Tag Archives: 2018-10

Vietnam pilgrimage an eye-opener to Sandakan BEC

SANDAKAN – The BEC of St Teresa of Calcutta, Sandakan was formed in 2010 with some 30 active families. Since its inception, the members have made two local pilgrimages (Diocese of Keningau and St Anne, Bukit Mertajam, Penang) and an overseas pilgrimage to Manila, the Philippines. This year, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam was selected as their destination with assistance from the Vietnam IFFAsia Alumni (Institute of Formation Fondacio).

Over the course of five days, we visited seven Catholic pilgrimage sites, churches, Saigon Archbishop’s Residence and Pastoral Centres with significant historical and architectural values.

We were particularly impressed by Vietnam Catholics in forming the faith of their young.

In another parish, we witnessed how the International Young Catholic Students organized children faith formation by giving catecheses accompanied with activities.

The faith and religious practice among the Vietnamese believers is very much alive. This could be seen from the attendance of the faithful during the morning Mass in Notre Dame Cathedral.

Apart from the spiritual pilgrimage, we also took the opportunity to understand the Vietnamese way of life, culture and history by visiting places like the Mekong Delta, War Remnant Museum and the Presidential Palace. For many of us, we know little about Vietnam.  We knew Vietnam as a war-trodden country but after setting our foot here, we realized that Vietnam is a fast developing country. Coming to Vietnam, we saw it as a place where the Christian faith is flourishing, as can be seen in their efforts in nurturing a strong faith among the young.  We have come to see Vietnam as a place where God’s love reaches out to many and the people responding with faith and zeal. – Dalius LL  

Kuching emeritus celebrates 90 years of God’s faithful love in his life and priesthood

KUCHING – The Archdiocese of Kuching has a lot to thank God for the gift of Archbishop Emeritus Peter Chung Hoan Ting, who has given his entire life to serving the people of Sarawak.

On 10 September 2018, bishops, priests, the lay faithful and his family and friends, came together to celebrate the 90th birthday of Archbishop Emeritus Peter Chung at his thanksgiving Mass.

The Archbishop Emeritus presided the Mass, which was concelebrated with 10 archbishops and bishops and priests from all over Malaysia.

He recalled how God has shown him love throughout his life and priesthood “My father died six months before I was born, and my mother remarried after three years, thus I was left to the loving care of my grandmother and aunt, who were devout Christians, and gave me a good Christian upbringing,” he said.

Despite the outbreak of World War II and the great famine it caused, followed by the rise of communism in China, he persevered and completed his seminary formation in June 1954.

He was sent to Sarawak on 21 August 1954 and ordained priest on 26 September that same year. His was the first ordination in the land of Sarawak. On 15 November 1970 he was ordained Coadjutor Bishop of Kota Kinabalu and was installed as Archbishop of Kuching on 26 November 1976.

Archbishop Emeritus Chung thanked the archbishops, priests, sisters and all lay people for their kind acceptance, cooperation and support “I promise you, I will continue to pray for you and for the local Church. And I beg your continual remembrance of me in your prayer,” he pledged.

The prelate shared the secret of his joy and strength, that is, the Holy Mass and God’s word. He urged the congregation to do the same. “Make good effort to read, reflect and practise God’s word in the Bible, especially the Beatitudes. You will surely find true happiness as Jesus has promised.”

A birthday dinner was organized by the Archdiocesan Pastoral Council the evening before at a local restaurant, attended by a thousand guests, including his relatives from China.

A video featuring a typical day in the life of the retired archbishop, which was produced by the Social Communications Committee, was shown.

Since his retirement in June 2003, Archbishop Emeritus Chung has not ceased to serve the laity. He continues to minister to the people through daily celebration of the Eucharist, hearing confessions, giving formation, counseling and other assistance.

Cecilia Chung, the niece of Archbishop Chung, thanked all present for having accompanied and supported the archbishop emeritus throughout his life. She requested that they continue to offer him the same loving companionship and support. – Today’s Catholic



St Mary’s Cathedral honours Mary, Mother of Hope

SANDAKAN – Parishioners of St Mary’s Cathedral prepared for the celebration of the parish 134th  anniversary with a nine-day novena, culminating in the Eucharistic Celebration of the Feast of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary on 15 Aug 2018.

