Category Archives: Catholic Sabah

Stella Maris launches first-ever Hymn Festival

TANJUNG ARU – In conjunction with Stewardship Sunday 8 July 2018, Stella Maris Parish (SMP) launched a Hymn Festival where parishioners were invited, for the first time in the parish, to participate in hymn composition.  The parishioners were given the opportunity and freedom to create and compose a new hymn for the Vision and Mission of the parish.

Eighteen entries were received from individuals and ministries.

The battle of the presentations was officiated by parish priest Msgr Primus Jouil, with Ian Baxter as the main judge, and two other judges in the persons of Jessel Yansalang and Pontius Otigil.

Representing the primary level were Tayneisha Jasmine Roeshan, 9, and her sister Sumeisha Jeslyn Roeshan, 10, who also happened to be the youngest contestants.  They had strong support from their parents and grandparents.

Their winning entries were entitled “Children of God’s Delight” and “Christ our Light and Saviour.”  They bagged the 1st and 2nd prizes, the first going to Jasmine for her composition “Christ our Light and Savior”.

All 18 contestants received certificates of participation.

In the English open category, the first place went to the Sacristans led by Sister Carmen Cordova, fsic.  Second place went to Jonathan Juhakim and third to the JWG Lower Level led by Lainie Lamau.

In the Bahasa Malaysia category, the first place was won by the Kerasulan Bahasa led by Jasmine Eve Petrus who was also the overall winner.  The second place was won by KKD St Faustina led by Daniel Anggang and the third went to Eva Stephen.

Contestant Sister Bernardine shared how she was inspired to compose the hymn “Journey Together as Christ-centred Family.” She recalled how the flow of words came to her and with the help of the Holy Spirit she managed to compose a meaningful hymn.

Another contestant Lainie Lamau revealed that she was inspired to compose while ironing her clothes.  Slowly, word by word, the hymn “One vision One mission with Love” was created through her discipline and obedience to listen to the inspiration that welled from within.

Jonathan Johakim also shared how he was fired up to create the hymn entitled “Now as we journey together (reaching our vision),” and was grateful to Neil Mah for his guidance.

The parishioners contributed RM2,600 towards this festival, providing for the first prize at  RM300, second prize at RM200 and the third at RM150.  The overall winner received RM500 with a crystal plaque. – Teresa Alberto


Stella Maris parish marks Stewardship Sunday for the first time

TANJUNG ARU – Stella Maris Parish (SMP) marked Stewardship Sunday for the first time on 8 July 2018.

Twenty-one ministries and groups participated in the event by displaying their talents in singing (basking by RCIA), skills in cooking, handicrafts and henna painting, and parting with their pre-loved goods. A lot of goods were put up for sale and the atmosphere was joyful, cheerful, full of love and the spirit of giving.

The participating ministries and groups commented, “We may be tired but we enjoyed this day so much!  Let’s do it again!”  The crowd that came was impacted by the cheerful giving of time and talent.

The parish benefited from the celebration of Stewardship Sunday as it provided the ministries and groups with opportunities to serve and through the process of organising, they exercised their leadership skills.

Ten percent of their net sales was contributed to the parish, while 90 percent went to the ministries and groups funds. – Teresa Alberto

Francis Lodungi returns unopposed as KUK Chairman

INANAM – Francis Lodungi returned unopposed as KUK Chairman of St Mary’s Chapel Kg Kionsom here recently.

The physical and spiritual development of the chapel was made possible with the guidance of Father David Sham, parish priest of St Catherine Inanam, and the leadership of the KUK committee chairman, Francis Lodungi.

From a wooden shelter with only a handful of faithful, the chapel now has a new concrete building and a hall that can accommodate over 400 worshippers. Last year also saw the construction of an additional building which is now occupied by Merpati Putih Kindergarten.

It was for these reasons that when the past KUK’s tenure of office expired recently, the Catholic community in Kionsom and neighbouring villages supported the proposal that Lodungi be re-nominated for the chairman post.

Three other candidates were also roped in to challenge the incumbent but all pulled out on polling day.

