Category Archives: Catholic Sabah

About 2000 join Archbishop John Wong at Christmas Open House

KOTA KINABALU – Surprise and joy registered on the face of the host for the Christmas Open House, Archbishop John Wong, each time a visitor came up to warmly greet him with the familiar salutary “Blessed Christmas”.

The annual tradition of hosting the Christmas Open House on December 25 has been receiving an increasingly warm response from the faithful and other well wishers over the years.

The festive celebration has been held at the Sacred Heart Cathedral Parish Hall since the last four years to accommodate more guests. Prior to that, it was held at the Bishop’s House.

As he welcomed his visitors, it was the opportune moment for Archbishop Wong to remind them of the purpose of getting together to celebrate Christmas.

He said “Because of Jesus, we celebrate Christmas.  It is not just for food that we come together, but more importantly, we share the gift of Jesus, who is born for us today.”

“Let us share this “gift”, this joy with one another, and give to whoever in our family, work place and parish,” added the archbishop.

The guests were treated to an array of dishes prepared by the Catholic Women’s League, while Christmas presentations by the various groups provided a festive ambience to send feet a-tapping.

 At the same event, a surprise cake-cutting was presented to Archbishop Emeritus John Lee to celebrate his 54th Sacerdotal Ordination Anniversary which falls on Dec 27. – CS

Extraordinary Missionary Year launched in Malaysia

PENANG – The Church in Malaysia, Singapore and Brunei has launched “The Extraordinary Missionary Year” on Jan 6, the Feast of Epiphany.

This ten-month long preparation will culminate with the “Extraordinary Mission Month”, convoked by Pope Francis for October 2019, to be celebrated on Mission Sunday on Oct 20. The aim is to increase greater awareness of missio ad gentes and give new impulse to the missionary transformation of Church life and pastoral activity.

The Holy Father also wants the whole Church to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the foundational mission document “Maximum Illud” (The Great Mission), written by Pope Benedict XV on November 30, 1919.

On Jan 6, Bishop Sebastian Francis of Penang Diocese, declared during the Diocesan launching of the EMY2019 at the Cathedral of the Holy Spirit here that the Maximum Illud,  which calls for us to proclaim the Gospel of Jesus Christ to the ends of the earth, is “still relevant, if not more so today than ever”.

He said, “The Bishops of Malaysia have decided to set aside this year, from the Solemnity of the Epiphany to the end of October, as the Extraordinary Year of Mission.

The universal theme “Baptised and Be Sent: The Church of Christ on Mission in the World” is adopted by the Penang Diocese.”

“Now, why are we doing this?” Bishop Francis, who is also President of the Bishops Conference MSB gave answer to his question “If we look at the Gospel today, three wise men came from the east to seek Jesus.”

Francis maintained “It is the same journey that every baptized person must make.”

He added “In our hearts, we make a journey to look for peace, for joy, for healing, for answers, for purpose in life.  We make a journey to look for Jesus.”

Francis continued “After the wise men found Jesus, they went back to their own lands to share the story about the Saviour they have found.  They were indeed missionaries of the birth of Jesus.”

Reminding the faithful of the words of Vatican Council II, Bishop Francis underlined that “Obeying the mandate of Jesus ‘to go into the whole world and proclaim the Gospel to every creature’ (Mk 16:15), is not an option for the Church. It is her “essential task” for the Church is missionary by nature (Ad Gentes). Evangelizing is in fact the grace and vocation proper to the Church, her deepest identity; she exists in order to evangelize (Evangelii Nuntiandi).

The Penang prelate also informed that for Penang Diocese, a series of Formations till June has been lined up to help the faithful to reflect and prepare to go out into the world as missionaries, followed by pilgrimages to be further inspired by the missionary saints and martyrs, who have become part of their journey in the Diocese.

KUALA LUMPUR – Meanwhile, at the Cathedral of St John the Evangelist on Jan 6, Archbishop Julian Leow (pic) informed the faithful that the Feast of Epiphany was chosen to launch EMY 2019 to remind us of “the Church’s responsibility to represent God’s mission in every aspect of life in all geographical places”.

He elaborated the four main dimensions of this celebration as highlighted by the Holy Father: 1) To have a personal encounter with Jesus Christ living in His Church through the Eucharist, in the Word of God, and in our personal and communitarian prayer; 2) To meditate on those witnesses of missions through the saints and martyrs; 3) To participate in biblical, catechetical, spiritual and theological formation for works of mission; and 4) To undertake missionary charity as a commitment with the whole Church among the poor and marginalized.