Prior to Mass, the 500-crowd gathered in front of the Diocesan Pastoral Centre to pray the Rosary, which concluded with the blessing of Mary’s statue by Bishop Julius Gitom before processing to the Cathedral.

At Mass, Bishop Gitom highlighted three words, “struggle”, “resurrection” and “hope” which were the essence of the day’s liturgical readings.

Referring to Mary, the Mother of Jesus in the first reading, Bishop Julius underlined that she always accompanies us in our struggles, and sustains us in our fight against evil. In praying the Rosary, we invite Mary to pray with us and to journey together with us, remembering that in our struggling together as a community, we become stronger because we, the people of God, have come together as a community of faith.

Referring to the second reading, the prelate reiterated the Church’s truth that “Christ has truly resurrected from the dead”. Mary shared the pain of Jesus’ cross and was given the gift of resurrection.

He concluded, the feast of Assumption expresses a fervent hope that our faith in the bodily assumption of Mary into heaven makes our faith in our own resurrection firmer. Though in heaven, she continues to be with us in the struggles of everyday life and strengthens our hope to live out the parish’s vision of a “Christ-centered community serving one another with love”. – Wendy Yong


Holy Trinity parish introduces pastoral care for the sick

TAWAU – A total of 258 parishioners attended a talk facilitated by Xavier Chung on Pastoral Care for The Sick: How to offer healing and peace of Jesus Christ at Holy Trinity here on 11 Aug in English and on 12 Aug 2018 in BM.

The participants consisted of Sunday School children aged 13 years above, parents and adults from various ministries in the parish.

The speaker, Xavier Chung is from St Francis Major Seminary in Singapore. He majored in Clinical Pastoral Care from the University of New South Wales in Australia and is currently providing pastoral care in hospitals and hospices in Singapore.

Chung reminded the listeners that it is the mission of every Catholic to spread the Good News of Christ’s salvation, and that it is not exclusively to those who are healthy but also it includes those who are sick.

In the church’s catechism No. 1500 “The illness/sickness afflicting a person causes the person to experience helplessness, to feel limited in life and to feel tied down. This in turn can cause anguish, self-absorption, sometimes even despair and revolt against God. It can also lead a person to be more mature in the sense that the afflicted person is able to discern what is more important in life. Often, an experience of glimpsing death provokes a search and return to God.”

Chung singled out the main difference between care-giving by NGOs and care-giving by the church in that care-giving by the church acknowledges the afflicted as a child of God, created in His image and that Christ knows him/her personally.

For Christian care-giving, the need to understand and emphatize with the sick is accentuated. The afflicted will have a myriad of feelings. He may feel anger, despair, hopelessness. While some may be able to smile and joke in the face of their illness, some may be numb and unable to show any feelings about what they are going through.

He explained why the afflicted reacts the way that they do. From his experience, he shared that the sick experiences pain, regrets in life, unfinished businesses, thoughts about death, of unreached expectations and some are overwhelmed by the surrounding happenings.

Chung then shared some tools that care-givers should have.  Using the five stages of grief based on the Kubler-Ross model, he identified the stages the patient goes through in his sickness. The first being denial, followed by anger, then depression which then develops into bargaining and the final stage being acceptance of the condition he is in.

Highlighting on the four basic needs that humans require in life: 1) to have meaning and purpose; 2) the need to give love; 3) the need to receive love; and 4) the need for hope and forgiveness; the speaker said that a person afflicted by serious sickness will experience regret with respect to these four needs.

Chung also introduced the attendees to the Spiritual Screening Tool where the attendees were taught to communicate effectively and personally with the afflicted person.

A series of exercises were done to help the attendees to understand more their role as care-giver. The main aim was to get to know the person more closely so as to facilitate the encounter to be more positive with the goal to have the afflicted know that God is with them in whatever condition they are in.

Feedback from the attendees was positive: the participants have acquired the knowledge and understanding how to provide better care for the sick. They were also now more aware and appreciative of their roles as care-givers. – James Joseph

Celebrating the elderly priests, “a patrimony of wisdom and faith”

MANGGATAL – The Therapy Community of Bukit Harapan, together with its residents and staff, benefactors and friends, celebrated the 77th and 81st birthday of Father Francis Tsen and Father Felix Chung respectively on 20 Sept 2018 at the shelter home for disabled children and abused women here.

From the beginning of his papacy, forging bonds with the elderly has been a special concern for Pope Francis.

