Tag Archives: 2016-12

Christ Our Joy (John 15:11)

Starting in 2017, the Malaysian Church celebrates Catechetical Sunday on January 22 (or date nearest to it).  Below is a reflection by Fr Mark Michael of the Malaysian Commission for Catechetics.

CHRIST came to bring joy to all humanity and this is one of the keynote messages of Christianity and the recurring motif of the Gospels. Joy, like love, is at the heart of what it means to be Christian, and it testifies to the conviction that human life has an ultimate meaning revealed to us by God and guaranteed by His unfailing love. Jesus wants us to experience His joy and He reveals the path to the lasting joy that satisfies the deepest needs of the human heart. He instituted the Church to bring us to this plateau of delight. We need to take Him at His word when Jesus told His disciples, “I have said these things to you so that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be complete” (Jn 15:11). The greatest honour we can give God is to be joyful because of the knowledge of His love.

Pope Paul VI wrote, “Modern man listens more willingly to witnesses than to teachers, and if he does listen to teachers, it is because they are witnesses.”  Catechesis is no longer perceived as the simple teaching of faith formulae, but is focused at the maturing of faith as a support to witnessing to it in the world. My primary concern about catechesis today is that we need to emphasise the joy, enthusiasm and hopefulness that our faith produces, by witnessing and living this truth in our words, our actions, our decision, our relationship and our entire being.

GK Chesterton, who states that joy, which was a small publicity of the pagan, is the gigantic secret of the Christian and that Christianity satisfies human’s ancestral instinct for being the right way up. GK Chesterton’s understanding would be seen as controversial and not all would agree with this claim of Christianity that affirms that joy is one of the “dominant thesis” of Christian faith.

A joy-filled Christian is one who, rather than endure life, has learned through faith, to treasure life and witnesses the kingdom of God. The Word of Jesus has produced its fruit. Those who believe in Him have the fullness of His joy (Jn 17:13). Joy is indeed a fruit of the Spirit (Gal 5:22) and a characteristic mark of the Kingdom of God (Rom 14:17). The sacrament of Baptism fills the faithful with the joy of the Spirit (Acts 13:52), which makes the apostles sing praises even in their worst moments of persecution. Our joy depends more on the Spirit’s Presence in us. Joy is simply the Presence of the Holy Spirit. When the spirit of gladness permeates a person’s entire being, they are said to be joyful.

How do we catechise in a way that fosters learning of the heart? We are catechists in a community of various backgrounds, traditions and histories where there are expectations and pressures. We cannot be independent and cannot avoid the social structures beyond our Catholic religious structures. We will be constantly negotiating between those structures and our communities. The pastoral approach does not mean accommodation to current ways of thinking and behaving, but entails bringing the joy and the light of the truth to bear on contemporary situations in a manner that is convincing and sensitive to the questions of post-modern people. As the ministry of the Word, catechesis refers to a constellation of activities that promote, enhance and challenge believers toward more mature faith. “Christ our joy” could take many forms like:-

  1. The good example of living a gospel-inspired life
  2. Works of charity and mercy
  3. Morally appropriate language, action and attitudes.
  4. Genuine Christian faith, hope and charity
  5. A lifestyle characterised by prayers
  6. Celebration of the Sacraments and other acts of worship
  7. Genuine Christian humility
  8. Participation in the Christian community’s ministry
  9. Active participation in social justice events and causes.

Three senior parishioners receive the Sacrament of Confirmation

One of the three seniors receiving the Sacrament of Confirmation, 11 Oct 2016, St Michael Penampang.

PENAMPANG – Three senior parishioners were among the 128 candidates who received the Sacrament of Confirmation on 11 Oct 2016 at St Michael Penampang here.

Archbishop John Wong conferred the sacrament on them at a Mass concelebrated with Father Fundes Motiung and Father Wiandigool Runsab.

Patrick Yong Yuk Chan, 78, hails from Matunggong, Kudat. He was baptised there as a child. His wife Annie Tam Ah Khiun @Tam Oi Kion, 71, together with her sister Maria Tam Chiu Moi, 65 were non-Catholics, and went through special classes in order to prepare themselves spiritually to receive the Sacraments of Initiation.

Because of their advanced age, Patrick and his wife attended intensive weekly classes at St Joseph Convent, Penampang under the guidance of Sr Imelda Angang, while Maria was guided by catechist Stephen Mingkong.

They received support from their children who provided transport and encouragement throughout their journey.

The couple had their marriage blessed while Annie and Maria were baptised prior to the reception of the Sacrament of Confirmation.

