Category Archives: Catholic Sabah

Malaysian Churches prepare for Extraordinary Mission Year

ZENIT – The Catholic Church in Malaysia, Singapore, and Brunei has announced that the solemnity of Epiphany on January 6, 2019 will mark the opening of an “Extraordinary Mission Year” to culminate with the celebration of the “Extraordinary Mission Month”, convoked by Pope Francis for October 2019, Fides News Agency reported December 12, 2018.

The news was announced in a report sent to Fides by Bishop Sebastian Francis, shepherd of the diocese of Penang and President of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Malaysia, Singapore, and Brunei.

 According to the report sent to Fides, the dioceses of Singapore, Brunei, and Malaysia have already started preparations for the Extraordinary Year. For example, the Institute for New Evangelization in Malaysia recently held a special formation session for prominent local Catholics promoted by Bishop Sebastian Francis of Penang and Bishop Bernard Paul of Malacca-Johore, attended by 56 participants, including pastoral workers and community leaders.

The aims and contents of the Extraordinary Mission Year were illustrated by Fr Victor Louis, National Director of the Pontifical Mission Societies Malaysia, Singapore and Brunei. The Director recalled the approach of Pope Francis for the coming celebration: Evangelization is a response to Christ’s command “Go out to the whole world and proclaim the Gospel to all peoples” (Mk 16, 15).

“To obey the Lord’s mandate is not an option for the Church; it is her essential task. The Church is missionary by nature: she exists to evangelize. Evangelization is, in fact, is the grace and calling proper to the Church,” said the Director.

The five days of study, which opened with a special celebration of the Eucharist, stressed the fact that every baptized Christian has a calling to evangelize. As an experience of Street Evangelization, the participants visited a local hospital, a shopping center and a home for the elderly.

The Extraordinary Missionary Month in October 2019 will mark the 100th anniversary of the Apostolic Letter Maximum Illud issued in 1919 by Pope Benedict XV and will have the theme, Baptised and Sent: the Church of Christ on the mission in the world. The aim is to increase awareness of “missio ad gentes” and give new impulse to missionary transformation in the life of the Church.

KK Archdiocesan commission heads reappointed for another term 2019-2021

Archbishop John Wong has recently reappointed the following effective 1/1/19 to 31/12/21:

Liturgy:  Fr Cosmas Lee (Adviser/Coordinator)

Catechetics:  Fr Nicholas Stephen (Adviser), Sr Dariah Ajap (Coordinator)

Education: Fr Jalius Sading (Adviser), Sr Rita Chew (Coordinator)

Women:  Archbishop John Wong (Adviser), Anita Tunggolou (Coordinator)

SOCCOM:   Fr Thomas Madanan (Adviser), Datuk Joseph Leong (Coordinator)

Youth:  Fr Joshua Liew (Adviser), Sr Terry Loukang (Coordinator)

Family Life:  Fr Michael Modoit (Adviser), Sr Suzan Guntabid (Coordinator)

Human Development:  Fr.Ambrose Atang (Adviser), Dominic Lim (Coordinator)

Stella Maris homes receive new visitor, Our Lady of Guadalupe

TANJUNG ARU – Stella Maris homes were recently introduced to their new visitor, Our Lady of Guadalupe.

Our Lady of Guadalupe was introduced to the parish families by assistant parish priest Fr Peter Abas during the month of the Rosary, as he shared with them his own experiences and devotion to Mother Mary. He invited them to travel with her and to receive God’s blessing for their homes through her, along with the recitation of the rosary during the visits.

Fifteen families were chosen to journey with the statue of Our Lady of Guadalupe.  She stayed in each house for two nights before being taken to the next family. Stella Maris Convent was chosen as the first family to receive the statue.

During our Lady’s visit, families came together as a community to join the chosen family in praying the rosary. Praying the rosary every night brought the families closer to one another, and to God. It taught them to be more kind, patient, loving and caring toward each other. In coming together, they not only shared the presence of the statue but also the joy and love that the statue of Our Lady brought to their families.

Fellowship followed after the rosary prayer, where they inevitably grew more united as one big family sharing meal together.

Traditionally, October each year is dedicated to the Most Holy Rosary. This is primarily due to the fact that the liturgical feast of Our Lady of the Rosary is celebrated annually on October 7. – SOCCOM SMP

Thousands join interchurch Christmas Street Festival

INANAM – More than 3000 visitors from all walks of life turned up for the 5th Inanam Inter-Church Christmas Street Festival, which was held over two evenings on Dec 1-2 at Inanam Memorial Monument.

