Tag Archives: sandakan

Sandakan youth leaders camp draws 148 participants

TAWAU – The 6th Youth Leaders Camp (YLC 6) drew 148 participants from across the Sandakan Diocese.

Tawau hosted the 4-night-5-day event on 7-11 Feb 2018 at Holy Trinity Parish here.

The theme was taken from the 33rd World Youth Day: “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favour with God” (Lk 1:30).

In his message to the participants, Bishop Julius Gitom said that the Church looks upon the youth with hope as they hold the key to the next generation. To achieve that, they have to begin now.

The prelate urged them to learn from the Blessed Mother what self-sacrificing love means and the readiness to do God’s will.

The event featured several inputs interspersed with praise and worship, testimonies, games and other activities.

The objectives of the YLC 6 were to (1) help the participants to encounter the Lord; (2) deepen the sense of belonging in their respective ministries; and (3) strengthen the bond of friendship and communication among themselves. – Sandakan diocesan newsblog

Sandakan Diocese organises two-day pastoral plan study on diocesan vision and mission

Participants attending the study day on the Diocesan Pastoral Vision and Mission Statement pose for remembrance, 11-12 Feb 2018, Sandakan.

SANDAKAN – Sandakan Diocese organised a two-day pastoral plan study on its diocesan vision and mission on 11-12 Feb 2018.

Seventy participants comprising clergy, religious sisters, seminarians and lay leaders from St Mary Cathedral Sandakan, Holy Trinity Tawau, St Dominic Lahad Datu, St Martin Telupid, Our Lady of Fatima Beluran, and Paitan Mission attended the event at the Diocesan Pastoral Centre here.

In his welcoming address, Bishop Julius Gitom remarked that the attendance showed the commitment of the participants to realise the diocesan vision and mission.  He expressed his hope that what they have learnt in the two days will be disseminated to all the group leaders in their respective parishes.

The bishop also informed the gathering that the diocesan vision and mission statement was presented to Pope Francis during the ad limina visit on Feb 8.

He said the pope was pleased with it and hoped it will be put into practice.

In fact, the pope had said, “When we pray and act upon it, we are actually revealing the face of Jesus.”

The Sandakan Diocese has adopted their vision as a “Christ-centered community, serving one another with love” to be realised through the following six mission goals:

1. to nurture active church participantion
2. to foster a spirit of unity
3. to intensify faith formation
4. to enhance living the gospel values
5. to promote vocations
6. to foster family values.

The objective of the Study Day is to understand that the Diocesan Pastoral Plan is a tool to help parishes focus on its priorities.

Five sessions were held covering the background and history of the vision/mission statement (Francis Tan), formulation process (Pilis Malim), Way Forward (Sr Maria Dipal rgs), organisational structure, roles and functions (Anna Amandus), pre-implementation and leading role matrix (Fr David Garaman), and documentation of programme implementation, stewardship role, monitoring and evaluation (Eva Siruno).

Each session was followed by parish group discussion based on the questionnaire given which was later presented to the floor.

Mass was celebrated before the final session.

In his closing remarks, the bishop said he was pleased with the active participation of the members. He exhorted them not to worry unduly over its implementation but to rely on the strength of God.

“What is important is that we must first be transformed in our mind, heart, and soul in our spiritual journey. We might not see the fruit of our vision and mission but we have at least planted the spiritual seed and prepared the foundation for others to build on,” the bishop said.

KK prelate urges participants to look at migrant ministry as vocation

The participants listen as Kletus Muyuk gives an overview of the AMOS-3 conference, Sandakan, 21 Sept 2017.

SANDAKAN – Archbishop John Wong of Kota Kinabalu said the Feast of St Matthew paved the way for the AMOS Conference to look at migrant ministry as a vocation.  He delivered this insight in his opening homily at the third AMOS Conference hosted by Sandakan Diocese on 21-23 Sept 2017 at the Sandakan Pastoral Centre here.

One hundred and fifty participants, comprising two bishops, 11 priests, six religious from the three arch/dioceses of Sabah and Miri gathered for the conference themed “The Church: Advocate for the vulnerable and voiceless.

