Category Archives: Latest News

18 Sandakan DFLC members attend half-day recollection

LAHAD DATU – Eighteen members of the Sandakan Diocesan Family Life Commission (DFLC) attended a half-way recollection on 22 July 2017 at St Dominic here.

The participants came from St Mary Sandakan (5), St Martin Telupid (3), OLOF Beluran (2), St Dominic Lahad Datu (4), and Holy Trinity Tawau (4).

The theme of the recollection was “Do as you say,”  the words spoken by the three angels to Abraham in the book of Genesis (Gn 18:5).

Recollection began with an opening prayer led by Franciscan Sister Evelyn Tivit,  followed by self-introduction of each member.

The session continued with an inspiring input presented by Eva Siruno, DFLC chairperson, on the meaning and purpose of commissioning which they would later be given.

She said the commission given by the risen Jesus to his disciples (Mt 28:19-20) is the “most sacred commissioning” because it came directly from Jesus’ lips.  Jesus’ promise to be with us always is the “most consoling part of our mission,” she added.

Jesus’ promise to be with us always is the “most consoling part of our mission,” she added.

Siruno said that through the commissioning, “we gain affirmation from the Lord” through the church “in our commitment to each other,” and provide “us a time where we can rejoice and give thanks together.”

She noted that the people’s prayer can “charge us up” and most importantly, “we inspire others to serve in the church.”

A video on the nature and mission of the Catholic Family: “Garden of Holiness” was screened.  It touched on the challenges of being  a father, mother or child in the family to create an environment of holiness.

Sr Evelyn facilitated a short reflection session wherein the participants recalled their experiences in serving the church and the struggles they faced.  This was followed by group sharing.

Later the participants went to the chapel for personal reflection using a guided reflection based on Pope Francis’ catechesis on the family.  It helped them to recall their experiences and challenges in the ministry.

Time was given to the participants to share their experiences and how God sustained them when they were on the verge of giving up.

In the evening, the participants were commissioned by Father Marcellinus Pongking after the homily at the Sunset Mass.

The next day, July 23,  the participants from Sandakan and Lahad Datu joined the pre-marriage course team in giving sessions to 23 couples in Tampenau, Lahad Datu.

Parish Family Life Ministry established in Beluran

BELURAN – The Parish Family Life Ministry (PFLM) was established in Our Lady of Fatima Parish here on 29 July 2017.

Thirty participants from St Paul Ulu Dusun, St Anthony Bukit Garam, Emmanuel Church Jaya Bakti and neighbouring Beluran chapels.

In his opening remarks, Bishop Julius Gitom said, “It is about time to have your own Family Life Ministry in order to find out the challenges faced by families in your own parish. If you do not know your enemy, how can you overcome them? Therefore, be aware and identify them then together we find solutions.”

He added that if a family is strong in its faith, “then our Church will also grow  stronger.”

Cesar Siruno, Sandakan PFLM chairman, presented a slideshow on the scope of the family life ministry at different levels: pre-marriage course, marriage enrichment programmes, natural family planning, coordinating activities for senior citizens and single parents, collaborating with other commissions and ministries in organising activities relevant to family life.

Dimeh Koyopo, of St Mark’s Church, shared: “It was through our (with his wife) experience in handling couples under crises that I was attracted to serve in this ministry. You need to be faithful and committed to your service. It is important to pay attention to my own role and responsibility as a father and as a husband, first of all, before I can tell others to do so. The words “I’m sorry” for a husband is not easy to say, but knowing our “marriage vow” should become a common practice in the home if I were to lead the parish.”

Gabriel Bali, newly elected OLOF Family Life Chairman shared “I always think of a family in small groups, but now we need to spread our wings, knowing that we have a Mission to do in our parish starting from our family.”

The office bearers for 2017-2019 are Gabriel Bali (chairman), Camillus Bikanis (asst chairman), Linda Marcus (secretary 1), Anthony Valentinus (secretary 2), and Cristina Heresilles (treasurer). –


Elias Carmelite Family celebrates founder’s golden jubilee

At the altar L-R: Bp Cornelius Piong, Fr Yohanes Indrakusama (jubilarian), Fr Peter Hwang of Limbang, Fr Anthony Mikat, 13 Aug 2017, Golden Jubilee Mass, Kaingaran Tambunan

KAINGARAN, Tambunan – The Elias Carmelite Family celebrated its founder’s golden jubilee of priesthood on 13 Aug 2017 at St Mary Magdalene Chapel here.