He said “The elderly are the future of a people. A people has a future if it goes forward with both elements: with the young, who have the strength, and things move forward because they do the carrying; and with the elderly because they are the ones who give life’s wisdom.” (The Holy Father was speaking to Italian Catholic youth of the Catholic Action movement last December.)

On the happy occasion of their birthdays, after celebrating Mass in the presence of those who were gathered with them, both priests shared with Catholic Sabah the wisdom of their years.

Fr Tsen reflected how alarmingly fast time seems to fly by for him.

He spoke of the need to use time more effectively and the need to curtail the “wasting of time” with more awareness.

For Fr Chung, there was every reason to thank God for blessing him with long life.  He reflected pensively “God has kept me alive and well that I may remain faithful to my priestly ministerial services purely out of His goodness.”

A man of vision, Fr Chung looked towards the coming of the glorious Jubilee year of the Lord’s Resurrection in 2033 – Catholic Sabah 

Building ecological citizens

PURAK, Papar – About 130 people signed up for the Season of Creation celebration held at Pace Bene Retreat Centre on 17 Sept 2018.

The first-ever Archdiocesan level celebration was organized by the newly formed Creation Justice Commission (CJC) in conjunction with the global annual Season of Creation which ran from 01 Sept to  04 Oct 2018.

The participants, who came from various parishes in the archdiocese, as well as the Franciscan Sisters, enjoyed the environmental awareness presentations by speakers from Sabah Environmental Protection Department (EPD), Universiti Malaysia Sabah (UMS) and practical activities by Kivatu Nature Farm, Penampang.

It was a day of gathering knowledge and awareness on the earth’s condition through talks as well as practical knowledge on organic composting. At the same time, it was a day of prayer and action to protect creation.

Daisy Aloysius, Assistant Director of Development from EPD, expounded on Climate Change where she said the phenomenon has caused changes around the world, particularly global warming, and has affected decision-making by policy makers worldwide.

The cause of global warming is carbon dioxide;  Malaysia, for example, has made a significant decision to reduce its greenhouse gas emission by 45 percent by 2030, said Aloysius.

Responding to the commission’s objective to build ecological citizens and green living pathways, Aloysius enlightened the people with a list of ‘green’ steps to care for our common home.

These small steps can go a long way: switch to energy saving light bulb; turn off electrical power when not in use; reduce emission of carbon monoxide by choosing to walk, bike or taking public transport instead of driving personal cars; recycle – glass, paper, fabric, and metal; say a firm no to usage of plastic bag; reduce usage of papers, for example, print on double-sided or not at all; avoid wasting food by buying only what you need; and create green living area.

Professor Dr Justin Sentian from UMS, who is also a member of CJC, said the choice is ours whether to care for this common home or not; which we risk the destruction of ourselves and the diversity of life if we do not. But if we do, then, fundamental changes are needed in our values, institutions and ways of living.

The participants enjoyed the practical presentation by Kivatu Nature Farm, which was led by Phillip Lasimbang and his sister, Maria, together with two students from College Guas Koposizon, a college run by the Lasimbangs.

Among other home-made products which they have produced, they showed the attendees how to make home-made turmeric pills and salted eggs for personal consumption, thus reducing spending of money externally.

Kivatu Nature Farm also taught the participants how to produce organic fertilizers through the composting process of ‘bokashi’ mixed with vegetable waste. Some enthusiastic participants received a portion of ‘bokashi’ mix to make their own organic fertilizers at home.

The event concluded with a prayer and a song to honour God Creator. Linda Edward


Divine Mercy retreat helps devotees grow in deeper trust and intimacy with Jesus

BUNDU TUHAN – The recent Sabah Divine Mercy retreat held at the retreat centre here on Sep 8-9 attracted 130 participants.  They were mainly Divine Mercy devotees from the Sacred Heart Cathedral parish while some came from nearby parishes.

The two-day retreat, which was complemented with another half-day talk on Sep 11 at the Sacred Heart Parish Centre, was facilitated by Fr Dariusz Drzewlecki MIC.

Fr Drzewlecki is the Superior of the Asian Vicariate of the Marian Fathers of Immaculate Conception based in Davao, Philippines.  In 2015, he was chosen as a Missionary of Mercy and sent by Pope Francis during the Jubilee Year of Mercy to preach about mercy and to hear confessions.