“We praise the Lord for His guidance and for giving us the strength for the entire journey. It has been a wonderful experience and we are very happy to have received this blessing,” said Patrick.

After the Mass,  all adjourned to the parish hall for a fellowship meal. A special programme was prepared  including sharings and gift presentation from the catechetical teams of Penampang, Kolopis and Minintod Zones. – Penampang SOCCOM

KK prelate commends parish catechists during pastoral visit

One of the catechist receives his certificate from Abp Wong, 20 Nov 2016, SHPC.

KOTA KINABALU  – As one of the activities during his pastoral visit to the Sacred Heart Cathedral Parish here on 20 Nov 2016, Archbishop John Wong met with over 50 parish catechists and presented them with letters of commendation for their service  as faith formators.

This  gesture took some catechists by surprise as they see their voluntary service as their way of contribution to the parish, while some expressed their appreciation of their bishop’s gesture of gratitude and would honour it by framing it up.

The parish catechists were from the English and BM RCIA, English Sunday School, BM Sunday School, and Chinese Sunday School.

During the event, the prelate  explained that those who catechise in the outstations are known as catechists, while those involved in the catechetical ministry in the parishes are to be known as parish catechists.

With words of encouragement, the prelate commended them and their selfless service in the catechetical ministry, and reminded them that the promise that “the more you give, the move you will receive” will not only be for themselves, but also for their families.

Taking the opportunity, he also cautioned them to be faithful in their preparation time, which is vitally necessary for a good catechesis.

Inanam organises 3-in-1 celebration

The honourees blow their anniversary candles at the cake-cutting ceremony, 21 Nov 2016, St Catherine Inanam.

INANAM – Saint Catherine here organiaed a three-in-one celebration in conjunction with the Solemnity of Christ the King, parish family fellowship, and the double priestly anniversaries of its pastor Father David Sham and his assistant, Father Paul Lo at St Catherine Hall on 21 Nov 2016.

Fr David celebrated 31 years of service while Fr Paul marked 11 years of priestly ministry. The actual dates of their anniversaries were Nov 24 and Dec 10 respectively, but due to the tight schedule in view of Advent, the three joyful events were held at the same time.

Members of the pastoral council, members of the various communities, together with more than 400 parishioners attended the event to show their support and appreciation to their priests. Father Rayner Bisius was also in attendance.

During their brief thanksgiving addresses, both priests thanked God for calling them to the priesthood, and for His continued guidance to serve the faithful. They also expressed their sincere thanks to the organising committee and the parishioners for their presence and positive participation in the parish event. – Michael Guntili

Eight priests attend Young Priests Gathering in Singapore

 

SINGAPORE – Eight young priests from Kota Kinabalu Archdiocese headed to Singapore for the yearly Malaysia-Singapore Young Priest Gathering (YPG)  on 24-28 Oct 2016.

The priests were Fathers Maxmilliano Hontor, Daniel Jomilong, Postinus Kurup, Abel Madisang, Joshua Liew, Jack Sigam, Mitchelly Kiun and Florian Dompok.

The YPG serves to foster unity among young priests in Malaysia and Singapore below five years of ordination, and provides a time to come together to share their experiences in their own respective dioceses and parishes.

The five days of recollection, tour and fun benefited the young priests as they not only got to exchange ideas, share their challenges in the pastoral field, their personal struggles, but they also had a day of recollection with the Archbishop William Goh of Singapore.

The archbishop shared some important and useful tips, touching on “being, doing and holiness”. He said, “We tend to be functional in ministry rather than looking into holiness seriously. There is no real ministry without holiness. Holiness is the fruit of ministry.”

The prelate challenged the participants to know their own perception and  deepen their understanding of the priesthood.  He also said that they must believe in what they preach – the Word of God.

During the five-day gathering, the YPG was also given the opportunity to visit other churches around, as well as the archdiocesan centre. – Fr Mitchelly Kiun

Sabah delegation visits Heilbronn

SANDAKAN – A delegation of 11 people from Sabah paid a return visit to Heilbronn Germany under the banner of Sabah Heilbronn Ecumenical Partnership (SHEP) on 23 Sept – 14 Oct 2016.

The delegation from Sabah was represented by six Catholics from the three dioceses, three from the Basel C ouncil of Churches Malaysia (BCCM) and two from the Protestant Church of Sabah (PCM). The Sabah SHEP delegates was headed by Fr Thomas Yip.

The exchange visit from both sides have been done since 1990.