Visitors from Indonesia, China, Sarawak joined the local Putri Karmel (Daughters of Carmel), Carmelitae Sancti Eliae (CSE) and Komunitas Tritunggal Mahakudus (KTM) in celebrating the 50 years of priesthood of their Founder, Father Yohanes Indrakusama OCarm, 79.

Bishop Cornelius Piong presided at the thanksgiving Mass.  Joining him and the jubilarian at the altar were CSE Superior General Rev Sergius Paulus, Rev Giovanni C Sugau CSE,  Rev Peter Hwang of Limbang,  Anthony Mikat, Bede Anthonius, Gilbert Lasius, Joseph Gapitang, and Mario Tong of China.

Young dancers in traditional attire led the entrance procession from the St John Catholic Retreat Centre to the chapel accompanied by the beating of the gongs.

In his homily, the bishop told some 500 people present that he came to know the jubilarian in 1984 while attending a Charismatic Renewal Convention in Indonesia.

When he became the bishop of Keningau in 1993, he welcomed the Putri Karmel into the diocese in 1997 where it took root and flourished on a 32-acre of land at Kaingaran Tambunan.

After the Mass, there was a fusion of Chinese and Murut cultures in the performances by the Fook Xing Dragon Unicorn Lion Dance Troupe Tambunan, firecrackers and fireworks display outside the retreat centre in spite of the inclement weather.

The reception was held at the hall below the chapel where a video clip on the life of the jubilarian was screened.  The Elias Carmelite Family also entertained the guests with a variety show.  An exhibition on the founder’s life and history of the Elias Carmelites was displayed outside the dining hall.

Born in 1938 in small East Java town into a Chinese family, the jubilarian began his novitiate in a Carmelite monastery in 1960. Ordained as a priest in 1967, he pursued his studies in theology in Rome and Paris and later worked in various parts of the country. In the mid-70s, he spent time in a hermitage involved in contemplative life.

He founded the Putri Karmel on 19 March 1982 in Ngadireso, a small village in Malang Diocese East Java, followed by the Carmelitae Sancti Eliae on 20 July 1986 and the Komunitas Tritunggal Mahakudus on 11 January 1987.

On 12 Jan 2013, the St John of the Cross Institute (philosophy and theology) in Pontianak West Kalimatan founded by the jubilarian was officially opened by the Pontianak Archbishop.

Putri Karmel is a religious community of women, whereas CSE is for men and KMT for lay people.

The two religious communities have the same spirituality, way of life and ministry. Fundamentally they follow the spirit of the Carmelite Rule and Traditions, accentuating the contemplative aspect, integrated with the Charismatic Renewal.

The  Charismatic Renewal brings about the experience of God in the power of the Holy Spirit, and the Carmelite Spirituality is a very rich tool to deepen it and settle it down.

The members may give counselling, retreats, seminars, or offer prayers for individuals.

Currently, there are 43 Putri Karmel Sisters, 16 CSE Brothers, and over 1,800 KTM members in Malaysia.  Aside from Indonesia and Malaysia, there are also communities in China, Italy and USA.

On 12 April 2017, Sister Maximilliane Soon became the first superior of Malaysia-China District with two communities each in Malaysia (Keningau and Sibu) and China (Xingtai Hebei Province in the North and Fuqing Fujian Province in the South) respectively while Sister Geraldine Marie is the local superior of Kaingaran.

DOPP drafter gives his take on its impact on diocesan life

PENAMPANG – The Diocesan Organisational Pastoral Plan (DOPP) of Kota Kinabalu Diocese was drafted by a core team in 1996.  It was accepted and launched on 16 Sept 1997.  Twenty years later (14 Aug 2017), Dominic Lim, one of the drafters, was asked to give his views on how it has affected the life of the diocese since then.

