Category Archives: Latest News

For Tabung Harapan

Kuala Lumpur – Most Reverend Julian Leow, Archbishop of Kuala Lumpur and members of the Archdiocesan Finance Committee presented a cheque amounting to RM1, 148,386.10 for Tabung Harapan to YB Lim Guan Eng, Minister of Finance at Putrajaya on 21st September 2018. His Grace presented the cheque on behalf of the Catholic Church in Malaysia. The money was raised during a weekend collection in most of the churches throughout Malaysia.

 

CFC – HOLD’s 9th Echo Women’s Conference

A section of the over 200 participants in the Women’s Conference 

KOTA KINABALU – The Couples for Christ (CFC) – Handmaids of the Lord (HOLD) organized the 9th HOLD echo Women’s Conference at Sacred Heart Cathedral Parish Centre on 16 September 2018.

An echo conference is a yearly initiative organized by the local CFC HOLD members who had attended the HOLD Icons (International Conferences) in the Philippines. The main objective is to share the same inputs they received in the conference, adapting it to the local context, making it beneficial to all the CFC Sabah Chapter who could not make it to the Icon. The CFC-HOLD have been organizing this echo conference since 2010, inviting participation not only among the members of CFC Sabah Chapter but also extending the invitation to other women in the Archdiocese of Kota Kinabalu.

The conference room was packed with more than 200 participants mostly from CFC-Hold members and CFC support groups and other interested individuals. It started with the recitation of the rosary at 7:00am, followed by Eucharistic celebration presided by Fr. Paul Loh, the CFC Spiritual advisor. The conference proper started at 9:30am, intertwining all the talks with life testimonies given by some selected HOLD members as well as creative presentations making the message more appealing and easily understood.

The theme for this year, on Fiery Wings, aimed to create enthusiasm to discover, through the talks, what it really means. The Conference was divided into five sessions, each facilitated by a different speaker.  Interestingly, all the speakers quoted from the second letter of St. Paul to Timothy to support their points.

Women’s Conference Speakers L-R (Maribel Oferina Chu, Karen Sigawal, Anne Labadin, Wendy Chin & Rosa Java)

The first session, entitled The Gift, was presented by Rosa Java. She highlighted the precious gift of the Holy Spirit given to each baptized Catholic during baptism and confirmation. She challenged the participants to reflect on whether the gift and the power of the Holy Spirit is being put to good use in their lives and ministries. Unfamiliarity with the gift of the Spirit, ignorant of His power to change and transform individuals to the image and likeness of God, selfishness, keeping the gift to oneself, failing to use the gift for the common good, and inconsistency in their spiritual growth are some of the reasons why the power of the Holy Spirit is not unleashed in the lives of Christians. In 2 Tim 1:6, which the speaker quoted, Paul exhorted the young Timothy to rekindle the “gift that is within.” This is also the call for all, rekindling the gift and keeping it aflame will allow the Lord to accomplish His work and purpose that He has entrusted to each one.

The second session on The Solemn Charge was presented by Karen Sigawal. In 2 Tim 4:1-2a, Paul gave Timothy the solemn charge, an obligation, to proclaim the Word and made it clear that it was a responsibility to be taken seriously. Likewise, the speaker in her talk reminded the participants about the challenge as women and how they should respond to this solemn charge. She quoted Pope Paul VI who said there is much urgency for women to be proclaimers of the Gospel in every situation and circumstances, in the various roles they play in society: as students, teachers, mothers, healers and leaders. In fulfilling the solemn charge the speaker exhorted the participants to imitate the five wise virgins who always had their oil lamps filled and lit, always ready to seize every opportunity to answer the call for mission.

In the third session Wendy Chin talked about the Daunting Task of being proclaimers of the Word and the undaunted Spirit each one must possess in order to be able to pursue the mission. In 2 Tim 4:2b, Paul gave Timothy a solemn charge to proclaim the Word and fulfil his obligation to be persistent, whether it is convenient or inconvenient, to convince, reprimand and encourage all through practice and teaching. She said that the work of an evangelizer is never easy. It requires passion, dedication, total commitment to make Jesus Christ and His gift of salvation known and embraced. A challenging mission indeed that makes one shrink in fear and trembling with anxiety at times, but there is nothing to be afraid of because the Holy Spirit will enabled us to do the impossible.

