Monthly Archives: June, 2018

Singapore’s second Veritas workshop on untangling fake news livestreamed to Malaysia and Brunei

PENAMPANG – The Archbishop’s Communications Office (ArchComms) of Singapore organised a second Veritas Workshop on untangling fake news livestreamed to Malaysia and Brunei on 28 June 2018.

This was the first joint activity of the three countries after the Regional Commission of Social Communications Meeting held in Keningau on 18-21 June 2018.  The theme of that meeting was based on Pope Francis’ message for World Communications Day 2018.

In his 2018 World Communications Day message, Pope Francis focused on fake news and journalism for peace. In support of the Holy Father’s call to fight fake news and its pervasiveness, ArchComms held the 1st VERITAS Workshop: Untangling Fake News on 14 Apr 2018. The aim of the workshop was to highlight the different types of fake news, what is the truth, and how as individuals we can do our part to stop the spread of fake news.

ArchComms decided to conduct a second run of the workshop on June 28, linked up with Penang, Kuala Lumpur, Johor, Brunei, Sibu, Kuching, Keningau, Sandakan and Kota Kinabalu.  The presenters were Michelle Voo and Estella Young, a professed Third Order Dominican, with Andre Anchak opening and closing the session.

The organisers hoped that this would be the start of more opportunities to link up with the different arch/dioceses under the Bishops Conference of Malaysia, Singapore and Brunei on common topics of interest.

 

 

 

St Mark Sandakan hosts KAWAI 2018

Candidates line up at the children’s traditional attire fashion show, 10 June 2018, St Mark Open Hall Sandakan.

SANDAKAN – St Mark here hosted the Sandakan parish-level Kaamatan-Gawai (KAWAI) Festival on 9-10 June 2018.

Kaamatan is a Kadazan-Dusun term for “harvest” and is celebrated for the whole month of May. It is normally celebrated by the ethnic Kadazan-Dusuns, as well as by other related ethnic groups in the state.

While Gawai Dayak is an annual festival celebrated in Sarawak on June 1  by many different ethnic groups such as Iban, Bidayuh, Kenyah, Kelabit, and Murut.

The occasion was marked by traditional games on June 9 while the highlight was the Mass presided by Father David Garaman, concelebrated with Father Phillip Muji the next day.

In his homily, the priest stressed on Christ as the unifying factor in various cultures.

After Mass all adjourned to the open hall for fellowship and entertainment programme such as stage performances, lucky draws, and a children’s traditional attire fashion show. – Fennexlee Edesius Mejeh, Sandakan Diocesan Blog

ISKB holds General Chapter

The delegates pose for remembrance under the statue of St Francis Xavier RRKKT Keningau.  They held their General Chapter on 8-11 June 2018 wherein they elected their General Government for term 2018-2023.

KENINGAU – The Betania Community Secular Institute (Institut Sekular Komuniti Betania or ISKB) held its General Chapter on 8-11 June 2018 at the Tatal Diocesan Retreat House here.

Twenty professed members attended the chapter.

The chapter commenced with Mass presided by Bishop Cornelius Piong, founder of the ISKB, on June 8, Solemnity of the Sacred Heart of Jesus.

In his homily, the bishop reminded the delegates that their love must be purified by the love of the Sacred Heart.

After the Mass, the prelate thanked the community for the service they have rendered to the faithful in the diocese and expressed the hope that they will continue to do so with God’s own love.

The members then proceeded to elect new office bearers for 2018-2023 after thanking those who had served from 2012-2017.  The following were elected: Sis Mary Tunsin (moderator), Sis Rita Titing (asst moderator), Sis Janet Leong (secretary), Sis Marianna Gerald (asst secretary), Sis Martha Banting & Sis Anita Uliti (treasurers).

Tunsin was re-elected as the moderator.  In her acceptance speech, she thanked all for their cooperation and said ISKB is now 21 years old.  She hoped that it will continue to grow and serve the Lord faithfully and fruitfully.