Asked on its positive impact, Lim, 60, said the desired end of the DOPP is the attainment of the Diocesan Vision viz to be a communion of Christ-centred communities journeying together in the faith, hope and love of Jesus Christ, empowered by the Holy Spirit to build up the Kingdom of God.

In this area, he continued, many of the faithful have been active in church groups such as parish committees, basic ecclesial communities, and quite a number have made long-term commitments in ecclesial movements.

Lim noted that there is a greater sense of belonging to the diocesan family through participation in diocesan programmes organised such as Jubilee Year 2000, Diocesan Silver Jubilee 2001-2002, Eucharistic Congress 2004, ordinations and anniversaries of clergy and religious, the Priestly Year, the Year for Consecrated Life, Jubilee Year of Mercy, and others.

“I see these as positive signs of moving towards a communion of Christ-centred communities, a greater effort to journey together. The journey towards the dream will take time. DOPP as a Pastoral Plan has only a 7-year timeframe and in fact it has expired. It is too short a time to achieve our Vision. But the signs are there. We just have to continue to remind each other of our Vision, move together towards  that common direction and continue to allow the Spirit to empower us,” he said.

As for striking changes, Lim said, “We have moved away from a centralised pastoral structure (PAX Board of Directors) that decided the direction we moved as a diocese to a more consultative and participative approach with the Vision as our common direction.”

While he admitted that there is still much room for improvement, the parish community is now able to plan and move from where they are towards the Vision though some [parishes] are still struggling to “grasp the elements of the Vision, others are already implementing the Objectives stated in the DOPP.”

He saw this as “something more realistic in being Church because the maturity level of our communities differs from place to place.”

Lim pointed out that the emphasis on ongoing personal and communal conversion is “the key” to a total and integral renewal.

This, he added, is enhanced by living out the commitments spelt out in the Mission Statement, that is, living out a life of prayer nourished by the sacraments and the Word, guided by church teachings, unity in communities, respecting values of other faiths, responsible stewardship of the environment, and promoting justice and peace in society.

Lim noted that since the DOPP, there are more people attending daily Mass and coming forward to help in RCIA, Alpha and other church activities.  Many seminars, recollections, retreats and other faith formation programmes have been conducted.  There are also more inter-church activities.

“And there has been a greater awareness of our faith response to societal issues. All these were not very visible 20 years ago,” he said.

Lim, who works in the archdiocesan secretariat, pointed out that the mission ad gentes of the archdiocese was enhanced through the setting up of new pastoral structures such as the Social Communications Commission and Human Development Commission, the Montfort Youth Training Centre, the Sacred Heart Charity, Pusat Kebajikan Good Shepherd and other welfare programmes of the lay movements, and the strengthening of the church’s role in mission schools.

As for ways and means to maintain the DOPP spirit, Lim recalled the speech of Bishop John Lee during the launching of DOPP on 16 Sept 1997 at the Sacred Heart Cathedral.  The bishop admitted that the DOPP was quite technical but as long as “we adopted and lived the spirit behind the whole planning exercise, we would have achieved something – our new way of being Church begins not in what we do but how we live with each other in the Church and with the world around us.”

He said that to maintain the spirit, streamers on the Diocesan Vision and Mission were printed and hung on the walls of many chapels and halls to remind the people of their common direction in pastoral life.

In addition, Lim continued, the Diocesan Prayer was recited and continues to be recited on Sundays and feast days.

“The seminar on pastoring together in 1998 had laid the foundation for a better understanding of collaborative ministry while the bishop’s keynote addresses at subsequent PAX Assemblies after 1997 touched on elements of the Diocesan Vision to promote and maintain the DOPP spirit,” he added.

Lim noted that the changes from PAX Board of Directors to Diocesan Pastoral Council in 1998, from Parish Council to Parish Pastoral Council in 1999 had concretised collaboration among the clergy, religious and laity in pastoral leadership and mission of the Church in line with the Diocesan Vision.

The DOPP drafter pointed out: “DOPP as a Pastoral Plan was overtaken by events since its launching.  The two big events – Great Jubilee Year 2000 and the Silver Jubilee of the Diocese in 2002 were not anticipated during the formulation of the Plan but somehow the diocese was able to blend them into the spirit of the DOPP.”