Matthew was considered an outcast for supporting the Roman Empire in his role as a tax collector,  Abp Wong said.  But he was called by the Lord to follow Him.

“Those involved in migrant ministry might also be viewed negatively for reaching out to foreigners,” said the KK prelate.

He continued, “But when they responded to serve the vulnerable and voiceless, they are, in fact, doing the will of God, who says, “I was a stranger and you made me welcome.” (Mt 25:35b)

Both Bishop Julius Gitom of Sandakan and Kletus Muyuk, head of Sandakan Diocesan Human Development Commission, provided an overview of the conference.

They spelt out the two conference objectives: (a) To deepen the understanding of migration and to strengthen the spirit of service to the migrants, and (b) To increase inter-diocesan cooperation in pastoral care to migrants.

To achieve these, the organising team has incorporated a session on the legal aspect of migration and a session on collaboration.

Romo Lukas of Larantuka Diocese gave an input on “Advocating Human Dignity: Basis for Pastoral Care to Migrants.”  In his talk covering the issue of migration and its pastoral care from social, historical, biblical and ecclesial perspectives, Lukas quoted the UN Charter on Human Rights and some church documents, specifically Erga Migrantes Caritas Christi, to support his view that ministry to migrants is, in fact, advocating their dignity as “imago Dei,” persons created in the image of God.

However, the reality of pastoral care to migrants is not easy. Bishop Julius shared the complexity of the matter the next day. Many a time there is a choice to be made: which comes first – pastoral or legal? He said given the immense presence of migrants in Sandakan diocese, pastoral care to them is not an option but part and parcel of building the local Church there.

Jellferlyne Joseph, a programme officer at Pusat Kebajikan Good Shepherd (PKGS), supported Bishop Julius in her personal testimony of working for migrants. She used to be against them. But over the years in PKGS, she realised that migrants, too, are humans who need livelihood, education and security. She learnt to see God in the faces of the migrants and saw her service as a vocation.

In spite of the complexity in migration issue, if it is done in a peaceful, legal and dignified way, there should no fear. This was assured by Bapak Konsul Krishna Djelani of Tawau and Elsie Primus who spoke as a magistrate of the Kota Kinabalu High Court.

Both highlighted the relevant Immigration Acts that determine the legality of migration in both countries. Many heard for the first time how such laws could actually facilitate a person to cross national boundaries in a dignified way if he/she abides by them closely. No doubt there are syndicates who exploit the process for economic or political gains. But that should not prevent a migrant from violating the laws.

The session was followed by Q & A from the floor. Many asked about matters related to marriage between locals and migrants, on labour law, documentation issues, statelessness and status of fourth generation migrants. However, answers to such complex matters could not be dealt with satisfactorily in a short time.

In the afternoon Romo Lukas shared from the perspective of a “Sending Church” – why people of Flores choose to migrate, how the local churches prepare and help the families who are left behind. He felt that the frequent exchange of information and collaboration between the two sides (Flores and Sabah) would further ease the burden encountered by the migrants, especially in living their faith in a foreign land.

Reports from the three arch/dioceses were then briefly tabled to provide a glimpse on what the local churches have done in ministering to the migrants. It was clear that the responses varied from diocese to diocese, from locality to locality.

Msgr Gilbert Engan who represented Bishop Cornelius Piong of Keningau admitted that his presence might be providential. He sensed the urgent need for the three arch/dioceses in Sabah to collaborate as migrants are mobile. Without common pastoral policies, they might look for a locality where reception of the sacrament of matrimony is lax.

The final session facilitated by Dominic Lim was aimed to get the Sabah dioceses to move together as “Receiving Church.” Participants were divided into groups to propose concrete ways based on items agreed in the Tripartite Pastoral Gatherings in 2013 and 2015. The proposals would be screened through by the Organising Team before a Final Statement could be issued from the AMOS-3 Conference for the attention of pastoral institutes and agents in Sabah.

Bishop Julius, in his farewell remarks, hoped that AMOS-3 has instilled a deeper sense of commitment among the participants. Though there might still be uncertainties among them, especially those who were there for the first time, he believed that at least the sessions have convinced them that defending the vulnerable and voiceless is very much the mission of the Church.

