Tag Archives: interview

Pope Francis challenges Colombians to build peaceful future

Cities visited by Pope Francis in his trip to Colombia 6-11 Sept 2017.

VATICAN CITY  – Pope Francis has concluded his visit to Colombia where he spent five days (6-11 Sept 2017) meeting victims of the country’s civil war and urging all people to work together for peace and national reconciliation.

But as the spotlight fades and organisers dismantle the Mass venues, what effect will the pope’s words have on the politicians, religious leaders and Colombians from all walks of life who flocked to see and hear him speak in Cartagena, Medellin, Villavicencio and the capital, Bogotà?

Beatrice Canal, a professional translator and mother of two grown up children, shared her own reactions to the papal visit with Linda Bordoni, Vatican Radio correspondent in Bogota, on Sept 11.

Canal said she was “pleasantly surprised” and deeply moved to see so many people welcoming the pope “with happiness in their eyes.”

The visit, she said, “has brought us together” and “touched the hearts of every Colombian” who had the chance to see him at the main events or simply line the streets as he drove by.

She said she was happy to see that the trip was “completely unpolitical,” but as an overwhelmingly Catholic nation (over 80 percent of the population) “we were very touched by the visit.”

In particular, Canal said, Colombians are “all very happy that he is the first Latin American pope and “we see him as one of our own.”

Asked what impact the papal visit may have on the future of her country, Canal noted the pope spoke extensively “about peace and reaching out to others.”  She added: “I hope he leaves behind the desire in every Colombian to again feel and share that brotherly and fraternal love he’s been speaking so much about.”

While she acknowledged that the implementation of the peace agreements remains fraught with difficulties, the translator insisted that “every Colombian is hopeful to live in a country in peace.”

She noted that her own children, aged 30 and 35, have never lived in a country in peace, and that she was “a little girl when the violence broke out.”  She said: “I know that the signing of a paper does not translate immediately into peace, now comes the most difficult part where every Colombian has to chip into the process and to open our hearts and be accepting of the former insurgents.”

The victims, Canal concluded, need to “find a place in their hearts to want to forgive” and to be able to live, free of the fear that has caused so much suffering for those living the countryside. – vatican radio

Veteran EMC shares his experience in the Eucharistic ministry

KOTA KINABALU – Fresh from the re-commissioning of the extraordinary ministers of communion (EMC) during the Solemnity of the Body and Blood of Christ at Sacred Heart Cathedral here on 18 June 2017, Francis Liew, from among the longer serving EMCs (more than 30 years), shared with Catholic Sabah what it means to be a minister of Holy Communion.

There is no more intimate moment in our lives than when we receive Jesus in Holy Communion, and in return, with love and gratitude, we offer Him ourselves to serve Him present in the assembly by ministering His Body and Blood to our brothers and sisters, Liew said.

In a nutshell, Liew said, our willingness to serve as an ECM not only means our response in living out our baptismal call to serve God by serving His people, but also a commitment to Christ in sharing the teachings and traditions of the Church.

“We also serve by taking Communion to those members who are prevented by sickness, old age, or other causes from taking part in the gathering for Mass, thereby contributing to the unity of the entire worshipping community,” he added.

Recalling his days in the seminary, the EMC felt perhaps his seminary background has provided a familiarity with the liturgical aspects, which led to a better understanding and the required discipline. His days as an altar server too served a purpose.

Notwithstanding that, Liew opined that the periodic reflection, yearly re-commissioning, and reminders of expectations and standards required by the diocese go a long way to enable the ECMs to maintain their faithfulness and commitment in fulfilling their role.

Serving in this role entails the discipline of preparation by prayer and meditation so that “we are able to fulfill the role with reverence that is due to the Lord,”  said Liew.

He fervently believes that the practice of ‘silence’ predisposes the minister to first acknowledge who it is that he is serving, and that “handling the Communion” is not out of the ordinary things he does. – CS

TTCL Nursing College offers full scholarship for nursing

Some of the candidates listening to the briefing, SHPC, 10 May 2017.

KOTA KINABALU – The Tun Tan Cheng Lock College of Nursing, Assunta Hospital Petaling Jaya is offering a full scholarship to pursue the diploma in nursing.

Theresa Arul, principal of the college, and her team conducted their first briefing and interview here for around 40 students (male and female) and their parents at the Sacred Heart Parish Centre Karamunsing on 10 May 2017.