Lim noted that though the DOPP implementation might not have been strictly according to the Timelines stated in the document, many of its Enabling Objectives have been carried out in various forms over the past 20 years.

In conclusion, he suggested that the term DOPP be dropped since the Plan has already expired.  Instead, the archdiocese should just focus on the Vision and Mission.

Another member of the DOPP Core Team, Magdalene Chu, described the process of coming together and thinking through the vision and mission of the local diocese was good.  She said it made concrete the universal mission of the church in the local church context.

The Archdiocesan Prayer still being said, she added, is good as it helps to remind everyone of the mission and needs of the archdiocese. (KK became an archdiocese in 2008).

DOPP turns 20

KOTA KINABALU – On 16 September 2017, the Kota Kinabalu Archdiocese will celebrate the 20th anniversary of the launching of its Diocesan Organisational Pastoral Plan (DOPP).

This document was launched on 16 September 1997 by then Bishop John Lee at the Sacred Heart Cathedral Kota Kinabalu in the presence of Archbishop Luigi Bressan, apostolic delegate in Malaysia.

At the launching, Bishop Lee said that the DOPP has spelt out the Vision, “the ideal Church that we want to be” but stressed that what is more important is “for us to uphold and live the spirit behind the whole planning exercise, namely personal and communal renewal in a new way of being Church.”

The need for the DOPP was prompted by a response to the increasing new pastoral challenges that came along in the diocesan journey as local Church.In 1996, one hundred sixty-four (164) delegates comprising bishop, priests, religious and laity from the whole diocese assembled to formulate the Vision and Mission of KK Diocese.  In September 1997 the Vision and Mission were formally adopted as both the rallying point and direction of the diocese.  In other words, they are the overall and continuing goal of all that we hope to achieve in our pastoral works, where all our available resources are to be used.

In 1996, one hundred sixty-four delegates comprising bishop, priests, religious and laity from the whole diocese assembled to formulate the Vision and Mission of KK Diocese. The 1996 workshop was the first effort of its kind to assess the realities and identify the problems and needs of the KK diocese, which was established in 1976.

In September 1997 the Vision and Mission were formally adopted as both the rallying point and direction of the diocese.

The DOPP has four main components: (a) Pastoral analysis of the Diocese (b) Proposed solutions (c) Common direction and (d) Action Plan.

Though quite technical, the essence of the document underlies some major concerns: (i) a deeper understanding of the Word of God (ii) the need for an understanding of the Church as Communion (ecclesiology of communion) (iii) the participation of all the people of God in the Church and (iv) the relationship between the Church and the world.

These four-fold concerns are in line with the concerns of Vatican II (Lumen Gentium 1964 & Gaudium et Spes 1965).

The DOPP, as a seven-year plan (1998-2004), expired by end of 2004. Bishop Lee declared in his January 2005 Pastoral Letter that “2005 is a time for evaluation, to see how much we have achieved in the process of renewal and how far we have journeyed towards our Vision.”

The whole diocese was mobilised to undertake the exercise. One major difference was the emphasis on learning. The exercise was to be “process-oriented” not “result-oriented.”

By emphasising the importance of the learning process, the whole exercise took on a pastoral tone. It provided the opportunity for self-examination.

Dominic Lim, one of those who formulated the Plan, said that the term DOPP should no longer be applied since the Plan has already expired.  Instead, the Church should focus on the Vision and Mission.

In March 2014, the Archdiocesan Pastoral Council (APC) 2014-17 identified three critical concerns the Church needs to be aware of, i.e. apathy, secularisation and Islamisation.

It was argued that apathy is an internal weakness.  Such attitude could jeopardise the evangelising mission in building the Kingdom of God.  Secularisation and Islamisation are external forces which could undermine the faith of the people.  The degree of seriousness of these threats varies from parish to parish.  Nevertheless, they were reported as a prevailing phenomenon all over the archdiocese during the 2015 PAX Assembly.  The APC felt the need to address these concerns seriously.

The degree of seriousness of these threats varies from parish to parish.  Nevertheless, they were reported as a prevailing phenomenon all over the archdiocese during the 2015 PAX Assembly.  The APC felt the need to address these concerns seriously.