The chapter ended with recreation for the delegates and observers with Bishop Piong on June 11 at the Kg Oloson Recreation Pool, Melalap Tenom.

A secular institute is a Catholic organisation that functions much like a religious community of priests, brothers, or sisters, though usually without a house or building of any kind.

Most members of a secular institute do not live together—though some do—and they lead their normal lives “in the world” while dedicating themselves to God. After a period of formation and preparation that usually lasts eight years, secular institute members “consecrate” or formally dedicate themselves to God, taking vows of chastity, poverty, and obedience.

Few secular institutes have a designated ministry. Instead each member gives witness to the Christian life through whatever it is he or she has been called to do. All members of secular institutes pray daily, attend Mass, make an annual retreat with the institute, and live a life in which God comes first even though they are working in the heart of the world. Like a leaven, members of secular institutes make Christ known and loved wherever they are, ever deepening their commitment to God and the church along with others in their institute. – Janet Leong, Keningau website / Vision Vocation Network

Vatican launches international conference on ecology

A man sorting through used plastic bottles at a junkyard in Hanoi. (AFP or licensors)

VATICAN CITY – Vatican officials briefed the press on 26 June 2018 on an upcoming international conference to mark three years since the publication of ‘Laudato Sì.’

An International Conference entitled “Saving our Common Home and the Future of Life on Earth” is set to take place in the Vatican on July 5-6.

Organised to coincide with the third anniversary of Pope Francis’ Encyclical “Laudato Sì”, the event will see the participation of Vatican Officials and climate change experts.

Launching the Conference on Tuesday morning in the Holy See Press Office, was Cardinal Peter Turkson, Prefect of the Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development.

He told Vatican News the Conference intends to reiterate the urgent need for substantial changes in policy and lifestyle in order to safeguard Creation.

Cardinal Turkson explained that the aim of this conference is to awaken people to the gravity of the situation.

“We all know how the coral reefs are dying; we all know how whales are washed ashore their bellies full of plastic; how the temperature of the sea is rising so methane gas is being released from the ocean; we know the impact of everything happening: the ice caps melting, the sea levels rising, islands disappearing, the hurricanes becoming more and more violent – we know all of this” he said.

“What does it take,” he continued, “to decide to make a change?”

Turkson pointed out that in his Encyclical ‘Laudato Sì’ Pope Francis expressed great confidence in the ability of the human person to change for the better if he allows himself to be guided by the goodness of God.

“Yes we can change but we need to open ourselves to God and his grace” he said, noting that “if we limit ourselves to technology we will not go far.”

Turkson said what we need is a real conversion of heart, and what he and his Dicastery want to do is to work for change speaking the language of faith “so that with the grace of God we can bring about true change”.

His Dicastery, he said, is taking action and hopefully setting an example by installing a water purifying unit so that there is no more need to buy water in plastic bottles.

Turkson also said that the Vatican Governatorate may go ahead with plans to have solar panels installed and charger stations for electric vehicles.

“These are some suggestions we want to humbly suggest at the end of the conference,” he said. – Linda Bordoni, Vatican News

Former pro football player prepares to take final vows as TOR

TORONTO, Ohio, Jun 18, 20.- Every single vocation story is different, but Sister Rita Clare (Anne) Yoches is probably one of the more unusual.

Sr Rita Clare, who this month will profess final vows with the Franciscan Sisters of Penance of the Sorrowful Mother (TOR), was a four-time national champion professional football player prior to entering the convent.

Yes, that’s American football. (She was a fullback.) Nowadays, the only football Yoches is playing is the annual two-hand touch game she organises with the 38 TOR sisters she lives with in Toronto, Ohio.

Although she was raised Catholic and attended Catholic schools, Yoches said she never once considered becoming a sister. Her family attended Mass each Sunday, but that was about it in terms of her faith life. A talented athlete, Yoches earned a full basketball scholarship to the University of Detroit-Mercy, where she played for four years.

