Tag Archives: 2018-11

Liturgical formation for readers and commentators

LIKAS (CS) – The Kota Kinabalu Archdiocesan Liturgy Commission organized the first-ever formation for readers and commentators 27 Oct 2018 at St Simon’s Catholic Church here.

The one-day formation program was attended by 195 participants from across the Archdiocese.

The formation began with a Mass, celebrated by Fr Cosmas Lee, head of the Commission, also parish priest of St Simon Church.

Fr Lee exhorted the participants to take the opportunity of this formation to renew their knowledge, skill and commitment to improve their serving at Mass.

The input sessions by Fr Lee began by looking at the Word of God as the absolute primacy, the very foundational and essential part of Christian faith. The reader does not merely read Scripture at Mass, rather he makes God present for the Word of God is God Himself.

The second part of the input helped participants to look at Scripture in the celebration of the Eucharist. The Church is when the assembly is gathered in faith to celebrate the events of salvation, the paschal mystery. It is here that the Word belongs and is owned, when the full power and its splendour comes forth.

Fr Lee emphasized the table of the Word and the table of the Eucharist, “the two parts which go to make up the Mass, are so closely connected that they form but one single act of worship” (SacrosanctumConcilium, no.56).

The participants were also led to see the structure and dynamics of the Liturgy of the Word where God is present to speak to His people, the people listen and respond in acceptance and faith.

Part three focused on the ministry of readers and commentators: role, function, duties, charism and vocation. A good reader and commentator must not only possess the gift, talent and skill of public reading and speaking, but more importantly is called by God for the service of the Church. They must also love the Word and Scripture and become life witness of commitment to the Word.

To this end, readers have the deepest respect and highest dignity of their ministry, because they are handling God in the same degree as the Extra-Ordinary Ministers handle God in the Holy Communion.

The Church must therefore have greater discernment in identifying and selecting candidates to this ministry, commission them and ensure on-going formation.

The last part of the input covered decorum and technical skills of public reading: dress, postures, movements, volume, use of public address system, speed and tempo of reading, pitch and tone, articulation, pronunciation, accentuation, stress, punctuation, phrasing, pauses, rhythm, and breathing.

After lunch, the final session was conducted in the church, animated by Fr Lee and Neil Mah, secretary of the Liturgy Commission.

Few chosen readers and commentators were asked to commentate as they would in a Sunday Mass and read from the Lectionary, after which the animators and participants had the opportunity to evaluate and critique based on the technical pointers given at the input earlier.

Here participants experienced at firsthand how a good reading and commentating should sound like, as well as touching on the  movements from the entrance procession of carrying the Book of the Gospel to approaching and leaving the ambo, the altar, and the proper use of the microphone with proper voice projection. – Neil Mah

Recalling Gastel’s witnessing

IT was also during the tenure of Fr Gastel as the school principal that future seminarians/priests were also studying in the school.

They were Francis Basintal, Julius Masudal, Lawrence Joluis, Thomas Makajil and the two St Joseph’s Chinese boys from Kudat. (Monsignor) Primus Jouil was not in the seminary yet but he joined only after finishing his education at St Michael’s, and subsequently was ordained with Makajil to the priesthood.

On the other hand, Fr Gastel also invested his time in educating people on the difference between religion and “adat” (customs).  Together with Fr Tom Putman in Toboh, they ventured to the villages to encounter animists (people who adore nature) who showed interest in becoming Catholics.

Fr Gastel did not see that “throwing out the adat” was the way.  Instead, together with Fr Putman, they showed the tribes respect, taught them to avoid rivalry and idol sacrifices, took numerous photos and recorded the ancient tribal practices to study their “adat”, and eventually inculcated “adat” with religion.

With help and better understanding of the differences, the people were soon baptized in little groups, and coupled with the training of their own catechists, faith spreads. – Source: Matthew Pain & CS

PE instructor Pius Jokinol: Gastel instrumental to motivate school athletes to national/state levels

AS a young priest fresh from the seminary cold bench, Fr William Van Gastel found little time to learn the foreign language properly when he was posted to Sabah (North Borneo then).

What he found himself doing, he wasted no time in doing something more for the schools he oversaw and supervised.

He introduced social and sports.  He made the students realize that just academics was not good enough, but that talents could be used in more ways, and should affect life itself.

After the amalgamation and the introduction of co-education in 1969, Fr Gastel invited me to oversee the teaching of Physical Education at St Michael’s Secondary School.

He was a keen footballer himself, and soon became personally involved in the promotion of sports in Penampang district. To further boost its promotion, Fr Gastel and I represented the West Coast School Sports Council (WCSSC) as committee members.

As a further enhancement on the standard of sporting activities in Penampang District, the Moyog School Sports Council (MSSC) was formed with Fr Gastel elected as chairman, and I as secretary during the inaugural meeting of MSSC.