Staying with host families helped the delegates to observe and broaden their perspective living in a different cultural and spiritual setting.  They visited the different deaneries, Mission 21 in Basel Switzerland, had a discussion on living out ecumenism at Lowenstein and listened to a talk on ecumenism and its challenges in Germany.

The delegates were given the privilege to access the Mission 21 headquarters’ archive where documents are kept dated way back to the 1600s. In their collection, the delegates were shown the oldest Malay written Bible dated in 1821 where it clearly referred God as “Allah”,.

SHEP Germany organised a celebration called “Sabah Day” to commemorate the long standing relationship between these countries. After the service, all adjourned to the church parish hall for fellowship with all of their hosts and guests, where the Sabah SHEP delegates performed the Sumazau and invited the hosts and other guests to join them.

The visit concluded with an eveluation session with the delegates to review their effectiveness in hosting the SHEP 2016. From the information gathered, they will forward their findings and recommendations to the next hosting committee of Sabah SHEP. – Dalius Lobinjang, DOSPO

SRS Datuk Simon Fung celebrates 29th Awards and Graduation night

A dance performance by some of the students at the Graduation Night, 22 Nov 2016, Yayasan Sabah.

LIKAS – SRS Datuk Simon Fung celebrated its 29th Awards and Graduation Night themed “Beats around the World,” on 22 Nov 2016 at the Yayasan Sabah Auditorium here.

The colourful dances were choreographed to a music selection from African music, Michael Jackson’s song and other English songs, and performed by primary one to primary six students and the learning centre students,

Seventy-three primary six students were presented certificates for completing their primary education this year. In the recent UPSR examination, 82% of the primary six students scored for all subjects. Meanwhile the best result from the school was achieved by two students scoring 5 As and 1 B.

The school also awarded several outstanding achievements for best students and the most improved students, as well as appreciation to the school prefects and parents.

This year’s Sports Girl Award went to Sharifah Dickerson for her outstanding achievement in swimming. Meanwhile the Sports Boy Awards were clinched by two students: Muhd Yousuff B Muhd Yunus for swimming and Elijah Vincent for squash. This year also saw the final recipient of the special Swami-Rathinambal Award, which went to Jonathan Onol Moloyos.

Archbishop John Wong officiated the event. In attendance were the board chairman Msgr Primus Jouil, members of the BOG and former headmistress, Mary Lojinon Naun.

Archbishop Wong, who is also the head of the school’s Board of Trustees, congratulated SRS Datuk Simon Fung for achieving its first award of Standard Quality for Private Education Institution (SKIPS) from the Ministry of Education.

“This means that the quality of education provided by the school is now rated as ‘five-star’,” said the archbishop. He urged parents to enrol their children at Maktab Nasional which has also achieved the SKIPS rating for two consecutive years.

Touching on the rapid development of society today, he said that the fear of God must reign in the homes and in society in order to produce the right environment for the young to grow where morality is not compromised.

The archbishop reiterated that it is the adults’ duty to stop or even reverse the negative trends of development by educating the young people with the right values, attitudes and above all, instilling the fear of God in them.

He called on the teachers and parents to work together for the betterment of the children, and also with God, to go beyond academic excellence and inculcate a higher moral standard among the students, thus raising up a future generation of Sabahans to be God-fearing citizenry.

SRS Datuk Simon Fung carried out a fundraising project called ‘Readathon’ to finance part of the construction of the pick-up and drop-off point at the school. An amount of RM15,000 has reportedly been raised. Headmistress Winnie Voo said the sum is still far from the total amount of the project which costs RM145,000. Linda Edward

Bishop Julius calls on the faithful to allow their hearts to be warmed by God’s tenderness

BISHOP Julius Gitom of the Diocese of Sandakan, in his Christmas message, calls on all God’s people to allow their hearts to be warmed by God’s tenderness.

In his message released in early December, the prelate urged the faithful to “allow our hearts to be touched, to be warmed by the tenderness of God, for we need His caress,” in spite of living in a “world filled with global problems and issues, with too much cruelty, violence, hatred, hurts, killings, injustice, and children, women and men becoming objects of trade and trafficking.”

He continued, “Let us ask Him to help us to be peacemakers each day, in our life, in our families, in our cities and nations, in the whole world. Let us allow ourselves to be moved by His goodness, for God is peace!”

Referring to the just concluded Extraordinary Year of Mercy when all had the opportunity to deepen their faith, to experience God’s merciful and endless forgiveness, to know Him as the Father who never gives up on them nor fails to wait for them to come “home” and to start over again, the prelate reiterated that the experiences and activities were not an end to themselves, but that the faithful are to continue to be “merciful like the Father.”