After college, she began her football career in 2003 after a successful tryout with the Detroit Demolition, a now-defunct women’s professional team. She left the team in 2006, and in March of 2007, the former self-described party girl experienced a calling to enter religious life. She ended her relationship with her boyfriend, and entered the Franciscans shortly after.

“(I) loved to stay out as late as could on Friday and Saturday nights, but always went to Mass on Sundays. But I never really listened to what God was saying,” said Yoches in a video about her conversion.

One Sunday, after a particularly moving homily, Yoches realised that she needed to drastically change her lifestyle.

“And I was like, that’s me. I’m sick and dying on the inside. So that convinced me to go to Confession for the first time in a long time.” Her priest provided her with guidance about reading scripture every day, and she began attending Eucharistic Adoration.

It was during Eucharistic Adoration that she felt truly embraced by God, and really began to get a sense of His plan for her life.

“And then I felt God the Father just wrap his arms around me and give me a hug, and just pulled me onto his chest like only a father can hug a daughter,” she said.

“And my life was forever changed. I just wanted more and more of Jesus.”

She says while her family was supportive of her decision to enter the convent, her friends were surprised, as she had largely kept her faith life private.

“People were very surprised that this was really who and what I wanted to do and be,” she told the Detroit Free Press.

Sr Rita Clare will profess final vows on June 30. – CNA, 18 June 2018

Holy See expresses alarm over new digital technology being used to perpetrate violence against women

Archbishop Ivan Jurkovic

GENEVA – Archbishop Ivan Jurkovic, the Holy See’s Permanent Observer to the United Nations here addressed a session of the Human Rights Council on 20 June 2018 on violence against women.

The Holy See has expressed alarm that the means of communication and new technologies are being misused to perpetrate violence and abuse against women and girls.

“Violence against women continues to be one of the greatest human rights concerns of our time,” said Archbishop Ivan Jurkovic.

“Despite the progress achieved, violence against women and girls, in its different forms and various contexts, remains a grave scourge at every level of society,”  he told a session of the Human Rights Council on violence against women.

He noted that violence often causes deep wounds and long-lasting consequences that may profoundly disrupt their lives as young girls, wives, mothers, or workers.

Archbishop Jurkovic expressed alarm that the mistreatment of women is exacerbated by the improper use of modern means of communication and that new technologies remain powerless to protect adequately the dignity of women, as well as their privacy and freedom of expression.

He said it is high time to stop violence against women that is facilitated, in particular, by the daily use of insufficiently protected social networks and various online applications.

He lamented that instead of representing a momentous tool for the eradication of every form of discrimination, as well as structural inequities and violence against women, digitalization has actually become an instrument to perpetrate new forms of violence and abuse against women.

The Holy See official noted that achieving full respect for women involves more than simply condemning violence.  It also requires strong efforts to promote and educate respect for the other, to raise awareness, especially among new generations on the value of an authentic dialogue, where the proper understanding of the human person and of her own dignity is a precondition to truly human and effective communication. – Robin Gomes, Vatican News

Pope renames Vatican communications office

VATICAN CITY – Pope Francis on 23 June 2018, changed the name of the Secretariat for Communication to the “Dicastery for Communication”, with a rescript published in the Osservatore Romano.

The Vatican’s Secretariat for Communication (Vatican News’ parent organization) will now be called the Dicastery for Communication.

Pope Francis made his decision public on Saturday, after hearing the opinion of the Council of Cardinals.

In a rescript published in the Osservatore Romano on Saturday, Archbishop Angelo Becciu, Substitute of the Secretariat of State, said the decision was taken during an audience with the Holy Father and became effective on Saturday.

A dicastery is one of the official congregations of the Holy See, for example,  the Congregation for Religious and Secular Institutes, through which the Pope conducts the regular administration of the universal Church. – Vatican News

Bible Sunday reflection on youth, faith, vocation discernment

Young adults pray before a bible study session.

In this article, we wish to offer some suggestions which parents and teachers on the one hand, and young people on the other, can take note of in the application of Scripture to the faith development of young people. It is hoped that these reflections will assist young people as they discern how God is leading them to a vocation as disciples who seek to follow Jesus more faithfully in their way of life.