Scholarship is to pursue the diploma in nursing, a full time three-year course.  Sponsorship will include monthly allowance and accommodation.

Arul and Peter Leong, chairman/CEO of the institute, assured the 17 successful candidates of employment after their studies not only at Assunta Hospital but also in Singapore and Saudi Arabia.

The team included two Franciscan Missionaries of Mary, Sister Susan Thomas, FMM Provincial, and Sister Elizabeth Tan, head of Assunta Integrated Social Services (ASSISS) for the poor.

The diploma is a three-year course with two intakes: April and July.  The briefing and interview were for the July intake.

The course offers a sound education background in nursing practice.  It consists of theoretical knowledge and practical experiences through “on-the-job training” at Assunta Hospital located on Jalan Templar, Petaling Jaya, next to Assumption Church.

The institute began operations in 1961 as a single multipurpose classroom housed under the Assunta Hospital (founded by the Franciscan Missionaries of Mary). It has expanded into the present cozy, multilevel and fully equipped building offering a comprehensive education and valuable experiences in the nursing profession.

 

 

Trust God, says Malaysia’s first cardinal

soter_editedVATICAN CITY –  In an interview with news portal Zenit. org on 22 Nov 2016 here, Cardinal Anthony Soter Fernandez of Kuala Lumpur said it is best to trust God.  He is the first Malaysian cardinal.

He said‘Trust in Him, like your own father. If there is some challenge, be assured that He sees something good in it…’

The pope announced the prelate would be receiving his red hat, along with 16 others, during his Oct 9 Angelus Address.  Cardinal Fernandez is one of the four new cardinals over 80 who are being honoured for their long service to the Church.

The cardinal spent a few hours speaking with Zenit in the pope’s residence, Casa Santa Marta.

‘The bishops nicknamed me ’33,’ the Asian prelate said, because he impressed upon everyone this passage which reads:

Pastoral ministry in a missionary key seeks to abandon the complacent attitude that says: ‘We have always done it this way.’ I invite everyone to be bold and creative in this task of rethinking the goals, structures, style and methods of evangelization in their respective communities. A proposal of goals without an adequate communal search for the means of achieving them will inevitably prove illusory. I encourage everyone to apply the guidelines found in this document generously and courageously, without inhibitions or fear. The important thing is to not walk alone, but to rely on each other as brothers and sisters, and especially under the leadership of the bishops, in a wise and realistic pastoral discernment (EG # 33).

After the consistory on Nov 19, the cardinal informally spoke again with Zenit and shared how the Holy Father encouraged him in his promoting ‘Number 33’ and in serving the poor.

Ordained a priest on 10 Dec 1966, the Malaysian cardinal celebrates the 50th anniversary of his priestly ordination next month.

On 17 Feb 1978, he was ordained Bishop for the Diocese of Penang, and on 10 Nov 1983, was installed Archbishop of Kuala Lumpur. He led the archdiocese for 20 years before stepping down at age 71 for health reasons. Even after ‘retiring,’ he still served his archdiocese. He later was assigned as a spiritual father to College General, Major Seminary in Penang.

The cardinal still serves as the president of the bishops conference of Malaysia, and as chaplain at the Saint Xavier Home for the Elderly in Cheras. While technically he retired from serving his archdiocese in 2003, his assistant Father Pereira traveling with him in Rome argued that the new cardinal’s definition of ‘retired’ is relative.

When Zenit asked what was his reaction to the nomination, he smiled, responding: ‘It wasn’t something I wished for or desired, but trust always the will of God. Also, having been sick, I realise he gives me strength to do all.”

The cardinal also said that in 1978, when appointed Bishop of Penang, he chose an episcopal coat of arms with ‘Justice and Peace’ as his motto. He noted that today even more so than before, justice and peace have such an important role to play, especially in the social and political spheres of his multi-cultural and multi-religious nation.

The Malaysian prelate also spoke about his affection for St John Paul II. He noted how after being ordained bishop, he was able to meet him for the first time at the ad limina visit, which takes place every five years. “The first thing I thought. Thank God this Pope speaks English because I didn’t study Latin,” he said smiling.

