Tag Archives: 2017-4

Pope Francis wraps up short, but significant visit to Egypt

Photo: L’Osservatore Romano

CAIRO, Egypt – Pope Francis has wrapped up the second and final day of his visit to Egypt on 28-29 April 2017. This marked his 18th apostolic journey out of Italy and 27th country visited. It also marked the second time that a Pope goes to the north African nation, after the visit of Pope John Paul II in 2000.

The Pope was invited to the country by President Abdel-Fattah al Sisi, the Grand Imam of al-Azhar University, Sheikh Ahmed Mohamed al-Tayeb, Coptic Orthodox Pope Tawadros II, and by the Catholic bishops.

As opposed to his first intense day which involved three discourses, including to authorities, an international peace conference at Al Azhar and to Coptic Orthodox Pope Tawadros II, along with a common declaration and moments of prayer with the Coptic Pope, Francis’ second day was a bit lighter. It started out with a Mass, for the country’s Catholics who don’t even constitute one percent of the population, followed by lunch, and concluded with addressing clergy and religious.

In his homily at the Mass for Egyptian Catholics in the “Air Defense Stadium,” he recalled that today’s Gospel of the third Sunday of Easter speaks of the journey to Emmaus of the two disciples who set out from Jerusalem. The Jesuit Pope explained the account can be summed up in three words: death, resurrection and life.

He also reminded all those present what ‘true faith’ has the power to do and that nothing is impossible to God.

“God,” he also pointed out, “is pleased only by a faith that is proclaimed by our lives, for the only fanaticism believers can have is that of charity! Any other fanaticism does not come from God and is not pleasing to him!”

After Mass, Pope Francis had lunch with Egyptian bishops and the Papal entourage. He was served by a young Italian chef who had a moment to greet him after the lunch.

During his prayer meeting with clergy, religious, and seminarians at 3:15 p.m., Francis warned them of seven temptations:
1. The temptation to let ourselves be led, rather than to lead.
2. The temptation to complain constantly.
3. The temptation to gossip and envy.
4. The temptation to compare ourselves to others.
5. The temptation to become like Pharaoh, that is to harden our hearts and close them off to the Lord and our brothers and sisters.
6 The temptation to individualism.
7. The temptation to keep walking without direction or destination:

Resisting these temptations, Francis insisted, is not easy, but it is possible if we are grafted on to Jesus.

“The more we are rooted in Christ, the more we are alive and fruitful!” he said, noting the quality of one’s consecration depends on the quality of one’s spiritual life. “You too can be salt and light, and thus an occasion of salvation for yourselves and for all others, believers and non-believers alike, and especially for those who are poor, those in need, the abandoned and discarded,” he said.

Preceded by a farewell ceremony, at 5 pm, the flight of Pope Francis and his entourage departed from Cairo International Airport, and the flight landed in Rome’s Ciampino Airport at about 8:30 pm. Pope Francis responded to journalists’ questions on his return flight to Rome.

During the two-day journey, the Pope was accompanied by Cardinal Pietro Parolin, Secretary of State, Cardinals Leonardo Sandri, Prefect of the Congregation for Eastern Churches and Kurt Koch, President of the Pontifical Council for Unity, and Apostolic Nuncio in Egypt, Bishop Bruno Musaró. The interpreter of the Pope was his private secretary, official of the secretariat of state, Msgr Yoannis Lahzi Gaid, a Catholic Coptic priest of the Patriarchate of Alexandria.

Egypt has some 90 million inhabitants, a majority of whom, at least 85%, are Muslims. About 10% of the population are Orthodox Coptic Christians, and the Catholics, who are broken up between Coptic Catholics and different rites: Coptic, Latin, Armenian , Melkite, Maronite, Syro-Catholic, etc., make up less than 1% of the population.Their bishops are gathered in the Assembly of the Catholic Hierarchy presided over by the Coptic Catholic Patriarch of Alexandria, Ibrahim Isaac Sidrak. – Zenit

Japan to intergrate Doraemon and other comics into primary school curriculum


TOKYO – Doraemon, Anpanman’s superhero and also the young Chibi Maruko-chan are among the Japanese comic book characters enrolled to teach children how to distinguish between right and wrong in a fun way.

These “manga” characters – comics in Japan – appear in the textbooks of elementary school ethical education.