The three concerns were tabled in the 2015 PAX Assembly.  Subsequently, the archdiocese adopted a Pastoral Thrust for the next two years where every pastoral agent and institute, every community and family, and every baptised Catholic are to rally together to tackle the concerns.  The Thrust has a threefold movement which can either be simultaneously carried out or move at the level according to the need of the community.

(a) Go Inward

This is an introspective movement – self-examination, reviewing and renewing of one’s relationship with God and with one another.  By doing so it aims for a “conversion of heart and mind” where one becomes more convinced of one’s faith and will not be easily swayed by external influences.

How does one “go inward?”  In the Mission Statement of our archdiocese, concrete commitments are spelt out: an ongoing personal and communal renewal, a life of prayer nourished by the sacraments, and living the Word of God guided by the teachings of the Church.  Through this Mission Statement, our archdiocese (clergy, religious and laity) commit to returning to the basics – prayer, sacraments and Word of God.  To “go inward” is to get into the inner self to discover one’s true identity as a child of God with the help of prayer, sacraments and the Word of God, and live accordingly.

(b) Go Smaller

Facing the onslaught of external pressures, support from others in our faith journey is needed.  As our congregations get bigger, one can be reduced to mere statistics or number. There is a need to go smaller in order to nurture warmth and the sense of belonging to a community (e.g. BEC) for support. Go smaller may also imply reviewing our pastoral structures to make them more responsive to pastoral demands, and to optimise our resources (human and material) to make them aligned to our pastoral strategies in addressing the three critical concerns.

(c) Go Outward

Though a “little flock,” our baptismal vocation has set us apart to be “light of the world” and “salt of the earth,” to transform our society through words and deeds.  To go outward implies, among others, living our faith in our multi-religious society, involvement in social issues, caring for others outside of our circle, working with people of other faiths in addressing common issues, going beyond church boundaries, getting our hands dirty and so forth.  It is through our life witnessing that others recognise the gem of our faith and are attracted to the living Gospel in us.

“I prefer a church which is bruised, hurting and dirty because it has been out on the streets,” (Francis, Evangelii Gaudium).

Over 25 participants attend inaugural BM catechists training course

One of the participants receives his certificate of attendance from Abp Wong, flanked by Fr Yasun (L) and Fr Stephen (R).

BUNDU TUHAN – Over 25 participants attended the inaugural BM training courses f0r catechists at the Bundu Tuhan Retreat Centre here in June 2017.

Twenty-nine catechists attended Level 1 (June 12-July 7) while 27 enrolled in Level 2 (July 9-21).

The two courses were organised jointly by the Archdiocesan Catechetical Commission and the Persatuan Katekis (PEKA).

Previous courses were conducted in English under the late Jesuit Father Peter Kim in the 1990s.

Father Nicholas Stephen, spiritual adviser of the commission, officially launched the course in the stead of Archbishop John Wong.

Franciscan Sister Dariah Ajap said the training programme was held because there is a felt need to have trained and well-equipped catechists in the archdiocese, not only to preside at services in the absence of a priest but also to be prayer leaders on various occasions.

To address the need, Abp Wong tasked the Catechetical Commission to organise and facilitate the training, with the involvement of priests, religious and lay leaders as speakers.

Topics covered during the course include Scriptures, Church and her documents, Prayer and Worship/Liturgy, Catechetics, Leadership, Spirituality and Vocation of Catechists, Missiology,  and practicum in the chapel outstations.

Level 3 has been scheduled for Sept 8-24 at the same venue for those who have taken Levels 1 and 2 and for those who are parish catechists.

At the end of the course, Abp Wong presented the certificates of attendance to the participants.

At the closing Mass, the archbishop reminded the participants to constantly read the Word of God, receive the Sacraments frequently, obey the commandments always, and to preach the Good News to all through their life witness.

The Jul 21 closing event was also an opportunity for the attendees to witness the launching of  Father Bruno Yasun’s “Pengenalan Alkitab” (Introduction to the Bible)  by the archbishop. The book is available for sale now.

