ho SJ, Chairman of MCC led the meeting.  Twenty delegates from all arch/dioceses including the delegates from Brunei Vicariate attended this meeting. There were 10 priests including Most Revd Julian Leow, Archbishop of Kuala Lumpur Archdiocese and Rt Revd Datuk Cornelius Piong, Bishop of Keningau Diocese, and 10 Religious Sisters and lay leaders. The Diocese of Melaka-Johor apologized for not being able to send any delegates to this year’s meeting.

The Catechetical Commission plays a very crucial role in the church as it is the pulse and the very life of the church. One of the many activities of the Catechetical Ministry is to prepare our young Catholics for the reception of the Sacraments of Baptism, Eucharist, Confession, Confirmation and also spiritually prepare our children and teenagers to meet the challenges of the world. Without the dedication of the catechists in teaching and sharing the Catholic Faith, these students would not be well prepared and become strong in their faith. Therefore it is crucial that  formation of catechists to enable them to properly care for their students be given priority.

The meeting discussed numerous topics related to the Catechetical Ministry at the arch/diocesan level as well as at the national level:

  • The topic on formation and training for all those involved in catechesis especially for catechists to deliver effective lessons is one of the many topics that were discussed which included formation and training for catechists and/or facilitators of Christian Adult Initiation (CIA) team, Joyful Weekend Gathering (JWG) / Religious Education (RE) Classes, conducting Communion Service in the absence of priests, and becoming sponsors/godparents of candidates for the reception of sacraments. We also discussed how On-line Courses could help to update the Catechists.
  • Materials and catechetical books for JWG / RE need to be updated and improved by preparing supplementary materials to replace the existing ones. The meeting also discussed the necessity to have sufficient resources for the Rites of Christian Initiation for Adults (RCIA) to respond to the needs of the candidates in all the arch/dioceses. We also had a discussion on Rites of RCIA.
  • The theme for 2019 Catechetical Sunday is “Christ, Our Mission” (Phil 1:21). A reflection paper for this theme would be prepared by Most Revd Julian Leow; together with this reflection paper, various suggestions of activities for this celebration would be distributed to each arch/diocese by November 2018. The theme chosen is in line with the Church’s focus on Mission and Evangelisation.
  • There was also a discussion on the management of the National Catechetical Office (NCO) in Kuala Lumpur. At this interim period, Dr Stephen Selvaraju was entrusted with monitoring the staff employed by Malaysia Catechetical Commission (MCC) for NCO.
  • All the eight arch/dioceses and the Vicariate of Brunei reported on their catechetical events, activities, programmes and plans.
  • At the end of the four-day meeting, the members elected a team of office bearers for the term 2019-2021. The result of this election is as follows:

Chairman                    :           Fr Nicholas Stephen (Kota Kinabalu Archdiocese)

Vice Chairman           :           Fr Mark Michael (Penang Diocese)

Secretary                     :           Mr Frederick Empanga (Miri Diocese)

Vice Secretary             :           Ms Stephanie Ng (Kuching Archdiocese)

The outgoing Episcopal President of the Malaysia Catechetical Commission, Rt Revd Datuk Cornelius Piong of Keningau Diocese, thanked all the MCC members for their tireless service, cooperation and friendship built throughout the term, led by Fr Alvin Ho SJ. His Lordship also heartily welcomed the incoming Episcopal President, Most Revd Julian Leow and hoped that the usual close cooperation amongst the newly elected office bearers would continue. His Lordship also congratulated the newly elected office bearers and encouraged them to serve with joy.

The outgoing MCC chairman, Fr Alvin Ho SJ, thanked all the MCC members for their cooperation given to him during his tenure as the chairman and he congratulated the newly elected office bearers.

The newly elected chairman, Fr Nicholas Stephen expressed his gratitude for the trust given to him by all the MCC members to chair the Commission for the next three years; he hoped that with cooperation of all the MCC members, together they could implement all that would be planned.