“Do not be afraid to ‘dirty’ ourselves to reach out to the wounded, the sick, the oppressed, the alienated, and be the face of Jesus to those who thirst of His love!” the bishop said.

He concluded his message with a wish that Christmas would be for everyone “a celebration of life-giving to each other, and to let Jesus be the reason for the season!”

Embrace the smallness

The coming of the Messiah seems to be so small, so little, that it is breathtaking when you recognise the truth of the incarnation as God’s majesty coming to live among lost humanity. God chose to be born as an infant among us, one like any other, the Messiah Jesus coming as a baby boy to a world so rough and cruel. He was a child utterly dependent upon his parents for his care and sustenance. He was so small, so little.

Bethlehem, far from a city, was itself a small, insignificant town. The prophet Micah tells us that the Messiah would be born in “Bethlehem of Ephrathah, who is one of the little clans of Judah.” Ephrathah is here associated with a region or clan of Judah, which is itself designated as “little.”

The smallness of it all extends to the mother of Jesus, Mary, a young woman or girl. In antiquity girls and women were accounted as small in many ways, but she is called to be the mother of the Lord.

Women knew the reality of childbirth and the vulnerability of womanhood, so Mary does not run to priests, scribes or scholars, to tell of her encounter with God but to her relative Elizabeth, who is open to God.

God came into the world as an infant; and the Incarnation was entrusted to women, who would not only bring the child to us but care for him among us. They were willing to see and embrace the smallness of us all in light of God’s mighty work. They were open to the love necessary and due to any child and open to God’s saving power in their midst. The Messiah was entrusted to the natural processes of human life, in the most vulnerable of hands, in the most vulnerable of ways, so that God’s glory and salvation would not overwhelm us, but accompany us in solidarity with the suffering of all of us small and little people, in order to teach us the value of human life and the greatness of each of life. By each of her actions, Mary is telling us: Prepare to adore him!

For this is how God chose to come, not had to come, to humanity. From a human point of view, the Incarnation is a crazy plan, choosing people too little and too vulnerable. But as a result, it is the best for us: being born among us, being raised among us, he came as one of us, but as God among us, he shone a light on our true dignity and God’s might in humility.

In this way, says the prophet Micah, the Messiah would “stand and feed his flock in the strength of the Lord, in the majesty of the name of the Lord his God. And they shall live secure, for now he shall be great to the ends of the earth.” By allowing us to embrace our littleness, our smallness and vulnerability, God also allows us to grasp our eternal value. For the Messiah, Jesus Christ, born as a little one to protect and save us, is here to manifest God’s greatness and majesty for all people. No one is too little, too small, too insignificant to share in God’s plan. He comes to share God’s love for us. Oh come, let us adore him! – John W. Martens @ America

Joy marks Fr Cosmas’ ruby jubilee celebration

The ruby jubilarian chats with  some of the faithful after Mass, 26 Dec 2016, St Simon Likas.

LIKAS – Joy marked the ruby jubilee celebration of Father Cosmas Lee at St Simon here on 26 Dec 2016.

Sharing in the joy of the Likas parishioners over their pastor’s 40 years of priesthood were several distinguished guests including Archbishop Emeritus John Lee,  Archbishop Julian Leow of Kuala Lumpur, Auxiliary Bishop Simon Poh of Kuching, Msgr Leonard Lexson of Kuala Lumpur,  Father John Yeow of Melaka-Johor, Father Moses Lui of Melaka-Johor, Carmelite Father Daniel Lim, other local and foreign priests,  members of the different religious institutes, and members of the Regional Commission on the Liturgy.

Present also were the jubilarian’s father, Francis,  his ten siblings and their families.

Although Archbishop John Wong presided over the concelebrated Mass, the 66-year-old jubilarian sang parts of the Mass and read out the homily (“jottings”) prepared by his best friend, Father Theo Ryan Marcus of India.

The jubilarian’s siblings took part in the Presentation of the Gifts, including a new chalice for the occasion.

After Mass there were no group photos taken.  Instead the jubilarian took time to greet the faithful.

All adjourned to the parish hall for the dinner reception prepared for around 800 people.  Here,  speeches were given by Anne Wong, chairperson of the parish pastoral council; Abp Wong; and the jubilarian before the cake-cutting  ceremony and dinner.

After dinner, there was a variety of song and dance performances by some groups including St James Primary School.

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