All catechists who have attended the course will continue their services in their respective parishes. For the newly trained catechists, their parish priests will be the ones to give them their  assignments. – catecomkk


India to host next Asian Youth Day in 2020

Card Gracias, Archbishop of Bombay, together with Indian Church officials and some of the Indian youth delegation receive the simple bamboo AYD cross from their Indonesian counterparts for the next AYD to take place in three years’ time.

The next Asian Youth Day will take place in India in 2020, the second time the South Asian nation will be hosting the continental-level Catholic Church event since 2003, the Vatican Radio announced on 7 Aug 2017.

Indian Cardinal Oswald Gracias made the announcement on Aug 6 at the end of the concluding Mass of the 7th Asian Youth Day (AYD7)which he presided over in Yogyakarta, Indonesia.

The venue of the AYD8 will be discussed and decided upon by the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India (CBCI).

Among those who flanked Card Gracias, the main celebrant, at the altar were Filipino Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle of Manila and Archbishop Ignatius Suharyo of Jakarta, who delivered the homily in Bahasa Indonesia.

“We do realise our differences: We are of different nationalities, different languages, different cultures, and so on,” noted the archbishop who is president of Indonesia’s bishops’ conference (KWI).  “However, in this event, we do realise and experience that those differences cannot separate us, but the differences show the richness of the united humanity instead. It proves that the power of faith, hope and love unites us.”

Abp Suharyo wished that the AYD7 help the young people to “diligently and faithfully live out the Gospel so that we may be filled with the joy of the Gospel.”

Thus, he added,  “our life could mirror the glory of the Lord, which changes our lives.”

The Asian Youth Day in Indonesia, on the theme, “Joyful Asian Youth! Living The Gospel in Multicultural Asia,” was divided into three phases.

It began with over 2000 participants  from 21 Asian countries living with local families in the country’s 11 dioceses, July 30-August 2.  The delegates then converged in Yogyakarta, Indonesia’s cultural and intellectual heartland, for the main event, Aug 2-6, which concluded on Sunday with a Mass, marked by a rich display of cultural diversity that both Indonesia and Asia are famous for.

This was evident in the flags, including of the Vatican, traditional and ethnic costumes, decoration, singing, music, and dancing accompanied by traditional musical and percussion instruments, both during and after the final Mass.

While the young people headed back home, the youth animators and ministers remained behind for the final phase of the AYD7 – the Asian Youth Ministers’ Meeting (AYMM) in Yogyakarta, Aug 6-9.

The AYD featured talks and workshops on aimed at building mutual respect in Asia’s diverse, multicultural population, caring for the environment and learning how to be missionaries in a digital world.   As part of the multicultural aspect and in an effort to address growing fundamentalism in the area, the event hosted several encounters between Christian, Islamic and other religious leaders.

Among the participants in the AYD7 were 52 bishops, 6 cardinals, 158 priests and 41 men and women religious. Among Asia’s prominent Catholic leaders at the meet were Cardinal Gracias, the president of the Federation of Asian Bishops’ Conferences (FABC) and member of the Pope’s “C9” council of cardinal advisers, Bangladeshi Card Patrick D’Rozario of Dhaka, the chairman of FABC’s Office of Laity and Family, under which comes the Youth Desk that organises the AYDs in collaboration with the host bishops’ conference, and Card Tagle, the president of Caritas Internationalis, the federation of national Catholic charity organisations worldwide.

Among several Indonesian government authorities at the closing Mass were Vice President Muhammad Jusuf Kalla and Governor Sultan Hamengku Buwono X of Yogyakarta.

Held for the first time in Hua Hin, Thailand, in 1999, AYDs have been held in intervals of two, three ‎and five years.   Taipei, Taiwan hosted it in 2001, followed by Bangalore, India in 2003, Hong Kong in 2006,  Imus, the Philippines in 2009 and Daejeon, South Korea, in 2014, which Pope Francis attended. – Vatican Radio

FSJV launches aspirants website at third thanksgiving dinner

L-R: Anjumal (2nd L),  Abp Wong, Peter Suking (FSJV head), Fr Kiun stretch out their hands to launch the website while Fr Atin (3rd L) looks on, 5 Aug 2017, Bukit Padang.

BUKIT PADANG – The Friends of St John Vianney (FSJV) launched its website for the diocesan aspirants at its third thanksgiving dinner at the Putera Theatre Ballroom here on 5 Aug 2017.