Two areas where parents and teachers can apply scripture in the development of faith and discernment to their children

  1. Starting them young for their ultimate future

Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old, he will not turn away from it (Proverbs 22:6).

This faith training which leads to growth in discernment is crucial for developing the young person. It exposes the modern counterculture of death which is hardly any improvement for life and its future. The young people are faced with a superficial lifestyle without dealing seriously with the root problems of a narcissistic society. A culture where faith is not at its centre degenerates inevitably into chaos and crisis. Without a positive environment of faith and the teaching of scripture instilled upon the young, the backlash of a culture of death, will keep the young in a state of stupor and uncertainty.

The training of faith teaches the young how to endure difficulties and pain. This is especially rewarding when the crisis of life hits them. Faith that comes from suffering helps them to recognise the strength they need to endure the trials of life that must come. We rejoice greatly in our suffering because it produces endurance, and endurance produces character (Romans 5:3).

  1. Rooting their children in faith

The first seven chapters of the book of Proverbs exhorts children to listen to their father. Listen my children to your father’s instruction (Proverbs 1:8; 2:1; 3:1; 4:1; 5:1; 6:1; 7:1).

There is a godly wisdom that is handed down to a child by parents and by no other means. The child can never acquire this on its own. Submission to an elder and to a life of faith is the foundation of all learning. Creating a teachable spirit upon the young is the quintessence of a successful parent. And how from infancy you have known the sacred scriptures that are able to instruct you and save you through faith in Christ Jesus. (2 Timothy 3:15)

Teaching faith is crucial because the so-called “logical world” cannot provide adequate answers about the true purpose of life. This aspect of faith comes from a proper explanation of the scriptures. To inspire and reinforce faith, repetition and focus are needed because of the godless existence of an environment of faithlessness. We live in a state that does not value prayer, faith, and reflection. Distraction is the order of the day. As the human mind receives thousands of stimuli, both positive and negative, the natural ability of the brain is enhanced when, with singleness of purpose, young people centre their attention upon a desired object of study. (Dr Richard J Forster, Celebration of Discipline. The discipline of study.) The task is to root the child with constant links to a life and teaching of faith.

Two areas young people can apply scripture to their development of faith and discernment of vocation

  1. Rekindle the gift of God

For this reason, I remind you to rekindle, (fan into flame) the gift of God that is within you through the laying on of my hands. (2 Timothy 1:6)

What is this gift of God? It refers to the spiritual gifts of the Holy Spirit to equip a young person in faith to be of service. Some may have the gift to teach catechism, another to be part of a choir and yet another to work among the poor.

St Paul uses the word “stir up” or “fan into flame,” , it means to keep blazing and to keep the flame of fire burning. It could also mean to rekindle or to re-stir the flame, indicating that the flame could be dying out. Sometimes a young person needs to be re-stirred and rekindled. “Zeal is required to stir up the gift of God for it lies within our power to kindle or to quench grace. By laziness and carelessness, it is extinguished, and by attentiveness and diligence it is kept aflame” (St John Chrysostom, homilies on 2 Timothy 1).

The idea of “stirring up” is in the present tense, which means it is progressive and a continuous action. The young person is to keep stirring up his gifts, never letting its flame lose its intensity. Every young person anointed with the Holy Spirit at Confirmation possesses a very special grace. God has gifted him or her with a special vocation in faith. The young person must therefore do exactly what God has gifted them to do.

  1. In the spirit of power, love, and self-control

“God has not given us a spirit of timidity but rather a spirit of power and of love and self-control.” (2 Tim 1:7)

Too often young people fear standing up for Jesus and his Church not because they do not love God but because they fear ridicule. One may feel the embarrassment of being called “holy.”  Mockery and criticism follow if a mistake occurs. Opposition from elders that “You are not mature enough” or being abused for standing up for justice reinforces these fears. Every young person at one time or another will experience such an obstacle when witnessing to their faith.