Most Revd Julian Leow, the incoming Episcopal President, thanked the outgoing office bearers for their tireless service. His Grace emphasized on the importance of catechetical ministry in a world where faithful, especially the younger generations, are being challenged by the worldly standard and secularism. Many young people who migrated to the West Malaysia compromised their Catholic Faith due to the shallowness of their faith.

Therefore, the archbishop said that there was a dire need to have ongoing continuous catechetical formation and training for catechists. His Grace emphasized that parents have to live up to their responsibility and to play their role effectively as the first catechists of their children, instead of fully relying on the catechists in the weekly Religious Education Classes. There was also a need to publish spiritual books and share the resources on-line for the catechists and parents to refer to.

The archbishop also acknowledged and appreciated the RE catechists for their time and energy. His Grace also encouraged all the catechists to continue with the good work and to engage in catechesis more creatively and effectively.

His Grace thanked all the delegates for their active participation in the meeting. The next MCC Meeting will be on 5th to 8th August 2019, and will be hosted by the Diocese of Penang.Sr Dariah Ajap, FSIC, MCC Member

 

 

Pope: True freedom is not being a slave to one’s sins

Sin is “slavery of one’s ego”: “the greedy, the lustful, the avaricious, the irascible, the envious, the slothful, the arrogant — and so on — are slaves of their vices, which tyrannize and torment them.” “Today it takes courage to get married”.

VATICAN CITY –  Sin, which is “slavery to one’s ego”, is what binds us more than anything else, because it forces us to look only at ourselves and makes us incapable of loving, which is true freedom. The day of rest as a memory of liberation was at the center of the reflection that Pope Francis addressed today to the participants in the general audience.

In fact, at the 30 thousand people present in St Peter’s Square, he spoke of the “day of rest, the prophecy of liberation”, inspired by the fact that in Deuteronomy, unlike Exodus, the reason for repose is not the blessing of creation, but the end of slavery. “On this day the slave must rest just like the master, to celebrate the memory of the Easter of liberation”.

In reality, the Pope continued, “there are so many types of slavery exist, be they interior or exterior.  There are the external constrictions such as oppressions, lives kidnapped by violence and by other types of injustice. Then there are the interior prisons, which are, for example, psychological blockages, complexes, limitations of character and others.”  History instead has offered us example of people who still succeeded in living this interior freedom despite exterior obstacles, “for example, of Saint Maximilian Kolbe, or of Cardinal Van Thuan, who transformed dark oppressions into places of light. There are as well persons marked by great interior fragilities that, however, know the rest of mercy and are able to transmit it. God’s mercy liberates us”.

“So, what is true freedom? Does it consist, perhaps, in the freedom of choice?  This is certainly a part of freedom, and we commit ourselves so that it’s assured to every man and woman (Cf. Second Vatican Ecumenical Council, Pastoral Constitution Gaudium et Spes, 73). However, we know well that to be able to do what one wants isn’t enough to be truly free, and not even happy. True freedom is much more. In fact, there is a slavery that chains more than a prison, more than a panic crisis, more than an imposition of any kind: the slavery of one’s ego”.

“The ego can become a tormentor that tortures man wherever he is and procures for him the most profound oppression, that which is called “sin,” which isn’t the trivial violation of a code, but failure of the existence and condition of slaves”.

Francis then pointed out how “the greedy, the lustful, the avaricious, the irascible, the envious, the slothful, the arrogant — and so on —  are slaves of their vices, which tyrannize and torment them. There is no truce for the greedy, because the throat is the hypocrisy of the stomach, which is full but which makes us think that it’s empty. The hypocritical stomach makes us greedy. We are slaves of a hypocritical stomach. There is no truce for the greedy and the lustful that must live of pleasure; the anxiety of possession destroys the greedy, always piling up money, hurting others; the fire of wrath and the worm of envy ruins relationships. Writers say that envy makes the body and soul yellow, as when a person has hepatitis: he/she becomes yellow. The envious have a yellow soul, because they can never have the freshness of the health of the soul. Envy destroys”.

