Pope to attend World Youth Day 2019 in Panama


VATICAN CITY – The Director of the Holy See Press Office, Greg Burke, confirmed on 9 July 2018 that Pope Francis will participate in the upcoming World Youth Day, 22-27 Jan 2019, in Panama.

The Holy Father will arrive at the event a day after it begins and takes part from the 23rd to the 27th of January.

A brief statement said the Pope had accepted an invitation from the government of Panama and from the country’s Catholic bishops.

This will be the third World Youth Day Pope Francis attends. His first took place in Brazil in 2013, just months after his election to the papacy, followed by Poland in 2016.

World Youth Day (WYD) is an encounter of young people from around the world with the Pope, typically celebrated every three years. The event allows young people to experience the universality of the Church and to share their faith in Jesus Christ.

Panama’s president Juan Carlos Varela tweeted on Monday that he “shares the joy and excitement of the Panamanian people” for the official announcement of the Pope’s attendance.

Monday’s announcement made the visit official, but Pope Francis had previously registered online for WYD at the Sunday Angelus on 11 February 2018, the day registration for the event opened.

As he overlooked St Peter’s Square, the Pope held a tablet and signed up for the event.

“There,” he said. “I am now enrolled as a pilgrim to World Youth Day.” And he invited young people around the world “to live this event of grace and fraternity with faith and enthusiasm, either by going to Panama or by participating in their communities.”

Already in March 2017, Pope Francis released a video message for the 2019 event, inviting young people to look to the Blessed Virgin Mary as they continue their pilgrimage toward the event.

“Mary did not stay at home because she was not a young couch potato who looks for comfort and safety where nobody can bother them. She was moved by faith because faith is at the heart of Our Mother’s entire life story.” -Devin Watkins, Vatican News

Filipino bishops and government sign agreement to support foreign missionaries

Church leaders and the Government Immigration Bureau renew an agreement to assist foreign missionaries in the country, 2 July 2018, after 21 years.

MANILA – After 21 years, the Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) and the Government Immigration Bureau (Bi) renewed an agreement to assist foreign missionaries in the country.

In a ceremony held in Manila on 2 July 2018, Bishop Antonio Javellana Ledesma, archbishop of Cagayan de Oro and head of the Commission for Mutual Relations (ECMR) of the CBC, signed the agreement with the Commissioner for Immigration Tobias Javier , Msgr Romulo Valles, Archbishop of Davao and president of the CBCP, and his deputy Msgr Pablo Virgilio David, bishop of Kalookan.

The government confirmed that the missionaries contributed “immensely to the moral and human development of the citizens; in particular the poor, the young, the disabled and the less privileged of society. ” The signature is a recognition of the dedication of those who have dedicated life and resources following their own vocation, for the moral and spiritual development of many Filipino communities.

The agreement comes after several missionaries expressed concerns about various issues related to issuing and extending their visas. They create “some difficulties in the pursuit of the mission.”  The ECMR manages the Visa Desk of the CBC, set up to maintain official relations with the Bi and to assist and support foreign priests, religious men and women in their visa application.

The first agreement between the bishops and the Philippine authorities was signed by the commissioner of Bi Edgar Mendonza and by Msgr Carlito Cenzon on 10 November 1997. – Asia News

CMI to launch silver jubilee exhibition in August

PENAMPANG – The Church of Mary Immaculate Bukit Padang is set to launch its silver jubilee exhibition on 12 Aug 2018.

In addition to that, it will also unveil its plans for the extension of the church on the same day.

Built by the late Father Thomas Sham, the church was blessed by then Bishop John Lee on 31 Oct 1993.  The triangular shaped building has a unique 60-feet hands-clasped-in-prayer bell tower.

The exhibition will showcase the growth and development of the church through its various ministries and groups down the years.

Moreover, after a long delay, the plans for a church hall and rectory will finally push through with the approval from City Hall in March this year.

Aside from the exhibition, other activities include a pilgrimage to the Divine Mercy Church KKIP on Aug 22 and a triduum of prayer on Oct 24-26 at 7:30 pm.