AMOS-1 was hosted by KK Archdiocese in February 2011 at the Bundu Tuhan Retreat Centre while Keningau Diocese hosted AMOS-2 at the Tatal Retreat Centre Keningau in February 2013. – AHDC

Sandakan hosts third AMOS conference

SANDAKAN – The Diocese of Sandakan hosted the third AMOS conference at the Sandakan Pastoral Centre here on 21-23 Sept 2017.

A total of 162 participants registered for the conference including 12 representatives from the Papar-Limbahau Human Development Committee (Komiti Pembangunan Insan or KPI).

The conference, held every two years on rotation basis among the three arch/dioceses of Kota Kinabalu, Keningau and Sandakan, included two bishops, 13 priests, seven religious sisters and one novice.

The objectives of the conference are to enhance the understanding of the issue of migration, to strengthen the migrant ministry, and to foster collaboration among the dioceses in this ministry.

In his homily at the opening Mass, Archbishop John Wong said the participants are like the apostle Matthew in answering the call of Jesus without a second thought.  He hoped that when they return to their respective parishes, they will continue to bring Christ’s mercy to those they encounter, especially the migrants, touching their hearts with kindness, love and mercy, notwithstanding the challenges and criticism they will receive from parishioners at times as well as misunderstanding from the communities.

The two-day programme saw the presentation and discussion on several topics namely:

  1. Human Rights Defence (Pembelaan Maruah Insan: Dasar Pelayanan Migran) by Romo Lukas from the Diocese of Larantuka.
  2. The Reality of Migrant Ministry in Local Church (Realiti Pelayanan Migran dalam Gereja Lokal) by Bishop Julius Gitom from the pastoral perspective and Jellferlyne Joseph from personal perspective.
  3. Migration in peace, legal and dignified (Bermigrasi secara aman, legal dan bermartabat I) by Indonesian Councillor Bapa Krishna Djelani and Malaysian Magistrate Elsie Primus.
  4. Migration in peace, legal and dignified (Bermigrasi secara aman, legal dan bermartabat II)  by Romo Lukas from the Early Church perspective.
  5. Moving Together as a Purposeful Church (Bergerak Bersama sebagai “Gereja Tujuan”), a written report on AMOS-2 and its follow through by the three dioceses and the current recommendation and resolution which will be documented and later forward to the three dioceses for their implementation and follow-up.

The conference participants had a cultural night filled with traditional dances from various ethnic communities from Indonesia, Philippines, Sabah and Sarawak as well as entertaining drama sketch from the Indonesian community.

It coincided with the World Migrant Sunday 2017 which is normally celebrated between the last week of September and the first week of October, with the theme “Minor Migrants, Vulnerable and Voiceless”.

The final day saw a consensus from the three dioceses to address and implement the suggested recommendation and resolution in stages. – William Charles Mindus (SOCCOM Papar Limbahau)

Sandakan English Sunday School organises retreat at Fr Mulders Centre

SANDAKAN – The English Sunday School organised a retreat for the students on 26-29 Aug 2017 at the Fr Mulders Catechetical Centre here.

The retreat combined fun, team building activities, teaching sessions, faith sharing, group discussion with prayer experiences, journaling, praise and worship. The retreat also helped the participants to enter into the timelessness of God and see Christ in their past, know Him in the present, and follow Him into eternity.

The retreat was a collaborative effort between the Sunday School (English) and Bishop Cornelius Sim of Brunei and his team of experienced facilitators, Jen, Jerlyn and Bridget (Aunty B).

Some parents were concerned whether they have made the right decisions in sending their children to the retreat and missing their tuition, extra class in school, etc, but the joyful faces of their children at the end of the retreat said it all. – newsupdatedospo.blogspot.my

18 Sandakan DFLC members attend half-day recollection

LAHAD DATU – Eighteen members of the Sandakan Diocesan Family Life Commission (DFLC) attended a half-way recollection on 22 July 2017 at St Dominic here.

The participants came from St Mary Sandakan (5), St Martin Telupid (3), OLOF Beluran (2), St Dominic Lahad Datu (4), and Holy Trinity Tawau (4).