The theme for this year’s fiesta was “Jesus is the Bright Morning Star”.

The annual event, which was organized by  the Sabah Council of Christian Churches Inanam branch, was participated by all Christian denominations within Inanam, Kolombong, Menggatal and Telipok areas.

This year the number of participation has been pared down to 13 choir groups to give way to three local Christian singers in the persons of  Rey Kimara, Rosario and  Hosiana Kewon who have been invited by the organizers to entertain the crowd with Advent and Christmas songs.

The lighting up of the Christmas tree, carol singing, Christmas drama, lucky draws and traditional ethnic dances have been lined up for the revellers’ enjoyment.

Kenny Chua, the Assistant Minister of Finance and current State Assemblyman for Inanam officiated the event, while Dean Musa Ambai a representative from Sabah Council of Churches closed it on behalf of Anglican Bishop Datuk Melter Jiki Tais.

Among the guests were Dr Roland Chia, the former State Assemblymen for Inanam, Fr Mitchelly Kiun, the spiritual adviser for the Interchurch Christmas Street,   Archdeacon Moses Chin, Benny Chua PPM and several local church leaders.

The Interchurch Christmas Street Festival was the brainchild of Dr Chia, who saw the need for the churches to reach out to the faith communities in this northern part of Kota Kinabalu City.

The 1st Christmas Celebration was also held at Tugu Peringatan Inanam on Dec 15, 2014 which attracted some 500-600 people.  Michael Guntili

Don Bosco children’s needs: more than just material goods

RANAU – A total of 17 members of the parish Pastoral Care for the Sick, Aged and Needy Ministry made a maiden visit to the Don Bosco Children’s Home at Bundu Tuhan here on 13 Oct 2018.

Some of the members were there for the first time even though the centre had existed for not less than 50 years!

Before the visit, we found out from Sister-in-Charge, Sr Anne Marie, that there are 60 children living in the hostel, whose ages range from seven to 17 years old – 13 of whom are 12 years old and below while 47 are in secondary school.

One of the highlights of the visit was a motivational talk given by member Mary Ann Chew, entitled, “Don’t Be Controlled By These 5 Things: Your past; Other people’s opinions and judgements; Limited beliefs you project on yourself; Relationship – love and connection; Money – Do not allow your decisions to be controlled by money.

We spent time talking to the children, especially the teenagers who are hungry for guidance and knowledge, pending entry into the working force of the real world. A number of them spent more than six years at the centre.

These children attend classes at the government-run school, SM Bundu Tuhan in the vicinity. Most of them come from broken families that are affected by divorce, single parenting and some are also victims of abuse.

These families are mostly located in rural kampongs (villages) around the area of Kiau District, Papar, Tamparuli, Kota Belud, Keningau, Ranau and in particular, a girl from further away. The girl’s father died when she was very young. The mother and her relatives abandoned her. Brother Ben found her and brought her back to the centre six years ago. She is now in her teens and needs love and peace of mind.

The centre has limited grounds for expansion. The construction of the hall and hostel was sponsored by the Rotary Club of Kota Kinabalu some 30 years ago. Maintenance and upkeep of the building is challenging.

The person that Sister and the children never forget, is the founder of the centre, Brother Martinus JA Snoeren, affectionately known by all as Brother Ben, born on Oct 8, 1929 and was called to the Lord on Feb 13 this year.

His Christian mission started in 1953 and retired in 2014. He spent almost all his 61 years of service in Don Bosco. A little table is placed at the side of the hostel hall with Brother Ben’s kind face in a photo frame in memorial of him.

He was the “papa” to the children of the centre. He will be forever fondly remembered by all the people who have known him. The children prayerfully remember all his love, comfort and hope he showered on them.

Sr Anne Marie and the five helpers at the centre have their hands full in looking after the children. Aaron, who was personally trained by Brother Ben, is one of the key assistants in the work force.

Sister said he is the “second Brother Ben”, a compliment to his diligence in looking after the centre. Sr Anne Marie and her team worked tirelessly in nurturing the children through prayer intercession, love and care to the best of their ability to deepen the children’s Catholic faith; strengthen their hope and increase their love of God to carry on the legacy of Brother Ben.

We left the centre with mixed feelings. These children are blessed to have a place to stay, food for physical health and education to meet their best ability in learning. However, looking into their eyes, one cannot help but feel they lacked the genuine happiness of family support and love.

