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Parishioners turn up for combined opening Way of the Cross despite being first day of the Chinese New Year

Abp Wong animates the parishioners at the combined way of the cross outside Sacred Heart Cathedral, 16 Feb 2018.

KOTA KINABALU – Sacred Heart Cathedral (SHC) and Church of Mary Immaculate (CMI) parishioners of the three language groups turned up for the combined opening of the weekly Way of the Cross at its outdoor Centenary Way of the Cross Monuments here on 16 Feb 2018 despite being the first day of the Chinese New Year.

The Way of the Cross is a traditional devotional practice during Lent worldwide.

Archbishop John Wong animated those present before the 14 stations were read out alternately in English, Bahasa Malaysia, and Mandarin.

After the opening event, SHC will hold it every Friday in the cathedral during Lent at 6 pm (English), 7 pm (BM) and 8 pm (Mandarin).  CMI will have it at 7:30 pm in English and Mandarin.

There will be a combined closing Way of the Cross at the monuments on Good Friday Mar 30 at 7 am with Passion Play.

MSB bishops give Catholics dispensation from abstinence for first day of Chinese New Year

The presenters – children, youth, adults – in varied traditional attire bring the gifts forward to the altar at the Presentation of Gifts, 16 Feb 2018, SHC.

KOTA KINABALU –  The Bishops of Malaysia, Singapore and Brunei have decided to give dispensation to all Catholics from abstinence on Friday, 16 Feb 2018, in view of the festive season of Chinese New Year.

Chinese New Year is a time of rejoicing with family members, loved ones and friends as they usher in the new year according to the Chinese custom.

This decision was made during the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Malaysia, Singapore, Brunei (CBCMSB) in January.

This year the first day of Chinese New Year fell on the Friday after Ash Wednesday (Feb 14), the third day of Lent.

Consequently, the atmosphere was a bit subdued during the CNY Mass celebrated at the Sacred Heart Cathedral Feb 16. The Gloria was omitted.

As in past years, there was the usual drum display by five drummers: Frankie Wong, 14, and his brother Brian, 12;  Jessica Liew, 12; Megan Sham, 19; and Betty Kong, 19.

Among the appreciative thousand over faithful were Archbishop John Wong, Abp Emeritus John Lee, Fathers Paul Lo, Max Hontor, Joshua Liew, Joseph Fung sj, and the religious sisters.

In his homily, Abp Wong related salvation history to the LNY celebration theme, urging everyone to seek first the Kingdom of God before anything else, and to have that sense of loyalty and faithfulness to God which a dog (being the Year of the Earth Dog) has toward its owner.

At the presentation of gifts, 17 presenters brought candles, flowers, fruits, vegetables, sticky rice cake, kuazi, money, bread and wine to the altar.

After Communion Prayer, Abp Wong blessed 10 big baskets of mandarin oranges to be distributed to the faithful after Mass.

The Chinese rite of bowing three times before the altar (representing God) by all, to the concelebrants by the faithful, and to each other took place before the final blessing and dismissal.

As part of their appreciation tradition, the Chinese community gave ang pows to the clergy and religious present.

After the distribution of oranges, many of the faithful and clergy adjourned to the front of the parish centre for the lion dance performances by the You Yi Troupe.

Overflowing crowds seen at Ash Wednesday Masses

Overflowing crowd at the noon Mass at the Sacred Heart Cathedral Karamunsing queuing up to receive the ashes on their foreheads, 14 Feb 2018.

KOTA KINABALU – As in years past, overflowing crowds were seen at Ash Wednesday Masses on 14 Feb 2018 in churches across Kota Kinabalu Archdiocese.

Ash Wednesday marks the first day of Lent.  Its name is derived from the custom of signing the foreheads of the faithful with blessed ashes. Its date depends on the date of Easter. In the early Church, public penitents were liturgically admitted to begin their penance on this day. And when this fell into disuse, from the eighth to the tenth centuries, the general penance of the whole community took place. This was symbolised by the imposition of ashes on the heads of the clergy and laity alike.

