Daily Archives:May 23rd, 2018

Pope appoints Abp Marek as papal representative to Singapore, Vietnam

Abp Marek Zalewski

VATICAN CITY – Pope Francis on Monday, 21 May 2018, appointed Polish Archbishop Marek Zalewski as the new Apostolic Nuncio to Singapore who will also be the non-resident Pontifical Representative to Vietnam.

Archbishop Zalewski who served as Apostolic Nuncio in Zimbabwe will be based in Singapore.  He fills the diplomatic post which had been vacant for 8 months after Pope Francis transferred Archbishop Leopold Girelli as Apostolic Nuncio to Israel and Cyprus and Apostolic Delegate to Jerusalem and Palestine in September 2017.

Born in 1963 in Augustow, Poland, Archbishop Zalewski was ordained a priest in 1989. He holds a doctorate in canon law from Rome’s Pontifical Gregorian University Rome.

After entering the Holy See’s diplomatic service in 1995, he has served in Holy See missions in the Central African Republic, the United Nations, Great Britain, Germany, Thailand, Singapore, and Malaysia.

Pope Francis appointed him Apostolic Nuncio to Zimbabwe in March 2014.  Besides his native language, he also speaks Italian, English, French, German and Spanish.

Archbishop Joseph Nguyen Chi Linh, president of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Vietnam has welcomed the new pontifical representative and urged the country’s Catholics to pray for his new mission.

“We should thank God, through Holy See representatives, for creating conditions for the church in Vietnam, where religious freedom remains restricted, to be in close communion with the pope, Vatican officials, and churches around the world,” Archbishop Linh told UCANEWS.

He hoped Archbishop Zalewski will improve ties between the Holy See and Vietnam. Archbishop Linh also said he will write to invite the new Vatican envoy to visit Vietnam soon.

While Vietnam and the Holy See do not have full diplomatic relations, the Communist southeast Asian nation’s agreement to let the Vatican name a non-resident papal representative to the country in 2011 was seen as a breakthrough in an ongoing process to normalise relations.

The appointment of Archbishop Girelli came after landmark high-level meetings such as Pope Benedict XVI’s meeting with Vietnamese President Nguyen Minh Triet in 2009 and his 2007 meeting with Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung.  That meeting marked the first time a prime minister from Vietnam’s communist government met a pope and top officials from the Vatican Secretariat of State.

Talks and relations between the Vatican and Vietnam were further reinforced when Pope Benedict VI met the head of Vietnam’s communist party, Nguyen Phu Trong, and top party and government officials in January 2013.  It was the first time a pope had met with the general secretary of the nation’s Communist Party.

Earlier this year, a Vatican delegation headed by Msgr Antoine Camilleri, the Vatican’s Undersecretary for Relations with States, paid a five-day working visit to Vietnam.  During the Jan 16-20 trip, he held meetings with top government officials and bodies.

Vietnam still demands that any papal appointment in the country has to be approved by the government.  Likewise, working visits by the Singapore-based pontifical representative, also require approval from the government.  Return of confiscated Church property is also a thorny issue.

Meanwhile, relations between the Holy See and Singapore have been far easier. Diplomatic relations established on 24 June 1981, will mark their 37th anniversary next month. – Robin Gomes, Vatican News

LiFE community members attend silent women’s retreat

The retreatants pose with Sr Josephine Preza RVM (standing middle row, with bouquet) after the retreat, 10-11 Mar 2018, Kokol Prayer Summit Manggatal.

KOKOL, Manggatal – LiFE Community of Sacred Heart Cathedral created a space for Catholic women to quiet down and contemplate on the reflections given in a two-day silent retreat, 10-11 Mar 2018 at Kokol Prayer Summit, with the theme, Beauty for Ashes (Is 61:3, 35).

The retreat was facilitated by Sister Josephine Preza of the Congregation of the Religious Virgin Mary Philippines on her fourth visit to Kota Kinabalu.

Sr Jo, as she is known, presented the story of the prodigal son, inviting everyone to put themselves in the story. Most of the retreatants were able to identify themselves in it and shared their encounters.

Gathered around the cross, Sr Jo invited everyone to hold their pain and to not let it just past as it is an uncomfortable feeling that one usually wants to get rid of.

The gesture of lighting a candle and putting it into a decorated glass jar helped everyone to focus on the ritual. The letting go of pain through the power of the cross, allowing Jesus’ wounds to meet theirs and encounter redemptive suffering was a healing experience for many.

Prior to the weekend retreat, Sr Jo facilitated a five-day Retreat in Daily Life. Two women shared their prayer experience after completing the retreat.