In the fourth session, The Time Has Come, the presenter Maribel Oferina Chu also based her talk on the second letter of Paul to Timothy 4: 3-5, where St. Paul warned Timothy of the challenges that he could face in proclaiming the Good News.  The speaker exhorted the members to do reality check on the various challenges that the present day evangelizers are facing too.  “People will not tolerate sound doctrine …”, the speaker mentioned how many people have transgressed the 10 commandments, how modernization has allowed for same sex attraction or union, propagation of the LGBT lifestyle, in vitro fertilization, immodesty in dressing and in conduct. In all these challenges, St. Paul reminds us that in order to surmount the modern day challenges, it is important to invoke the power of the Holy Spirit to strengthen us to be self-possessed under all circumstances, to put up with hardship and enable us to perform the work of evangelists.

In the last session, Anne Labadin presented the topic on Fiery Wings. She described in detail who the Holy Spirit is: the giver of life, the Spirit of Love, the Spirit of Truth, the Spirit of Unity, the Witness, the Paraclate and how the third Person of the Trinity has powerfully changed Christian lives.  Anne pointed out the many instances in Scripture where the Holy Spirit manifested His presence, His glory and his power through fire. She said, “We have been baptized with the same fire of the Holy Spirit.” (Matthew 3:11) However, because of personal problems, problems in community, unfaithfulness to God, or becoming victims of lies, gossip and the like, the fiery presence of the Holy Spirit has been quenched, diminishing the ardour of faith. In order not to lose the gift of the Holy Spirit in oneself, the speaker reminded the participants of the duties they need to do: Immersing oneself in prayer, meditation on God’s Word, attending the Sacraments, the Eucharist, Confession, devotion to Mother Mary and the saints, faithfulness in attending household teaching, and following the example of St. Paul in bearing the marks of Jesus on his body (cf. Gal 6:17). We are also reminded to help others to rekindle the fire of the Holy Spirit by reaching out to them through prayer and encouragement and accompanying them in what they are going through.

The conference ended at 5:00pm with a Praise Fest, making the participants leaving the conference hall spirit filled with uplifting messages from the sessions, ready to soar high with the fiery wings of the Holy Spirit to carry out their mission. – kkdiocese.net

Malaysian Catechetical Commission Meeting 2018

SIBU – There were many catechetical issues discussed in the recent Malaysian Catechetical Commission (MCC) Meeting held at the Catholic Diocesan Centre in Sibu, Sarawak from Monday 27th August to Thursday 30th August 2018.

Fr Alvin Ho SJ, Chairman of MCC led the meeting.  Twenty delegates from all arch/dioceses including the delegates from Brunei Vicariate attended this meeting. There were 10 priests including Most Revd Julian Leow, Archbishop of Kuala Lumpur Archdiocese and Rt Revd Datuk Cornelius Piong, Bishop of Keningau Diocese, and 10 Religious Sisters and lay leaders. The Diocese of Melaka-Johor apologized for not being able to send any delegates to this year’s meeting.

The Catechetical Commission plays a very crucial role in the church as it is the pulse and the very life of the church. One of the many activities of the Catechetical Ministry is to prepare our young Catholics for the reception of the Sacraments of Baptism, Eucharist, Confession, Confirmation and also spiritually prepare our children and teenagers to meet the challenges of the world. Without the dedication of the catechists in teaching and sharing the Catholic Faith, these students would not be well prepared and become strong in their faith. Therefore it is crucial that  formation of catechists to enable them to properly care for their students be given priority.

The meeting discussed numerous topics related to the Catechetical Ministry at the arch/diocesan level as well as at the national level:

  • The topic on formation and training for all those involved in catechesis especially for catechists to deliver effective lessons is one of the many topics that were discussed which included formation and training for catechists and/or facilitators of Christian Adult Initiation (CIA) team, Joyful Weekend Gathering (JWG) / Religious Education (RE) Classes, conducting Communion Service in the absence of priests, and becoming sponsors/godparents of candidates for the reception of sacraments. We also discussed how On-line Courses could help to update the Catechists.
  • Materials and catechetical books for JWG / RE need to be updated and improved by preparing supplementary materials to replace the existing ones. The meeting also discussed the necessity to have sufficient resources for the Rites of Christian Initiation for Adults (RCIA) to respond to the needs of the candidates in all the arch/dioceses. We also had a discussion on Rites of RCIA.
  • The theme for 2019 Catechetical Sunday is “Christ, Our Mission” (Phil 1:21). A reflection paper for this theme would be prepared by Most Revd Julian Leow; together with this reflection paper, various suggestions of activities for this celebration would be distributed to each arch/diocese by November 2018. The theme chosen is in line with the Church’s focus on Mission and Evangelisation.
  • There was also a discussion on the management of the National Catechetical Office (NCO) in Kuala Lumpur. At this interim period, Dr Stephen Selvaraju was entrusted with monitoring the staff employed by Malaysia Catechetical Commission (MCC) for NCO.
  • All the eight arch/dioceses and the Vicariate of Brunei reported on their catechetical events, activities, programmes and plans.
  • At the end of the four-day meeting, the members elected a team of office bearers for the term 2019-2021. The result of this election is as follows:

Chairman                    :           Fr Nicholas Stephen (Kota Kinabalu Archdiocese)

Vice Chairman           :           Fr Mark Michael (Penang Diocese)

Secretary                     :           Mr Frederick Empanga (Miri Diocese)

Vice Secretary             :           Ms Stephanie Ng (Kuching Archdiocese)

The outgoing Episcopal President of the Malaysia Catechetical Commission, Rt Revd Datuk Cornelius Piong of Keningau Diocese, thanked all the MCC members for their tireless service, cooperation and friendship built throughout the term, led by Fr Alvin Ho SJ. His Lordship also heartily welcomed the incoming Episcopal President, Most Revd Julian Leow and hoped that the usual close cooperation amongst the newly elected office bearers would continue. His Lordship also congratulated the newly elected office bearers and encouraged them to serve with joy.

The outgoing MCC chairman, Fr Alvin Ho SJ, thanked all the MCC members for their cooperation given to him during his tenure as the chairman and he congratulated the newly elected office bearers.

The newly elected chairman, Fr Nicholas Stephen expressed his gratitude for the trust given to him by all the MCC members to chair the Commission for the next three years; he hoped that with cooperation of all the MCC members, together they could implement all that would be planned.

Most Revd Julian Leow, the incoming Episcopal President, thanked the outgoing office bearers for their tireless service. His Grace emphasized on the importance of catechetical ministry in a world where faithful, especially the younger generations, are being challenged by the worldly standard and secularism. Many young people who migrated to the West Malaysia compromised their Catholic Faith due to the shallowness of their faith.

Therefore, the archbishop said that there was a dire need to have ongoing continuous catechetical formation and training for catechists. His Grace emphasized that parents have to live up to their responsibility and to play their role effectively as the first catechists of their children, instead of fully relying on the catechists in the weekly Religious Education Classes. There was also a need to publish spiritual books and share the resources on-line for the catechists and parents to refer to.

The archbishop also acknowledged and appreciated the RE catechists for their time and energy. His Grace also encouraged all the catechists to continue with the good work and to engage in catechesis more creatively and effectively.

His Grace thanked all the delegates for their active participation in the meeting. The next MCC Meeting will be on 5th to 8th August 2019, and will be hosted by the Diocese of Penang.Sr Dariah Ajap, FSIC, MCC Member

 

 

Pope: True freedom is not being a slave to one’s sins

Sin is “slavery of one’s ego”: “the greedy, the lustful, the avaricious, the irascible, the envious, the slothful, the arrogant — and so on — are slaves of their vices, which tyrannize and torment them.” “Today it takes courage to get married”.

VATICAN CITY –  Sin, which is “slavery to one’s ego”, is what binds us more than anything else, because it forces us to look only at ourselves and makes us incapable of loving, which is true freedom. The day of rest as a memory of liberation was at the center of the reflection that Pope Francis addressed today to the participants in the general audience.

In fact, at the 30 thousand people present in St Peter’s Square, he spoke of the “day of rest, the prophecy of liberation”, inspired by the fact that in Deuteronomy, unlike Exodus, the reason for repose is not the blessing of creation, but the end of slavery. “On this day the slave must rest just like the master, to celebrate the memory of the Easter of liberation”.

In reality, the Pope continued, “there are so many types of slavery exist, be they interior or exterior.  There are the external constrictions such as oppressions, lives kidnapped by violence and by other types of injustice. Then there are the interior prisons, which are, for example, psychological blockages, complexes, limitations of character and others.”  History instead has offered us example of people who still succeeded in living this interior freedom despite exterior obstacles, “for example, of Saint Maximilian Kolbe, or of Cardinal Van Thuan, who transformed dark oppressions into places of light. There are as well persons marked by great interior fragilities that, however, know the rest of mercy and are able to transmit it. God’s mercy liberates us”.

“So, what is true freedom? Does it consist, perhaps, in the freedom of choice?  This is certainly a part of freedom, and we commit ourselves so that it’s assured to every man and woman (Cf. Second Vatican Ecumenical Council, Pastoral Constitution Gaudium et Spes, 73). However, we know well that to be able to do what one wants isn’t enough to be truly free, and not even happy. True freedom is much more. In fact, there is a slavery that chains more than a prison, more than a panic crisis, more than an imposition of any kind: the slavery of one’s ego”.