For the movie buffs, a set of three Marian videos screening has been organised: two (Mary of Nazareth & Lourdes) have already been screened, and the last – Fatima – will be screened on July 22 at 7:30 pm at CMI.

The Thanksgiving Mass will be at 9 am on Oct 28 with the jubilee dinner at 6:30 pm at the Putera Theatre Ballroom Bukit Padang.

Among the souvenir items to be sold are a commemorative magazine, key-chains, mugs and T-shirts.

Focolare youth launch ‘pathways to fraternity’ in genfest

MANILA  – “Pathways to fraternity” was the project launched by over 6,000 young people who participated in the “Genfest,” the international festival of the Focolare Youth Movement held in Manila recently.

The project aimed at “bringing individuals and peoples together so that they can contribute towards building fraternal relationships in the fields of economy, justice, politics, environment, intercultural and interreligious dialogue,” according to Fides correspondent Stefania Tanesini.

The event, organised for the first time in Asia and outside Europe in Manila from 6-8 July 2018, was the eleventh edition of the Genfest, and focused on the theme “Beyond all borders.”  The participants came from 100 countries around the world.

Generally held every six years, the Genfest is organised by the “Youth for a United World” (Y4UW), Focolare’s youth wing. Since its inception in Italy in 1973, the Genfest has become an avenue for young people to show that a united world is possible.

“At a time when migration increases and nationalism gains ground, as a reaction to an exclusively economic globalisation that ignores the diversities of individual cultures and religions, the Genfest has proposed to youth a change of attitude: do not stop at personal, social and political barriers but be ready to accept without fear or prejudice any sort of diversity,” said Maria Voce, President of the Focolare Movement.

The Focolare youth will seek to generate a web of activities targeted at instilling a mentality and a practice of peace and solidarity in their own surroundings and in their countries.

The Genfest was a feast and a commitment at the same time. The message to “overcome borders” was passed on even through the artistic performances, as revealed by the two evening concerts that brought Asia to the rest of the world and vice versa.

Many visited Explo, a multimedia and interactive exhibition that offered a different version of the world’s history based on humanity’s steps towards peace and the centrality of personal commitment to build it. The young participants were even offered the opportunity to “dirty their hands” by choosing to take part in “Hands for Humanity”: twelve activities of solidarity, encounter and urban redevelopment organised in different parts of Manila.

Stories related by young people, who live the drama of migration and segregation, were the highlights of this 11th edition of Genfest. The stories related are of current significance, such as the one of Noé Herrera (Mexico) and Josef Capacio (USA). Both live very near to the border that separates their two countries. Egide and Jean Paul, one from Rwanda and the other from Burundi met during a very dramatic incident that divided the two countries.

Maria Voce proposed three words that are also a life programme for all the youth who now have returned to their countries: “love, start again and share.”   The appeal is “to love the peoples of other countries as you love your own people”; start again without ever losing hope that another world is possible and share personal and collective wealth, resources, and burdens.

She concluded by challenging the young people to “be men and women of unity, people who cherish the treasures of every culture, but who even know how to give them to others, and ultimately be global men and women.”  – Agenzia Fides

RCSC ends meeting with 12-point plan of action for 2018-2019

The participants of the annual regional commission for social communications meeting pose with Bishop Cornelius Piong after the opening Mass, 18 June 2018, chapel of the Holy Family Pilgrimage Centre Nulu Sosopon Keningau. The meeting, held June 18-21, focuses on fake news and journalism for peace.

KENINGAU – The two-day annual meeting of the Regional Commission for Social Communications (RCSC) of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Malaysia, Singapore and Brunei, concluded on Thursday, 21 June 2018 with a 12-point plan of action for the coming year.

The meeting was attended by 23 members, representatives and observers from the Archdioceses of Kuala Lumpur, Kuching, Kota Kinabalu and Singapore, and the Dioceses of Penang, Johor-Melaka, Sibu, Sandakan, Keningau as well as the Apostolic Vicariate of Brunei.