One of them shared on how she hurried prayer time and treated it as another task to be done in her day. Giving time to God in prayer during the weekday retreat brought revelation and healing to her.

Another woman shared about the discovery of her anger with God for having an autistic son. Times of prayer and embracing the identity of being blessed by God helped her to see her life differently.

The other retreatants said they were able to relate with their sharings as they too felt like they have been hurrying prayer time and blaming God for the difficulties they are facing. Beatrice Chong

Below are some of the reflections of the retreatants.

Improving communication with God

The silent retreat has a tremendous effect on me where I’ve learned to improve my communication with God. Apart from coming there to rest, be refreshed and to discover Beauty in Ashes, I’ve had the opportunity to learn the importance of being silent and listen to God as well as how to enter into a relationship with Him which I had been longing and searching for all of my life.

For me, I’ve experienced God’s unconditional and unlimited love, forgiveness, peace, acceptance despite that I’m a terrible sinner and am just like the “Lost Son” coming back to his father as in Luke 15:11-32.

During the communal prayer on Saturday night, it was a very touching experience where I’d been taught how to hold and release, past life, all my anger, hurt, worries, frustration, and sadness to God.

Sister Josephine taught me to put it all in Jesus wounds by presenting my lighted candle (in a glass jar) to Jesus. Upon presenting my lighted candle to Jesus, I felt lightened, released, peace and I saw the image of Jesus inviting me so he can embrace me. It was truly a wonderful moment and experience for me.

I had also learned to do personal reflection in silence through scripture. We were taught to take note of what word or phrase stands out to ourselves and thereafter, come back to that word or phrase throughout the day, being present to its impact and invitation.

In conclusion, this silent retreat has greatly impacted me. Now I can see myself getting closer to God, learning to be silent at the same time listen to Him even in my daily busy life, as a working mother and wife. I started to read the daily readings and bring my Bible to the office to read during my lunch hour. –Susan Liew

The retreat helps me to be silent and still

I went to the retreat with my mom and sister and also with a pain in my heart, hoping and searching that I’ll get an answer. Surely, I got my answer.

This women’s retreat with Sr Jo was indeed fruitful and helpful for a person who is constantly busy with work, hardly having a full focus on “God time.”

It helped me to focus and be silent and still, disconnected with the world and just be connected to God. As I was contemplating on the scriptures given by Sr Jo, God showed me an insight of the answer to my pain as I reflected Jesus on the cross. It’s like he wants me to know that to love is also to understand love in pain and to be willing to suffer for love. – Desiree Laban

The Father embraces me

I would describe my relationship with God and others as a “safe” relationship before I attended the retreat. I love but am not too loving. I care but not too much. In short, my sole purpose of loving was making sure I was not hurt.

During the retreat, God brought many painful memories alive. The past wounds of betrayal and losses felt raw once again. I was in great agony during the whole process and for the first time I ‘saw’ our Heavenly Father was there. He was crying harder than I was. I had never seen Him shed so many tears for me “I am sorry, my child, I know it hurts. I am here. You are made for love,” he said gently.

I continued to feel the pain and cry out to Him. Just when I thought my heart was going to burst from crying, I felt a sense of warmth. He was embracing me like a father would embrace a little baby. I was small, wounded and fragile. Being in His embrace, I felt safe.

My heart finally had the courage to admit I felt hurt by God. He hurts me for allowing losses and betrayals to crush me. I cannot see Him in my darkest moments because I refused to go through the darkness with Him. I now know God can be found in the darkest moments of my life but I have to reveal the darkness to Him.

Vulnerability is letting my true self be seen and admitting that I am afraid. It’s true that being vulnerable is scary but God has shown me the path to love authentically is being vulnerable to people who love and care for me. – Jessica Rine

 Get in touch with my deepest being

This was my first time joining a silent retreat and the experience was extraordinary. It allowed me to get in touch with the deepest, truest part of my being, by spending personal and quality time, one to one with God in silence.

The theme ‘Beauty for Ashes’ together with the chosen scripture of the Prodigal Son for me to contemplate on had made me realise that as human, we may fall into the darkness of sin, as dark as the ashes, but the Light of the beloved Father will never fail to always save us in His warm embrace and make known to us the greatness of His unconditional love.

On top of all that, this experience continues to strengthen my trust in His unfailing love, to always believe and never give up on Him. – Sarah Michael

The Father waits for my return

The retreat was a truly amazing experience for me. I was at a point of my spiritual journey, where I looked back and wondered how I have drifted away from the close relationship I once enjoyed with Jesus. From spending an hour in prayer each day in my youth, I had slowly allowed it to become shorter with time.

