DONTOZIDON – St Paul Parish here culminated its almost eight-month long parish family life celebration on 17 Sept 2017.
In its fourth year, 72 Basic Ecclesial Communities (BECs) from St Paul Dontozidon, Our Lady Queen of Peace Kobusak, and St John the Baptist Kopungit took part in the celebration.
Based on the theme Christ, the Joy of My Family, the observance began with a recollection on Pope Francis’ Amoris Laetitia on Feb 11, BEC formation in March, My Family and I seminars between April and September, family reconciliation with Mass, renewal of marriage vows, and closing dinner at the Kadazan Dusun Cultural Association Centre Penampang on Sept 17.
At the dinner, Archbishop John Wong reminded all present that when a family life is centred on Christ and offers all their joys and sorrows to Jesus, they will experience peace in their hearts as promised by Jesus to those who believe in Him.
The prelate hoped the Family Day celebration would spur every family in the parish to deepen their faith in Jesus.
Since its inception in 2008, the Dontozidon Family Life Ministry has tried in various ways to reach out to the families in the parish to strengthen their faith and family relationships so as to stand firm and counter challenges to their Catholic faith.
Visits to Catholic communities in 2012 were spearheaded by then pastor Msgr Primus Jouil and the Family Life Ministry.
This first grass-root community outreach paved the way to the more personalised home visits in the following years, reviving the missionary spirit of the founding fathers of the early church where families gathered as one community and later to celebrate the Eucharist together on their home ground.
The “My Family and I” seminars were conducted at BEC level, targeting parents, youths and young children. These seminars were aimed to bring about understanding of each other, the importance of communication and the need for reconciliation in order to create a peaceful, loving and resilient family environment.
All these led to the inaugural Parish Family Day celebration on 23 Sept 2013 with participation from the youth and children.
The home visits, also coined as ‘Jelajah Iman Keluarga’ (Family Faith Reconnoitre) become the platform for the parish family life ministry to strengthen family ties and unity, with full support from the pastoral leaders.
The Parish Family Day gave the parishioners the opportunity to rediscover the true meaning and purpose of family life in the midst of silent suffering, brokenness, struggle, division, and the many uncertainties assaulting the domestic church.
Although only nine couples responded to the call to renew their marriage vows, they took centre stage at the beginning of the celebration alongside the pastors and religious as a sign of hope to remain faithful to their marriage vocation.
The evening concluded with the song “We are the world” led by Fr Maxmillianno Hontor. – Jenifer Majalap