The launch was officiated jointly by Archbishop John Wong, FSJV Adviser Father Wilfred Atin, Project Director Rayner Anjumal, and  FSJV officials.

The website – www. – is to update news on activities and events of the aspirants.

Around 800 people turned up for the dinner including Archbishop Emeritus John Lee, Father Thomas Madanan, Father Mitchelly Kiun and some religious sisters.

In his speech, Anjumal explained how the website project came about while both Abp Wong and Fr Atin thanked all benefactors and friends for their spiritual and material help in the past year.

At the end of his speech, Fr Atin announced that the new director of the aspirants will be Father Joshua Liew who will assume the post next year.  However, Fr Liew was not present at the dinner because he was attending the 7th Asian Youth Day in Indonesia, being the spiritual adviser of the youth commission.

Formed in 2011 under Fr Atin, the FSJV is a group of people supporting the aspirants residing at the Catholic Archdiocesan Centre Penampang materially and spiritually.  It has also provided the teachers needed to help aspirants pass MUET so that they could proceed to the next stage of formation.

Pope Francis prays for openness, courage at close of Asian Youth Day

Joyful faces of some of the participants at the 7th Asian Youth Day, 30 July – 6 Aug 2017, Yogyakarta Indonesia.

VATICAN CITY –  As young people gathered in Indonesia for the 7th Asian Youth Day prepare to head home, Pope Francis sent a message encouraging them to be courageous, and to turn to Mary as a model of what it means to be a missionary.

In the 6 Aug 2017 telegram signed by Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Pietro Parolin, the prelate extended “warm greetings and prayerful best wishes” to all participating in the event on behalf of Pope Francis.

The Pope, he said, “prays that young people from across Asia will listen ever more attentively to God’s call and respond with faith and courage to their vocation.”

Looking ahead to the global World Youth Day gathering in Panama in 2019, Francis invited the youth to turn to Mary, the Mother of God as “ a model of missionary discipleship, to speak to her as they would to a mother, and to trust always in her loving intercession.”

“In this way, as they seek to follow Christ Jesus more closely, they too, like the young woman of Nazareth, can truly improve the world and leave an imprint that makes a mark on history,” he said, giving his blessing and entrusting the youth and their families to Mary’s intercession.

Pope Francis’ message was sent on the final day of the Aug 2-6 Asian Youth Day gathering in Yogyakarta, Indonesia, themed: “Joyful Asian Youth: Living the Gospel in Multicultural Asia.”

Over two thousand young Catholics from all over Asia took part in the gathering, which came a year after the international WYD gathering in Krakow, Poland in 2016, attended by Pope Francis.

The Pope was also present during the last Asian Youth Day, which coincided with Pope Francis’ 13-18 Aug 2014, visit to South Korea, and centred on the theme: “Asian Youth! Wake up! The glory of the martyrs shines upon you!”

This year’s event in Indonesia featured talks and workshops on aimed at building mutual respect in Asia’s diverse, multicultural population, caring for the environment and learning how to be missionaries in a digital world.

As part of the multicultural aspect and in an effort to address growing fundamentalism in the area, the event hosted several encounters between Christian, Islamic and other religious leaders.

Among the Asian Catholic leaders who attended the event were Cardinal Oswald Gracias, Archbishop of Bombay and a member of the Pope’s “C9” council of cardinal advisers, and Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle, Archbishop of Manila and President of the Caritas Internationalis aid organisation.

Indonesia’s Vice President, Muhammad Jusuf Kalla, was present at the closing ceremony Aug 6, when it was announced that India will be the location of the next Asian Youth Day.

The main celebrant at the closing Mass was Archbishop Ignatius Suharyo Hardjoatmodjo of Jakarta, who at the end of his homily noted that attendees come from all over Asia.

“We do realise our differences: we are of different nationalities, different languages, different cultures, and so on,” he said.

“However, in this event, we do realise and experience that those differences cannot separate us, but the differences show the richness of the united humanity instead. It proves that the power of faith, hope and love unites us,” the prelate added.