“A heavy responsibility… however, I will try my best to carry out my duties as expected by the community,” Francis said upon declared the victor uncontested to continue helming the committee for the 2019-2021 period.

He pledged to continue working for the betterment of the Church and is optimistic that better time is ahead with the full cooperation of all committee members and the community, as well as the guidance of the Inanam parish leadership.

Francis will be assisted by members who were also unanimously elected into the committee.

The other elected members were Alice William Doses (deputy chairperson), Casssy Tongguk (treasurer), Felicia Edna Julius (secretary), Dennisia Francis (assistant secretary), Theresa Dunggi (Women’s League), Julia Miki (assistant CWL), Stella Kaggi (Liturgical), Peter Yong (Catechetical) Rolend Kisin (Youth), Alexcius Maidis (Music) and Robert Guntis (Chief Warden). – Joseph Bingkasan

Apologetics Ministry introduces Lectio Eucharist to SHC parishioners

KOTA KINABALU – The Apologetics Ministry introduced a 10-week series on the Lectio Eucharist to the parishioners of Sacred Heart Cathedral and its sub-parish Church of Mary Immaculate from 6 Apr-6 July 2018 , which attracted about 60 participants.

Renowned theologian Dr Brant Pitre guided the participants through Scripture, history, and Church teaching to illuminate the wonder and miracle of the Eucharist. With deep insight, Pitre gave a fresh perspective for understanding the mystery that is the Eucharist.

This study series feature important questions on the Eucharist, such as: How do we respond to the Eucharist? How do we react to the idea that the Mass is the most dynamic and powerful sacrifice in all of human history? How do we respond to the Church teaching that it is a profound encounter with the life of the Trinity, imparting grace and strength to us and changing us from within? What does it mean when we claim that, in the Mass, the Paschal mystery – life, death, and resurrection – is made present? Do we experience the reality that Jesus Christ is truly present in every Eucharist that has ever been, is, or ever will be celebrated? Do we believe that Jesus is longing to be united with us in this most blessed sacrament?

Over the course of this study, Pitre took the participants back to the biblical roots of the Eucharist. Together they saw how this sacrament is deeply rooted in Sacred Scripture,  explored its origins, its foreshadowing in the many mysterious and miraculous events of the Old Testament and Gospels, and the essential purpose and reality of Jesus’ words and actions at the Last Supper.

In conclusion, the participants were led to examine how the Eucharist is not just a something, but rather Someone with whom they are meant to be in communion.

Lisa Tsen, who received a Certificate of Attendance from Fr Paul Lo  at the conclusion of the study said, “The Lectio sessions have straightened my spiritual faith and given me the insight of God’s infinite love for mankind.”

She added “I felt enlightened by the explanation of the mystery of the Holy Mass, truly a Trinitarian mystery, and a taste of heaven. It has also given me an urge to read the Bible following a devotional plan and a study guide to deepen my understanding.”

Another participant, Mary Lee, a member of  the Secular Carmelites, shared that the 10-session study on Discovering the Mass in the Bible has renewed her sense of awe, attentiveness and thanksgiving at the immensity of God’s love for humankind which is beyond human comprehension.

She said, “It has helped me to perceive clearly that when I receive the gracious gift of the Holy Eucharist – I am receiving the body, blood, soul and divinity of the risen glorified Lord Jesus who wishes to unite his entirety with mine in all my nothingness, my unworthiness, my loneliness, my human frailty and imperfections. How can I then not adore and acclaim the Lord who chose to remain humbly hidden, little and invisible in the Holy Eucharist …?”

Monica Chong, who completed the study, could only marvel how the sessions have left her in awe and “feeling great wonderment and overwhelmed with emotions”.

She shared, “The study teaches us the great mystery of love and mercy of our Lord, to know that He waits for us in every Mass, to celebrate and actively participate more meaningfully, to see the wound and pain when we neglect Him, when our mind wanders, though physically present but is somewhere else.” – Apologetics Ministry

Clergy learn about SSA and other gender identity issues

PENAMPANG – As a follow up of the recently held annual meeting of the Regional Commission on Family, Laity and Life of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Malaysia, Singapore and Brunei in Bukit Mertajam, Bryan Crucis Shen, at the invitation of Archbishop John Wong, conducted talks  on “Understanding Same-Sex Attraction (SSA): a psych-development view from clinical experiences”  at Vianney Home here on 2 July 2018.