During his tenure in MSSC, Fr Gastel was instrumental in motivating many local athletes who became outstanding athletes at Sabah State level such as George Soluku and Gabriel Molujil in the throwing events. On the National level, Marcellenos Bungkilan became champion for two consecutive years in the under 16 category.

In football, the school had also produced many good footballers with coaching undertaken by other bodies.  St Michael’s soon became one of the strongest teams in the district.

The success of the many athletes was mainly due to the initiative of Fr Gastel who managed to equip the school with new sports equipment to supplement the existing ones.

Besides the usual sports equipment, gymnastic equipment such as Parallel Bar, Vaulting Box and four sets of exercise mattresses were also acquired. These new additions of sports equipment were fully utilized and enabled me to introduce vaulting and agilities activities, leading to gymnastics teaching and training for the first time in Penampang.

Speaking as one among many teachers at St Michael’s Secondary School, Fr Gastel has indeed been my mentor.  Besides, I was honoured and blessed to have him celebrate my Wedding Mass which took place on 13 March 1971. – Pius Jokinol

St Michael’s Parish Family Dinner a runaway success

PENAMPANG – The capacity crowd of 2,000 diners at the first-ever Parish Family Dinner and Concert organized by the Penampang Parish Finance and Property Committee in aid of the parish churches building fund was a runaway success. 

The 200-table event, which was completely sold out, was held at the Sabah Cultural Centre here on Oct 21.

Parish priest Fr Wilfred Atin accorded the happy outcome to the organizing committee, even more so to the generous support of the people.

The theme chosen for the inaugural event was ‘Stand firm in the Lord’, which was deemed appropriate as it reflected the aspiration of the parish.

Songs, performances from various zones, community presentations, lucky draws and rendition of songs from special guests including priests to showcase their vocal talents provided an entertaining program for the evening.

The parish priest cherished the hope that the event could be organized annually so it could become a venue for many to get to know each other better and to share from other parts and zones within the parish, beside enjoying the evening with entertaining stage performances. – SOCCOM Penampang

To look to Mary even as Rosary month closes

KOTA KINABALU – Sacred Heart Cathedral closed the Rosary Month (October) with Mass and a procession of Mary’s statue Oct 30.

A 300-crowd gathered at dusk at the Grotto, braving the mosquitos, to honor the Blessed Virgin Mary for the close of the month dedicated to the Rosary.

A bevy of veiled young girls walked before Mary’s statue as it processed from the Grotto to the Cathedral through the by-road, followed by Fr Paul Lo and the parishioners.

The procession began with a tri-lingual recitation of the Rosary with the first decade at the Grotto, made three strategically-lit stops for three decades, and ended with the fifth decade inside the Cathedral.  Mass proceeded after the recitation.

Fr Lo reflected with the faithful on the procession walk “We too are people walking on a journey.”

He added “We are blessed because we have Mary with us in our journey.”

Pointing to Mary, who inspires us and becomes the example for our faith, like a mustard seed, the rector said “If we want to go to heaven, follow Mary, the Star of the Sea.  She is the ‘guiding star’ on the way to Christ.”

Fr Lo also encouraged all to invoke Our Lady of the Rosary with her other title “Our Lady of Victories”, which was established after the victory of the military battle at Lepanto. 

“Mary is indeed ‘Our Lady of Victories’ for, with her motherly intercession, she helps us to win our daily battles against evil.  She shows us the tenderness that only a mother can show to her children. She will help us to increase our faith,” said Fr Lo. – CS

An earful for Penampang faithful

PENAMPANG – It appears that Penampang parishioners are not bucking up to what the prelate wants from the people of God here.

Archbishop John Wong has reiterated his call for population growth and the use of the mother tongue on several occasions in the past.

At the three-in-one parish celebration of St Michael’s Church on Sep 28, he has once again urged the people of God to use the mother tongue in their family daily mode of communication as the most effective way to preserve and value their language.  At the same time he has repeatedly called them to consider bigger families of at least five children in their family planning.

He was speaking after the Mass where he conferred the Sacrament of Confirmation on 207 confirmands. On the same occasion, the parish patron Saints of Michael, Gabriel, and Raphael were honored, and the parish official website was officially launched.  

The prelate explained his concern for the inadequate usage of the mother tongue language leading to it being diminished in time to come.

We must realize that one’s own mother tongue is a valuable asset which cannot be found in any other part of the world.

In his opinion, using the mother tongue for only about two hours a week during Mass is not enough to preserve it.

As for today’s phenomenon of smaller families,  claimed to be caused by economic impact and modern life style preferred by majority, the Archbishop opined that the social and demographic changes have inadvertently contributed towards the slow growth of faith for the people of God. 