The latest version of the texts for the 2018 curriculum will appear in schools in April of the same year after the Minister of Education released them on March 24. In it, the purpose is to help children reflect on the their life choices through their favorite characters, now a reference model.

A section titled “Nobita ni mabao” (learning with Nobita) in the Nihon Bunyou Shuppan ethics books uses the main characters of the Doraemon comic, a story about a child and his friend and helper, a robot cat from the future that gives the manga its title.

Nobita is a 10-year-old child who is “not good at either studies or sports, and is generally wrong about everything he does,” but for the authors of the book he “has some fantastic features”: although “good at nothing “in fact, he immediately rises above adversity, is kind to everyone and has a hearty affection. The book invites children to think about how Nobita lives and how children want to live in the future.

Doraemon’s characters appear in other educational texts produced by Kobunshoin Publishing Co., Kosaido Akatsuki Co. and Tokyo Shoseki Co.

The first of these also includes a section called “Chibi Maruko-chan to Kangaeyo!” (Think Chibi Maruko-chan!) The textbook, with suggestions on how to make friends and talk to others, is trying to fight bullying, a problem often faced by Japanese manga.

Other textbooks have included authors’ life stories: Fujiko Fujio, author of Doraemon; Osamu Tezuka, creator of Astro Boy; The mangaka artist (manga designer) Tetsuya Chiba, author of Rocky Joe; The illustrator of Anpanman, Takashi Yanase, and others. – AsiaNews/Agencies

Over 100 Catholic scientists meet at inaugural conference in Chicago

NASA Unveils Celestial Fireworks as Official Image for Hubble 25th Anniversary. Credit: NASA.

CHICAGO, USA – Over a hundred scientists met at their inaugural conference at the Knickerbocker Hotel here on 21-23 Apr 2017.

Themed Origins, the conference gave the participants the opportunity to learn about everything from the birth of stars to the beginnings of human language and to reflect on how their faith and work inform each other.

But perhaps the most important benefit of the conference and the fledgling society that sponsored it was the chance for Catholic scientists to connect with one another as they met.

Darlene Douglas, a teacher at Willows Academy in Des Plaines, Illinois, who has a doctorate in genetics from the University of Chicago, said she left science as a career after it became too difficult to find labs in which she could work without violating Catholic ethics about working with human embryonic stem cells or cell lines derived from aborted fetuses.

“During my studies, I met with a lot of pushback to my faith,” Douglas said, adding that one of her ethics professors told students that it was impossible to believe in both God and evolution.

That is not the position of the Catholic Church, but many scientists who are not Catholic do not know that.

Part of the problem, said Stephen Barr, society president, is that Catholic scientists often are not aware of how many of their peers share their faith.

Barr, director of the Bartol Research Institute at the University of Delaware, founded the society with Jonathan Lundine, director of the Cornell University Center for Astrophysics and Planetary Science, after both concluded that it would be a good thing for the science community and for the church.

“I had several motivations for forming such an organisation,” Barr said. “Many Catholics in science — especially students and young scientists — feel isolated because they do not realise how many other scientists share their faith. That is because most religious scientists are quiet about their faith. This sense of isolation can be demoralising.”

The conference was co-sponsored by the Lumen Christi Institute, which was founded 20 years ago by Catholic scholars at the University of Chicago to bring together Catholic thinkers across academic disciplines.

Thomas Levergood, institute executive director, said he learned about plans for the society when Barr spoke at a Lumen Christi event in 2015, and the institute offered its support.

“It helps make Catholic scientists visible,” Levergood said. “Intellectually, there’s no conflict between Catholicism and science. There’s actually a lot of synergy between them.”

Catholics have made huge contributions in the sciences, from Father Gregor Mendel, an Augustinian who founded the modern science of genetics, to Belgian Msgr. George Lemaitre, who first proposed the theory of an expanding universe and the Big Bang.

However, because some strains of Christianity reject some of what humanity has learned from science, Levergood said, there is a perception in scientific circles that science and religion are incompatible.

“It’s existed as a kind of prejudice. Within the culture, and within scientific circles,” he said.

“This is part of the myth that science and religion are incompatible and have historically been at war,” Barr said. “This myth has led many young Catholics to lose their faith, as several recent studies have shown. We want to show the world that there are large numbers of devout Catholic scientists, including ones of great eminence in their fields.”

