Daily Archives:January 7th, 2019

Thousands throng Mt Rosary to celebrate the Immaculate Conception

RANAU – Every human being is called by God to receive salvation given through the living Word of God who became man as our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ.

The head of Kota Kinabalu Archdiocese, Archbishop John Wong said that every human being should emulate the Virgin Mary conceived without blemish in responding to the call of God.

“Perhaps, at home we have many statues of Mother Mary. Sometimes we see this woman lifted so high that it’s hard to follow or emulate her, so we sometimes overlook her.”

Archbishop Wong said this in his homily when celebrating the Mass in conjunction with the Immaculate Conception of the Virgin Mary on Mount Rosary, Kg Toboh Baru Ranau Dec 8.

Concelebrating with the prelate at Mass were Ranau parish priest, Fr Nicholas Stephen, Fr Francis Tsen and Romo Augustinus from Larantuka Indonesia.

In the Mass, the Archbishop invited the people to ask whether they are constantly pondering the Word, confirming that the Word is leading their lives, as well as allowing the Word to be part of themselves.

“If we always do so, the Psalmist today says, ‘Sing a new song to the Lord because God has done great works in me’.

“I hope and pray, when you go home tonight, or to your parish or your community or family, you can sing a ‘new song’. Or would you go back to being your old self?

“Can you sing a new song like Mary after she received the message through the Angel Gabriel, and said ‘Yes‘ to the angel? She sang the Magnificat ‘My soul glorifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God, my Saviour’”, said the archbishop.

He said there is a ‘new song’ because God had raised her (Mary), a servant, to a higher place.

According to the archbishop, God has made miracles happen and He will continue to make miracles happen in the lives of all people, especially when they come to celebrate the Holy Mass.

“Having received this most magnificent Word, let’s sing a new song to praise and glorify God because God has, and continues to make great works in the lives of each one of us.

“Therefore, my brothers and sisters, let us pray to God so that we are all like Mama Maria, always humble;  because when we humble ourselves, the loving and caring God will elevate us as He did the Virgin Mary,” Archbishop Wong explained.

     For the Marian celebration, some 3,000 people from all over the state came together to march as far as two kilometers from St John Tambiau to Mount Rosary in Toboh Baru, where they celebrated Mass. Clarence Dol

St Simon EMCs add four new members

KOTA KINABALU – A total of 18 extraordinary ministers of Holy Communion (EMCs) were commissioned, including four new candidates, during the Morning Mass of the Second Sunday in Advent, here, on Dec 9.

They were led by ministry head, Francis Liew, as they were recommissioned for a period of three years by St Simon Catholic Church Likas rector Fr Cosmas Lee.

Before the commissioning, Fr Cosmas said he hoped the EMCs will continue to be inspired to serve the people through the administering of the Holy Eucharist with utmost care and reverence.

     The EMCs are Francis, Maria Tsen, Gerard Chung, Robert Tseu, Marie Fernandez, Cynthia Loong, Flora Liew, Joan Pang, Adrian Thien, Thomas Lee, Winnie Kual, Ricky Wang, Matthew Wong, Rose Thien, Peter Prabha, Janet Moinin, Adrian Lui and Michael Tsen. – SOCCOM St Simon

Small but effective ‘Good News’ messengers

KOTA KINABALU – The Catholic homes of Austral, Waja and Golden Hill, which come under Zone 29 of the Sacred Heart Cathedral parish here were pleasantly surprised and hugely appreciative when they were visited by small but effective “Good News” messengers during the parish Advent Family visits Dec 5-19.

The children are from the Kids of the Kingdom Ministry, which looks into the faith formation of children from Primary one to six.

They were accompanied by their teachers and parents, who provided music backing and transportation.  Most of the children were no strangers to caroling, which they made meaningful with freedom of movement as they did not have to refer to songsheets! – CS

11th World Chinese Bible Congress celebrates the treasure of God’s Word

HONG KONG – The 11th World Chinese Bible Congress was a significant occasion, which brought together Chinese Catholics from around the world to celebrate and appreciate the treasure of the Word of God.

The congress, held in Hong Kong from Nov 22-26, was made even more special as it celebrated the 50th anniversary (1968-2018) of the first completed Chinese Catholic Bible (Studium Biblicum Franciscanum Version).

The congress began with an opening Mass celebrated by Bishop of Hong Kong, Bishop Michael Yeung Ming Cheung, and concelebrated by Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle and priests from the participating countries.

The event was well-represented by clergy, religious and lay people from China, Taiwan, Malaysia, Australia, Philippines, Singapore, Indonesia, Cambodia, and Canada.

The theme chosen for the congress was “Journeying with the Word, Living out Faith, Hope and Love”. The Gospel that laid the foundation for this important occasion was taken from the Gospel of Matthew on the Sowing of the Seeds (Mt 13:1-9.18-23). 

Bishop Yeung stressed that we are to be the rich soil to receive, appreciate and nurture the seeds (Word of God) that are sown, so it will grow and bear fruit and yield a hundred, or sixty, or thirtyfold.