Forty participants comprising bishops, priests and deacons from the Archdiocese of Kota Kinabalu, and the Dioseses of Keningau and Sandakan attended the five informational sessions.

Shen holds a Master’s degree in Social Science (Counselling) from the University of South Australia. He is a Registered Counsellor as well as a recognised Clinical Supervisor with the Singapore Association for Counselling (SAC).

He has been spending time since 1997 providing counselling programmes in religious training houses, organisations and schools in Thailand, Singapore, Malaysia and the Philippines.

The speaker said the talks “aim to put aside fear, misconceptions and prejudice, and bring forth appropriate attitudes and responses.”

To help the clergy to better grasp the talks, Shen explained  terminologies such as Gay, SSA,  Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender (LGBT), Gender Dysphoria and To Come Out.

He went on to explain what Normal Gender Identity Development is about, and explored on what could go wrong.

“There are eight factors contributing to SSA,” said the speaker. These are divided into four groups: first group focuses on Intra-psychic Factors consisting of 1) Same-Sex Disaffiliation (lack of connection to the same gender); 2) Gender Incongruence (feeling different from people of the same gender); 3) Unhealthy Childhood Relationship with the opposite gender; and 4) Gender Concept Distortion.

Second group  consists of External Factors such as 5) Sexual Conditioning; and 6) Sexual Abuse, physically, mentally or morally.

Third group covers other Mental Health Factors such as (7) Certain Personality Traits.

Fourth group looks to Biological Contributions as (8) Some Biological and Physical Factors.

At the end of the sessions, Shen suggested to the attendees what they could do as catechists, teachers, parents, priests, religious, school principles, leaders.

He stated that “The work of forming the next generation to be good parents, good role models, administrators of justice, protectors of the vulnerable, etc., has great importance in preventing SSA and other gender identity issues. Knowing and defending ourselves against obstacles to these is also important. Even more important is the knowledge of Chasity through practice, experiencing its benefits to these virtues, distinguishing the difference between outer value and intrinsic value, and then including this knowledge in our prayer, teaching and formation.”

Archbishop Wong thanked Shen for a fruitful and important talk on SSA to the clergy, enabling them an understanding on SSA in the psychological perspective. – Fr Mattheus Luta

PMS mission directors to animate regional missionary activities

BUNDU TUHAN – The Pontifical Mission Societies (PMS) of the Dioceses of Malaysia, Singapore and Brunei met at the Retreat Centre here on Jul 25-26, 2018, which was attended by nine Diocesan mission directors together with Kuching Archbishop Simon Poh, as the Episcopal adviser for PMS.

This coming together of the mission directors annually enables them to organize and animate missionary activities in this region. This is also an opportune time for the National Director to disseminate news and information that he received from the PMS General Assembly in Rome in late May.

The PMS consist of the Society of the Propagation of the Faith, Society of St Peter the Apostle, Society of Holy Childhood and Society of Missionary Union of Priests and Religious.

The Pontifical Mission Societies have, as their primary purpose, the promotion of a universal missionary spirit – a spirit of prayer and sacrifice – among all baptized Catholics.

The first three Societies, in carrying out that goal, invite baptized Catholics to express their missionary commitment by offering their prayers, personal sacrifices and financial support for the work of the Church in the Missions.

The Missionary Union of Priests and Religious works to deepen mission awareness among priests, religious, catechists and educators so that they are fully prepared to take on the mission formation of the faithful.

With the Malaysian Catholic Clergy Assembly (MCCA) just round the corner (Jul 16-20), Archbishop Simon Poh pointed out that the whole thrust of the MCCA is missionary in nature.   This, he said, explains the subsidy from PMS for the MCCA.

The Archbishop also mentioned in his opening address that as clergy, one is in an important position to witness to the Gospel which can bring about change in the society.