“So many times I came and I saw him,” he noted, recalling in particular their exchange after he had been appointed archbishop: “I told Pope John Paul II: ‘Holy Father, I want to thank you for the confidence you have in me, appointing me as the Archbishop of Kuala Lumpur’ and he embraced me and said ‘I am your brother.’”

The cardinal also spoke on some pastoral challenges faced by his multicultural, multi-religious nation.

“Mixed marriages,” he said,  are “a classic example of this.  A lovely Catholic girl, she insisted he must be Catholic and he said he’d convert to Catholicism. Then the day they got married, he said: ‘That’s it. You are my wife. No Catholic business. Thank God she didn’t consummate the marriage. It took years for the annulment to come. So many things are happening like that unfortunately.”

When asked how he describes the situation of Catholics, he noted, “still the basic ecclesial communities come together, actually all the races come together. Territorial parishes come together. Where the Lord is placed, all come together.”

“In our country, there is diversity…the races are many, there are many Muslims.” When responding to whether the fact that Malaysia is a largely Muslim country affects the Catholics, he noted there are efforts for dialogue and everyone co-exists. – zenit.org

Francis Tan: When commissions and ministries engage one another in pastoral outreach, we will have a greater force

File photo: Francis Tan poses with SK St Mary Labuk Board of Governors, 9 Nov 2013.

File photo: Francis Tan poses with SK St Mary Labuk Board of Governors, 9 Nov 2013.

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

Bishop Julius shares his thoughts and visions

bapa-uskup-julius-dan-komisi-komunikasi-sosial-sandakan-2

File photo: Bishop Julius poses with members of the social communications commission, 27 Apr 2014.

On the occasion of his 9th Episcopal Ordination anniversary, 59th birthday, and the 9th Diocesan Day, Bishop Julius Dusin Gitom of Sandakan shares his thoughts and reflection:

What is your most fond memory at your installation Mass?
As I was already residing at St Mary’s Parish one month before my Episcopal Ordination I had a chance to witness firsthand how all the communities worked as a team in preparing for the big occasion. It was a manifestation of a true Church in action. Such community  spirit was one of the most important ingredients for growth as St Mary’s Parish would be elevated to become a cathedral parish after the erection of Sandakan Diocese. For me personally,  the installation made me aware of  the enormous responsibilities ahead that I had to shoulder.

What struck you most when you were informed about assuming a new role of leadership?
When informed of my appointment to be a bishop, I had a deep sense of unworthiness as I also realised my weaknesses and limitations. It is hard to explain in words how I felt at that time.

Knowing that your life would change significantly, how prepared were you to tackle these changes?
Honestly, I was not prepared at all because in the Church, as we all know, unlike in worldly position of leadership, one is not groomed to take the office of bishop, and certainly, the one that is eventually picked for the office never seek nor desire to become a bishop. However, I believe in the participation of the laity, religious and the clergy in carrying the responsibilities in the Church. That is why we speak about cooperation, co-responsibility and collaboration among the people of God. Most importantly, as we all know that the Church is a divine institution and therefore the Lord is present in the Church, through the Holy Spirit, to uphold, to protect, to direct its course according to His will.

What does God’s Divine Plan look like for you in order to accomplish whatever He asks of you? Describe in some detail His Plan in terms of pastoral and spiritual needs of the diocese, the missions and the schools, evangelisation, faith formation, family life, vocations and consecrated life.
I have mentioned about co-responsibility and collaboration among the people of God. Concretely, though at a slow pace, we are building community through BECs. Evangelisation, faith formation, issues confronting the youth, issues related to family life and even vocation to the priesthood and religious life are points of reflection in BEC meetings. I could see that actually BECs give life and sustain the community in all the parishes. As I look back at the last nine years, I am proud to say that through the grace of God and commitment of all (the laity, the religious and the clergy) we have achieved much.

How far would you say His Divine Plan has been accomplished in these nine years?
We are very much aware of the importance of the vision and mission statement of the diocese, as the Book of the Proverbs 29:18 says, “Where there is no vision, the people perish.” In fact, we have started the process in 2010 and we are nearing  its completion and hopefully, by the grace of God, we will be able to launch our vision and mission statement during the 10th anniversary next year.