It is precisely for this reason the Holy Spirit infuses power into the heart of the young person to face the strain of difficulties and trials…power to take on a job and do it well; power to be confident in proclaiming Jesus both in deed and word; power to withstand the temptations of darkness and sin. I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power in your inner being (Ephesians 3:16; Acts 1:8: 4:33)

Paul is quick to add love into any gift of the Holy Spirit so that it will be well executed in a wise and mature manner. “Follow the manner of love and eagerly desire spiritual gifts” (1 Cor 14:1). The kind of love that Paul speaks about is “agape” love. (Greek: unconditional sacrificial love) Agape love is God’s love. God alone possesses it therefore only God alone can infuse it through the Holy Spirit, “…and live a life of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and a sacrifice to God” (Ephesians 5:2).

To make it complete, the Holy Spirit infuses self-discipline meaning, a disciplined character (1 Tim 1::7) with self-control which is the final fruit of the spirit (cf. Gal 5:22) Self-control is the mastery over one’s mind, heart, and actions despite the opposition. Self-control makes a mockery of the superficiality of our age. It bares opens the immaturity and the curse of instant satisfaction which results in a vicious cycle of a hangover, shame, and destruction. It calls young people to move beyond surface living into what is genuine and meaningful.

For the many young people who are in bondage caused by pornography, fornication, drugs, and drinking; scripture has strong warnings on the condition of their soul. “They are blots and blemishes, reveling in the pleasures while they feast with you. With eyes full of adultery, they never stop sinning; they seduce the unstable, they are experts of greed – an accursed brood” (2 Peter 2: 13b- 14). Even for the lukewarm and self-confident, St Augustine cautions, “we are lost when we are satisfied with our condition.”

Self-control and spiritual disciplines are not simply for saints or sinners but rather are the ordinary means of seeking liberation. The church calls this abstinence or penance.

Conclusion

Therefore, if any young person like Timothy be guided by faith and is willing to respond to the stirring of the gifts, inevitably the young person will develop and progress in his capacity to discern what is true “agape” love and the mastery of self-control.

The testimony of hundreds of case studies has proven that the young can be victorious in their struggle against the dark world of sin and shame. It is to these young ones who are willing to plunge into sacred scriptures, whom none else can instruct better but one willing to keep the word of God in his heart. (cf Psalm 119:9-11)

Ultimately it is the young people that Pope Francis sees as the future of our humanity with the vision of faith enkindled in their hearts. Pope Francis, in his message for World Mission Day 2017 states, that young people are the hope of mission.

“The person of Jesus Christ and the Good News he proclaims continue to attract many young people to a vocation as disciples, following in the footsteps of their Divine Master. With courage and enthusiasm, they seek ways to put themselves at the service of humanity. “There are many young people who offer their solidarity in the face of the evils of the world and engage in various forms of militancy and volunteering … How beautiful it is to see that young people are street preachers, joyfully bringing Jesus to every street, every town square and every corner of the earth! (Message of Pope Francis, for World Mission Day 2017- Mission at the heart of the Christian Faith-106)

Questions for reflection

  1. Who are the elders, mentors, and heroes in your life that have shown you the beauty of faith and scripture?
  2. What is the primary requirement for a young person embarking on the faith journey?
  3. Do you agree that the discipline of self-control is essential to counter a culture of death? Why?
  4. How can I pursue a life of joy, strength, and purpose as a young person?

Bible Sunday falls on July 8 this year.

SHC-CMI EMCs prepare for commissioning

A section of the extraordinary ministers of Holy Communion at the preparatory recollection on 24 May 2018, Sacred Heart Parish  Centre Karamunsing.

KOTA KINABALU  – Extraordinary Ministers of Communion (EMCs) of the three language groups (English, Chinese and Bahasa Melayu) from Sacred Heart Cathedral Karamunsing, Church of Mary Immaculate (CMI) Bukit Padang, Carmelite Chapel Karamunsing, St Paul Dontozidon, Our Lady Queen of Peace Kobusak and St John Kopungit gathered together for a recollection on 24 May 2018 at the Sacred Heart Parish Centre here.

