Monthly Archives: December, 2018

SHC carolers to target 2000 homes

KARAMUNSING – Sacred Heart Cathedral parish priest Fr Paul Lo commissioned 24 caroling groups to launch the parish Advent Family Visits to 2,000 homes spanning 42 zones from 5-19 Dec 2018.

A 500-crowd of both young and elderly gathered at the foyer of the parish centre, where after a simple rite, Fr Lo sent off the carolers. 

Fr Lo reminded the carolers the purpose of the visits “You are sent by the Church to parishioners and non-Catholics alike, to bring the Good News of Jesus Christ to them.  If they are in touch with Jesus, they will be joyfully blessed. And as you bring Jesus to others, you will blessed with joy yourselves.”

The caroling groups would come together again on Dec 23 for the parish “Carol by Candlelight” at the parish centre, beginning at 7.00 pm. – CS

Fourth Sunday of Advent, Cycle C    

First Reading
Micah 5:1-4
The ruler of Israel is promised to come from Bethlehem.

Responsorial Psalm
Psalm 80:2-3,15-16,18-19
A prayer for God’s salvation

Second Reading
Hebrews 10:5-10
Through his obedience to God’s will, Christ consecrated all.

Gospel Reading
Luke 1:39-45
Mary visits Elizabeth, who sings praise to Mary and her child.

Background on the Gospel Reading

On this the last Sunday before Christmas, our Gospel reading prepares us to witness Christ’s birth by showing us how Jesus was recognized as Israel’s long-awaited Messiah even before his birth. The Gospel turns our attention from the ministry of John the Baptist to the events that preceded John the Baptist’s birth. The story of John the Baptist and his parents, Elizabeth and Zechariah, are reported only in Luke’s Gospel. Luke pairs the birth of John the Baptist and Jesus, establishing John’s early connection to the Messiah.

Our Gospel reading recalls Mary’s actions after the announcement of Jesus’ birth by the angel Gabriel. Mary goes to visit Elizabeth, her cousin, who is also with child. Elizabeth greets Mary with full recognition of the roles that they and their unborn children will play in God’s plan for salvation. If we were to continue to read the verses that follow in Luke’s Gospel, we would hear Mary respond to Elizabeth’s greeting with her song of praise, the Magnificat. Both women recall and echo God’s history of showing favor upon the people of Israel.

In Luke’s Gospel the Holy Spirit helps reveal Jesus’ identity as God to those who believe. Elizabeth is filled with the Holy Spirit and sings Mary’s praise because she bears the Lord. We sing these words of praise to Mary in the Hail Mary. Even John the Baptist, the unborn child in Elizabeth’s womb, is said to recognize the presence of the Lord and leaps for joy.

It is appropriate in this season of Advent that we consider the role of Mary in God’s plan of salvation. Elizabeth describes Mary as the first disciple, as the one who believed that God’s word to her would be fulfilled. Mary’s faith enabled her to recognize the work of God in her people’s history and in her own life. Her openness to God allowed God to work through her so that salvation might come to everyone. Because of this, Mary is a model and symbol of the Church. May we be like Mary, open and cooperative in God’s plan for


Today we celebrate the feast of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary. This feast celebrates God’s choice of Mary to be the mother of Jesus. God preserved Mary from the stain of original sin from the moment of her conception. Thus, Mary was the first to receive the benefit of the redemption that her Son would merit for all.

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Tadika Harmoni Penampang rolls out largest batch of 62 graduates

PENAMPANG – Judging from the thunderous applause at the end of their performance, 62 kindergartners from Tadika Harmoni deserved a pat on their back for pleasing the 900-audience with a smooth rendition of two popular songs, “10,000 Reasons” and “You Raise Me Up”.

November 20 was indeed an occasion to remember for the third and largest batch of Tadika Harmoni students who graduated after completing their pre-school education, and who would be moving on to Primary One next year.

The dinner event, which was held at the Putra Ballroom, also kicked off the fundraising project for Tadika Harmoni to have its own building to accommodate its increasing population.  The kindergarten, orginally housed in the parish hall, has outgrown its capacity.

Present at the event were Archbishop John Wong, parish priest Fr Wilfred Atin, and newly ordained Fr Gilbert Marcus. Also in attendance were Mother General Frances, Sr Rita Chew of the Archdiocesan Education Commission, and Jennifer Anjek of the Archdiocesan Early Childhood Education Committee (AECEC).

Themed “Jesus is my Superstar”, the event started off with the recitation of prayers led by the graduating children, followed by the certificate presentation by the Archbishop. He also presented certificates of appreciation to Peter Jupiter Bensing for his contribution to composing the school anthem, and to Lucy Masudal for her contribution to the development of the school logo.

In his speech, Fr Atin informed the audience that Tadika Harmoni is one of three mission kindergartens in St Michael parish, with Tadika Suriaku located at St Aloysius Limbanak and Tadika Cahaya Harapan at St Augustine Kinarut. The three kindergartens have a total enrolment of over 250 children.

He went on to emphasize that establishing the right foundation for the age group 4-6 years old is critical for their development and urged parents to take cognizance that their children must not only develop academically but must also acquire social skills and most importantly, faith and spiritual development.

Fr Atin highlighted that the Vision and Mission of the kindergartens in the parish, and basically for all mission kindergartens, centers on faith development, academic development and personal development for a rounded and balanced foundation.

Meanwhile, Archbishop Wong congratulated the children for moving on to primary school next year and hoped that their exposure to English, which is the language of delivery at the mission kindergartens, has prepared them better for the next phase of their schooling.