The society has met great enthusiasm, Barr said. He and Lundine were surprised by how easy it was to find members for the society’s seven-member board.

After securing the sponsorship of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia and Archbishop Charles J Chaput’s participation as bishop adviser, the group started taking applications for membership. It is open only to professional scientists and university-level students studying for a career in the physical and natural sciences.

By mid-April, after being in operation for less than a year, it had 350 members, Barr said.

Karin Oberg, an astrochemist and associate professor of astronomy at Harvard University, spoke at the conference on how planets are formed, how many planets outside the solar system might be habitable for life and how people might go about finding them.

But she also reflected on what that means spiritually.

“If God describes himself through his creation, what does it mean if God’s creation is full of habitable worlds?” she said. The thought that the stars people see could each centre a solar system with its own habitable worlds makes the night sky seem less cold, she said, and “something that’s a bit more cozy.”

Other speakers included Marissa March, a physicist and researcher from the University of Pennsylvania; Father Joachin Ostermann ofm, a Canadian Franciscan biochemistry professor; Jesuit Brother Guy Consolmagno of Vatican Observatory; Karin Oberg, an astronomy professor at Harvard University; and Kenneth R Miller, a biology professor at Brown University.



Non-Catholic speakers include Robert C Berwick, a computer science professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology; and John D Barrow, a theoretical physicist at the University of Cambridge in the United Kingdom. – Various sources



SHC-CLOW retreat draws 67 participants

BUNDU TUHAN – Sixty-seven children attended the annual retreat organised by the Sacred Heart Cathedral English Children Liturgy of the Word at the retreat centre here on 20-22 Mar 2017.

Neil Mah facilitated the retreat themed Love My Neighbour.

The purpose of this yearly retreat is for the children to deepen their faith and understanding of the Word of God and to have a personal encounter with God.

Alongside the children were 26 facilitators and helpers from the cathedral as well as from the Church of Mary Immaculate Bukit Padang.

The children were taught bible verses defining who our neighbours are and how we should love and treat them according to God’s commands. They were divided into six groups throughout the retreat. Activities centred around group discussions among team members and presentations based on topics given by the retreat master.

Among the highlights of the retreat were the Stations of the Cross held outdoors. They started at the centre and subsequently, the groups were assigned to either ascend or descend the hill for the remainder of the stations before meeting at the centre for the final station.

The children attended Mass on the second day presided by Father Michael Modoit at St Pius X Church.

An interesting activity organised was the writing of personal and positive messages to old and new friends (neighbours) alike, affirming their appreciation of that person, with some having full ‘mail boxes”! Laura Lim

Why the devil hates Mary – especially during exorcisms

MEXICO CITY, Mexico – Italian priest Sante Babolin said that Satan is behind several recent attacks in various parts of the world against the Virgin Mary, noting that she is a powerful advocate for him during exorcisms.

“In my experience – so far I have performed 2,300 rites of exorcism – I can say that the invocation of the Most Holy Virgin Mary often provokes significant reactions in the person being exorcized,” he told Mexican weekly Desde la Fe on 28 Apr 2017.

Father Babolin, who also taught at the Gregorian University in Rome, said that “in face of the failure of the onslaught by non-believers, now, in order to offend and confound the Catholic people, the Virgin Mary, whom the devil hates, is being attacked.”

Desde la Fe noted the recent events of the Spanish drag queen Borja Casillas, who masqueraded as the Virgin Mary and mocked her in a performance, as well as a woman who dressed up as the Virgin Mary and simulated an abortion during a protest in Argentina.

The Italian exorcist said that “as proof of this hatred” of the devil toward the Mother of God, “while I was insistently invoking the Most Holy Virgin Mary, the devil answered me: ‘I can’t stand That One (Mary) any more and neither can I stand you any more.’”

Fr Babolin also noted that “the Second Vatican Council declares that Mary, daughter of Adam, in accepting the divine message, became the Mother of Jesus, and embracing with her whole heart and without the hindrance of any sin the saving will of God, consecrated herself totally, as the servant of the Lord, to the person and work of her Son.”

The priest pointed out the passage in the book of Genesis – which is evoked in the Rite of Exorcism – where God says to the serpent that “she will crush your head.”