The theme of the recollection was “Do as you say,”  the words spoken by the three angels to Abraham in the book of Genesis (Gn 18:5).

Recollection began with an opening prayer led by Franciscan Sister Evelyn Tivit,  followed by self-introduction of each member.

The session continued with an inspiring input presented by Eva Siruno, DFLC chairperson, on the meaning and purpose of commissioning which they would later be given.

She said the commission given by the risen Jesus to his disciples (Mt 28:19-20) is the “most sacred commissioning” because it came directly from Jesus’ lips.  Jesus’ promise to be with us always is the “most consoling part of our mission,” she added.

Jesus’ promise to be with us always is the “most consoling part of our mission,” she added.

Siruno said that through the commissioning, “we gain affirmation from the Lord” through the church “in our commitment to each other,” and provide “us a time where we can rejoice and give thanks together.”

She noted that the people’s prayer can “charge us up” and most importantly, “we inspire others to serve in the church.”

A video on the nature and mission of the Catholic Family: “Garden of Holiness” was screened.  It touched on the challenges of being  a father, mother or child in the family to create an environment of holiness.

Sr Evelyn facilitated a short reflection session wherein the participants recalled their experiences in serving the church and the struggles they faced.  This was followed by group sharing.

Later the participants went to the chapel for personal reflection using a guided reflection based on Pope Francis’ catechesis on the family.  It helped them to recall their experiences and challenges in the ministry.

Time was given to the participants to share their experiences and how God sustained them when they were on the verge of giving up.

In the evening, the participants were commissioned by Father Marcellinus Pongking after the homily at the Sunset Mass.

The next day, July 23,  the participants from Sandakan and Lahad Datu joined the pre-marriage course team in giving sessions to 23 couples in Tampenau, Lahad Datu.

Teachers told teaching is a noble vocation

Representatives bring forward the bread and wine during the Presentation of Gifts,  Teachers Day Celebration, 17 June 2017, St Mary Sandakan.

SANDAKAN – Catholic teachers in Sandakan were told that the teaching career is a noble vocation when the teacher is able to bring Christ into their career.

Father Christopher Ireneus said this during the Teachers Day celebration on 17 June 2017.

The celebration was organised by the Sandakan Catholic Teachers’ Guild (CTG).  The Mass at St Mary’s Cathedral was presided by Fr

The Mass at St Mary’s Cathedral was presided by Fr Ireneus, while the dinner was held at the Equatorial Seafood Restaurant.

During the celebration, Maureen Lai, CTG adviser,  was honoured as she officially retired from her service at the CTG.

Fr Ireneus reminded everyone that they were not just celebrating Teachers Day, but also celebrating teaching as a vocation.

He encouraged the teachers not to give up easily in the face of all sorts of pressure and obstacles.

He thanked the teachers for their efforts and acknowledged the efforts made by his former teachers at SMK Sandakan.

After the homily, the priest blessed the newly elected CTG office-bearers.

At the dinner, Bishop Julius Gitom called on all teachers to join the CTG, and encouraged them to take the NPQEL course for aspiring principals and/or school heads. – Martha Chia


Sandakan newly baptised members told to be bearers of good news

SANDAKAN – Fifty-one newly baptised members of St Mary Cathedral here were told to be bearers of good news at a welcoming dinner at the parish hall on 4 June 2017.

In welcoming them, Bishop Julius Gitom said, “Your baptism does not end here; rather your commissioning to go forth as part of this faith community, to bring the good news of peace and love to others, is just the beginning of your faith journey!”

This year the cathedral parish received 23 adults and seven children from the Bahasa-speaking community, 14 from the Chinese and five adults and two children from the English speaking community. They have all undergone the Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults (RCIA) programme for about a year.

The event began with the newly baptised entering the hall,  holding lighted candles, to the accompaniment of a sung hymn ‘Walk in the Light’ by the parishioners who had turned up to support them.

Lionel Randasan, catechetical committee head, thanked everybody for coming in support of the new members, and the organising committee for their tireless efforts in organising the event.

In his speech,  he said, “Practise what you believe, and journey together in faith with the brothers and sisters in the church.”