Bishop Cornelius Sim of the Vicariate of Brunei, who is also the RCSC president, was in attendance throughout the meeting, together with Father Robert Leong (Brunei), Father Thomas Madanan (Kota Kinabalu and RCSC Chairperson), and Father Peter Anthoney (Kuala Lumpur).

Among other RCSC delegates were Sister Anna Yap, fsp, Asst Chairperson, Ignatius Krishnan and Joyce Ting, RCSC Secretariat; and Adeline James, SIGNIS Malaysia representative.

Bishop Cornelius Piong of Diocese of Keningau presided the opening Mass, which was followed by the keynote address by Bishop Cornelius Sim. In his keynote address, Bishop Sim emphasised on Pope Francis’s 2018 World Communications Day Message – Fake news and journalism for peace. Bishop Sim reinforced the theme of the 52nd World Communications Day which focuses on the issue of truth. It is not the first time the Church addresses this issue, but in this current time, the rampant issue is ‘fake news,’  which runs counter to Church’s mission, which is to spread the Truth.

The bishop said that communicators and providers of information are custodians of truth. Social Communications of the Church at various levels can play an integral role in offering an alternate voice to the people of the world by practising and ensuring use of accurate sources. Accurate sources is a way of promoting goodness and generating truth which opens the way to communion and peace. Furthermore, in countering fake news, formation and information have to take place among the people.

In summary, Bishop Sim stated that the World Communications Day message centred on the dignity and beauty of the human person and its ability to communicate the truth of the human person living for the benefit of all. This is a crucial aspect of ‘Media Mindfulness.’  Preserving human dignity is the lens through which Catholics can engage this digital mediascape that is always changing and always developing.

Francis Andin, president of Keningau Journalist Association of Sabah continued on this subject in his sharing session “Sharing on Fake News,” speaking more on the spread through WhatsApp and edited photos depicting false impressions.

Ruben Sario, delegate from Kota Kinabalu, shared on fake news which tend to falsely quote or misquote the pope. On countering fake news which comes in the form of messages about the pope or the church, he advised that people should stop and think before forwarding the messages. The faithful in Archdiocese of KK are encouraged to check with the parish priest and if not available, people should check the authenticity of the information with mainstream credible media.

Representatives from various dioceses in the region had the opportunity to present a report on implementation of plans, programmes, and activities in their respective arch/diocese in the past year. It was from these reports that they saw the need for collaboration between social communication ministries in different dioceses mainly in the area of:

a) Bible Knowledge – to find a way to assist the Sabah/Sarawak dioceses with Bible Knowledge class that is conducted in English. Webinar session might be one possible delivery method.

b) Live Streaming/Broadcast –  to assist those Arch/dioceses that do have any broadcast of Mass especially for those who are homebound.

c) Webinars on formation programmes – to further instill learning among Catholics in various dioceses, in faith and spiritual subject, through webinars from those dioceses who has the webinar facilities.

d) Google for Non-Profit – to assist other dioceses with the adaptation of Google for Non Profit which can be used to create standardisation and to reduce operational issues within dioceses.

e) Kupi Rohani (Daily Reflection in the Malay language) – to assist Keningau diocese in circulating the Kupi Rohani to other dioceses, especially those who has large influx of East Malaysians in their dioceses.

In total there were 10 points for the plan for action in 2018-2019 by all the delegates including addressing all the possible area of collaboration between various arch/dioceses.

Bishop Cornelius Sim presided over the Closing Mass in thanksgiving for the conference. He also thanked all the members, representatives and observers for their attendance and participation.

The next Regional Meeting is scheduled to take place at Majodi, Johor which will be hosted by the Diocese of Melaka-Johor on 17-20 June 2019.

Venerable Carlo Acutis: A patron of computer programmers?

VATICAN CITY – Carlo Acutis, who died of leukemia at the age of 15, offering his suffering for the pope and for the Church, was among four laypeople whose heroic virtues were recognised by the Congregation for the Causes of Saints on Thursday.

Pope Francis authorised the congregation to promulgate the decree on 5 July 2018, which advances Acutis’ cause and names him Venerable.