Suharyo closed by voicing his hope that the event would help the youths to “diligently and faithfully live out the Gospel so that we may be filled with the joy of the Gospel. Thus, our life could mirror the glory of the Lord, which changes our lives.” – CNA/EWTN News

Yogyakarta governor officially opens AYD-7 with “othok-othok”

The sultan (R) plays the othok-othok to officially open the Asian Youth Day, 2 Aug 2017, Yogyakarta.

YOGYAKARTA – Sultan Hamengku Buwono X, governor of Yogyakarta, played the othok-othok – a Javanese traditional musical instrument – to officially open the 7th Asian Youth Day on 2 Aug 2017.

This image was embedded with all the meaning of the Asian Youth Day, an event organised by the Federation of Asian Bishops’ Conferences which, for a week [30 July-6 Aug 2017] brought together young Catholics from twenty-two Asian nations on the streets of Yogyakarta, a town on the Indonesian island of Java.

The Sultan, the civil and religious leader of the Yogyakarta Province, offered his support to the Catholic gathering by granting the use of a large conference centre hosting the various events of the week free of charge: meetings, seminars, catechesis, theatre and music performances, prayer and reflection experiences, all of them centred on the subject of multiculturalism and harmony between different cultures and religions.

The focus of what is known as the “Asian WYD” – World Youth Day is the source of inspiration – is “Living the Gospel together in a multicultural Asia,” and no better country than Indonesia to host an event where the Catholic Church promotes the paradigm for coexistence among the faithful of different religions starting from the younger generations while this most populous Islamic country in the world is shaken by the turmoil of radical Islam which challenges tolerance and social harmony.

The Archbishop of Jakarta and President of the Indonesian bishops, Ignazio Suharyo, clearly spelt this out to Vatican Insider.

“Indonesia is a pluralist and multicultural country by nature, with over three thousand ethnic groups and eleven thousand local languages. Through its young people, the country can teach pluralistic and peaceful coexistence among men and religions to other Asian countries. Our young people provide an example of unity, embodying the “unity in diversity” which is the nation’s motto. But it is an approach that can and should be exported to all Asian contexts and beyond,” he said.

Yogyakarta, in particular, is considered a “micro-Indonesia” for its innate religious and cultural pluralism; it hosts over sixty state and private universities, colleges and academies; it welcomes young people from all over the nation who populate streets, bars, libraries, squares, temples and markets, which make “Yogya” (as it is widely known) a multicoloured oasis.

The city is in itself a special one; Yogyakarta is, in fact, the only Indonesian province still governed by a pre-colonial sultan who has led a sort of mini-theocracy since his father, a half-century ago, contributed to the struggle for independence from the Dutch and then agreed to be part of the Indonesian Republic.

Today, the sultan is the illuminated leader of a cheerful, pluralistic, open, fertile city of ideas and transcultural initiatives where citizens of all religions appreciate his work and never question the institutional exception of a hereditary ruler. The city, strong in a collective consciousness and open to the most diverse contributions, hosted the Asian Youth Day, which brought over two thousand young people from 22 countries, 52 bishops (including six cardinals) and 158 priests to Yogya.

In this particular context, the Asian WYD is characterised by a deep interreligious meaning: in the most populous Muslim country in the world, young Muslims take part in the scheduled events and are even involved in the organising committee. The Indonesian Government also provided financial and political support through the Ministry of Religious Affairs, the Ministry of Tourism and the Ministry of Youth and Sports.

President Joko Widodo also counts on Christians (about 10% of the 250 million inhabitants, including 7.5 million Catholics compared to 85% Muslim inhabitants) to counter, in the name of the concept of civic duty, the return of Islamic extremism that is creating widespread concern.

The basis of civic coexistence, strongly reiterated by Widodo, is the “Pancasila,” a charter with five principles governing the social life of such a multifaceted nation which strengthen the national identity to help prevent balkanisation of the country.

The Pancasila, by outlining a democratic state where religion has a weight but is not the basis of a theocracy, provides shelter from the sirens of the Islamic State.

The caliphate set in motion a massive propaganda operation in southeast Asia, finding fertile ground in some Indonesian radical groups such as the Hizbut Tahrir Indonesia, which, thanks to a recent measure approved by the executive, could be banned without going through the courts. – vaticaninsider

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