There were three Masses at the Sacred Heart Cathedral Karamunsing and two at the sub-parish of the Church of Mary Immaculate Bukit Padang.

Cathedral parish celebrates Sacrament of Anointing of the Sick on World Day of the Sick

Abp Wong and his assistants anoint those who are sick in the pews in conjunction with World Day of the Sick, Sacred Heart Cathedral Karamunsing, 11 Feb 2018.

KOTA KINABALU – Sacred Heart Cathedral parish here observed World Day of the Sick by celebrating the Sacrament of Anointing of the Sick on Sunday afternoon, 11 Feb 2018.

Over 200 parishioners turned up for the celebration presided by Archbishop John Wong.

In his homily Abp Wong touched on the message of Pope Francis on the role of Mary as Mother and refuge of those who are sick.  He also touched on the gospel of the day – the healing of the leper out of compassion by Jesus.

Then the prelate, together with his three assistants, went among those who are sick, aged (above 70 years), terminally ill, or preparing for any major operation and anointed them on the forehead and hands.

The rite ended with a blessing-prayer (sprinkling of holy water) on those who have minor complaints or ailments.

Meanwhile, in his Angelus address at the Vatican, Pope Francis shared his reflection on the gospel.

That Jesus touches the leper is “the most disturbing fact,”  Pope Francis said. “Touching a leper meant you were infected, interiorly as well as spiritually.”

Pope Francis then made an important observation: “In this case the impurity does not flow from the leper to Jesus to transmit the disease, but from Jesus to the leper to purify him.”

Jesus’ compassion and audacity are admirable because he is consumed with “the desire to free that man from the curse that oppresses him.” In our case, it is “sin that makes us unclean.” So the Pope asked the crowd to pause and to beg the Lord for the gift of being cleansed from “the diseases of the heart from which we need to be cleansed, turning to Jesus like the leper did: ‘If you want to, you can cleanse me!’ ”

February 11 was the 26th World Day of the Sick, a commemoration instituted by St John Paul II. The World Day of the Sick takes place each year on the memorial of Our Lady of Lourdes.

The title of Pope Francis’s message for the day is “Mater Ecclesiae [Mother of the Church]: ‘Behold, your son… Behold, your mother. And from that hour the disciple took her into his home.’“ (Jn 19:26-27)

In his letter instituting the commemoration, St John Paul wrote that the day should be “a special time of prayer and sharing, of offering one’s suffering for the good of the Church and of reminding everyone to see in his sick brother or sister the face of Christ who, by suffering, dying, and rising, achieved the salvation of mankind.” – kksoccom/vatican news/cwn

Children gain faith through Epiphany play

The shepherds pay homage to the newborn child, Epiphany Play, 7 Jan 2018, SHPC Karamunsing.

KOTA KINABALU – It is good to see Catholic traditions being maintained.

A group of young children from the Neocatechumenal Communities at Sacred Heart Cathedral (SHC) in Kota Kinabalu did precisely that on Epiphany Sunday, 7 Jan 2018.

Over 30 of them courageously stepped forward to become actors and singers for a 40-minute play staged with all necessary supporting props and impressive graphic backdrops at the main hall of the SHC parish centre.

A new born boy was found to take up the role of baby Jesus, a teenage couple played the central figures of Mary and Joseph; another girl as Mary’s cousin Elizabeth, and many boys and girls volunteered to act as angels and shepherd boys.

Their play was presented in five separate but well-integrated scenes with appropriate narration and backdrop icons to depict each segment – The Annunciation, Birth of Jesus, Visitation, Angels & Shepherds, Three Wise Men.

Grown-up children and some parents supported these young actors by taking up such roles as King Herod, the Three Wise Men, narrators, in stage design, management and production.

Great efforts were made all round to prepare the necessary stage props, including doors of inns where Mary and Joseph were told there was no room for baby Jesus to be born.

The children spent many sessions in practising their respective roles and in presenting all the songs for the play.

Suitable costumes and attires for all were designed and acquired for use for the occasion, adding to the outstanding display of talents by the players.