What would you say are the major challenges and setbacks, if any, that the diocese has encountered in the last nine years?
It cannot be denied that we still have to endure shortage of priests even with two ordinations to the priesthood and one to the diaconate since the erection of the diocese because the catholic population also increases. According to our statistics,  there is an increase of 20% catholic population in the diocese since 2007. Geographically, the Sandakan Diocese is very big, bigger than KK and Keningau dioceses combined, making travelling from one place to another very challenging. Therefore, to meet the spiritual needs of the people is also challenging especially in the remote areas such as Paitan and Telupid.

In this Year of Mercy, what among your diocesan goals have you hoped to revive, renew, strengthen, build, so that the diocese can be more and more the instrument of God’s love and mercy?
During this Extraordinary Jubilee Year of Mercy, we certainly have intensely fixed our gaze on Christ and through many spiritual activities, I believe we also have received abundance of spiritual benefits as well as personal experiences of God’s mercy. But God’s love and mercy are not to be kept as personal “property,” they must be shared generously with others. We, in the Diocese of Sandakan, are the recipients of many migrant workers from neighbouring countries.  Therefore,  in responding to the exhortation of the Holy Father, Pope Francis, we are committed (though not limited to migrant workers but also to all those in need) in helping the migrant workers in any way we can; to reach out to them so as to meet their spiritual needs, administering the Sacraments where possible.   We have also established one or two learning centres for the children of migrant workers, and we try to integrate them into our parishes.

Benedict XVI talks resignation, Pope Francis in new book-length interview

benedictVATICAN CITY – Though he has rarely spoken since resigning from the papacy, Benedict XVI granted several lengthy interviews to German journalist Peter Seewald shortly after stepping down – conversations that touched on themes such as the reform of the Curia, his resignation and his thoughts on Pope Francis.

The interviews, conducted a few months after Benedict’s 28 Feb 2013  resignation, were released as a book in several languages on 9 Sept 2016. The English language version, Last Testament, is due to be published in November.

About 240 pages in length, the book in German is titled Letzte Gespräche. It “touches upon all the most important stages of life of Joseph Ratzinger.”

These stages include Benedict’s childhood under the Nazi regime, the discovery of his vocation to the priesthood, the hardships of the war and his time in the Vatican until his election to the papacy. It also covers “the anxiety” of his first few days as successor of St Peter, as well as his “painful” decision to resign and his thoughts on Pope Francis.

In his responses to Seewald, Benedict speaks about himself, his faith, his weaknesses, his private life, the scandals and controversial issues of his reign, and his papacy in general, explaining the reason for his choice to resign – “initially only communicated to a few trusted people to avoid leaks,” Corriere della Sera reports.

The retired Pope also speaks about the reform of the Roman Curia, the “Vatileaks” scandal that many pinned as the reason for his stepping-down, and outlines the differences between him and Francis in light of “his own peculiarities” and those of his Argentine successor.

He also mentions the “gay lobby” at the Vatican – a group of four to five persons, which he says he was able to break up.

In a June 28 ceremony at the Vatican marking his 65th anniversary as a priest, Benedict told Pope Francis that from the moment of his election and every day since “your goodness…moves me interiorly, brings me inwardly more than the Vatican Gardens.”

“Your goodness is a place in which I feel protected,” he said of his successor.

Seewald, the author of the new book, is also the author of the 2010 book-length interview with Benedict titled “Light of the Word: The Pope, the Church and the Signs of the Times.” He had previously published two other books on then-Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, “The Salt of the Earth,” and “God and the World.”

“Final Conversations,” then, will mark the journalist’s fourth book on Benedict from before his election to the throne of Peter, during his papacy and now after his resignation.

CNA contacted Seewald for comment on the book, however, the author said that for the moment, he prefers not to speak.

In an interview with CNA when “Light of the World” came out in 2010, Seewald said Benedict “is one of the greatest minds of the Catholic Church; someone with a great heart and…a fighter by nature, someone who remains standing amidst the storms, someone who is not afraid.”

“He is someone who does not get stuck in the past or in the present. He is someone who is very much a part of our times,” Seewald said, adding that he has always considered Benedict “a very modern man, someone who is always accessible, who promotes and seeks dialogue.”

“I would say he is an upright man and by far one of the greatest figures of our time…he is man who is always willing to listen, because he is not only a great thinker, he is also a great spiritual teacher.”