In this ritual, he said, the exorcist says to the devil: “Most cunning serpent, you shall no more dare to deceive the human race, persecute the Church, torment God’s elect and sift them as wheat (…) The sacred Sign of the Cross commands you, as does also the power of the mysteries of the Christian Faith (…) The glorious Mother of God, the Virgin Mary, commands you; she who by her humility and from the first moment of her Immaculate Conception crushed your proud head.”

Fr Babolin also said that “the strongest reactions” of the devil during the exorcism occur “when references are made to her apparitions.”

Because of this, he frequently pronounces the name of Holy Mary with her titles of Lourdes, Fatima or Guadalupe. In the latter case, he said, “I use this formula: ‘Holy Mary, Our Lady of Guadalupe, Queen of Tepeyac.’”

The exorcist warned that “the instrument the (the devil) normally uses to trap us is money, since it offers the possibility of satisfying the impulses that converge in pleasure and power.”

Satan “subjugates us to himself manipulating the truth and offering us his dazzling light, showing us his version of ‘freedom’ and promising us the instant gratification of our whims.”

“As far as interpersonal communication, the sense of sight overtakes the sense of hearing; and consequently the image over the word; that is to say, desire precedes reflection,” he said.

Fr Babolin encouraged Catholics to denounce attacks on the faith as well as to organise and participate in prayer events, pray the Rosary, and participate in Masses at places where offenses were committed. – CNA/EWTN News

SHC organises second retreat for youth leaders

BUNDU TUHAN – Sacred Heart Cathedral Parish organised a second retreat for core leaders of all youth ministries on 24-26 Mar 2017 at the retreat centre here.

Anthony Lim facilitated the retreat. Present also were Archbishop John Wong and Father Joshua Liew.

The participants represented EFATA, Chinese Teens, Chinese Youth, LifeTeen, LifeLine, Young Adults Prayer Group and Royal Ambassadors Youth (RAY).

“If you want to see significant changes in your life, try to spend some time before the Blessed Sacrament. Attend Holy Hour if not everyday, at least once a week on Thursday in Sacred Heart Cathedral,” said Lim.

He also said that if the participants want to see their ministries to grow (not just numerically) but in faith, they have to invite their members to attend the Holy Hour.

One of the most significant experiences at this retreat was bonding with new people. The leaders had the opportunity to mingle with one another who come from different ministries and language.

The youth leaders felt very fortunate to have both the archbishop and Fr Joshua to be with them at the retreat. They joined in every session and group discussion with the youth leaders which was a source of encouragement to the leaders. Joanna Bernardette AC


Fondacio celebrates 10 years of existence

QUEZON CITY, Philippines  – The alumni, friends, mission partners and persons committed to Fondacio gathered at Radio Veritas Asia here in November 2016 to celebrate ten years of IFFAsia’s mission. Titled Building Leaders, Transforming Asia, the alumni shared stories of bringing joy and hope in the Lord’s vineyard, and listened to each other’s best practices and challenges.

Addressing those present, Bishop Joel Baylon, Chairman of the Federation of Asian Bishops’ Conferences (FABC) Youth Desk, and Chairman of IFFAsia, thanked each one for “going out to make a difference.” He reminded them about the challenges in Asia, and what it means to read the signs of the times “to understand its significance for our lives and communities.”

He repeated Pope Francis’ message at the recent World Youth Day: for the young people “to teach us how to live in diversity, in dialogue, to experience multiculturalism not as a threat but an opportunity. Have the courage to teach us that it is easier to build bridges than walls!”

The Institute of Formation Fondacio Asia (IFFAsia) was established by Fondacio, an international lay movement with pontifical status, to be at the service of the formation and mission needs of the local Churches of Asia. Fondacio promotes evangelisation, leadership formation, and human development activities for the poor and marginalised. They are present in 20 countries in four continents.  Below is a cross-section of some of the graduates.

Tugso, 27,  comes from the mountain steppes of Mongolia. In 2014, she started an empowerment programme for women living in extreme poverty in a rural area. By making and marketing products made by hand and felt sewing, they were able to augment their financial income and build a community of families.