In his turn, Bishop Gitom expressed his gratitude to the Catechetical Committees, the RCIA facilitators and Sunday School teachers for their dedicated service in the ministry.

He reminded them that it is “the Holy Spirit who is at work in touching the hearts of the neophytes to commit themselves to the Lord” so that no one would take the credit for God’s work.

Quoting St Paul in his first letter to the Corinthians, ‘Nobody can say Jesus is Lord….unless the Lord touches his heart’  (cf 1 Cor 12:3), the bishop acknowledged that there is nothing anyone could do unless the Lord touches their hearts.

“I thank the neophytes for responding to the Lord’s invitation,” he said, affirming the newly baptised.

He concluded by encouraging the new members to join the many ministries and communities in the church and to channel their God-given talents in serving the church.

During the dinner, some of the newly baptised shared their personal testimonies. – Dalius LL

SYCC members reach out to share Advent joy and love

SANDAKAN – The covenant community here made time to share the joy of Advent by reaching out to the underprivileged.

Members of the Star of Yahweh Covenant Community (SYCC), together with their youth, reached out to those belonging to a marginalised community in Sibuga on 4 Dec 2016.

It started when a member, who works in the hospital, informed the community that a boy patient who was terminally ill had to return home because his parents could not afford his treatment in Kota Kinabalu.

The family lives in a ghetto Indonesian community along Sibuga road. The boy has nine siblings and their parents, who are vegetable farmers, informed the visitors that they have left their son’s fate in the hands of God.

Saddened by the hardship of the boy’s family, the youth took the opportunity to organize ‘Christmas joy’ to cheer up the family and the surrounding children living in the ghetto. They pooled their resources together, aided by their elders who chipped in with a contribution of 60 packets of food, goodies and gifts to 14 families living in that area.

It was a surprise visit.    The boy’s family was touched as they had never experienced being visited by  carollers. The boy’s grandmother said that these gestures shown them have made her family felt the presence of the church despite their absence in the Sunday Masses. – Susanna & Dalius

Sandakan celebrates Christmas with theme ‘Peace on Earth’

Interchurch Sandakan (9)

SANDAKAN – The Sandakan Christmas Celebration, a district-level event, jointly organised by the Karamunting ADUN’s Office, the Sandakan Municipal Council and the Sandakan Inter-Church, was held at the Piazza Harbour Mall on 20 Dec 2015. More than 1,500 people turned up to be part of this big and colourful celebration.

James Wong, President of the Municipal Council, in his speech urged the people not to take for granted the peace, stability and prosperity of the nation built over the years. “Continue to nurture it so that the generations to come will be people of goodwill, sowing peace and upholding tolerance.”

Charles Pang, assemblyman for Karamunting, said that the Christmas season is a time for families to spend quality time together. However, he reminded the people that in the festive joy, let us not forget the plight of the less fortunate, living in the periphery of society. Let us share our love with them, reaching out and touching them.

Accompanied by the MPS president, the chairman of the organizing committee, church leaders and local dignitaries, Charles lit the Christmas tree, marking the start of the celebration, themed ‘Peace On Earth.’

Rev Canon Yong in his Christmas message called on the people to build peace, peace with God, peace with oneself, peace with others as we celebrate Christmas.

Meanwhile Bishop Julius Gitom, in his thanksgiving speech, said that Christmas is not purely feasting and merrymaking. He called on the people to gaze more attentively on the mercy of God by reaching out to those living in the fringes of society, the poor and the marginalised. As followers of Christ, he said, we are constantly reminded to act in accordance with Luke 6:36, ‘Be merciful just as your Father is merciful.’

The prelate continued, “During this Christmas season, may we reflect and rediscover the works of mercy; feed the hungry, give drink to the thirsty, clothe the naked, welcome the stranger, heal the sick and visit the imprisoned. By doing all these, we would have done it to the Lord for in each of these ‘little ones,’ Christ himself is present. Our gift might not mean much, but to those in need, it makes a great difference. Make this season a meaningful one for us and those who are less fortunate. Do not keep the Christmas joy within but share it with our brothers and sisters who yearn for the light of Christ.” DS

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