Monthly Archives: November, 2018

Liturgical formation for readers and commentators

LIKAS (CS) – The Kota Kinabalu Archdiocesan Liturgy Commission organized the first-ever formation for readers and commentators 27 Oct 2018 at St Simon’s Catholic Church here.

The one-day formation program was attended by 195 participants from across the Archdiocese.

The formation began with a Mass, celebrated by Fr Cosmas Lee, head of the Commission, also parish priest of St Simon Church.

Fr Lee exhorted the participants to take the opportunity of this formation to renew their knowledge, skill and commitment to improve their serving at Mass.

The input sessions by Fr Lee began by looking at the Word of God as the absolute primacy, the very foundational and essential part of Christian faith. The reader does not merely read Scripture at Mass, rather he makes God present for the Word of God is God Himself.

The second part of the input helped participants to look at Scripture in the celebration of the Eucharist. The Church is when the assembly is gathered in faith to celebrate the events of salvation, the paschal mystery. It is here that the Word belongs and is owned, when the full power and its splendour comes forth.

Fr Lee emphasized the table of the Word and the table of the Eucharist, “the two parts which go to make up the Mass, are so closely connected that they form but one single act of worship” (SacrosanctumConcilium, no.56).

The participants were also led to see the structure and dynamics of the Liturgy of the Word where God is present to speak to His people, the people listen and respond in acceptance and faith.

Part three focused on the ministry of readers and commentators: role, function, duties, charism and vocation. A good reader and commentator must not only possess the gift, talent and skill of public reading and speaking, but more importantly is called by God for the service of the Church. They must also love the Word and Scripture and become life witness of commitment to the Word.

To this end, readers have the deepest respect and highest dignity of their ministry, because they are handling God in the same degree as the Extra-Ordinary Ministers handle God in the Holy Communion.

The Church must therefore have greater discernment in identifying and selecting candidates to this ministry, commission them and ensure on-going formation.

The last part of the input covered decorum and technical skills of public reading: dress, postures, movements, volume, use of public address system, speed and tempo of reading, pitch and tone, articulation, pronunciation, accentuation, stress, punctuation, phrasing, pauses, rhythm, and breathing.

After lunch, the final session was conducted in the church, animated by Fr Lee and Neil Mah, secretary of the Liturgy Commission.

Few chosen readers and commentators were asked to commentate as they would in a Sunday Mass and read from the Lectionary, after which the animators and participants had the opportunity to evaluate and critique based on the technical pointers given at the input earlier.

Here participants experienced at firsthand how a good reading and commentating should sound like, as well as touching on the  movements from the entrance procession of carrying the Book of the Gospel to approaching and leaving the ambo, the altar, and the proper use of the microphone with proper voice projection. – Neil Mah

Recalling Gastel’s witnessing

IT was also during the tenure of Fr Gastel as the school principal that future seminarians/priests were also studying in the school.

They were Francis Basintal, Julius Masudal, Lawrence Joluis, Thomas Makajil and the two St Joseph’s Chinese boys from Kudat. (Monsignor) Primus Jouil was not in the seminary yet but he joined only after finishing his education at St Michael’s, and subsequently was ordained with Makajil to the priesthood.

On the other hand, Fr Gastel also invested his time in educating people on the difference between religion and “adat” (customs).  Together with Fr Tom Putman in Toboh, they ventured to the villages to encounter animists (people who adore nature) who showed interest in becoming Catholics.

Fr Gastel did not see that “throwing out the adat” was the way.  Instead, together with Fr Putman, they showed the tribes respect, taught them to avoid rivalry and idol sacrifices, took numerous photos and recorded the ancient tribal practices to study their “adat”, and eventually inculcated “adat” with religion.

With help and better understanding of the differences, the people were soon baptized in little groups, and coupled with the training of their own catechists, faith spreads. – Source: Matthew Pain & CS

PE instructor Pius Jokinol: Gastel instrumental to motivate school athletes to national/state levels

AS a young priest fresh from the seminary cold bench, Fr William Van Gastel found little time to learn the foreign language properly when he was posted to Sabah (North Borneo then).

What he found himself doing, he wasted no time in doing something more for the schools he oversaw and supervised.

He introduced social and sports.  He made the students realize that just academics was not good enough, but that talents could be used in more ways, and should affect life itself.

After the amalgamation and the introduction of co-education in 1969, Fr Gastel invited me to oversee the teaching of Physical Education at St Michael’s Secondary School.

He was a keen footballer himself, and soon became personally involved in the promotion of sports in Penampang district. To further boost its promotion, Fr Gastel and I represented the West Coast School Sports Council (WCSSC) as committee members.

As a further enhancement on the standard of sporting activities in Penampang District, the Moyog School Sports Council (MSSC) was formed with Fr Gastel elected as chairman, and I as secretary during the inaugural meeting of MSSC.

During his tenure in MSSC, Fr Gastel was instrumental in motivating many local athletes who became outstanding athletes at Sabah State level such as George Soluku and Gabriel Molujil in the throwing events. On the National level, Marcellenos Bungkilan became champion for two consecutive years in the under 16 category.

In football, the school had also produced many good footballers with coaching undertaken by other bodies.  St Michael’s soon became one of the strongest teams in the district.

The success of the many athletes was mainly due to the initiative of Fr Gastel who managed to equip the school with new sports equipment to supplement the existing ones.

