On the occasion of the 9th anniversary of the Sandakan Diocese on 15 Oct 2016, Francis Tan, former Executive Secretary expressed his thankfulness to God for the privilege and honour to serve the diocese as the executive secretary for almost eight years, In his recent interview with SOCCOM Sandakan Diocese, he shared his thoughts and aspirations for the Church. Tan is a retired teacher (33 yrs) and a convert to the Catholic faith. He had served in the Parish Council for three terms as a secretary in the 1990s under the late Father Tobias Chi.
What was the most meaningful and memorable achievement during your pastoral service in the Diocese of Sandakan?
I am glad that over the years, twelve commissions were established and formalised. Each one is able to move on its own. The Diocese has adopted as its pastoral thrust to build communities through the Basic Ecclesial Communities and as of date there are 157 BECs spread across the four parishes. People are responding to the call to live and journey in community. The Partnership on Migrants between Flores (the sending diocese), Tg Selor in Kalimantan (the transit diocese), and Sandakan (the receiving diocese), is proof that we are responding to the call to reach out to the poor and the marginalised.
What do you hope to see in the Diocese of Sandakan in five years’ time?
I hope there will be more collaboration among the commissions, and for that to happen, members need to come together to understand each other’s roles and explore ways to work together. Similarly, this applies to ministries at parish level. If such opportunity is absent, we will see that each commission or ministry will move on its own in its own compartment. When commissions or ministries engage one another in pastoral outreach, we will have a greater force. With seminarians at different stages of formation, we will eventually no longer need to lament on the shortage of priests to cater to the pastoral needs of the people. Let us continue to pray for more young people to respond to the call to the priesthood.
What would you like to say to all the faithful in the Diocese of Sandakan?
The time has come that we must take heed of the Holy Father’s call to move forth and not to be complacent within our confine. We are called to show more concern for those less fortunate, those in living in the margin, to engage in corporal and spiritual works of mercy. – DOSPO