“As Church, as BECs and as individuals, let us live our baptismal role by responding to the commands of our Lord Jesus Christ” urged Archbishop Leow.

“Let us be faithful and courageous living this grace and vocation bestowed upon us by proclaiming Jesus Christ crucified and risen for all,” he added.

He concluded with a prayer that we would “allow the Spirit of God to guide us and let us be like the star that led the wise men towards Jesus.”

A New Year gift for the faithful of Holy Trinity Church

TAWAU – It was a special New Year and a proud moment for parents Diwol Sundaling from Tenom and Helda Laurencius from Papar as their third child, seminarian Dafrinn Diwol was ordained deacon on January 1, 2019.

The rite of ordination, presided by Sandakan Diocese Bishop Julius Gitom took place after the Gospel, which was witnessed by a surprisingly packed Holy Trinity Church here.

Born in Sandakan on November 24, 1980, Dafrinn who has two brothers and four sisters, attended pre-school at Tadika Ming Chung Sandakan, primary school at SK Gum Gum Sandakan (1987-1992), secondary school at SMK Gum Gum Sandakan (1993-1997).

Before aspiring to become a priest, he journeyed from forestry to insurance and culinary before finally answering the call to serve the Lord.

Prior to his call, Dafrinn worked with Deramakot Forest Reserve Telupid (1998), as life insurance agent with MAA Insurance Sandakan (1999) and took a course in culinary art at Asian Tourism Institution Kota Kinabalu (1999).

In 2000-2002, he worked as a kitchen apprentice with Hyatt Regency Kinabalu Kota Kinabalu,  and went on to be a forest research assistant at Forestry Research Centre, Sepilok Sandakan, Sabah (2003-2008).

His formation began in 2009 at the Catholic Archdiocesan Centre (English Year) and was initiated in 2010 at the Initiation Year, St Peter’s College Kota Kinabalu.

In 2011-2012, he went on for his philosophy year at the Major Seminary of St Peter’s College Kuching and in 2013-2016 for his theology year.

Dafrinn was instituted as Lector on Nov 4, 2013, and Acolyte on Nov 3, 2014.

For his pastoral observation, he was sent to the Children’s Liturgy, the Legion of Mary (2011). Compassionate Visit at Cheshire Home, Hospital Sentosa, Cancer Ward Hospital Kuching (2012).

For his pastoral immersion, he was assigned to the Youth Ministry at Kg Krokong, Bau, Sarawak (2013), St Martin Telupid (2014), St Dominic Lahad Datu (2015), Clinical Pastoral Education at Assunta Hospital Petaling Jaya (2016), and Holy Trinity Tawau in 2018. – SOCCOM Tawau

A picture paints a thousand words

KOTA KINABALU – A picture paints a thousand words. In news writing, when the writer includes suitable photos, readers can better grasp a brighter picture of an event or in an evangelization message.

With that in mind, the Social Communication Commission (SOCCOM), Kota Kinabalu Archdiocese organized a photojournalism workshop on 15 Dec 2018 at the Sacred Heart Parish Centre here.

The workshop was a response to the request by Catholic writers who have been following previous workshops organized by SOCCOM and who are actively contributing to the diocesan paper, Catholic Sabah. Altogether, 18 writers from various parishes participated in the workshop.

Joseph Leong, SOCCOM chairman, said Catholic writers are like modern prophets of our time who need to have eyes to see the need of the people and to tell the truth.

He said photojournalism is an evangelization tool to build the Kingdom of God and each Catholic writer must know to whom they are serving.

He mentioned that SOCCOM has the same vision as that of the Archdiocese, that is,  Christ-centred evangelization.

The workshop was facilitated by organizing chairman Ruben Sario, a retired journalist and a member of SOCCOM, together with Eddie Angat, a photojournalist.

Ruben and Eddie taught the writers on many photo-taking aspects and techniques for journalism purposes. They said a photo must be able to convey the main message to help readers to see the real situation, thus encouraging a photojournalist to be creative in taking photos.

In this era, most journalists use only smartphones to take photos especially in simple events, but still use big lenses camera for bigger events.

The organizing team took up this trend and taught the participants to take and edit photos using smartphones as a tool in photojournalism.

Participants were also given time to practise in groups; taking photos in and around the Cathedral to feature several aspects of photo-taking, that is full landscape of the cathedral, action photos and individual profile photos.

They were also trained to write proper captions to provide details about the photographs which must consist of the 5Ws (who, where, what, when, why).