The chalice that was once used by the recently canonized Pope St Paul VI, being the only Pope who made his pastoral visit to Hong Kong, was used during the opening Mass.

The five plenary sessions were: 1) Reflection on the Theme of the Congress by Auxiliary Bishop John Ha (Hong Kong); 2) The Word animates the Pastoral Works of the Church by Cardinal Tagle (the Philippines); 3) The Word guides the path to Holiness by Fr Tarsis Sigho (Taiwan); 4) The Spirituality of Mother Mary and the Word by Fr Mi Shen (China) and 5) The Word inspires New Evangelization by Fr Francis Ching (Canada).

These sessions led to the common message of “Ignorance of the Scriptures is ignorance of Christ”, calling for all to make the Bible the inspiration of every ordinary and extraordinary pastoral outreach, leading to a greater awareness of the person of Christ, who reveals the Father and is the fullness of divine revelation. (Verbum Domini 2010 #73, Pope Benedict XVI).

In addition to that, Fr Jan J. Stefanów, the General Secretary, was present to share the works by the Catholic Biblical Federation.

There were also time allocated for daily Eucharist, diocesan reports on Biblical works, platforms to share creative ideas on New Evangelization and Lectio Divina.

The Pectoral Cross of Pope St Paul VI, along with the relics of Blessed Fr Allegra and St Josef Freinademetz were displayed throughout as a visible sign of their presence with the participants.

Participants found the congress fruitful and inspiring, and were given parting gifts of salt (packet) which they were reminded to be ‘salt of the earth’ and seed (engraved with wordings ‘The Living Word’) which they were to plant in ‘good soil’. New aspirations were also drawn to put their respective “pastoral commitment to emphasize the centrality of the Word of God in the Church’s life.” (Verbum Domini 2010 #73). – Serena Wong

What Congress participants say  

WHAT impressed me most was the fast growing church in China and its active participation. Through their congress report presentation and group sharing, I have come to realize that the Kingdom of God grows silently in the hearts of men who thirst for the Word of God despite suppressive conditions to witness for Christ freely.

Catherine Wan, one of the five delegates from KK Archdiocese, who attended the Chinese Bible Congress held in Hong Kong Nov 22-26, shared her impressions of the Bible Congress. 

I have also come to appreciate the sacrifice of early priests/missionaries who made the Chinese translation of the bible possible. The golden jubilee of its publication on 25 December 1968 was commemorated during the Congress. 

The vocation story of a foreign missionary to China was even made into a skit by Hong Kong parishioners, showing the dynamic evangelization by the inspired lay faithful, which was saved in USB and given to each participant as a souvenir. 

Another gift, a seed with the engraved wordings The Living Word on its endocarp, provided an apt reminder to the participants to grow with the Living Word daily in order to bear the good fruits of virtues in life.

Another participant from Sacred Heart Cathedral parish, Serena Wong was most struck by Cardinal Luis Tagle’s quoting Deut 10:19 “And you are to love those who are foreigners, for you yourselves were foreigners in Egypt”, imploring us who were present to reach beyond whom we know.

It moved my heart, Serena recalled, and moved many to tears as well, as he shared his personal experience in this regards.

For me, it has brought a tangible and significant vision of what “Love your neighbor” means.

Sabah Chief Minister croons all time favourite “White Christmas” at KK Christmas launching

KOTA KINABALU – The classic number ‘White Christmas’ is a favourite of Chief Minister, Datuk Shafie Apdal, where he took the chance to sing it during his official speech at the Kota Kinabalu Christmas Celebration 2018 (KKCC 2018) Dec 11. He received a thunderous applause by thousands of visitors flocking Padang Merdeka as early as 6.00 pm.

Shafie expressed his joy of being with the multi-racial Sabahans who were gathered for the celebration, saying Sabah is the best example in the nation as a state with citizens who respect each other and are tolerant towards one another.

“The theme chosen for this year ‘God’s Blessing of Life’ is in tandem with government policy, which reflect that Malaysians are grateful to live in peace and harmony, as well as being free from war. The peace and harmony that we enjoy despite our differences in religion and culture have captured a good image in the eyes of the world, and I hope that our country will always receive blessings for a better future,” he said.

He added that as a Muslim, it does not hinder him to enter a Church to pay the last respects to a Christian friend, or to attend a wedding ceremony if he is invited.

In Sabah he said, inter-marriages between races regardless of religion has bound the people together in harmony.

“Relationship between ethnicity through inter-marriages has united us. We understand each other more and therefore respect each other. A good number of us here today are ‘related’ to other races and religions, and this has made us truly unique,” he said.

He said the 14th edition of KKCC2018 has once again proven unity of races is existent in our society. JJ/SOCCOM

KK Christmas feeds the homeless

KOTA KINABALU – The middle-aged man looked messy perhaps for not having bathed for a few days. His clothes were dirty and worn out. His eyes went wild when he saw, out of nowhere, a group of men walking toward him. He stood up, worried…for fear of getting caught. But, when a box of KFC and a drink were handed to him by the unknown group of men, he started shedding tears.