The meeting highlighted on the Extraordinary Missionary Month October 2019 (EMM Oct 2019) announced by Pope Francis in October 2017, of his intention to call an Extraordinary Missionary Month for October 2019 to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the Apostolic Letter Maximum Illud issued by his predecessor Pope Benedict XVI, which he said should be a great opportunity to renew the missionary commitment throughout the Church.

As such, proposals of initiatives to be planned for the local Church would be submitted to the Bishops’ Conference for approval.

The directors were very grateful to KK prelate Archbishop John Wong for his support and generosity in hosting this year’s PMS annual gathering. – Contributed by PMS National Director Fr Victor Louis Gnanapragasam


Finding God in the digital world

In the age of ever-evolving technology, where everything is a click or tap away, we seem to have collectively become obsessed with instant gratification.  We complain when the internet lags, or if a video has to buffer while we are watching it.  We ask friends to send us their GPS location, it is much easier than reading a map anyway.

But God cannot be located with Google Maps; the closest I have gotten is locating the nearest Catholic Church.

And sure, there is a lot we can do to make the search for God a little easier.  The CCC is easily Googled, and the easier-to-read Compendium too.  There are all sorts of prayers of all sorts of website for all sorts of things, but no real treasure map to lead us to spirituality.

This leaves a lot of room for doubt.  If God is not on the internet, does He really exist?

But maybe we are looking in the wrong places, or not looking hard enough.  We seem to be stuck in a culture of waiting for miracles, when we should be identifying the small miracles that fly under the radar.  We cannot say that technology is evil and pull ourselves away from technology entirely – this is where most of society spends its time, and if we withdraw, we will not be able to properly relate to people.  While our devices seem to be good for nothing but distractions from a nagging hollowness, they can also be tools for meaningful connections.

I have seen my grandmother say the rosary with my aunt who lives an ocean away, all thanks to a video call.  My church’s youth ministry use social media to reach out to the people they minister to, and to draw more people to join them.  These are only a few ways that technology can help.

And these are all great things to do on days when you can remember that there is good in the world, but what about the bad days?  The days when the news of disaster and hatred and cruelty drown out everything else and make you doubt the existence of a good, benevolent God?

It takes a different set of glasses to see God in the people who volunteer after these tragedies, the stories that make your heart swell with new hope for humanity.  Or the small advancements in technology that allow wheelchairs to climb stairs, or to find God in the cat videos that make you smile on a bad day.

And on the days when you cannot find yourself through the noise of self-advertising on your Facebook feed, a digital Sabbath can do wonders.  Everyone needs a digital detox at some point, and the time spent away from a device can show you exactly how reliant you are on keeping yourself too preoccupied to enjoy the outside world.

And when you take a break from the busy world, He will come to you in the silence and the world becomes a much more beautiful place to live in. – Lauren Lopez @ CAN


Labuan parish marks feast day with procession

Confirmands pose with the concelebrants after the Mass, 3 June 2018, Labuan.

LABUAN – Blessed Sacrament Parish marked its feast day with a Eucharistic procession on 3 June 2018, Solemnity of the Body and Blood of Christ.

Over 2000 faithful took part in the procession from the church to the multipurpose hall and back to the church. Archbishop Wong explained why there was a need for leading the procession.

He said: “To us as Catholics, the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ is a living testimony of our faith where we follow Jesus as his children.  We walk and follow him in displaying the practice of our faith in love, tolerance, humility, and devotion to the Sacrament.”

The occasion also marked the annual pastoral visit of the Archbishop John Wong to the parish who came a day earlier.

The prelate’s visit included a meeting with the Pastoral Council and coordinators of the various parish ministries, where the main discussion was centred on the necessity of a resident priest for the island parish.  The expressed need was made in tandem with the growth of the local Catholic population, as well as the need for an extension for the existing Church building.

The Sacrament of Confirmation was conferred upon 90 candidates, 23 from the English class and 67 from the BM class during the Mass, which was concelebrated with parish priest, Msgr Primus Jouil.

After Mass, the parishioners adjourned to the hall for a fellowship with ceremonial cutting of three cakes: one for the confirmands, one for the parish feast day and one was a surprise birthday cake to celebrate the archbishop’s birthday on June 6.