     The two hours we stayed with the children made us realize that material goods are just a temporary satisfaction. What they really need is attention and love, especially from their own families. – SOCCOM St Simon

SHC Prayer Group enriches the underprivileged

BUNDU TUHAN – Not wasting the opportunity as it presented itself, the Sacred Heart Cathedral English Prayer Meeting (SHCEPM) visited the Don Bosco Home for underprivileged children to spend some time with them in the midst of their family retreat on Nov 9-11.

The retreat, which was held at the Retreat Centre here, was a way for the prayer meeting to conclude a year’s service of weekly Praise and Worship. 

Themed “Be healed and restored: Healing and Restoration through the Seven Miracles of the Gospel of John”, the retreat attracted some 100 participants.

The retreat master, George Thien, assisted by Vincent Abel, walked the participants through the Gospel of John, expounding it in detail for the 3-day retreat. 

Apart from the main input, there were counselling sessions, inner healing sessions, and sessions of praise and worship. 

Participants shared that the retreat has been fruitful, and has given them a sense of renewal.  They enjoyed the fellowship throughout the retreat.

The organizing committee thanked all who have supported in making the retreat possible.

The Prayer Meeting, with faith formation and Praise and Worship, will resume on January 11, 2019 at 8.00 pm at Sacred Heart Parish Centre. Joseph Carlos Leong

St Mary Kionsom LOM adds two new members

KIONSOM, Inanam – The Legion of Mary Chapter from St Mary Chapel here is actively recruiting members to join its religious and community programs lined up for the coming year in the area.

Headed by Mary Chung, the LOM, which was established with just a handful of members years ago, today had grown to more than 30 active members.

The members had been grouped into smaller sub-committees, which are tasked with specific activities to serve the many Catholics living in the neighbouring villages.

Chung told CS that the chapter is actively helping the Church to spread the Word of God, while at the same time reaching out to Catholics living in the far flung region of Inanam, some of which can only be reached by hours of walking along jungle paths.

“We visit the marginalized and the sickly, not only to bring them assistance, but to make them feel that they are not forgotten, and to lift up their spirit and sustain their faith in God by praying with them,” Chung said.

The LOM chief also disclosed that Catholics warded and on medical treatment at the hospital were also not forgotten. They made it a point to visit, offering prayers for them at their hospital bedside.

Mary said the chapter is fortunate to have the guidance of parish priests Fr David Sham, Fr Mitchelly Kuin and Fr Mattheus Luta, which has made the running of their programs smoother.

The chapter holds its meeting at 4.00 pm every Sunday at St Mary Chapel, whose construction was fully sponsored by the Chung family. The Chapel also has a hall and a space for the mission kindergarten, Tadika Merpati Putih.

During its meeting on 2 Dec 2018, the chapter welcomed two new members Darwin Durahim and Mui Lin. The ceremony was witnessed by Fr Luta, who had earlier presided the Sunday Mass at the chapel. – Joe Bingkasan

CMI parishioners urged to model after Mary

BUKIT PADANG – Mary was not the only one chosen by God, but all of us as well. If we do what she did, we too are special in the eyes of God.

Archbishop John Wong called parishioners of the Church of Mary Immaculate (CMI) to model after Mary on his pastoral visit, which coincided with the Feast Day of the Immaculate Conception on Dec 9.

The call was made during the Sunday Mass presided by the prelate, and concelebrated by Fr Russell Lawrine.

The parishioners prepared for the celebration with a Triduum from Dec 5-7, which concluded with a bi-lingual  Mass presided by Fr Paul Lo Dec 7 evening, followed by a simple fellowship to mark Fr Lo’s 13th sacerdotal ordination anniversary. The Boys’ Brigade obliged with a medley of Christmas carols.

A fellowship and lunch at the canteen followed after Sunday Mass. CMI PPC chairperson Catherine Engsun  informed that CMI is embarking on a new phase with the church extension, which means that additional space and facilities would be accorded for the expansion of programs for children, youth and families in the faith community. 

Fr Russell Lawrine, being his first celebration at CMI as priest, called on all to allow the feast day to provide for the physical nourishment and bonding of the communities to continue the good works of God which have started in and through them.  

In his turn, Archbishop Wong touched on the purpose of his pastoral visit.  He explained that besides celebrating the Eucharist with the faithful, and having fellowship with them, the norm of a pastoral visit includes a meeting with the parish council/committee a day before so that he could be updated on the life and running of the parish/church.

The usual cake cutting and tokens presentation followed after the speeches.

Entertainment was provided by the various groups/ministries, including a song entitled I Will Follow Him sung by PPC. – CMI SOCCOM

Be ethical and systematic in spreading the ‘Gift of Hope’ through caroling, says Fr Atin

BUKIT PADANG – The mission office of Penampang parish has drawn up specific guidelines starting this year, to be adhered to by 58 registered groups of carolers.