Martin, 30, married to Victoria, and a young father, manages a goat-breeding livelihood project called “Green Pasture” near Mandalay, Myanmar. They also serve as the only teachers and catechists in their village. Seeing the extreme poverty and the lack of any proper school during his internship, he decided to set up the project for the education of the village children, and at the same time providing extra income for the families.

James, 28, from Laos, facilitates a Life Skills program, which teaches a set of skills – English, computer, work ethics, self-management, professional development, livelihood, among others. It helps the young people be employed and stand on their feet, and reduces the risk of migration and trafficking.His wife Amala, also serves locally with an NGO.

Jhimus, 24, from the Philippines, is actively involved in youth ministry in his home diocese of Legazpi and facilitates personal formation and catechesis, as a way of doing faith formation among the youth.

Tugso, Martin, James, and Jhimus are all alumni of IFFAsia. IFFAsia started as a little seed in Manila in 2006, and has sprouted to reach out to other countries, counting 180 young adults coming from Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Vietnam, Thailand, Malaysia, Brunei, the Philippines, Mongolia, China, Korea, Japan, and Pakistan.

In an interview with Alice Tan, IFFAsia Director, she said that formation is not just about acquiring knowledge and skills needed to become an effective missionary disciple.

“It is also about growing in friendship with Jesus Christ and the on-going conversion. It is this friendship, central to Fondacio’s spirituality, which brings about transformation and humanisation of persons, relations and society,” Tan said.

This can be seen in Martin’s case. What continues to push Martin to grow the livelihood and education programme is the passionate care that he has for his people, the poor villagers and particularly the children that benefit from the project. For him, all children no matter how economically limited their families are, deserve to have good education. Just as Jesus was compassionate towards the marginalised during his time, Martin feels the same for those around him.

The graduates of IFFAsia work in different mission fields in their respective countries and churches. It includes youth and children ministry, campus ministry, catechism, education and evangelisation. In the area of social development, the graduates work with urban or rural poor, migrants and refugees, people with disabilities, and marginalised women. Others are into community building, working with dioceses and parishes. A few graduates have gone on to pursue the religious or priestly vocation. Still, others have decided to stay on with the Institute as interns, building themselves up as formators for its succeeding generation of students.

 Doing mission is not without challenges and difficulties. For Tugso and the women, they had to deal with the substandard quality of the initial batch of products, the expensive raw materials and marketing their products. She also had to handle the self-centredness of the women and their difficulty to understand the goal of the programme. James had to struggle with his local situation and limited resources while setting up the programme. Among others, the level of education, budgets, cleanliness, were points of concern and learning.

IFFAsia is well aware of these realities because they serve as learning points during the formation programme at the institute. The graduates’ initiative is tested. Certainly, it encourages them to be more courageous and creative in dealing with situations. On their own, or with Fondacio’s help, these young missionaries have also built partnerships to help sustain the programmes.

It is easier for Tugso to work with the Consolata Missionaries in Mongolia, because it was they who introduced her to the Catholic faith. She also develops partnerships with local state offices, NGOs who have conducted training and seminars, and individuals who have partly funded the programme. Jhimus has the full support of his bishop, who in fact has encouraged him to implement his youth catechesis programme in all the parishes in the diocese. He is also supported by his parish priest and the diocesan pastoral council and coordinates with the youth leaders in the area.

IFFAsia continues to be present in the young missionaries’ lives through its network of small Fondacio groups and the regional Fondacio Asia office. They know that these young adults need pastoral care to grow as disciples in ministry, and not all may be as blessed as Tugso or Jhimus in their respective local church. They need ministry support, including planning and review, feedback, mentoring and ongoing formation, especially when they are on their own.

Martin and James have the support of Fondacio to help them manage the programmes, and fund-raising. When needed, pastoral companions provide guidance and support the alumni to ensure the growth of the mission. Young volunteers mostly from Europe spend a few months to a year to assist and share their skills be it in language, computer, or administration. Through this exchange, they too are conscientised to mission realities, and mutual solidarity is fostered.

 IFFAsia is revising its programmes to offer two tracks of specialisation, beginning July 2017, to equip the laity to respond better to mission needs. The social leadership track focuses on Community Development and Livelihood; and the phenomenon of Migration, Refugees and Human Trafficking. The pastoral leadership track centres on Youth Ministry and Family life, and the Joy of the Gospel. More so, the alumni are encouraged to conduct the Life Skills training and Basic Leadership programmes locally in each country, to reach out to wider groups of young people on the peripheries.