Archbishop Wong was happy with the feedback on the commitment and cooperation between the parish groups.

To the faith community, he shared the concern of a dwindling Catholic population, and encouraged bigger families.   He also called on the parish to look into the needs of the Catholic students from the island’s higher learning institution.

Msgr Jouil took the opportunity to remind the parishioners that they are the only Church/parish in the State with the name of Blessed Sacrament.  “We should give witness to our family members and others in our belief that the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ is a living testimony of Jesus giving his life for our salvation.” – Gerard Lean

Stella Maris celebrates Unity Kaamatan

Msgr Primus thanks God for his double joy.

TANJUNG ARU – On 27 May 2018, Stella Maris parish here held a 4-in-1 joyous celebration.

The occasion was Trinity Sunday when the parish celebrated Unity Kaamatan, and doubled up with the parish priest Msgr Primus Jouil’s 38th sacredotal anniversary and 69th birthday.

The parish KKDs (Tatana, Lokawi, Putatan, Tanjung Aru and Faustina) joined hands to organise the celebration.

The event kicked off with Mass in Kadazan- Dusun, presided by Msgr Primus.

To add to the cultural flavour of the festivities, everyone turned up wearing their black traditional costume.

Traditional music was performed by the parishioners, complemented by cultural dances and songs.

Unity Kaamatan was officiated by Msgr Primus cutting the padi.  Local delicacies, which were cooked by the organisers, were served.

An anniversary cum birthday cake was cut by Msgr Primus to mark his double joy, and to give thanks to God.

He thanked the organisers for fostering a unity impact on the parish.  He also commended the parishioners for their continuous hunger for the spiritual.. – Teresa Alberto

CWA marks 10th anniversary with joy

The women pose with Father David Garaman after Mass marking the 10th anniversary of the Catholic Women Apostolate in Sandakan Diocese, 19 May 2018.

SANDAKAN – The Sandakan Diocesan Catholic Women’s Apostolate (CWA) marked their 10th anniversary with an elaborate two-day event themed “The Joy of Thanksgiving” at St Mary’s Cathedral parish here on 19-20 May 2018.

It commenced with a telematch on the cathedral grounds May 19 with the participation of 108 members from across the diocese. The event kicked off with an opening prayer by Sister Apollonia Gumpu.

Prior to the telematch, St Martin Telupid CWA and St Mark Sandakan CWA led in the warming-up with exercise and group dance.  The CWA of Holy Trinity Tawau coordinated the telematch.

Also present was Father Christopher Ireneus, CWA’s spiritual director. He was given the honour to pick the lucky member from among the participants to receive a special gift. The activity was coordinated by St Dominic Lahad Datu CWA.

The day’s programme culminated in an evening Eucharistic Celebration, presided by Father David Garaman, at the cathedral. After Mass, members adjourned to the parish hall for dinner and prize presentation to the telematch winners.

Sister Grace Deosing presented the prizes to the winners, with the Blue Team emerging as the overall champion.

Everyone regrouped on the evening of May 20 for the highlight of the 10th anniversary celebration,  a fundraising dinner in aid of the Diocesan Seminarian Fund held at the Hakka Hall.

At the dinner, Bishop Julius Gitom expressed his appreciation to CWA for taking up the challenge to build up the Seminarian Fund, and encouraged all to help the seminarians and religious as they are the future of the Church. He also exhorted the CWA to carry on their services to help the Church and all women of Sandakan Diocese.

Cecelia Polo D’ Souza, CWA chief coordinator, acknowledged the hard work of her CWA team for the success of the event.

She urged all members to continue their service to the Church with humility and full commitment, to work and journey together as a Christ-centered committee, hand in hand with all the CWA groups throughout the Diocese, as well as all other Church groups in their respective parishes.

After the cake-cutting ceremony, the local seminarians were introduced and invited to share their faith journey.

The diners were entertained by CWA stage performances, showcasing the diverse ethnicity, cultures, and traditions.

It concluded with a few local dances by all CWA members, as well as few local hits, accompanied by an invited local artiste. – Victoria Salati


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