The real slave, concluded the Pope “is he that knows not rest? Who is incapable of loving! And all these vices, these sins, this egoism distance us from love and make us incapable of loving. We are slaves of ourselves and we can’t love, because love is always towards others”.

“The Third Commandment, which invites to celebrate liberation in rest, is for us Christians a prophesy of the Lord Jesus, who breaks the interior slavery of sin to render man capable of loving. True love is true freedom: it detaches from possession, rebuilds relationships, is able to welcome and value one’s neighbour, transforms every effort into joyful gift and renders one capable of communion. Love renders one free even in prison, even if one is weak and limited”.

Finally, in the greeting to the Italian faithful, Francis described the newlyweds as “brave” because, he said, “today it takes courage to marry”.Asia News

 

Grace Before Meals, Brings Families Together

DUBLIN – Praying as a family before meals is an essential link to family life because it allows God to be part of your family’s experience. Through the incredible act of feeding one another, God is the link that strengthens families.
This was stressed in Zenit’s interview in Dublin, Ireland, last week, with Fr. Leo Patalinghug, American priest, chef & author of “Plating Grace: Elevating Culture and Family Life One Meal at a Time.”Fr Leo was giving a talk on the topic ‘Grace Before Meals, Recipes to Strengthen Family Life’ at the World Meeting of Families.
Raised and currently based in the Baltimore, Maryland area, but born in the Philippines, Fr. Leo is a priest member of a community of consecrated life, Voluntas Dei. He is the founder, host, and director of ‘Plating Grace,’ an international apostolate to help strengthen families and relationship through God’s gift of a family meal.
He has also established a non-profit organization, The Table Foundation, with the mission to elevate culture and family life, one meal at a time. He also hosts “Savoring Our Faith” on EWTN, which was developed following his dynamic win on the cooking competition, “Throw Down! with Bobby Flay.” Fr. Leo travels frequently for speaking engagements and pilgrimages to promote the importance of not what appears on the table, but who gathers around it.
Moreover, he is a former award-winning choreographer for break-dancing groups and 3rd degree Black Belt Martial Arts Instructor.
Zenit was on the ground in Ireland, and interviewed Fr. Leo there.
***
ZENIT: Father, to some, even some faithful nowadays, praying before meals seems to be a habit of the past. How many people today pray before meals?
Fr. Leo: My organization “Plating Grace” and “The Table Foundation” seek to elevate people’s understanding of food as a sacred gift that has the power to bring people together.  While we know many of our Catholic Traditions are no longer respected or acknowledged, at least publicly, the act of coming together around The Table is reflective of a tradition that can bring about a sense of spirituality and faith again.  Therefore, it seems that many people are experiencing grace around the table, even if they don’t fully acknowledge it yet, which is why I’m working to make those natural and supernatural connections.
ZENIT: Who taught you to pray before meals?
My parents shared the gift and discipline of praying together as a family – praying the rosary and of course praying grace before the meal. But at the seminary where I studied in Rome, I began to make the connections of the dinner table to The Lord’s Table and how God is “Plating Grace” for His Family at every Mass and every family meals.
ZENIT: Why is it important to pray just before eating, just as important as praying in other moments?
I actually don’t want to limit Grace to just a few words that people rush through just to eat. I try to remind everyone that my “Plating Grace” movement is about recognizing how Grace is not just a prayer, but it is first an action of the Holy Spirit to bring people together in love. Recognizing that desire for “communion of persons” is what’s most important.
ZENIT: What is the link between praying before meals and strengthening family life?
The link between praying as a family before meals and also at Mass is an essential link to family life because it allows God to be part of your family’s experience. In other words, God is the link that strengthens families through this incredible act of feeding one another.
ZENIT: Very often people eat quickly since they are rushing and don’t pray. What advice would you give them for getting into the habit of doing so?
It begins with your intention. When we want to do something good for someone, like prepare a meal for them – your family or friends or even the homeless and hungry – we have to ask ourselves “where does that good intention come from?”
The ultimate answer is, “this desire for good comes from God.” That simple acknowledgement is in of itself a form of prayer. From there, it requires the person to ask for the grace to formally say words of gratitude, blessing and then to recognize those who go without. That’s what it means to truly pray and to sincerely be part of the “Plating Grace” movement.
ZENIT: In the past, food shortages were a common problem, and hence they prayed for this situation to be resolved. Yet, now that today we have big quantities of food available, why should we still pray?
I believe that “abundance” can sometimes make people forget God. The Plating Grace movement is reminding people that our celebrations around delicious, sharing good times with family and friends, is a great opportunity to recognize God. It’s the purpose of the Catholic Feast Days. My purpose is simply to make sure we have a healthy and a balanced spirituality – that we don’t pray just in our needs, wants and hungers, but that we also can recognize God’s Providing Hand in our abundance and festivities.
ZENIT: Which prayers do you suggest at mealtime?
Any prayer that comes from the heart is a good prayer to suggest. But I also say that universal prayers – something we can say all together – shows how prayer can bring us together, and together we can go to God.  So no matter what language, style, devotion or spontaneous prayer, we say we just have to make sure it comes from the heart, brings us closer to God and gives us more compassion for others. – Deborah Castellano Lubov, 28 Aug 2018, Zenit.org