“The church is not giving these guidelines to burden you, but you are to be ethical and systematic in bringing the good news of the ‘Gift of Hope’ to every Catholic home that you are visiting during your caroling.”

Parish priest Fr Wilfred Atin said to choir groups during their commissioning after Mass on 9 Dec 2018 to mark the 7th anniversary of the feast day of Mary Immaculate Conception (MIC) Chapel here at Sukang-Mabpai.

The commissioning took place at the adjacent St William Hall with dramatized carols sung by candlelight, performed by groups representing nine zones under Penampang parish.

Fr Atin explained that caroling was not just about singing any Christmas songs, but to present suitable Advent and commercial-free Christmas songs that are in tune with the Bible verses.  The proclamation of God’s Word relating to the coming of Christ is to be included so as to encourage families listening to it to have an in-depth meaning of the celebration.   

Prior to sending them out, the carolers were given catechesis on the proper and effective way of conveying the Advent message to every Catholic household that they would be visiting.        

The Carols by Candlelight has been a parish tradition as the official launching to kick-start caroling activities within the parish, and is hosted by zones on rotation.

This year, the tiny chapel of MIC Sukang Madpai, which could normally accommodate around 100 parishioners, was packed with faithful more than doubled, filling up the capacity space at St William’s hall. The commissioning event in conjunction with the feast day celebration was an opportunity to bring about mutual visits between the different zones as a pastoral outreach envisioned and encouraged by the Archdiocese. – Soccom Penampang    

It’s party time for “special friends” of SHC Special Ministry

KOTA KINABALU – The dawning of Christmas and the exciting Christmas party never cease to thrill these “special friends” of the Sacred Heart Cathedral Special Ministry for children with developed mental disability (SHCSM).

Some 25 of these special people, who were accompanied by parents, grandparents or carers turned up with great expectation of fun, of yummy food and of receiving numerous presents and goodies.

They “tolerated” the speech time, and sprang to life at the signal for their favorite games “Musical Chair” and “Passing the Parcel”. Kudos to those who accepted without fuss when they were dropped out from the game!

After the advocates belted out some carols on their part, there was no return of the microphone to the adults.  One after another, the children had great fun singing familiar carols.

Sr Genevieve Tinun, coordinator for SHCSM, informed that the ministry now has 23 advocates to cater to 32 “special friends”.

“Stagnant with 12 advocates for the last few years, God has been pleased to bless us recently with 11 newcomers, for which we are grateful,” said Sr Tinun.

But, she revealed, even with this big number, the ministry still does not have sufficient helpers.  The ideal ratio of helper to children is 1:1. But now, they make do with one to two or three children that are not severely disabled. She said there is a need to promote for advocates, and support from friends, families, carers, and parishioners is more than welcome.

Rosalind Vun, an advocate for over four years, reminisced her first brush with the ministry, which she accorded to the influence of the late advocate Mary Kutty.

Not knowing how she would react at first sight, she found to her surprise that she experienced much love for the children. She relayed that it was this “love” that has sustained her passion for the ministry since.

For newcomers Airrin Lojingki and Betries Augustine, they readily agreed to be trained as advocates as their grandchild (Airrin’s) and son (Betries’) were already part of the ministry. Since they have to send them to the ministry’s activities, it makes sense to offer service where it is needed, they said.

Francesca Malantin and Patricia Totu, both retired nurses, responded because their vocational experience as nurses stand them in good stead.

Dr Christabel Mojiun, the “youngest” advocate of two months old, said literally the Lord brought her into the midst of the members of the ministry without her planning it, in answer to her search for direction.

The ministry runs two sessions fortnightly in a month.  The first is run for adults preparation where the advocates prepare themselves on the sharing of the Word of God and for agape (celebration of birthdays, fellowship, etc). 

The second session is for the children where they come together for the sharing of God’s Word, agape time, activities to prepare them to receive the sacraments (baptism, first Holy Communion, Confirmation), and activities for Christmas and Lent.

Besides, the children have opportunities for outings, a yearly thanksgiving Mass and penitential services for Advent and Lent.

Fr Max Hontor, spiritual adviser to the ministry, is always present to support the ministry with Mass, penitential services and advice.

     For the occasion, he spoke encouraging words to the advocates, thanking them for their sacrifice and service to the Church in the ministry.  He called them on to continue to give support to the ministry, and more so,  to those whose children are part of the ministry, so that they (children) might have hope in their life, hope in them as their parents, and hope in those who “advocate’ them. –  CS

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