Acutis was born in London on 3 May 1991, to Italian parents who soon returned to Milan. He was a pious child, attending daily Mass, frequently praying the rosary, and making weekly confessions.

Exceptionally gifted in working with computers, Acutis developed a website which catalogued Eucharistic miracles. This website was the genesis of The Eucharistic Miracles of the World, an international exhibition which highlights such occurrences.

Acutis died of leukemia in Monza, near Milan, on 12 Oct 2006.

Acutis stated that “To always be close to Jesus, that’s my life plan. I’m happy to die because I’ve lived my life without wasting even a minute of it doing things that wouldn’t have pleased God.”

He also said that “our aim has to be the infinite and not the finite. The Infinite is our homeland. We have always been expected in Heaven,” and he called the Eucharist “my highway to heaven.”

Abbot Michelangelo Tiribilli, the then-Abbot of the Territorial Abbey of Montel Oliveto Maggiore, wrote in the foreword to a biography of Acutis that “By looking at this adolescent as one of them and as someone who was captivated by the love of Christ, which enabled him to experience pure joy, [today’s adolescents] will be in contact with an experience of life that doesn’t take anything away from the richness of their teenage years, but which actually makes them more valuable.” – CNA/EWTN News

Fr Saimon marks 20 years of priestly ministry

Fr Saimon William (with chasuble) with fellow priests at Mass marking his 20 years as a  priest at the Sacred Heart Parish Centre Karamunsing on 4 July 2018.

KOTA KINABALU – Father Saimon William marked 20 years of priestly ministry on 4 July 2018 at the Sacred Heart Parish Centre here.

The celebration was held two days ahead of the actual anniversary on July 6.

It was concelebrated with fellow priests, Father Edward Raymond, Father Tony Mojiwat and Father Paul Lo.

Present were members of the Neocatechumenal Way of Sacred Heart Cathedral as well as William’s own family members.

A thanksgiving agape was held after the Mass at the parish canteen.

Born in Membakut in 1963, William was ordained at Stella Maris Church Tanjung Aru on 6 July 1998, together with the late Father Fundes Motiung, who died last year.  He is now serving as an itinerant catechist with a team doing evangelisation work in Iraq.

Sandakan organises marriage enrichment seminar

A section of the couples having communication session with each other at the Marriage Enrichment Seminar organised on 15-16 June 2018, Sandakan Pastoral Centre.

SANDAKAN – Fifty-six couples and 26 singles attended a marriage enrichment seminar organised jointly by the Family Life Commission, Parish Family Life Ministry, and the Catechetical Commission at the Conference Hall, Diocesan Pastoral Centre here on 15-16 June 2018.

The main speaker was Father Barnardinus Prihartana Agung of Semarang Indonesia.  His session touched on family values based the Diocesan Mission.

He emphasised that Christ’s words to Peter in Matthew 16:18-19: “On this rock I will build my church” can also referred to the family as the family is called to be a domestic church.  Therefore, the married couple is the rock upon which the domestic church is built.

  In this context, the key signifies the key of peace, of well-being, of happiness and it is given jointly to the married couple.

Among the activities organised were communication sessions between couples, testimonies, and renewal of marriage vows at the concluding Mass.

At the final dinner, the head of the PFLM, exhorted the participants to strengthen one another as they have been strengthened by Christ himself (cf Lk 22:32) – Eva Siruno, Sandakan Diocesan Blog

First layman to head Vatican Communication Office

Pope Francis shakes hands with Paolo Ruffini, the new prefect of the Department for Communication.

VATICAN CITY – Pope Francis on 5 July 2018 named Paolo Ruffini as the new Prefect for the Dicastery for Communication.

Paolo Ruffini was born in Palermo, Sicily, on 4 October 1956.

He attained his degree in Jurisprudence from La Sapienza University of Rome.