Hospital wedding of terminally ill woman a powerful witness

                        Marriage of Jéssica and Fernando. Photo courtesy of Michelly Emily J Souza

.- The recent wedding of a young Brazilian woman with terminal cancer was a powerful witness to the sacrifice and permanence of marriage, said the priest who celebrated the sacrament for the couple.

Fr. Mario Silva celebrated the wedding of a young couple, Jessica and Fernando, in the chapel at the Napoleão Laureano Hospital in the Brazilian state of Paraíba Aug. 20.

Silva told ACI Prensa, CNA’s Spanish language sister agency, that the couple had been civilly married in 2012 and had a three-year-old child.

Jessica, who is now 27, has been fighting a very aggressive form of bone cancer since 2016 and had been hospitalized when the priest was called to administer the sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick.

“That night, she was in a lot of pain, and when I finished administering the sacrament to her, I asked her… if I could do anything else, and she told me she wanted to get married,” Silva said.

“She told me she had a great desire to receive the blessing of God and she knew that was missing. That would be a great healing and grace in her life. She did not want to die without receiving the blessing of marriage, because both were Catholics and had the dream of getting married in order to have a sacramental life,” he explained.

“I called her family and they gave me the husband’s telephone number. I asked him if he were interested in getting married. I began to visit the hospital more often and to go through with the process of determining whether they could enter into marriage or not,” he related.

Fr. Silva obtained the authorization of the Archdiocese of Paraíba to celebrate the wedding in the hospital and processed the couple’s corresponding papers. He interviewed the couple to ensure that they were certain in their choice and that there were no impediments or grounds for nullity.

He also discussed the nature of sacramental marriage with them.

“I emphasized that this was not simply a social event that lasts a night and then people need another one. I told them that marriage is something that they were administering, that they were giving themselves one to another and that I was just an assistant,” he recounted.

“I explained to them about love, fidelity, joy and sadness in sickness and in health. At that moment I turned to speak to the groom: Fernando, you are aware you are marrying Jessica in a very difficult moment in her life. If your love is capable of enduring these difficulties, you will be able to give her a definitive and free ‘yes’.”

During the homily, the priest spoke “about how people have little hope for Christian marriages” and that celebrating the wedding of Jessica and Fernando was a light for the whole hospital. “I think that that was what created such a stir, besides that the bride and groom had a beautiful appearance,” the priest said.

While Jessica rarely smiled while in the hospital, Silva said, “On the day of the wedding, she was smiling and spoke with great ease which was unusual. You could see that she was very renewed.” He said the bride told her that the sacramental wedding “was like starting over or being reborn.”

