Daily Archives:November 9th, 2018

Tribute to the builder of CMI

Fr Thomas Sham

On the blessed occasion of Silver Jubilee celebration of CMI Church, it would not be complete without a dedication to its founder.  As an honour to his memory and contribution, here is a tribute to CMI builder, Fr. Thomas Sham (1920-2004):

Born on 15 Feb 1920 in Putatan, Thomas was the fifth child in a brood of three boys and four girls born to Lucas Sham Koi Yun and Helen Lee Kyun Yin.  The elder Sham was from China who sought his fortune in Borneo and later settled down in Putatan with a local girl.  He was converted to the Catholic Faith by Thomas Lee (Father of Abp Emeritus John Lee) who founded the Putatan Chinese School.

Thomas studied at the Putatan Chinese School from 1928-1932.  With his mother’s blessing he entered the Jesselton Minor Seminary.

Thomas attributed his vocation to a “man in white.”

When he was nine, he was walking with his brother to school when he saw a man in white clothing. “I was awestruck and attracted by the way the man was dressed up, especially in white.  Somehow, something happened and I wanted to dress like him when I grew up,” Thomas said. He asked his brother who the man was and was told that he was a priest (Fr. Joseph Felix Shek).

Baptised in 1932, Thomas was sent to the Major Regional Seminary in Hong Kong with Francis, the brother of Abp Emeritus Lee. He was ordained on 16 July 1946 in Canton China. Back in Borneo by ship in October 1946, Father Thomas served in Tawau, Papar, Kudat, Jesselton, Sandakan, Telipok, Kota Kinabalu, and Tanjung Aru.

Fr. Thomas decided to stay in Tanjung Aru after retiring from active ministry in 2000. Despite failing health, he continued to concelebrate Mass with his successor Father Fundes Motiung. He died on 17 Nov 2004 at the Sabah Medical Centre, Likas where he had been admitted since Nov 6.  He was 84. He was buried at the Mile 4.5 Catholic Cemetery Penampang Road by his nephew Father David Sham.

Well-known as a builder, Thomas acquired mission lands for construction or extension of church and school buildings, one of which is the Church of Mary Immaculate Bukit Padang.

Architect’s impression of CMI Extension (Right Angle)

Going back in history … how it all began

CMI was officiated and blessed by then Bishop John Lee on 31 October 1993.  It was a grand affair with  ribbon cutting and Eucharistic celebration in English and Chinese. But this is only a part of the church’s history.

As we go back further, the story started in 1990 as extracted from the archive of the Catholic Archdiocese of Kota Kinabalu:

It came about when Fr Thomas Sham, who was then the pastor of the Sacred Heart Cathedral (1987-1988), noticed the way parishioners literally had to force their way into the church compound for services, which parishioners who were leaving had to undergo a similar ordeal.  That was when he remembered that the church owned a 2.2 acre piece of property in Bukit Padang.

After consultation with Bishop John Lee, Fr Sham approached the state finance ministry officials to explore the possibility of government assistance to put up a new church on that property.  He was met with positive response.

Within three months of coming to serve at SHC, Fr Sham put into motion a plan to build a new church.   CMI also underwent two changes of names before the present name was finally agreed upon.  The previous names were “Church of Our Lady Queen of Peace” and “Church of Mary Immaculate Conception”- CMI SOCCOM

Remembering the beginnings of 25-year old Church and those who built her

Church of Mary Immaculate, with its unique hands-clasped bell tower, Bukit Padang

BUKIT PADANG – When a momentous occasion such as a Silver Jubilee approaches, the first thing that everyone would be looking forward to is a celebration to commemorate the occasion.

When it comes to a church such as Church of Mary Immaculate (CMI), not only is it momentous but it is also a historical event for many people over 25 years and beyond that.

Although the celebration would be looked forward to, but it is the past that we have to go back to so that we are reminded of how God had worked through these individuals, both religious and lay people, who were chosen to build a church, where the communities have grown bit by bit over the years, and now has become one family.

This is reflected in the theme of CMI’s 25 years dedication: “Celebrating Our Journey Together as a Family of Faith”.

The Uniqueness of CMI

CMI is a triangular-shaped building with a 60-ft hands-clasped-in-prayer bell tower equipped with an electric chime.

The concept of the unique bell tower came from retired Town and Regional Planning Department Director, Datuk Thasius Joeman, a member of the building committee in 1990.

This was disclosed in an interview with him by the Silver Jubilee Committee at the church canteen on 8 April 2018 in conjunction with CMI’s 25 years of dedication. Present also was Thomas Koh, a PWD senior officer who was the treasurer of the building committee.