Unrelentingly, he continued to recommend that every family should at least consist of five children, while learning to live in trust of God in achieving happiness.

Parish priest Fr Wilfred Atin, while launching the parish website, said that it is important for the church, especially in this modern age of information technology, to ensure its pastoral effectiveness. 

Towards this end, full-time staff will be required to administrate the website.  At the same time, the parish Social Communications Committee (SOCCOM) will assist to monitor and  supervise  the  dissemination and communication of news, and to offer guidance for the proper use of the media facility.

The website account address is www.stmichaelparishpenampang.com. – SOCCOM Penampang

From the vineyard of Sabah

KOTA KINABALU – In an unprecedented ceremony for the local Church, Brother Claurence Motoyou OFM was ordained a priest while Brother Cruzender Alex OFM was ordained to the Diaconate at Sacred Heart Cathedral here on 27 October 2018, where Alex was solemnly professed together with Brother Aiden Peter Jr last year on September 9.

Custos Friar John Wong in his brief speech at the conclusion of Mass acknowledged with gratitude that Brother Claurence was the fourth local lad to be ordained Friar; with the first, Francisco Basnayake, ordained to the priesthood at Stella Maris Church, Tanjung Aru on 23 January 2016, the second priestly ordination of Don Don Ramarez in Singapore on 12 February 2017, and the third being the diaconal ordination of Cruzender Alex.  Presently, there are ten young men in different stages of formation towards full-time ministry in Australia, out of which six are Sabah lads.

Provincial Minister Friar Phillip Miscamble echoed his gratitude for the Sabah vineyard while acknowledging the remarkable role played particularly by the current Mother General of FSIC, Sister Frances Mani.

“We need people like her,” underlined Friar Miscamble, to plant the seed in the young men, and “we will pick them up and do the rest”.

Hence, many more Frances Mani’s are needed at the right time and “on ground” to challenge the young men to a bigger vision than what they are capable of dreaming for themselves.

Newly ordained Friar Claurence described the role of Sr Frances Mani and the Franciscan Sisters in a nutshell “You have journeyed with us even before our formation years began….thank you!”

More than 10 friars came from the Custody’s parishes and ministries from near and far to celebrate with the ordinands.  Family members, friends and parishioners turned up to witness the happy event, while at the same time acknowledging the extensive Franciscan involvement of Sabah lads.

Archbishop John Wong of Kota Kinabalu Archdiocese celebrated the Rites of Diaconal/Presbyteral Ordination, which was concelebrated with a bevy of local priests and friars from Malaysia, Singapore and Australia, among who were the Provincial Minister of the Province of the Holy Spirit, Friar Phillip Miscamble, and the Custos of the Order of Friars Minors, Custody of St Anthony – Malaysia, Singapore and Brunei, Friar John Wong. Assisting at the altar were Deacons Russell Lawrine and Gilbert Marcus, who would themselves be ordained priests on November 10 and 20 respectively.

Archbishop Wong shared the joy of God’s continuous blessings to our land in calling many young people to consecrate their lives as priests or religious; and irrespective of congregation, diocese or order, he exhorted “Two of our sons have said “yes” to God to be His instruments of peace as priest and deacon.  Let us rejoice and celebrate!”

To the newly ordained priest and deacon, he gave a reality check “The world is focusing more on the Catholic priesthood because it is a concrete manifestation of the life-long commitment to Jesus and His mission.  If the Evil one wants to ruin Jesus’ mission, he starts by tearing down the Catholic priesthood.  So too, if the world wants to discredit the Body of Christ, it begins by attacking the priesthood.”

He said this in the light of the recent clerical sex abuse from Germany to Chile, and the US Church.

He called on the Church to pray for God’s mercy in purifying and restoring the dignity and relevance of the Catholic priesthood today, and in particular to pray for the two newly ordained Friars as they assume their sacred ministries.

Friar Claurence will continue to serve as assistant priest at the Church of Immaculate Conception in the Diocese of Melaka-Johor.  Besides, he will head the Migrants’ Office, while serving as Vicar for Religious Office for MJ Diocese.

Brother Cruzender, while based at St Vincent de Paul parish, will also serve the OFM Development and Communications Office, and will continue to offer counseling services in Singapore.

Meanwhile, Brother Aiden Peter Jr, who has been prepared since last year, will be ordained to the Diaconate at Church of St Mary of the Angels, Singapore on 3 February 2019. – CS

SHEP partnership in action for 2018

KOTA KINABALU – It is the time of the year when SHEP partners meet up to live its partnership in reality.

SHEP stands for Sabah-Heilbronn Ecumenical Partnership.  The theme chosen for this year was “We partner, We Alive, We Journey”.