“Her husband takes very good care of her and wants to accompany her every day. He left his job and everything to take care of her. He gave witness to permanence and the Catholic marriage was a concrete realization of that,” the priest emphasized. – Maria Ximena Rondon, CNA

Slovak teen to be beatified as a martyr to purity

An artist’s rendering shows Anna Kolesarova, a Slovak teen who was shot in 1944 in front of her family for resisting rape by a drunken Soviet soldier (CNS photo/courtesy Pastoral Centre of Anna Kolesarova)

SLOVAKIA – A 16-year-old peasant girl will be beatified as a martyr in Slovakia, seven decades after she was shot in front of her family for resisting rape by a drunken Soviet soldier.

Anna Kolesarova “embodies the faithful layperson living in their family, regularly receiving sacraments, praying the rosary and approaching God through good works. Her heroic testimony, drawn from a sincere spiritual life, is something every Catholic and believer can aspire to,” Archbishop Bernard Bober of Kosice, Slovakia, told Catholic News Service.

He said honouring Kolesarova, whose “reputation for holiness” had inspired young Slovaks, would give the local church a unique chance for spiritual growth.

“The story of 16-year-old Anna Kolesarova offers a strong message, of course, for the younger generation,” he said.

“Celebrating the divine grace which was present in her life will enable us to gather the faithful, but also to reach the wider civil society,” Archbishop Bober said. “Her story provides a spiritual response to today’s nostalgia for purity. It’s a message not confined to the younger generation, but one to move all faithful people.

“Servants of God who gave their lives for Christ in modern Slovak history were the victims of a totalitarian communist regime which suppressed religious freedom, and this will be the first layperson declared blessed,” he added.

Cardinal Giovanni Becciu, prefect of the Vatican’s Congregation for Saints’ Causes, was to beatify Kolaserova in Kosice on September 1. At least 30,000 Catholics are expected to attend the beatification in Lokomotiva Stadium.

Kolesarova was born 14 July 1928, at Vysoka nad Uhom, near the present Slovak-Ukrainian border. When Kolaserova was 13 her mother died, so she took over household duties and regularly attended Mass and rosary services with her father and elder brother.

When the Red Army captured the village on 22 November 1944, witnesses said Kolasarova had donned her mother’s black dress to disguise her youth; she took refuge in the cellar. Asked to find food when a drunken soldier entered the house, Kolesarova broke free when he tried to rape her. She was shot twice through the head in front of her father and neighbours.

The 16-year-old was buried at night in a makeshift coffin but was given a formal funeral a week later by Father Anton Lukac, who recorded that she had received confession and Communion before her death and made a “sacrifice of holy purity.”

In a website statement, the Kosice Archdiocese said accounts of her testimony had been secretly gathered in the 1950s by Jesuit Father Michal Potocky. The statement said her grave had become a place of pilgrimage only after the 1989 collapse of communist rule.

In a pastoral letter, read in churches on 19 August 2018, the Slovak bishops’ conference said Kolesarova had been “fully aware, despite her young age” of what awaited her, and had instinctively “followed the voice of conscience” rather than “having time to think and philosophise.”

“Today, the temptations against purity are much greater than before — they weigh on the young soul from every direction, via the internet and media,” the letter said.

“We are tempted to ignore or succumb to manifestations of our imperfect human nature and the fragilities which characterise us as sinful people. In the light of faith, however, we are called to observe limits and boundaries, to be greater and more persistent.” – Catholic Herald

Why this man spent his last years caring for the dying

DENVER, Colo – By the time he passed away, death was familiar to Joe Doak.

Doak was a devout Catholic, and a veteran, who died July 29 at 96 years old. But before his own death, Doak had spent days and nights sitting beside dying men and women in a hospice, offering them a word of comfort and the encouragement of prayer.

In 2011 Doak became a vigil volunteer for Hope-West hospice in Grand Junction, Colorado. There, he would comfort the dying with prayers, hymns, discussions, or just the consolation of his silent presence.

A devout Catholic, Joe told the Daily Sentinel in May 2018 that he wanted to be a source of hope, letting those patients know that someone would be with them during their last hours.