When I became a mother, I had to be satisfied with a quick 10 minutes here, and 5 minutes there! And now, the babies had grown up, and I had grown apart from God. So, my personal aim of the retreat was to reignite my personal prayer time with the Lord again.

From the beginning of the retreat, Sr Josephine was encouraging and clear in her instructions and guidance as we prayed with scripture. The Prodigal Son was the passage that moved, yet troubled me most. Having associated myself often with the character of the dissatisfied and unforgiving elder brother, it scared me while I was in prayer, and saw myself as the beaten prodigal son, lost and dirty in the dark pig-sty…. paralysed in misery as I realised my past mistakes. Worse still I felt unable to return to God! I was so unworthy to return to my Father. I felt so ashamed. It was my fault, so I had to suffer the consequences.

Then, Sr Josephine’s words reminding me that God gave up His only son for me. He is waiting for my return, imagine the agony He goes through while waiting….so how could I continue to cause Him pain by not returning to His loving embrace?

I needed to forgive myself and return to my Father’s loving embrace…not because I deserved it, but because not doing so would continue to wound His loving heart! Thanks be to God! I concluded my retreat with the resolution to begin spending an hour a day with my beloved Jesus…once again! Amen. -CChang

 

Aspirants and seminarians take Easter break at Kg Notoruss

A pose from the aspirants and seminarians after the Easter break at Kg Notoruss Penampang, 2-5 Apr 2018.

PENAMPANG – The Easter break for archdiocesan aspirants and seminarians took place in Bamboo House Riverside at Kg Notoruss here on 2-5 April 2018.

They were joined by their respective directors, Father Mattheus Luta and Father Joshua Liew, as well as Deacon Russell Lawrine.

The objective was to strengthen the relationships among themselves and also with God through spiritual and other activities.

On the first day, they visited the local villagers with Fr Mattheus and Deacon Russell blessing their houses.

During the fellowship, seminarian Brywindaren Gordon shared the story of his reception of Confirmation during Easter Vigil at Sacred Heart Cathedral.

The group also celebrated the birthday of Asp Stephen Suhaili.

In his homily at Mass the next day, Fr Joshua explained the passage taken from John 20:15-18 where Jesus asked Mary Magdalene, “Why are you crying? Who do you look for?” He said, “Often, we see many past events that made us upset and scared, so we forget that Jesus has taught us to help one another and become a witness of the resurrection of Jesus.”

He added that the task to help one another will be achieved by the close relationships among members of the community which they live in. He then shared with them his experience as a seminarian at St Peter’s College Kuching.

At the concluding Mass on the last day, Fr Mattheus exhorted the attendees not to emulate what Judas Iscariot did in selling Jesus to the chief priests (cf Mt 26:25).

Deacon Russell led the closing prayer before the group left for home. Evanz Kolo

IY students share vocation stories with neophytes

The neophytes pose with Sr Margaret Shak FSIC (with blue veil) and the four seminarians who shared their vocation stories with them on Vocation Sunday, 22 Apr 2018, Sacred Heart Parish Centre Karamunsing.

KOTA KINABALU – In conjunction with Vocation Sunday, 22 Apr 2018, four Initiation Year students from St Peter’s College here, shared their vocation stories with 26 neophytes from English RCIA class of 2017/2018 at the Sacred Heart Parish Centre Karamunsing.

The seminarians were Brywinedren Godon and Timothy Galisin of Keningau Diocese, Jonathan Seah Kang Wai of Sandakan Diocese and Gary Aquinas anak Boniface of Sibu Diocese.

Seminarian Jonathan started with an opening prayer and brief explanation about vocation. He said one should not be scared but to respond because it may be God who is calling.

Seminarian Timothy shared the story of a shepherd and his sheep. He said, “The shepherd broke the legs of the sheep and then carries it. The sheep will remember that moment.”

He continued, “Are we good sheep? Are we trying our best to follow Jesus? Listen to the Shepherd. Ask yourself. Does God wants me to follow this way?”

Seminarian Brywine then shared his vocation story. He said, “Deep in my heart, I know it was God who called me. It took me one and a half years to see why I refused to enter the seminary. I was waiting for the right moment. This worry became an obstacle to see God’s grace.” He regretted the lost years but added, “Life is about going forward. Make peace with your regrets.”

In his turn, David Tan, RCIA facilitator, asked the neophytes, “As Catholics, are we serious with our vocation?’