For learning purposes, each group shared their captioned pictures with all to see, where Ruben and Eddie then gave comments and suggested ways to improve good angles while taking photos.

Besides contributing to fortnightly paper Catholic Sabah, Catholic writers can also provide their writings to the Archdiocesan website

An article must be in Microsoft Word format,  and to include several 1MB-sized photos to Catholic Sabah at and the website at– Linda Edward

Blessing and Opening of Marian Nursery

SANDAKAN – Fr David Garaman, the rector of St Mary’s Cathedral blessed and opened the Marian Nursery, located at the space behind and adjacent to the parish office building on Friday Dec 21.

Present to witness the ceremony were Bishop Julius Gitom, assistant rector Fr Christopher Ireneus, Franciscan Sisters, members of the Pastoral Council, Finance and Property Committees, contributors to the nursery, and parish staff.

It took some nine months to plan and put in place the basic infrastructure, as well as to develop the said area into a proper nursery.

Putting up the infrastructure, landscape work and planting job were all done by the church workers.

Most of the resources were discarded items that were refurbished and reused, which include old sinks, toilet bowls, cisterns, used PVC pipe, used gutters and others. The cost incurred was minimal.

The 30 ft pergola for the passion fruit plant was constructed using used GI pipes and used bricks.

The toilet was renovated using old doors and the plaque for the occasion was a sticker pasted onto a used television set. The 2 ft wide and 33 ft long drain was converted into a fish pond.

The event for the day commenced with the blessing of the nursery followed by a speech by Fr David.

He was happy to note that the hard work put in by all those involved and contributions by kind parishioners has eventually bore fruit.

The nursery has enhanced the beauty of the Cathedral. It is not merely pleasing to the eyes, but provides relaxation to the mind.

The plants could also be used for decoration for church functions and also in the church itself, thus reducing cost.

The recently launched Marian Orchard, just beside the Cathedral and the on-going landscape work is a positive endeavour in response to Pope Francis’ encyclical  Laudato Si – a document calling individuals to take moral responsibility for their actions upon the earth and the impact: ‘to ourselves, to future generations and especially to the poor.’

Fr David then proceeded to unveil the ‘plaque’ in commemoration of the occasion followed by the cutting of ribbon by Bishop Julius, Fr David and Fr Christopher.

He then switched on the filtering system of the fish pond and together with the bishop, Fr Christopher and Sr Regina, released fish into the pond.

They then made a tour of the nursery and the occasion ended with light refreshment. – Francis Tan

Children’s Christmas party – more than just fun

KOTA KINABALU – The much awaited annual Children Christmas Party, was finally unveiled at the Sacred Heart Cathedral parish hall on Dec 22. 

Children and parents thronged into the hall as early as 10.00 am, more than an hour ahead of the actual event, perhaps at the insistence of the children.

With almost 300 children registered for the party, it was a heart-warming sight for both organizers and volunteers alike to see smiling and laughing children,  clutching their “Christmas gifts” close to their chest and perhaps impatient to go home at the end of the party to open them.

Carlos Cordova, the organizing chairman for the party, observed how the children received their Christmas gifts with much joy and excitement, as could be seen from their sparkling eyes. 

He however advised parents to continue to guide their children in coming to know the real meaning of Christmas, which is to know Jesus, and to foster a loving relationship with Jesus.

As part of the activities planned for the party, children also had the opportunity to have their colouring skills admired when they put up their artwork for viewing and appreciation by parents and other parishioners. 

Other activities included a short video show, group dancing, lucky draw, as well as a range of games tailored for different age groups.

Parish priest Fr Paul Lo, who was present for the children’s event, also spent some time inculcating in the hearts and minds of the children the true meaning of Christmas with the topic “What is Christmas?” He was invited to hand out gifts to the children.

Besides more than just having fun, the Children Christmas Party served to remind the children (and the parents) that their family is truly extended and that everyone are truly their brothers and sisters in Christ. They not only played together but they also prayed together and ate together.

The Social Ministry Committee of Sacred Heart Cathedral, who organized the children’s party with the theme “Christ our Mission”, thanked all volunteers, parents and donors for their contribution in service and in kind towards the success of the party.  – Joseph Carlos Leong

SHC holds Carols by Candlelight with new feature

KOTA KINABALU – “This year 2018 the Carols by Candlelight will be celebrated together as one parish family,” stressed Fr Paul Lo, parish priest of Sacred Heart Cathedral, to the 400-crowd gathered at the foyer and frontage of the parish complex.

Previous years have seen numerous caroling groups featuring individual presentations that made up the whole Candlelight event.