The retreatants benefited from his ‘ministry of mercy’ which has deepened their understanding on the Divine Mercy devotion as a way of life.

Drawing mainly from the numerous Divine Mercy messages from the Diary of St Faustina, the retreat master delivered his talks which was useful for the devotees to enrich their devotion, and informative for other parishioners who were keen to know more about Divine Mercy devotion.

Sharing from his own experiences, Fr Drzewlecki dwelt on his involvement in the works of mercy for victims of typhoons that struck Mindanao and the Visayan Islands, particularly the construction of low cost houses for the victims.  In the swift response of aid to the victims, Fr Drzewlecki underlined that God’s mercy has been enlightened to the sufferers.

In line with “mercy”, the spiritual and corporal works of mercy were incorporated in his talks. – Henry Liew


‘Welcome, Protect, Promote, Integrate’ migrants into the local community

PENAMPANG – Archbishop John Wong cautioned the faithful not to be easily influenced by negative propaganda towards migrants who are here to earn a decent living.

Due to the influx of immigrants in the state and their questionable legal right of staying here, migrants are often negatively generalized as illegal by the society at large.

However, there are those who have legally crossed borders and have contributed to the state’s economic development.

The shepherd of Kota Kinabalu Archdiocese urged the faithful to “hold on to the principles of the Church’s teachings,” and to heed Pope Francis’ four verbs in response to migrants and refugees everywhere, that is, to “Welcome, Protect, Promote and Integrate” them into the local community.

The Archbishop said the four words can be summed up into one word:  “Communion” and said that it is in line with the Archdiocese Vision to having “A caring communion of Christ-centred communities”.

“In order to live in communion, we need to welcome others into our lives. We need to protect each other so that our dignity is not polluted with evil elements. We need to promote Gospel values, so that others will be closer to Jesus by our service. And to achieve communion, we must learn to integrate our differences,” said the shepherd.

He said this at the Archdiocesan Migrant Sunday Celebration at St Michael Church Penampang on 30 Sept 2018, in conjunction with the 104th World Day of Migrants and Refugees.

The celebration, deemed as a celebration of equality, was joined by 800 locals besides the  migrant communities from Indonesia, the Philippines and other states in Malaysia.

The Archbishop expressed his gratitude towards the migrant communities, “Thank you for your contribution to the state’s economy and for your involvement in the life of the local Church.

“Today, I urge you to always obey the law of this nation. Always earn a living in a legal manner, peacefully and full of dignity. Accept the local people as your brothers and sisters in Christ.”

The Migrant Sunday festivities were co-organized by the Human Development Commission (HDC) and St Michael parish with George Maison as chairman.

It was celebrated during the Bahasa Mass at 10.30am, presided by Archbishop Wong, and concelebrated by parish priest Fr Wilfred Atin and HDC spiritual adviser Fr Ambrose Atang, assisted by Deacon Gilbert Marcus.

The readings and prayer of the faithful were said in various languages: English, Malay, Tagalog, Timorese and Kadazan.

To mark the event, the Church prayed for migrants who are victims of human trafficking; for courage to ensure sound migration policy by local authority; good treatment for migrants and refugees in detention centres around the nation; for migrants to find hope through our care and love; for those who are in dangerous regions; and for the volunteers who commit their hands to welcome migrants and refugees.

The celebration continued at St Michael parish hall with lunch and various performances by the migrant communities. Linda Edward

Mighty oak from little acorn grows

LABUAN – It is hard to believe that the successful St Anne’s  Kindergarten was once a small nursery of 20 pupils. Mighty oak from little acorn grows!

It all began in 1949 when the Franciscan Missionary Sisters of St Joseph (FMSJ) or “the White Sisters” planted and grew their dream. It was a modest dream – they only wanted to start a small nursery.

St Anne’s Kindergarten, or Tadika St Anne, started with one classroom of 20 pupils with Sr Edwarda FMSJ as first principal and Theresa Chiuh, the first teacher.

The FMSJ Sisters ran the nursery from 1949-1973 before they were expelled from the country. Upon their departure, the nursery was left in the hands of the local “Blue Sisters” or the Franciscan Sisters of the Immaculate Conception (FSIC).

Sr Ignatia Gomez FSIC was the first to be assigned to Labuan in 1973 to head the nursery which she took charge for two years. She was succeeded by Sr Clare Lombigit who held the helm till 1977 when Sr Marian Donysius came in as her replacement.