He was happy to note that more mission kindergartens are now teaching the children additional languages (Kadazan and Chinese) after normal class hours. This would expand their language proficiency, especially in their mother tongue.

He went on to say that he recognized the need for quality education right from the pre-school stage. With that in mind, he had directed AECEC to develop a strategic plan to improve the quality of mission kindergartens so that they become a kindergarten of choice for parents.

The Archbishop could not but emphasize more the importance of a mission-kindergarten education “Although there are over 2,700 children currently enrolled in the 34 mission kindergartens, we need to attract more children especially into the newly established mission kindergartens.” – Ephraim Kouju

Sandakan Municipal President gets a visit from the Church

SANDAKAN – Bishop Julius Gitom led a five-member delegation to pay a courtesy call to the President of Sandakan Municipal, Datuk Peter Hii, in his office, at the Wisma Majlis Perbandaran Sandakan Nov 27. The main purpose of the courtesy call was to inform the Sandakan Municipal President about the Diocese of Sandakan and the St Mary’s Cathedral Parish.

Bishop Gitom briefed Datuk Hii on the history of the erection of the Sandakan Diocese eleven years ago, while parish priest Fr David Garaman delivered the history of the oldest church/parish in this region, St Mary’s Cathedral, which was established in 1883.

Historically, the St Mary’s mission, as it was called then in 1884, established the first school in the North Borneo (Sabah). Many of the local leaders, politicians, and successful businessmen obtained their early education in St Mary’s school, Fr Garaman added.

Currently, St Mary’s is running two secondary schools and three primary schools. all located at Mile 2 Labuk Road.

Besides schools, St Mary’s also has a multipurpose hall cum hostel which provides a place to stay for the outstation students, especially those from the not-well-to-do families.

Hii revealed that he was amazed and impressed by the Church’s history and work on humanity.

He responded with a gesture of appreciation to the visiting delegation as he presented his personal donation to Bishop Gitom on behalf of the parish of St Mary’s Cathedral. – DOSPO

Ruby jubilarian Fr Thomas Makajil resonates with ‘missionary’ call

SANDAKAN – On the occasion of his ruby jubilee celebration, Fr Thomas Makajil celebrated a thanksgiving Mass at St Mary’s Cathedral here Nov 6, with Bishop Julius Gitom as the main celebrant, and Msgr Nicholas Ong, who a month ago celebrated his own ruby jubilee, and seven other priests as concelebrants.

Fr Thomas is the resident priest of Paitan Mission, the only missionary area in the Diocese of Sandakan.

The jubilarian shared about his recent visit to Catholic Sabah in Kota Kinabalu. He was there to see an old friend, and noticed the tremendous changes and many new staff, one of whom recognized him and exclaimed, “You are the ‘missionary’ in Paitan!”

The word “missionary” struck him and challenged him to the core. He resonated deeply to the words of the Holy Father calling the clergy and religious to move out of their comfort zone, and to be with the people, tending to their needs. Clergy and religious are likened to shepherds living with the smell of the sheep, leading the flocks with compassion and dedication, Pope Francis underlines.

Fr Makajil shared his reflection drew him to recall Jesus’ mission as written in the prophet Isaiah “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind, to set liberty those who are oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.” This, he maintained, is the core mission of the Church to which all, clergy and lay, are called.

At the subscribed jubilee dinner celebrated at Hakka Hall with 300 parishioners and invited guests, Bishop Gitom congratulated both Msgr Ong and Fr Makajil on the joyous occasion of the 40th anniversary of their priestly ministry.

To Fr Makajil, he spoke of the jubilarian’s steadfastness and love for the Church, attesting him as “a true shepherd after the heart of Christ” and “one always out on the road nurturing and leading the flock”.

 He acknowledged that the Diocese is indeed blessed to have a priest who is passionate, dedicated, generous and whose main concern is for the advancement of God’s Kingdom.

Fr Thomas thanked and glorified God for all the blessings showered on him throughout his 40 years of priestly ministry. He thanked Bishop Gitom for the opportunity to serve in Paitan Mission.

He spoke of his dream of seeing “the empowerment of the laity who made up 99% of the body of the Church alongside the clergy and the religious, living the faith as best as they can. Both laity and clergy have complementary roles in ministry and mission”.

Fr Makajil was ordained by Bishop Simon Fung in St Michael Penampang on November 11, 1978.  Born and raised up a Penampang lad, he had his early education in Inobong and Penampang.

Interestingly, Makajil’s first appointment was to assist Fr Thomas Sham in Holy Trinity Tawau (1977-1980).  He was next assigned to Sacred Heart Cathedral and St Michael Penampang (1981-82), while at the same time serving as Associate Editor of Catholic Sabah and editor of the Kadazandusun Section. 

Other parishes where he has served included St Catherine Inanam, St Valentine Beaufort, St Patrick Membakut, St Peter Bundu, St John Sipitang, back to St Michael again, St Theresa Tambunan, Holy Cross Toboh, St Joseph Papar, Holy Rosary Limbahau, and currently in the Diocese of Sandakan (incardinated).

On the occasion of his Silver Jubilee in 2003, Fr Makajil said of himself “I have not achieved any spectacular achievements in terms of building infrastructures. I must acknowledge that I am not a builder, but I have reached out and have worked with the people. I rejoice knowing that I have done my best to walk humbly with them and allowed them to feel that the Church is a welcoming Church.”

In a nutshell, Fr Thomas Makajil fits Pope Francis’ description of “a shepherd living with the smell of the sheep”.

     Fr Makajil has admitted that he is most at home working with “simple rural and non- sophisticated people”, and that is why he is grateful to his Bishop for his current assignment in Paitan Mission. – DOSPO / CS

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