Joeman said he proposed the concept to founder Father Thomas Sham who in turn brought him to see Bishop John Lee.  It is utterly unique as Joeman said, he has not seen that design during his years of travel around the globe.

Joeman said he was thankful that the bishop accepted the proposal just as he did the idea of having a church on the ground and not having a hall beneath the church.  Earlier, the original design by Paul Chong to have a hall beneath the church had been approved by the bishop.

The retired director said he related to the bishop his experience in Sibu when he attended a Mass in a church that has a hall beneath the church.  He could not concentrate on the Mass because of the noise coming from the basement hall.  He also highlighted the point that it might be difficult to climb the stairs to enter the church as one ages.

After 25 years, the praying hands bell tower with electric chime is still unique and has become a landmark in the suburban area of Bukit Padang.

The Dedication

For the Silver Jubilee celebration, an organizing committee was formed to plan and carry out the jubilee activities from May 2018 onwards. It began with the monthly movie nights featuring “Mary of Nazareth”, “Lourdes” and “Fatima” from May to July; Parish Pilgrimage to the Church of Divine Mercy KKIP in August;  Exhibition by Ministries/Groups in September; Triduum leading to the Thanksgiving Mass and dinner on Sunday Oct 28.  As a weekly preparation until October, a Jubilee prayer was recited during Saturday and Sunday Masses as well as petition for specific groups/ministries in the Prayer of the Faithful.  A souvenir magazine and some souvenir items have been on sale as well.

The Future of the Church is the Community

Now that the construction of the building of the Church of Mary, Immaculate is completed, it is important that we proceed with the community building.  A Church without a community is not a Church. A Church’s community is a Christian Community. A Christian Community is a believing and evangelizing community and, a community in dialogue with God and at the service of others.” (Message from Bishop John Lee on the occasion of the Blessing of the Church of Mary Immaculate on 31 October 1993).

The church community has been steadily growing and now is in need of better facilities. With this in mind, an approval was given by Archbishop John Wong to proceed with the extension of CMI.

This extension will see the construction of a multipurpose hall, classrooms, additional toilets, canteen and rectory. An unveiling of this extension was done alongside the launching of the Silver Jubilee Exhibition in September.

In his message, parish priest Fr Paul Lo said the building of the multipurpose hall will provide facilities for the church activities, especially catechetical ministries and youth programs.  He added that he believed that this building project would mark the beginning of the establishment of this church as a parish in the near future. – Sources: Silver Jubilee Committee (Sr Anna Yap) / CMI SOCCOM / CMI Building Committee

Without God, social media is ‘destructive’  

The archbishop Mgr Villegas tells online missionaries that if people use the new forms of communication irresponsibly, they “can divide and deceive” and cause the “slow death for our cherished values and virtues”.

Manila – Social media are a “blessing from God” but “without God” they can become “destructive”, this according to Mgr Socrates Buenaventura Villegas, archbishop of Lingayen-Dagupan.

Mgr Villegas (pictured) makes the point in his message for the upcoming Catholic Social Media Summit (CSMS), which is organised by Youth Pinoy, a group of online missionaries, in co-operation with Areopagus Communications and the Media Office of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines.

The theme of the meeting, which will be held at the Siena College in Quezon City on 17 November, is #Activate, and is expected to draw online missionaries like young professionals, social media managers, diocesan communicators and religious, congregations and communities from across the country.

Mgr Villegas warns though that using the new forms of communication irresponsibly “can “divide and mislead” people, causing the “slow death our cherished values and virtues”.

The former CBCP president notes that social media without ethics “spoil human progress and render development meaningless”.

“We need social media with God, for the service of God and for the glory of God,” he said. “Then and only then can this latest of human inventions also become the best of human creations”.

In his view, “Social media is power because it can teach, it can ignite, it can inspire. It is a powerful human invention that continues to evolve and get better every minute”. – AsiaNews/CBCPNews

Food waste: Deadlier than Malaria

An FAO report highlights the extent of food waste, the repercussions it has on a global scale, and the benefits that would come from reducing it.

Farmers in India (AFP or licensors)

“The scale and pace of food production would not need to increase…to feed an extra 1 billion people by 2030.” This is according to a report released this week by the United Nation’s Food and Agriculture organisation (FAO). The message FAO, along with other non-governmental organisations, is trying to get across on a global level is simple: 3 billion people worldwide are affected by poor-quality diets but there is neither a lack of food, nor a lack in food quality upon production.