At the end of the show, Father Paul Lo, assistant Rector at SHC, told the children he was very impressed by their show of talents and presented to them special gifts on behalf of the parents.

Prior to the start of the show, Fr Lo had a brief dialogue with the young children thus helping them to know and understand the true meaning of the Feast of Epiphany and the manifestation of the light that comes with Jesus for all nations.

The Epiphany play has been consistently staged by communities of the Neocatechumenal Way in various parishes of the Archdiocese of Kota Kinabalu as one of the means to pass our Catholic faith to young children.

By taking an active part in such a play over a number of years, the children of the communities are given opportunities to gain knowledge and faith in the birth and mission of Jesus Christ in a personal and intimate way. – Joe Leong

SH Chinese community organises evening of Christmas celebration

Abp Lee, flanked by the clergy, religious and lay leaders, cuts his anniversary cake, 29 Dec 2017, at the gathering organised by the Sacred Heart Chinese Coordinating Committee, Sacred Heart Parish Centre Karamunsing.

KOTA KINABALU – The Sacred Heart Chinese community organised an evening to celebrate Christmas at the Sacred Heart Parish Centre here on 29 Dec 2017.

Some 500 parishioners joined Archbishop John Wong, his assistant Father Paul Lo, and the Franciscan and Pauline Sisters for an evening of fellowship meal, songs (solo, duet, choral), dances, and lucky draws by various groups including the grandnephews and nieces of Abp Emeritus John Lee.

Organised by the Chinese Coordinating Committee, it also marked the 53rd priestly anniversary of retired Abp Lee (Dec 27) and the 41st priestly anniversary of Father Cosmas Lee (Dec 27).

Cathedral carollers culminate activity with Carols by Candlelight

A section of the crowd at the Carols by Candlelight, Sacred Heart Parish Centre foyer, 17 Dec 2017.

KOTA KINABALU – After two weeks of carolling home-to-home, the carolling teams of Sacred Heart Cathedral and Church of Mary Immaculate culminated it with the annual Carols by Candlelight at the parish centre foyer on 17 Dec 2017.

Thirteen groups in four languages – English, Mandarin, Bahasa Malaysia, Kadazan – took part in the choral performances.

As usual, the event began with an opening prayer and  Gospel proclamation by Father Max Hontor and a short welcome address by Archbishop John Wong.

After the fourth narration and eighth carol sung, Abp Wong lit the candle symbolising the light of Christ while the medley “Glory/Let There be Peace” was sung.

The candles of those present were then lighted up by the flame of the Christ-candle.

After the 12th narration and 27th carol sung, all the groups gathered on stage to sing Feliz Navidad, wishing all present a blessed Christmas and New Year in the four languages.

All adjourned to the left side of the foyer for light refreshments after the closing prayer-blessing by Abp Wong.

Among those present were Archbishop Emeritus John Lee, Father Paul Lo, Father Joshua Liew, the religious, and members of the Parish Pastoral Council and Parish Finance Council.

The backdrop and theme “And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us” (Jn 1:14) were done by the BM Prayer Group while the Nativity Scene (right side of foyer) was prepared by the Light of Jesus Christ Covenant Community (LJCCC).

KK prelate calls on parish pastoral leaders to pool resources together to reach out to less involved parishioners

Overview of the pastoral leaders gathering at the Sacred Heart Parish Centre Hall after Sunset Mass, 25 Nov 2017.

KOTA KINABALU – Kota Kinabalu prelate called on parish pastoral leaders to pool resources together to reach out to less involved parishioners on 25 Nov 2017.

Archbishop John Wong made the call during the annual gathering of heads and their assistants of the 70-odd groups, communities, and ministries of the Sacred Heart Cathedral Karamunsing and its sub-parish of Church of Mary Immaculate Bukit Padang.

In a brief speech, the prelate said the many groups of the parish (English, Chinese and BM) can be a source of strength when they pool their resources together in reaching out to the 70 percent of uninvolved parishioners.  The parish has around 2,000 families under its pastoral care.

Around 150 people attended the gathering after the Sunset Mass marking the Solemnity of Christ the King and the 36th Dedication Anniversary of the cathedral.