In his opening words, parish priest Archbishop John Wong said,  “All of you (EMCs) are holy people, are you not?”  Indeed, he said,  it is a vital point for all EMCs to ponder and reflect on this very important ministry and for being chosen or called to serve as Extraordinary Ministers of Communion.

In view of the language groups, the recollection was conducted separately by Abp Wong (Chinese), Father Paul Lo (English) and Father Maxmillianno Hontor (Bahasa Melayu).

To the English EMCs, Fr Paul explained the roles and differences of the ordinary ministers and extraordinary ministers. He said that bishops, priests and deacons are called ‘ordinary’ ministers, while lay people are described as ‘extraordinary’ ministers.

To strengthen the spiritual life and daily conversion, Fr Paul emphasised the importance of a personal prayer life, reading the Word of God, frequent adoration at the Blessed Sacrament and daily Mass (although it is not obligatory and compulsory).

Fr Paul also advised and reminded the attendees to always serve with the right spirit, wholeheartedly with love and humility. He said that EMCs should not get carried away by the privilege that they enjoy knowing that they always have seats reserved for them. He reminded the EMCs not to abuse the privilege or take advantage by reserving seats for their family members especially during festive seasons like Easter and Christmas celebrations.

During the Q & A before the conclusion of the recollection, one particular question which stood out was, “What is the retirement age for the EMCs? We all know that ordinary ministers like bishops and priests retire at the age of 75.”

In response to this, the archbishop said that there is no age limit for as long as the EMC is still fit and healthy to serve. However, he added, EMCs are advised to use their common sense that if they know that they are no longer fit to serve, such as having difficulty in walking or standing for long period of time or not being able to hold the ciborium steadily, then they should retire.

In conclusion, Abp Wong encouraged the EMCs to aspire to live a holy life, and at the same time to be wary of leading a double life.

All EMCs were commissioned on June 2 (Sunset Mass) and June 3 (Sunday) in conjunction with the Feast of Corpus Christi (Solemnity of the Body and Blood of Christ). – Michael Tai

Penampang parish sees rise in convalidation of marriages

Couples listen to a facilitator during a session on the convalidation of marriages, St Michael Penampang, 6 May 2018.

PENAMPANG – Thirty married couples registered for the first of three formation sessions slated for this year to convalidate marriages at St Michael parish, including the nine zones under the parish on 6 May 2018.

The record showed that this year’s number of marriages to be convalidated has more than doubled last year’s list, attributing the phenomenon to the openness and readiness of couples, after coming to a proper understanding, to validate their marriages in the eyes of the Church.

Most of the couples are married for over five years. However, the longest married is 30 years and the most recent are about a year.

The majority of them are married under the native and civil law, while some are married through other Christian denominational services.

The duration of the convalidation process is three months, and constitutes seven steps, which include a marriage enrichment formation, interviews with the priest, the Sacrament of Reconciliation, before the final sacramental blessing when it is deemed complete.

Convalidation of marriages in the Penampang parish is organized by St Michael Parish Family Apostolate (PFA) in collaboration with Couples for Christ (CFC), and is acceptable so long as one of the spouses of each couple is a baptised Catholic.

It is our earnest hope that Catholics who plan to get married should attend the pre-marriage course first, then ensure to register their marriage through the Catholic Church. The civil marriage (JPN) will be arranged by the Church few weeks prior to the Sacrament of Holy Matrimony,” said Pauline Pinso, PFA facilitator as well as a senior member of CFC Penampang, on working within the confines of a truly sacramental marriage.

The next formation dates are scheduled on 9-10 June and 13-14 October this year. Couples who have yet to convalidate their marriages are encouraged to remove the impediment that would invalidate their marriages in the eyes of the Church.   Contact the parish office at Tel: 088-711009 for early registration for the next formation. – Soccom Penampang

 

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