In a world that is “often blind,” it’s important to have someone “with this unbreakable attitude of openness,” he said, voicing his belief that Benedict “will be much better appreciated in the future” than he was at that time. – CNA/EWTN News

 

IY student likens seminary life to a spiritual workout

apoloniusKOTA KINABALU – Appolonius, one of the 2015 Initiation Year students, likened seminary life to a spiritual workout.  In an interview with CS, he said:

I praise and thank God for this privilege to share my personal experience of Initiation Year in St Peter’s College, Kota Kinabalu, which is also known as ‘Spiritual Year’. For me, IY has been a meaningful and enlightening experience in pursuit of God’s call. Comparing it to my life before entering IY, I said to myself, ‘Would it be more difficult?’ But I had underestimated the challenges that I would be facing.

At first, I experienced difficulties in being diligent in my prayer life, but after a while I began to appreciate it. I’ve learned that prayer is a daily encounter with God, alive and beautiful.  Celebrating Holy Eucharist daily, saying the Divine Office, praying the Rosary together, recollections and others are like a ‘spiritual workout’ that leads me to experience a gradual transformation and a strengthening of  foundation for my vocation.

I have also learned to adjust myself to the IY programmes and new environment that were challenging, not only spiritually but also mentally and physically. Coming from different  backgrounds and personal characters, we have also learned to live together as a community.

I wish to express my heartfelt gratitude to our Director, Fr Rayner Bisius, formators and spiritual directors for their tireless guidance, support and words of advice. Not forgetting the members of the Women’s League, our generous benefactors, beloved family members and friends for their continuous prayers and support, thank you once again and God bless you abundantly!

Bundu Tuhan lass graduates from IFFAsia

imeldaKOTA KINABALU – Imelda Soidi, one of the 13 graduates from IFFAsia Batch 9 was officially commissioned during the Send-off Mass at Good Shepherd Cathedral, Fairview Park, Quezon City on 8 Nov 2015. She has successfully completed her 11-month formation and was sent forth in mission to her community in the Archdiocese of Kota Kinabalu, her sending organisation.

She hails from Bundu Tuhan and is a parishioner of St Pius X parish. She has worked for three years with Bundu Tuhan Native Residential Reserve Board of Trustee, active in community project involving indigenous people concerning biodiversity and ecology, concentrating on community forest management. Since then she has developed a strong passion for the environment, care for God’s creation.  In an interview with DS, she said:

 During my service with the community, I was also actively involved with the youth ministry in my parish. We worked closely with the Kota Kinabalu Archdiocesan Youth Pastoral Team. During one youth gathering, I was approached by Sr Terry fsic, Director of the Archdiocesan Youth Office, asking if I would be interested to undergo a one-year formation in IFFAsia and thereafter to serve in the said office as a full time youth minister.

I contemplated on the idea. I asked myself if I were mentally and spiritually fit enough for the position. I prayed over it. I listened to my inner voice. Eventually, after some two months discerning over the offer, I said ‘Yes’ in deep faith to the Lord, “let Thy will be done.”

I was excited when I received the letter of offer from IFFAsia and at the same time I was really nervous and anxious. This would be my first time leaving home, and going out of Sabah.

I was attracted to the modules of the formation as it is a holistic and specialised formation programme for young people in Asia. Eleven months’ living in formation also offers opportunity for students to learn to accept and treat each other with respect regardless of nationalities, cultures and backgrounds. The four main modules; spiritual, human development, social and pastoral provided us ground for a balanced personal development. IFFAsia has eventually moulded me to what I am today. I am ready for mission. I am made for mission and I am ready to go forth!!!

The one-month mission project in Thailand and the exposure trips have given us valuable experience in real life encounters with the poor and marginalised. It has taught me the value of reaching out to those in the peripheries, to bring good news to the poor, to heal the broken hearted, proclaim liberty to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind. (Luke 4 : 18)

My days in IFFAsia have guided me to see things in a more professional way. The journey is not all smooth sailing. There were little hitches here and there; between students and staff. But it has given me the space to improve myself from these small difficulties. It is afterall a learning process for everyone.

The session on environment, using the Pope’s encyclical on the environment, the “Laudato Si’” has inspired me so much. It is about our common home, mother earth, subject to destruction due to human abuse. I have a special bond with nature through my three years’ experience on biodiversity and ecology and forest management. I hope to raise awareness among people of all ages to grow and love the environment, to be good steward of God’s creation.

I am grateful to all who had journeyed with me throughout my formation process in IFFAsia. 

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