“Through all these, we want to call the young and laity to a living friendship and discipleship with Jesus, to impress upon them that Christian mission is part of their lives whatever career they may go into  and that we are here, as Fondacio, to support them in whatever simple ways we can,” said Tan. – Rosabelle Ramirez

See www.fondacio-asia.org for more programme details.

Retired Kuching prelate says he resigned out of love for the church

KUCHING – In a statement released in March 2017,  retired Archbishop John Ha talked about his request for early retirement ahead of the canonical age candidly.

 With my successor found, the Most Reverend Simon Poh Hoon Seng, I am now able to retire with peace of mind and heart. I certainly feel a profound relief and joy deep within me. To me, this sense of relief and joy are an affirmation that I have made the right decision to request the Holy Father’s approval for my resignation from the Archbishop’s Office ahead of the canonical age.

On hearing the official announcement of my “resignation,” many have asked “WHY?” I guess the term “resignation” which is the canonical term carries some negative connotations like ill health, inappropriate conduct, disillusionment. To clear the air, I now share my reason for my decision to request for early retirement.

The Holy Father’s acceptance of my request for stepping down prematurely from the Archbishop’s Office was announced on 4 March 2017, deliberately timed to coincide with my 70th birthday. My reason for this timing was that I thought the age of 70 would be readily accepted as grounds for early retirement.

Thinking back, I suppose I could say that at the rock bottom, my reason for requesting for early retirement is my love for the Church, though this may not have been so explicit in my mind. I have been deeply inspired and encouraged by Pope Benedict XVI who resigned from the papacy a few years ago primarily because he had realised that in his condition then he would not able to lead the Church as effectively as the Church deserved.

Over the last few years, I have been increasingly feeling my age as it gradually manifested its symptoms – brevity of attention, frequent lapses of memory, quick mental exhaustion at meetings. In addition, I gradually felt worn out by challenges from within and from without myself, personally as well as the Church. At times, I felt rather discouraged if not totally helpless. Administrative work also started to take its toll on me, so much so, that I began to feel it more as a burden than as a joyful ministry.

I felt that these gradually debilitating realities of mine must not be allowed to hamper the growth of the Archdiocese of Kuching. I saw the need for an Auxiliary Bishop – one who is obviously younger, but also more capable, more energetic, more resilient and even more charismatic than myself. I, therefore, took a considered decision to write to Cardinal Filoni, Prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelisation of Peoples, Holy See, to request for an Auxiliary. Bishop Simon was appointed and ordained in September 2015.

With him as my Auxiliary, I was able to share several administrative and pastoral responsibilities with Bishop Simon. In the process, I saw his aptitude and capability. I also looked at the other two Bishops (Bishop Joseph Hii of Sibu and Bishop Richard Ng of Miri). Any one of these three Bishops could easily take over from me as the Archbishop of Kuching. Thus, in September last year, I confidently and courageously submitted another request to the Prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelisation of Peoples – this time for a successor. Acting on my request, the Apostolic Nuncio, Archbishop Joseph Marino, conducted an extensive consultation. The appointment of Bishop Simon as my successor resulted from this consultation.

Of course, I am very glad that Bishop Simon has been appointed to succeed me. This is because he has been very actively involved in the pastoral care of the Archdiocese. As a result of this involvement of his, he truly knows the in’s and out’s of the Archdiocese. His appointment assures continuity as well as progress of the Archdiocese.

Archbishop Simon Poh has taken canonical possession of the Archdiocese of Kuching. To him I say, “Congratulations and thank you, Simon.” To all the Catholics of the Archdiocese, I say: “Archbishop Simon Poh is now your Archbishop. We thank God for him and I am sure you will give him full support and keep him in your prayers. May God make him the shepherd we need and deserve – a shepherd after Christ’s own heart.”

INSAN-5 draws 56 participants

BUNDU TUHAN – INSAN-5 drew 56 participants from 13 parishes.

The annual formation programme for Parish Human Development Committees (PHDCs)  was held at the Bundu Tuhan Retreat Centre on 17-19 Mar 2017.

The main objective of the programme is to strengthen solidarity among the participants, as well as to empower and equip the PHDCs in their ministry.