Besides the usual sports equipment, gymnastic equipment such as Parallel Bar, Vaulting Box and four sets of exercise mattresses were also acquired. These new additions of sports equipment were fully utilized and enabled me to introduce vaulting and agilities activities, leading to gymnastics teaching and training for the first time in Penampang.

Speaking as one among many teachers at St Michael’s Secondary School, Fr Gastel has indeed been my mentor.  Besides, I was honoured and blessed to have him celebrate my Wedding Mass which took place on 13 March 1971. – Pius Jokinol

Former student recalls St Michael’s Secondary School during Gastel’s time

FATHER William Van Gastel MHM was principal of St Michael’s School, Penampang from 1967-71. The school at that time was both a primary and secondary under one administration. Being a farsighted person he saw the immediate need to reorganize the school, which eventually was split into two – primary and secondary in 1968.

With the separation of the primary and secondary schools, Fr Gastel put in the most needed time and effort to focus on the development of secondary school education in St Michael’s Secondary School.

And it was in 1968 that he took the first batch of 33 students (25 boys from St Michael’s Secondary School and 8 girls from St Joseph’s Convent Secondary School), who had successfully obtained in the previous year their Lower Certificate in Education (LCE), to advance their senior secondary education in Form Four.

These students were to prepare within the next two years for the Cambridge Overseas School Certificate (OSC).  In 1969 the 33 students made history by being the first batch of St Michael’s Secondary School to sit in the Cambridge Overseas School Certificate (OSC) examination. 

Having successfully established a senior secondary school in St Michael’s, Fr Gastel also saw the practicality of merging St Michael’s Primary School with a sister school, St Joseph’s Convent, which was under the care and administration of the ‘White Sisters’ from the Franciscan Missionaries of St Joseph (FMSJ).

The nuns had many reservations with his proposal to introduce a co-educational school system in Penampang. However, Fr Gastel persisted with his vision, which eventually paid off with the FMSJ Superior  reluctantly agreeing to his proposal.

Thus in 1971, St Michael’s Primary School was amalgamated with St Joseph’s Convent Primary school, and was renamed as St Joseph’s Primary School, focusing solely on primary education.  At the same time, St Michael’s Secondary School and St Joseph’s Convent Secondary School were also amalgamated.  The newly merged schools retained the name of St Michael’s Secondary School, which focused on secondary education.

During the tenure of Fr Gastel as principal of St Michael’s Secondary School, he realized that education was more than just an academic pursuit. He felt that the students under his care should also be exposed to other disciplines and needs for their future life.

Led by this conviction, he introduced the Student Parliament in 1968 where the students were to experience at first-hand the setting up of the parliament, and the working of a parliamentary democracy. He encouraged the students to be more articulated in public speaking as they went about campaigning for their ‘political parties’ prior to the elections.  And on a certain morning assembly, he would also request some of the students to stand in front of the assembled students and teachers to belt out, loud and proud, one of their favourite pop songs.

Vocational skills such as carpentry and gardening were the other fields he encouraged among the students. There was an incident when he was doing site preparation for the construction of the four units of teachers’ quarters down the church that some of the earth were pushed over to an adjoining padi field. The owner of the field came and reported the matter to Fr Gastel, who immediately mobilized some of the students to clear the earth from the field by means of real farming implements such as the plough and comb drawn by two strong buffaloes under the skilled hands of the students.

Perhaps many students have fond memories of the grand celebration that took place on 29 September 1969, the feast day of the Archangel St Michael as patron saint of the Church and School.

For the first time in church history, a five-piece live band accompanied by the singing of lively songs from contemporary tunes but given new Christian lyrics by Fr Gastel served during Mass. It was popularly known then as the “Folk Mass”, a celebration that would never have been possible had it not been for the promulgation of Sacrosanctum Concilium of the Second Vatican Council on December 4, 1963.

After the “explosive and equally moving experience” of the first Folk Mass celebration, the students and the teachers descended from the hill to the school building where the classrooms were prepared with various display of exhibits.  The exhibits were created by the students and their teachers from the various clubs such as the Science, Arts, Geography, History and English clubs.

As the saying goes “All good things must come to an end”; the Malaysian Immigration Department revoked the work permits of many European missionaries in 1972, and ordered them to leave the country immediately, among who was Fr Van Gastel. – Emmanuel Tendahal

St Michael’s Parish Family Dinner a runaway success

PENAMPANG – The capacity crowd of 2,000 diners at the first-ever Parish Family Dinner and Concert organized by the Penampang Parish Finance and Property Committee in aid of the parish churches building fund was a runaway success. 

The 200-table event, which was completely sold out, was held at the Sabah Cultural Centre here on Oct 21.

Parish priest Fr Wilfred Atin accorded the happy outcome to the organizing committee, even more so to the generous support of the people.

The theme chosen for the inaugural event was ‘Stand firm in the Lord’, which was deemed appropriate as it reflected the aspiration of the parish.

Songs, performances from various zones, community presentations, lucky draws and rendition of songs from special guests including priests to showcase their vocal talents provided an entertaining program for the evening.

The parish priest cherished the hope that the event could be organized annually so it could become a venue for many to get to know each other better and to share from other parts and zones within the parish, beside enjoying the evening with entertaining stage performances. – SOCCOM Penampang

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