“The ego can become a tormentor that tortures man wherever he is and procures for him the most profound oppression, that which is called “sin,” which isn’t the trivial violation of a code, but failure of the existence and condition of slaves”.

Francis then pointed out how “the greedy, the lustful, the avaricious, the irascible, the envious, the slothful, the arrogant — and so on —  are slaves of their vices, which tyrannize and torment them. There is no truce for the greedy, because the throat is the hypocrisy of the stomach, which is full but which makes us think that it’s empty. The hypocritical stomach makes us greedy. We are slaves of a hypocritical stomach. There is no truce for the greedy and the lustful that must live of pleasure; the anxiety of possession destroys the greedy, always piling up money, hurting others; the fire of wrath and the worm of envy ruins relationships. Writers say that envy makes the body and soul yellow, as when a person has hepatitis: he/she becomes yellow. The envious have a yellow soul, because they can never have the freshness of the health of the soul. Envy destroys”.

The real slave, concluded the Pope “is he that knows not rest? Who is incapable of loving! And all these vices, these sins, this egoism distance us from love and make us incapable of loving. We are slaves of ourselves and we can’t love, because love is always towards others”.

“The Third Commandment, which invites to celebrate liberation in rest, is for us Christians a prophesy of the Lord Jesus, who breaks the interior slavery of sin to render man capable of loving. True love is true freedom: it detaches from possession, rebuilds relationships, is able to welcome and value one’s neighbour, transforms every effort into joyful gift and renders one capable of communion. Love renders one free even in prison, even if one is weak and limited”.

Finally, in the greeting to the Italian faithful, Francis described the newlyweds as “brave” because, he said, “today it takes courage to marry”.Asia News

 

Grace Before Meals, Brings Families Together

DUBLIN – Praying as a family before meals is an essential link to family life because it allows God to be part of your family’s experience. Through the incredible act of feeding one another, God is the link that strengthens families.
This was stressed in Zenit’s interview in Dublin, Ireland, last week, with Fr. Leo Patalinghug, American priest, chef & author of “Plating Grace: Elevating Culture and Family Life One Meal at a Time.”Fr Leo was giving a talk on the topic ‘Grace Before Meals, Recipes to Strengthen Family Life’ at the World Meeting of Families.
Raised and currently based in the Baltimore, Maryland area, but born in the Philippines, Fr. Leo is a priest member of a community of consecrated life, Voluntas Dei. He is the founder, host, and director of ‘Plating Grace,’ an international apostolate to help strengthen families and relationship through God’s gift of a family meal.
He has also established a non-profit organization, The Table Foundation, with the mission to elevate culture and family life, one meal at a time. He also hosts “Savoring Our Faith” on EWTN, which was developed following his dynamic win on the cooking competition, “Throw Down! with Bobby Flay.” Fr. Leo travels frequently for speaking engagements and pilgrimages to promote the importance of not what appears on the table, but who gathers around it.
Moreover, he is a former award-winning choreographer for break-dancing groups and 3rd degree Black Belt Martial Arts Instructor.
Zenit was on the ground in Ireland, and interviewed Fr. Leo there.
***
ZENIT: Father, to some, even some faithful nowadays, praying before meals seems to be a habit of the past. How many people today pray before meals?
Fr. Leo: My organization “Plating Grace” and “The Table Foundation” seek to elevate people’s understanding of food as a sacred gift that has the power to bring people together.  While we know many of our Catholic Traditions are no longer respected or acknowledged, at least publicly, the act of coming together around The Table is reflective of a tradition that can bring about a sense of spirituality and faith again.  Therefore, it seems that many people are experiencing grace around the table, even if they don’t fully acknowledge it yet, which is why I’m working to make those natural and supernatural connections.
ZENIT: Who taught you to pray before meals?
My parents shared the gift and discipline of praying together as a family – praying the rosary and of course praying grace before the meal. But at the seminary where I studied in Rome, I began to make the connections of the dinner table to The Lord’s Table and how God is “Plating Grace” for His Family at every Mass and every family meals.
ZENIT: Why is it important to pray just before eating, just as important as praying in other moments?
I actually don’t want to limit Grace to just a few words that people rush through just to eat. I try to remind everyone that my “Plating Grace” movement is about recognizing how Grace is not just a prayer, but it is first an action of the Holy Spirit to bring people together in love. Recognizing that desire for “communion of persons” is what’s most important.
ZENIT: What is the link between praying before meals and strengthening family life?
The link between praying as a family before meals and also at Mass is an essential link to family life because it allows God to be part of your family’s experience. In other words, God is the link that strengthens families through this incredible act of feeding one another.
ZENIT: Very often people eat quickly since they are rushing and don’t pray. What advice would you give them for getting into the habit of doing so?
It begins with your intention. When we want to do something good for someone, like prepare a meal for them – your family or friends or even the homeless and hungry – we have to ask ourselves “where does that good intention come from?”
The ultimate answer is, “this desire for good comes from God.” That simple acknowledgement is in of itself a form of prayer. From there, it requires the person to ask for the grace to formally say words of gratitude, blessing and then to recognize those who go without. That’s what it means to truly pray and to sincerely be part of the “Plating Grace” movement.
ZENIT: In the past, food shortages were a common problem, and hence they prayed for this situation to be resolved. Yet, now that today we have big quantities of food available, why should we still pray?
I believe that “abundance” can sometimes make people forget God. The Plating Grace movement is reminding people that our celebrations around delicious, sharing good times with family and friends, is a great opportunity to recognize God. It’s the purpose of the Catholic Feast Days. My purpose is simply to make sure we have a healthy and a balanced spirituality – that we don’t pray just in our needs, wants and hungers, but that we also can recognize God’s Providing Hand in our abundance and festivities.
ZENIT: Which prayers do you suggest at mealtime?
Any prayer that comes from the heart is a good prayer to suggest. But I also say that universal prayers – something we can say all together – shows how prayer can bring us together, and together we can go to God.  So no matter what language, style, devotion or spontaneous prayer, we say we just have to make sure it comes from the heart, brings us closer to God and gives us more compassion for others. – Deborah Castellano Lubov, 28 Aug 2018, Zenit.org