Standing together to sing carols as one big family radiated a warm feeling and spirit of togetherness.

The night’s agenda also had Fr Paul, Fr Max and Fr Russell proclaiming the Lucan Christmas Story in three languages, followed by a a tri-lingual homily by Fr Paul.

Fr Paul reminded all present that they were the reason for the Candlelight event.

“We are the reason that God became man. He loves us so much, willing to forgo heaven and come down to us, giving us salvation as He promised..  This is the free gift that restores our dignity as man, bringing us back to Himself and becoming once again His beloved children,” said the rector.

Notably present was Archbishop John Wong, who was invited to light the candle, which he then passed on to the clergy and others. – CS

Christmas at St Mary’s Chapel, Kionsom

KIONSOM, Inanam – Meanwhile, at St Mary’s Chapel here, no seat was unoccupied, both inside the 500-seated chapel and the 500-seated hall. The corridors and available space around the building were also all taken up.

KUK chairman Francis Lodjumi confirmed that the crowd started to fill up the chapel and hall an hour ahead of the Christmas Vigil Mass.

The prayer was led by catechist Hendry Sodikit, assisted by catechist Walter Duin, Stella Kagi and Francis.

The Indonesian community living around the area also thronged the chapel to attend Christmas Vigil Mass. – Joseph Bingkasan

Christmas, a time to ponder God born among men, and a time to foster peace among men

RANAU – Hundreds of people from all walks of life, including invited guests, attended the Ranau St Peter Claver Catholic Church Christmas Open House celebration that was held at the church’s compound on Friday, Dec 29.

Parish priest Fr Nicholas Stephen said when officiating the Christmas Open House, it was the third time that such an event was held at St Peter Claver since he was posted to serve in Ranau.

 “We are fortunate to be able to host such a celebration because many people around the world do not not have the opportunity to live through Dec 25 or go to Church because of illnesses, sufferings and other unfortunate conditions in the places where they live.

“This is the reason why we continue to organize a Christmas Open House, as well as that we priests cannot reach out to everyone during Christmas, but by inviting everyone to come here for the special celebration, we are able to meet each other,” he said.

Fr Stephen, or Fr Nick as he is widely known said, Christmas is not only a time where Christians everywhere give thanks to a loving God, but also a time for all to ponder God born among men.

He also took the opportunity to commend the people of Ranau for having done their best to foster peace within the community here, as well as helping one another especially during times of need. 

“That is why this Christmas Open House is organized for everyone, regardless of their status, age, racial or religious background.

“We are thankful that we can get to know each other through good times as well as hard times, and live harmoniously in this blessed land of ours.

“Blessed land, because here we can celebrate every occasion in the spirit of togetherness without feeling awkward. So let us celebrate Christmas and the new year 2019 in full  joy as everyone is special in the eyes of God regardless of their background,” he added.

As for the new year 2019, Fr Nick invited everyone, “Let us all cross the new year together in faith, hope and love, and while not knowing what lies ahead of us, we can be confident because when there is God in our heart, we know that there will be a tomorrow for everyone of us.”

     Also present were Fr Francis Tsen, Fr Daniel Jamilong, and Romo Augustinus from Larantuka Indonesia, MPPR chairman Verus Pinol and others. – Clarence Dol

In the New Year, receive Mary’s love and help

KOTA KINABALU (CS) – The Church, in her wisdom, has pointed to her children that it is right to turn to Mary, Our Mother, for help, especially when a new year looms in front.

Parish priest Fr Paul Lo said on New Year’s Day, Mother Mary sees everyone as beloved children of God and helps them to see and to love in the same way.

“This maternal gaze, which instils confidence and trust, helps us to grow in faith,” he continued “just as she trusts and grows in faith in God’s mission for her as Mother of the Son of God.

With these pearls of wisdom, Fr Lo spoke to the 300-member of the Light of Jesus Christ Covenant Community (LJCCC) among whom he was invited to grace their traditional New Year Gathering at the Sacred Heart Parish Hall Jan 1. This was his first social attendance with the LJCCC since taking over as parish priest in the Cathedral.

He commended the community to God that it would have a great year ahead, filled with zeal for God, Church, and mission, to proclaim His Kingdom both locally and abroad.

“God is the One who makes us great, so long as we offer ourselves as His instruments,” he added.

Besides sharing a meal together, the community family also shared and built up the family togetherness with interactive activities and good entertainment. 

Above all, coming together in prayer, praise and worship before all things else has been ingrained into the way of life and charism of the community. – LJCCC

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