There was another vocation sharing before the concluding prayer by this writer. – Gary Aquinas

New UMS-CSG officials attend preparatory SPC

Serve and Preparation Campers pose for the camera.  The camp at Beatitude Retreat House Tamparuli took place 6-8 Apr 2018.

TAMPARULI – Catholic Student Group (CSG) from Universiti Malaysia Sabah brought its newly appointed members of Exco-Biro and Board of Directors and other members to Beatitude Retreat House in Kg Minangkop Tamparuli to attend a programme called Serve and Preparation Camp (SPC) on 6-8 Apr 2018.

The programme aimed to help the members to prepare themselves to serve young Catholics in the institute and to further open themselves to serve the outside community.

It also brought the participants to know and acknowledge Jesus Christ as their foundation in serving one another.

The theme for the programme was taken from Luke 2:35 “…and a sword will pierce your soul too…” while St Teresa of Calcutta was chosen as the patron saint for the programme.

Highlights of SPC were the implementation of Semi-Silence and Grand Silence, sessions of Examen, The Joy of Serving, LDK (Latihan Dalam Kumpulan), The Greatest Weakness Pride, Games, and Pre- Liturgy.

Grand Silence was to deepen the reflection and discernment of serving God in CSG-UMS. Semi Silence was implemented on the second night. One of the advantages of these exercises was preserving the silence of the night so that other people around the retreat house could rest and sleep.

The Examen was to help the participants a) to become aware of God’s Presence, b) to review the day which includes all emotions experienced that day for e.g. joy, sorrow, disappointment, melancholy, wrath, fear, c) to give thanks for everything that occured that day regardless of whether it was happy or disappointing because it was His plan, d) to face your shortcomings by looking at the weaknesses or sins throughout the day, and e) to look towards tomorrow by asking His forgiveness, repenting and preparing oneself for tomorrow.

In the session, The Joy of Serving, groups of six members discussed the main attributes of a leader and came up with humility, trustworthy, courage, good communication, able to bring out the best in others, and Jesus-centered.

In LDK session, participants were asked to list down five strengths, weaknesses, and improvements that affect them as a community.

Among the strengths identified were open-mindedness, having an open heart, forgiving easily, committed, responsible and asking help from the Holy Spirit.

Among weaknesses identified were laziness in serving, lack of knowledge of the Catholic Church, being judgmental and others.

To aid them in their discussions, the participants were asked how “to be aware in order not to judge” to they answered that reflection on behaviour is needed.

To the question on how to overcome fear in serving, they said prayer should be at the forefront before going out to serve.

In the session, ‘The Greatest Weakness: Pride,’ Samuel Bernard, the facilitator, emphasised on having good communication in order for the CSG to grow.

Samuel illustrated it with the fall of Adam and Eve who blamed others instead of themselves in their pride.

He said, “Saying ‘I’m sorry, I’m wrong, please give me another chance’ is always better but it’s not an excuse to run away from responsibility. – Alvin Cassidy Lajangang

UCSG organises welcoming juniors party

The participants of the Welcoming Juniors Party pose for remembrance, 21 Apr 2018, Sacred Heart Parish Centre Karamunsing.

KOTA KINABALU – Thirty new students attended the Welcoming Juniors Party (WJP) organised by the United Catholic Students Group (UCSG) at the Sacred Heart Parish Centre here on 21 Apr 2018.

The organisers were from CUCMS Sabah, UniTAR International University Sabah Regional Campus and Sidma College Sabah.

WJP is an event held every semester and it is one of the most important events in UCSG’s calendar where they welcome and show appreciation to new members. Alumni members were also present at the event.

The participants came from different places and backgrounds. The theme for the gathering was taken from Acts 2:44, “And all that believed were together, and had all things common.”   Games, praise and worship, sharing of faith and other activities were conducted.

An alumnus, Amylyn Bihin, was invited to give a talk on faith and shared her experience of following Christ. She was a former member of the Youth Ministry Office. She was not afraid to tell how God’s love changed her life.

It was Nester Duncan Tai’s first WJP and he said that studying and serving God are the two most essential things for Catholic students to do. He said, “Joining UCSG is really a blessing as it allows me to further strengthen my faith. There were lots of fun and helpful activities in the WJP which taught me how to pray as well as praising and worshipping God.”

Evita Delmundo, another participant,  felt the Holy Spirit guiding her throughout the event as she gained a lot of insights. What she anticipated in the Christian youth event was meeting new friends and being one family in Christ.

She said, “Such an event is a place for us to worship God. Furthermore, we should not enjoy and indulge ourselves in worldly things. We should give more space for God and remember Him all the time as He remembers us all the time too, without fail.” Jason Christie Jimmy

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