Hospital wedding of terminally ill woman a powerful witness

Marriage of Jéssica and Fernando. Photo courtesy of Michelly Emily J Souza

.- The recent wedding of a young Brazilian woman with terminal cancer was a powerful witness to the sacrifice and permanence of marriage, said the priest who celebrated the sacrament for the couple.

Fr. Mario Silva celebrated the wedding of a young couple, Jessica and Fernando, in the chapel at the Napoleão Laureano Hospital in the Brazilian state of Paraíba Aug. 20.

Silva told ACI Prensa, CNA’s Spanish language sister agency, that the couple had been civilly married in 2012 and had a three-year-old child.

Jessica, who is now 27, has been fighting a very aggressive form of bone cancer since 2016 and had been hospitalized when the priest was called to administer the sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick.

“That night, she was in a lot of pain, and when I finished administering the sacrament to her, I asked her… if I could do anything else, and she told me she wanted to get married,” Silva said.

“She told me she had a great desire to receive the blessing of God and she knew that was missing. That would be a great healing and grace in her life. She did not want to die without receiving the blessing of marriage, because both were Catholics and had the dream of getting married in order to have a sacramental life,” he explained.

“I called her family and they gave me the husband’s telephone number. I asked him if he were interested in getting married. I began to visit the hospital more often and to go through with the process of determining whether they could enter into marriage or not,” he related.

Fr. Silva obtained the authorization of the Archdiocese of Paraíba to celebrate the wedding in the hospital and processed the couple’s corresponding papers. He interviewed the couple to ensure that they were certain in their choice and that there were no impediments or grounds for nullity.

He also discussed the nature of sacramental marriage with them.

“I emphasized that this was not simply a social event that lasts a night and then people need another one. I told them that marriage is something that they were administering, that they were giving themselves one to another and that I was just an assistant,” he recounted.

“I explained to them about love, fidelity, joy and sadness in sickness and in health. At that moment I turned to speak to the groom: Fernando, you are aware you are marrying Jessica in a very difficult moment in her life. If your love is capable of enduring these difficulties, you will be able to give her a definitive and free ‘yes’.”

During the homily, the priest spoke “about how people have little hope for Christian marriages” and that celebrating the wedding of Jessica and Fernando was a light for the whole hospital. “I think that that was what created such a stir, besides that the bride and groom had a beautiful appearance,” the priest said.

While Jessica rarely smiled while in the hospital, Silva said, “On the day of the wedding, she was smiling and spoke with great ease which was unusual. You could see that she was very renewed.” He said the bride told her that the sacramental wedding “was like starting over or being reborn.”

“Her husband takes very good care of her and wants to accompany her every day. He left his job and everything to take care of her. He gave witness to permanence and the Catholic marriage was a concrete realization of that,” the priest emphasized. – Maria Ximena Rondon, CNA

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