Five Catholics and two Protestants from Heilbronn began a 15-day reciprocal visit to Sabah on Oct 27, on a 1241 km road trip spanning the three arch/dioceses of Kota Kinabalu, Keningau and Sandakan.

The mutual ecumenical visit, organized by the Sabah SHEP main committee and headed by Dr Paul Porodong (PCS), also involved 15 host families spread out in nine districts.

As the aim of this Partnership is to primarily promote awareness and better understanding of ecumenism, as well as to encourage ecumenical sharing of resources, the visit would naturally include activities and places of interest involving  the Catholic, BCCM (Basel), PCS (Protestant Church in Sabah) partners.

Courtesy visits to the various heads of churches were also on the agenda: Bishop James Wong (Basel), Archbishop John Wong (RC), President Jensey Mojuin (PCS), and Bishop Julius Gitom (RC).

The idea of the ecumenical partnership was born out of the realization for fraternal unity and to enrich each other along the Christian journey.

In 1982, Dr Karl  Rennstich, a Protestant missionary formerly serving the Rungus community in Kudat, and Werner Reiter, the executive secretary of the  Catholic Centre for Education Work, initiated an ecumenical study group from Heilbronn.  Rennstich was attached to the Office of Mission and Ecumenical Relations in Heilbronn. 

A direct consequence of this visit was the first ‘return visit’ when Malaysian Christians were invited to participate in a Mission Festival in Heilbronn in 1984.  Since then there has been cordial meaningful contacts between the churches of both countries.

In August 1990, formal agreements were signed to seal the partnership between Catholics of Sabah and Heilbronn, and Protestant Church of Heilbronn and BCCM.

A new development in the partnership was made on 26 September 2008 when a common ecumenical partnership agreement was signed by all partners, both in Heilbronn and Sabah.

The signatories from Sabah were (RC) Archbishop John Lee, Bishop Cornelius Piong, Bishop Julius Gitom, (Basel) Bishop Dr Thomas Tsen and (PCS) President Jimmy Ojilim Asam, while the signatories from the District of Heilbronn-Neckarsulm were represented by the Catholic Deanery and the Evangelical-Lutheran Church. – CS

At 25, CMI poised to begin new journey

BUKIT PADANG – Church of Mary Immaculate (CMI) culminated her silver jubilee celebration in a thanksgiving Mass and a grand dinner at Putera Theatre Ballroom on Oct 28.  At 25, she is poised to begin a new journey in which she is tasked to build the long-awaited church extension.

At the auspicious dinner event attended by 900 people, Archbishop John Wong recalled with much fondness of finding CMI a homely environment, contributed by her structure and her parishioners’ warmth and homeliness, whenever he was required to celebrate Mass there in 1999-2002.

He added “I was then the assistant priest, and Fr Cosmas Lee the rector of Sacred Heart Cathedral, thus making him the first parish priest for CMI.”

Now 25 years later, the Masses are packed, the car park is overflowing, the archbishop had to acknowledge that there is a dire physical need for more amenities.

Notwithstanding, tribute was paid to the farsightedness of the late Fr Thomas Sham, who saw the need to have a church in Bukit Padang even though it was not so developed, with only a few houses around.

Heartened to see more and more Catholics from areas outside of Bukit Padang not only coming to attend Mass in CMI, but actively involved in the various ministries and apostolates, Archbishop Wong appealed for more to come forward to share their talents and skills to build up the faith community.

He said “I believe there are many who are professionals, and people of good standing in society.  I urge you to give your time to the mission of the Church…all of us are called to mission, to build the Kingdom of God.  The Church does not belong to a few.  You and I are the Church.”

Catherine Engsun, recently elected Parish Pastoral Committee chairperson for the new term of 2018-2021, picked up the same intensity, urging a wider participation from parishioners to help write a new page of the Church’s history with the extension project, and with unsparing support in terms of service and finance. 

She gave honour to other pioneering founders who were present, acknowledging their hardship and sacrifices, and maintained that “the fruit of their labour is what we are celebrating today”.

Engsun also paid tribute to past parish pastoral committees, whose efforts to promote unity and bonding had paid off, resulting in a stable and vibrant church and an exceptional fast pace of growth.

Judging from the successful organizing of the Jubilee events, beginning with the exhibition, pilgrimage, triduum and Mass and dinner, talents abounded and more remained to be tapped.

Present at the gala dinner, was Archbishop Emeritus John Lee, who once famously remarked “A church without a community is not a church.”  For the jubilee event, the Emeritus paid compliment to the community of CMI in the souvenir booklet “It has grown, not only in number, but as a believing and evangelizing community.  It is a Church alive!”

New rector, Fr Paul Lo, who also wrote a message in the souvenir booklet, succinctly expressed the hope that the Jubilee celebration would pave the way in making CMI a parish in the near future. – CS

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