After accepting the food, the man being identified as a homeless person, made the sign of the cross. He is one of the many homeless people believed to stay around Kota Kinabalu city. He told them that he is from Sipitang and that he lives like that because of family problems back home.

The food distribution was one of the programs arranged during the Kota Kinabalu Christmas Celebration 2018 (KKCC 2018) held at Padang Merdeka.

Archbishop John Wong was also involved in the group distributing food to 80 homeless people targeted by the Christmas event. Also present were pastors of churches from Sabah Council of Churches (SCC) and Kota Kinabalu City Hall (DBKK) Mayor, Datuk Yeoh Boon Hai.

The issue of homeless people in KK city is not a big social problem, nevertheless each of them has the right to be given care so that they are not mistreated. Resonating closely with the theme of this year’s celebration “God’s Blessings of Life”, food was given away regardless of colour, race and religion.

“God has blessed us with a gift of life and it is appropriate for us to be thankful to Him and love Him with all our heart, soul and mind. We must be grateful for life and use it to love and help those who are in need regardless of race, religion, culture, language and where they come from,” SCC President, Bishop Melter Jiki Tais said in his opening speech.

Co-organizing chairman, Mandy Nancy Joe said, this year’s theme is calling everyone to love one another, to be united, respect each other and no one should go to sleep with an empty stomach. She added that we could reflect Christmas with 2 Cor 9:8 “And God is able to bless you abundantly, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work.”

The KKCC 2018 was a four-day celebration starting Dec 11. Co-organized by Sabah Council of Churches and KK City Hall, this year’s colourful yuletide season celebration was the 14th edition since its inception. Programs lined up included Christmas carols, presents give-away to children, charity donation drive, and more than 200 vendors selling different types of food, drinks and other goodies.

Permanent consultant to the organizing team, Neil Mah said, since its first celebration in 2005, programs are improved every year and new activities introduced to be better enjoyed by KK city dwellers. This annual event is not only awaited by the locals, but has since become a major tourist attraction.

Chief Minister, Datuk Shafie Apdal, launched the event and expressed his joy to be with the citizens of different races and religions gathered at the celebration.

He said, among many factors that make Sabah the best model state in Malaysia, despite its diversified race culture and creed, is that each segment is able to celebrate each other’s festive season with a sense of respect and tolerance.

He wants all races in Sabah to continue to live this noble spirit to ensure peace and prosperity in the State.

The state government has allocated RM200,000 to organize KKCC 2018. The main organizer for this year was Basel Christian Church of Malaysia, assisted by Sabah Evangelical Mission and Grace Chapel. The organizing of KKCC falls by rotation on churches under the SCC. Estimated visitors to Padang Merdeka this year were 30,000. JJ/SOCCOM

Ignoring reality of abuse, resisting responsibility must end

ANYONE who still believes the abuse crisis is an “American” or “Western” problem must become properly informed, face reality and realize problems may be hidden and explode in the future, said Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi.

And those who think too much talk and attention about abuse only blows the situation out of proportion or that it is time to change the topic are following “a mistaken path,” he said in the Jesuit journal, La Civilta Cattolica.

“If the issue is not fully confronted in all of its various dimensions, the church will continue to find itself facing one crisis after another, the credibility of (the church) and all of her priests will remain seriously wounded and, above all, the essence of her mission will suffer – that of proclaiming the Gospel and its educational work for children and young people, which for centuries has been one of the most beautiful and precious aspects of her service for humanity,” he wrote.

A major focus of the summit convoked by Pope Francis at the Vatican Feb 21-24 for the presidents of bishops’ conferences, representatives of religious orders and heads of Vatican dicasteries, he wrote, will be on helping participants understand they are being encouraged to join together – not as representatives of their own people – but as leaders of the people of God on a journey that requires the input and collaboration of lay experts so that there may be “a united response on the universal level.”

Pope Francis, he added, has also widened the scope of abuse to include not just sexual abuse but the abuse of power and of conscience and the corruption of authority, which is no longer lived as service but as the wielding of power.

The February summit will give people a chance to share experiences and best practices, he said, and to strongly encourage everyone to make “new urgent steps forward.”

While many lessons already have been learned, “there are also many open questions” left to address, he said.

One is recognizing that even though a number of countries have done much in the area of prevention and formation, “it must be recognized that in many other countries, little, if anything, has been done.”

People do not need a theoretical understanding, but actual concrete awareness of the damage caused, and that will push people to overcome “laziness, fears and very dangerous resistance” and to leap into action.

“Often one continues to delude oneself that it is mainly a ‘Western’ or else an ‘American’ or ‘Anglophone’ problem and with incredible naivete, thinks that (the problem) may be marginal in one’s own country,” he wrote. – CNS

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