In 1978, the number of pupils stood at 100. Sr Clare returned to Labuan in 1979 and through her initiatives, the nursery was officially registered as St Anne’s Kindergarten on 2 August 1979 with the Education Department. It had three classrooms then.

Moving on from 1979, St Anne’s Kindergarten continued to grow, attracting children from all races and religions.

Today, the kindergarten registered 184 students from ages 3-5, occupying seven classrooms. All these are the fruits of the dedicated headmasters and teachers who form the backbone of the kindergarten.

Widely known as the oldest kindergarten in Labuan, Tadika St Anne has been organizing their renowned Tadika St Anne’s Cultural Night annually.  This year, it was held on 11 Aug 2018 at Palm Beach Resort.

The guest of the night was none other than Mother General Sr Frances Mani.

Highlighting “culture” as the main theme, the guests were greeted by students, teachers and members of the Board of Governors garbed in various ethnic costumes.

BOG chairman, Jocelyn Yeo spoke about the need to inculcate cultural diversity without boundaries which embraces all races and religions.  She underlined, the right start is from early childhood education.

She added, one of the vital elements to create a healthy and positive environment is to preserve the cultural diversity in every child’s learning experience.

Yeo reiterated that today’s educators, encompassing teachers, parents, guardians, must make a redoubled effort to inculcate cultural awareness beginning from early childhood education.

Tadika St Anne has prided themselves in preserving and creating awareness of cultural diversity in their students’ learning environment.

Tadika St Anne would continue to promote cultural diversity among the students as part of the vision towards generating students that are not only brilliant in academics but also students with outstanding character. – Julie Singau

A new Apologetics: Bishop Robert Barron’s youth synod intervention

A “renewed apologetics and catechesis” can help young people who are tempted to leave the church due to convictions “that religion is opposed to science or that it cannot stand up to rational scrutiny, that its beliefs are outmoded, a holdover from a primitive time, that the Bible is unreliable, that religious belief gives rise to violence, and that God is a threat to human freedom,” Bishop Barron said in his speech, also called as “intervention”, to the synod Oct 4.

“I hope it is clear that arrogant proselytizing has no place in our pastoral outreach, but I hope it is equally clear that an intelligent, respectful, and culturally sensitive explication of the faith (‘giving a reason for the hope that is within us’) is certainly a ‘desideratum‘ (‘desire’),” he said.

Bishop Barron earlier told the synod that his work as founder of Word on Fire Catholic Ministries confirmed that inadequate education about church teaching is among the “crucial stumbling blocks to the acceptance of the faith among young people.”

Among the major religions, he explained, “Catholicism was second to last in passing on its traditions,” and the “army of our young who claim that religion is irrational is a bitter fruit of this failure in education.”

While some may view apologetics as “something rationalistic, aggressive, condescending,” he said he would propose a new way of explaining and defending religious doctrine that “would not be imposed from above but would rather emerge organically from below, a response to the yearning of the mind and the heart.”

The works of St Thomas Aquinas, for example, often emerged from lively debates over disputed questions “that stood at the heart of the educational process in the medieval university,” he said. “Thomas was deeply interested in what young people were really asking. So should we.”

He also told the members of the Synod of Bishops that, without “denigrating the sciences,” a renewed catechesis can show young men and women that there are “non-scientific and yet eminently rational paths that conduce toward knowledge of the real.”

Bishop Barron said the beauty of faith as depicted in music, art, architecture and liturgy as well as the compelling lives of the saints can also provide “a powerful matrix for evangelization.”

The church, he said, “must walk with young people, listen to them with attention and love, and then be ready intelligently to give a reason for the hope that is within us. This, I trust, will set the hearts of the young on fire.”

At a presynod interview the bishop opined “I absolutely believe that this Synod is more significant than the previous two, for it is about the future of Catholicism. I don’t know any issue more pressing now in the life of the Church than addressing the problem of the massive attrition of our own people, especially the young. Those professing no religious affiliation have become a veritable army in our country, and their numbers are especially strong among the young. By some estimates, 40 percent of those under thirty claim no religion. How to re-engage the “nones,” and to prevent the rise of future “nones,” should be, in my judgment, priority one in the Catholic Church. – CNS/Wordonfire


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