If you don’t steal, don’t waste

In fact, the report states that the loss in the food quality and quantity occurs after its production. In low-income countries “food is mostly lost during harvesting, storage, processing and transportation”, whereas in high-income countries “the problem is one of waste at retail and consumer levels”. Basically, low-income countries face a lack of infrastructure, whereas in high-income countries carelessness and “waste at the end of the food chain” prevail. Pope Francis once stated that “wasting food is like stealing from the poor”.

Hunger: the deadliest disease

It is shocking to see that one in every five deaths globally are associated with poor diets. The report explains that poor diets are caused by consuming poor-quality foods as well as by a general lack of food, of any sort. More people die from not receiving the appropriate amount of food and nutrients that they are entitled to than from threatening illnesses like malaria and tuberculosis. This makes little sense when you consider that food production is totally within human control.

The fact that “one third of all food produced for human consumption never reaches the consumer’s plate”, sheds light on why FAO is urging us to “prioritise the reduction of food-loss and waste as a way of improving people’s access to nutritious and healthy food”.

Fixing one fixes three

The report analyses the benefits that would come from reducing loss and waste in nutritious foods. It would not only be the horrific hunger and malnutrition that would be tackled. When humanity for some reason cannot be put at the top of other people’s list of priorities, very often money can and “the value of food lost or wasted annually at the global level is estimated at $ 1 trillion” should be motivating enough to consider acting. Because said action would also yield substantial benefits for the natural environment.

The changes proposed in the report would “contribute to the efficiencies needed to address climate change”; “unlock savings in water and energy consumption, land use, and resources used in industrial food fortification”. Humanity, the environment and money. Three of what can be considered the most prominent aspects of life on earth, tackled by approaching one global issue.

The benefits of tackling this global issue should be more appealing than the negative outcomes that come from ignoring it: “addressing loss and waste of nutritious foods should be a specific new priority for improving nutrition” and the report highlights some of the ways in which this could be feasible through policy actions, Public-Private partnerships, non-profit interventions and the use of innovative technologies. – Francesca Merlo, Vatican news, 08 Nov 2018

Second Christian-Taoist Colloquium – Seven Key Points of Agreement

Cathedral_of_the_Good_Shepherd_new_nave – Wikimedia Commons

Singapore -The Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue (PCID), the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Singapore, and the Taoist Federation of Singapore (TFS) jointly organized the Second Christian-Taoist Colloquium in Singapore from November 5-7, 2018. The theme of the Colloquium was “Christian and Taoist Ethics in Dialogue.” Seventy Christian and Taoist scholars and practitioners of interreligious dialogue mainly from Singapore but also from China, France, South Korea, Malaysia, Switzerland, Taiwan, and the Vatican, took part in this event. The participants included a representative each from the Federation of Asian Bishops’ Conferences and the World Council of Churches.

Tan Thiam Lye, Chairman TFS, gave the welcome address and several other representatives offered their greetings. H.E. Bishop Miguel Ángel Ayuso Guixot, Secretary PCID, delivered the keynote address.

The Colloquium focused on the following topics: Today’s Crisis of Ethics and Hope for Tomorrow; Taoist and Christian Responses to the Crisis of Ethics; Social Institutions and the Transformation of Human Persons; Spiritual Development and Self-Cultivation; Global Ethics and the Interdependency of All Human Beings; Fostering a United and Harmonious Society; and Emerging Orientations for Future Christian-Taoist Engagement. The program also included cultural and interreligious visits to the Taoist Kew Ong Yah Temple, the Catholic Church of the Transfiguration, and the Harmony in Diversity Gallery.

Following their spiritual and interdisciplinary exchanges, the participants agreed on the following:

  1. We acknowledge that the Second Christian-Taoist Colloquium has helped strengthen our bonds of friendship and nurture our desire for further collaboration.
  2. We shared our concerns and hopes for the future.
  3. We affirm – because of the fundamental ethical teachings of our religious traditions to do good and avoid evil – that no one can escape the moral responsibility of transforming unjust socioeconomic, political, cultural, religious and legal structures.
  4. We recognize that today’s crisis of ethics requires a rediscovery of universal values based on social justice, integral ecology, as well as the dignity of human life at every stage and circumstance. Therefore, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948) remains a shared fundamental expression of human conscience for our times and offers a solid basis for promoting a more just world.
  5. We believe in the capacity of our religious traditions to inspire a multi-faceted response to the challenges of our times. Therefore, it is necessary to improve the methods of communication our traditions and stories in a language that is easily understandable.
  6. We believe that families, educational institutions, and religious communities are places of spiritual and moral formation where today’s youth can learn to shape tomorrow’s world into a better place.
  7. We have seen that interpersonal and scholarly exchanges between our religious traditions enabled us to work together to shape the ethical frameworks needed for the common good of this and future generations. – Zenit.org, 08 Nov 2018

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