Coordinator of the Archdiocesan Human Development Commission (AHDC), Dominic Lim began by reminding the participants of the Archdiocesan Pastoral Thrust based on the ‘threefold movement’, adopted by the Archdiocese: Go inward, Go smaller and Go outward. He stressed that they need to adapt the threefold movement to their services as PHDCs.

Archbishop John Wong’s message was read to the participants. He expressed his support for the programme and felt that its objectives were aimed to improve the quality of service of the PHDCs.

The prelate said that the ministry of Human Development (HD) is comparatively new in relation to the other ministries. Its existence is necessary to help the faithful have a holistic understanding of the mission of the Church.

In addition, the prelate reminded the participants that as Catholics, their focus is not only in the liturgical celebration (Leiturgia) and the proclamation of the Gospel (Kerygma), but also to live out their faith through works of charity (Diakonia).

Modernity, the message continued, brings a lot of benefits but also much socio-economic-emotional anxieties, raising many questions about life.

The message also pointed to the strained relations among various races and religions, the thoughtless exploitation of natural resources, corruption, and abuse of power in politics.

The prelate then concluded his message, asking the PHDCs to educate the parishioners on the proper understanding of the church’s social mission.


INSAN-5 programme also explored the topic of religious freedom with the help of Wotti Junius, a Catholic lawyer, who has provided some guidance and advice on issues regarding documents (birth certificate and identity card), especially cases related to religious status.

The programme also focused on the four areas of service: economic, culture and tradition (KDM), substance abuse, and migration.

INSAN-5 concluded with Mass presided by Father Ambrose Atang,  AHDC spiritual adviser. In his homily, he reiterated the importance of PHDCs as mentioned by Abp John Wong. He also shared his personal experiences in the social ministry, particularly to the migrants. – AHDC


Tawau PPC organises recollection for members

TAWAU – The Parish Pastoral Council (PPC) of Holy Trinity Church here organised a short recollection at the parish centre on 4 Mar 2017 for its members. It began with a Eucharistic celebration, which was presided by Father Philip Muji.

Fr Muji, in his homily, stressed on the importance of spiritual food to all ministers of the church especially the PPC members, for them to grow in wisdom and be enlightened in order to serve the parish.

“Your concern for the current issues is also very important so that you can evaluate and do something to protect our faith from being corrupted by irresponsible ideologies. Pray for strength and inspiration from God so that you will be granted the knowledge and wisdom that will accompany you in your service to the church,“ said Fr Muji.

Three main topics were presented: 1) Leadership in Serving, 2) Serving with Love, and 3) Sustaining the Spirit of Leadership.

Mario Domingo, speaking on Leadership in Serving,  explained that serving the church means they are servants of Christ who bring the people of God into the awareness of the presence of God by the humble offering of themselves in service in daily life.

“It is not about power or authority, but about how others see Christ in us and in our action,” said Domingo.

Serving with Love was presented by Franciscan Sister Julita Joseph, who sees ‘serving’ as an act that is free from coercion, encouraging, caring, loving, and comforting.

She said,  “It is very different when we complete a work that ends in tiredness and dissatisfaction because we are being forced to do it, and not out of our willingness and honesty. A true and pure action, coming from the heart and soul, is always uplifting and full of peace and satisfaction. Serving the Lord is therefore not a job to accomplish, but that the love of Christ be reflected through us.”

Seminarian Arthur John, touching on Sustaining the Spirit of Leadership in Serving, stressed that understanding and discerning one’s call as a leader in the church is also important. “Being positive and creative in leadership contributes to a sense of confidence, attentiveness, calmness and prudence in leading, which in turn provides the spirit of serving in faithfulness.” said John.

After the inputs, participants were encouraged to share their reflections on the fruits of service they have experienced in themselves, as well as in others.

Other points for reflection were to examine whether Christ’s love is the foundation or model of their service towards others, and their aspiration to be servants of Christ who serve without expecting anything in return.

“Actions not born out of the wisdom and love of God do not benefit God’s Kingdom. Serving the Church is equivalent to serving God,” said a participant.

The recollection ended with the paraliturgyy of foot washing as a symbol of humble service to one another as shown by Jesus, the model of servanthood. – Julita Kantod

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