Abp Wong presided at the Mass, concelebrating with him were Abp Emeritus John Lee, Father Paul Lo, and Father Max Hontor.

Before the rite of dismissal, a video clip launching the 16 Days of Prayer for the Nation entitled Orange the World: Saying No to Violence against Women and Children produced jointly by the Malaysian Catholic Bishops Conference, the Malaysian Council of Churches, the National Evangelical Christian Fellowship, and the Good Shepherd Services was screened.

The 16 Days of Activism runs from Nov 25 through Dec 10.

SH catechetical ministry organises candlelight rosary procession

Rosary procession begins after the recitation of the First Glorious Mystery inside the Sacred Heart Cathedral KK, 22 Oct 2017.

KOTA KINABALU – The catechetical ministry of the Sacred Heart Cathedral Parish here organised a rosary procession in conjunction with the centenary of the Fatima Apparitions (13 May – 13 Oct 1917) on 22 Oct 2017.

The event commenced with offering of flowers and short prayers at the feet of the statue of Our Lady of Fatima.

Father Max Hontor proclaimed the Word and gave a short reflection on the Fatima Apparitions.

The Glorious Mysteries were prayed in English (first and fifth decades), BM (second and fourth) and Mandarin (third) at designated stations around the cathedral compound starting from the cathedral itself, behind the parish centre, exit junction, St Francis Kindergarten, and back to the cathedral.

The candles were lighted outside the cathedral before the procession began after the First Glorious Mystery.

Rain fell while the devotees were praying the fourth decade at the kindergarten but there was no unruly behaviour while scampering for shelter.  Many came prepared for rain.  They blew off their candles before entering the cathedral.

The event ended with a blessing from Fr Hontor inside the cathedral.

Pope Francis has granted a plenary indulgence opportunity for the 100th anniversary of the Fatima apparitions throughout the centennial year, from 27 Nov 2016 to 26 Nov 2017.

There are three ways to obtain the indulgence, detailed in a statement from the Fatima Shrine in Portugal.

To obtain the plenary indulgence, the faithful must also fulfill the ordinary conditions: go to Confession and Communion, be interiorly detached from sin, and pray for the intentions of the Holy Father.

1. Make a pilgrimage to the shrine

To the faithful who make a pilgrimage to the Fatima Shrine in Portugal and participate in a celebration of prayer dedicated to the Virgin. In addition, the faithful must pray the Our Father, recite the Creed and invoke the Mother of God.

2. Pray before any statue of Our Lady of Fatima

To the faithful who visit with devotion a statue of Our Lady of Fatima solemnly exposed for public veneration in any church, oratory or proper place during the days of the anniversary of the apparitions, the 13th of each month from May to October 2017, and there devoutly participate in some celebration or prayer in honor of the Virgin Mary. In addition, the faithful must pray the Our Father, recite the Creed and invoke Our Lady of Fatima.

3. The elderly and infirm

To the faithful who, because of age, illness or other serious cause, are unable to get around, may pray in front of a statue of Our Lady of Fatima and must spiritually unite themselves to the jubilee celebrations on the days of the apparitions, the 13th of each month, between May and October 2017. They must also “offer to merciful God with confidence, through Mary, their prayers and sufferings or the sacrifices they make in their own lives.”

Strong winds bend SHC flag poles

The bent poles in front of the Sacred Heart Cathedral, 14 Oct 2017.

KOTA KINABALU – Unusually strong winds bent the three flag poles and flipped the outside billboard canvas to the other side at the Sacred Heart Cathedral on 14 Oct 2017.

This took place before the Novena to Our Lady of Perpetual Help at the cathedral after 5 pm.

Aside from that, the winds also broke several tree branches inside the compound of the St Peter’s College Initiation Year Formation House at Jalan Sang Kancil Tiga here.

Local weather reports say that the average hourly wind speed in Kota Kinabalu is essentially constant during October, remaining within 0.1 miles per hour of 3.1 miles per hour throughout.  But yesterday’s event certainly proved otherwise.

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