Dr Ruffini has been a professional journalist since 1979. He has worked for the papers Il Mattinoof Naples (1979-1986); and Il Messaggero of Rome (1986-1996); in radio at Giornale Radio Rai(1996-2002), Canale Gr Parlamento (1998-2002), Radio 1 (1999-2002) and Inblu Radio (2014-2018); and on television at Rai3 (2002-2011), La 7 (2011-2014); and Tv2000 (2014-2018).

He has received numerous awards for journalism, and taken part in numerous conferences on the role of communications ethics, the new media, and the role of Christians in media.

His father Attilio, an anti-fascist and among the first Christian Democrats, was repeatedly a minister. His great-uncle, originally from Mantua, was Archbishop of Palermo, (nominated by Pacelli) and a member of the Sacred College from 1945 to 1967.

Ruffini, married to Maria Argenti, is the first lay person to head a department of the Roman Curia. The Department for Communication is a new reality that unites and coordinates all the editorial, informative, communicative and multimedia realities of the Holy See together with what was once the Pontifical Council for Social Communications.

Ruffini’s nomination as head of one of the most significant Vatican department – in terms of number of persons employed – is unprecedented in the history of the Holy See, which up to now had only the current commissioner of the vice-presidency of the Pontifical Commission for Latin America, Professor Guzman Carriquiry, formerly number three of the old Pontifical Council for the Laity, as the only lay person leading a top position.

For the first time, therefore, a married man, neither bishop nor priest, takes on a role comparable to that of cardinals and archbishops heads of department, that is, “ministers” of the Pope and his collaborators in the Curia.

What are the reasons for Francis’ decision? The Pope had the opportunity to know and appreciate the work of the new Prefect in the years spent at Tv2000 (Ruffini himself, together with Lucio Brunelli, director of the episcopal TV news had interviewed Pope Francis at the end of the great extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy, in November 2016).

Ruffini’s curriculum speaks for itself: a journalist and TV expert, he was the director of Rai3 in the years when the third network of Italian public TV produced some of the highest quality programmes. His ability and competence in the field of communication are therefore known and recognised.

Ruffini’s most hidden feature, for it is known only to those who have had the opportunity to work with him, is his ability to listen and making the most of each person’s abilities, including and never excluding.

The unmistakable human trait of a transparent person: it is no coincidence that at noon on 5 July 2018, when the appointment to the Vatican was made public, there were several collaborators, journalists and technicians in tears in the studios of Tv2000.

The Vatican media are going through a difficult transitional phase: the path of the reform undertaken by the previous Prefect, Monsignor Dario Edoardo Viganò, who resigned following the incident of Benedict XVI’s partially published letter, but kept the role of “councilor” in the dicastery – has yet to be completed. Tensions and misunderstandings were not lacking.

The arrival of a person who, wherever he found himself holding positions of responsibility, was able to make all his collaborators work well, making the most of each person’s abilities, is therefore a significant choice, light years away from the corporate and functional mentality that sometimes seems to infect the Church too when it pursues big majors’ models ending up taking for granted the content of what it communicates. – Andrea Tornielli, Vatican Insider News / Vatican News

Tawau BEC Youth gather for DOCAT

The participants pose for the camera at the end of the DOCAT session, 10 June 2018, in the house of James J Kumanireng in Tawau.

TAWAU – Sixty-one youth from three communities gathered for the DOCAT on 10 June 2018 at the house of James Joseph Kumanireng.

Initiated by Msgr Nicholas Ong, the gathering was organised by Franciscan  Sister Julita Joseph and Seminarian Dafrin Diwol.

The attendees came from the Tinimungan KadazanDusun Murut Community (TUKAD), Filipino Pastoral Community (FPC), and the Indonesian Pastoral Community (KPI).

The visit was an effort to enlighten the youth on the Sandakan Diocesan Vision ie “A Christ-centred community serving one another with love.”

In his catechesis, Msgr Ong touched on family-related themes (articles 112, 114, 115, 117) as seen from the perspective of DOCAT, the Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC) for youth.

He said God created people to live in community – in a family or in a religious institute.  The family is the basic unit of society where one learns about human and Christian values.

This was followed by a lively Q&A session before it ended with a fellowship meal (potluck). – Sandakan Diocesan Blog

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