“The main thing is to tell them that they’re not alone. They’re not dying alone,” he said. “I just hope that I’ve comforted and consoled them and given them hope,” he added.

Doak was an electrical engineer and raised six children with his wife Phyllis, getting married about 10 years after World War II, when he served as a communications officer in the United States Navy.

His family eventually moved to Gunnison, Colorado, where Doak owned an electronic store specializing in computers. He then moved to Montrose, where the Catholic engineer spent a large portion of his retirement time volunteering.

He volunteered in a variety of community activities – he taught seniors computer skills, he aided immigrants in their English, and he helped children with their reading skills. He was also a driver for Meals on Wheels.

“That is the makeup of my dad. He wants to help people, wants to comfort people that may be alone. He is a very religious person, so I think this played into him being a devoted Catholic,” his son, Roger Doak, told Colorado Public Radio.

Doak was inspired to hospice ministry after caring for his wife Phyllis during a seven-year struggle with Alzheimer’s. After she died in 2011, he saw an ad for the vigil volunteers and decided to use his experience with Phyllis for other people.

Each time Doak received a call about a person dying, he would go to introduce himself, usually to a complete stranger. Doak would sit with patients, offering his hand, making conversation, and singing Christian hymns. A favorite of his was “Open my Ears” by Jesse Manibusan, the Daily Sentinel reported.

Roger Doak told Colorado Public Radio that his father had most likely died alone, but expressed hope that the people he comforted were there to receive him in the end.

“I’d like to think that all those people that my dad had comforted when they died, were actually there with him when he died.”

CMI makes pilgrimage to CDM KKIP

A section of the over 200 faithful taking part in the pilgrimage to the Church of Divine Mercy KKIP, 22 Aug 2018, in conjunction with the CMI Silver Jubilee Celebration.

KKIP, Telipok – Over 200 faithful from Church of Mary Immaculate (CMI) Bukit Padang and Sacred Heart Cathedral (SHC) Karamunsing made a pilgrimage to the Church of the Divine Mercy here on 22 Aug 2018 in conjunction with the CMI silver jubilee (CMISJ) celebration.

The event was organised by the CMISJ committee as part of its activities to commemorate the 25th anniversary of the dedication of the church in October.

Led by Father Paul Lo, SHC rector, the pilgrimage began with Morning Prayer (Lauds) in CMI before proceeding to KKIP in three buses.

Fr Lo briefed them on the meaning of a pilgrimage and told them for any first visit to any holy place, church or shrine, they are allowed to make three requests a) for the people of the place b) for those who have asked them for prayers and c) for their own needs.

And on this pilgrimage there were many first timers since the church was officially blessed and opened by Archbishop John Wong on 21 Oct 2017.

At KKIP Fr Lo presided over the bilingual (Eng/Mand) Mass followed by a potluck fellowship meal.

It concluded with the recitation of the Chaplet of Divine Mercy before the journey home.

A pilgrimage to any holy place or shrine reflects the reality that the People of God are a pilgrim people on their way to their heavenly homeland.

KK deacons to be ordained priests in November

Deacons Russell Lawrine (L) and Gilbert Marcus (R) pose after their diaconal ordination in March 2018.  They will be ordained priests by Archbishop John Wong in November 2018.

PENAMPANG – Deacons Russell Lawrine and Gilbert Marcus will be ordained priests by Archbishop John Wong in November this year.

Russell, 31, will be ordained on Sat Nov 10 at St James Tenghilan while the ordination of Gilbert, 36, will be on Tue Nov 20 at Sacred Heart Church Inobong.

The two were ordained deacons by Abp Wong on 11 Mar 2018 at the Sacred Heart Cathedral Karamunsing.

Although Russell entered the aspirancy earlier in 2008 and Gilbert in 2010, both of them  entered initiation year in 2011 and thereafter onward to St Peter’s College Kuching from 2012 to 2017.

Russell is currently serving in Sacred Heart Cathedral while Gilbert is having his pastoral ministry in St Michael Penampang.

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