SANDAKAN – Movements of affected clergy in Sandakan Diocese took effect after the Lunar New Year. Over 300 parishioners and well-wishers took part in the farewell-cum-welcome appreciation night on 25 Jan 2016 organised by the Parish Pastoral Council.
Father Thomas Makajil, after a service of seven years in the cathedral, is assigned to helm the Paitan Mission as its first resident priest for two years while Fr Phillip Muji, after four years of service, has been assigned to assist Msgr Nicholas Ong in Holy Trinity Tawau. Meanwhile, Fr Johnny Raju would be returning to KK Archdiocese from Tawau. He would be based in Stella Maris Tanjung Aru.
At the same time, the gathering was also to welcome Bishop Julius Dusin Gitom as the cathedral parish priest and Sr Martina James fsic recently posted to the parish.
The transfers took effect on 10 February 2016.
Present for the occasion with the priests from Tawau, Telupid and Lahad Datu, seminarians and members of the various pastoral committees of the cathedral.
According to Fr Makajil, there are twelve chapels scattered throughout the Paitan Mission and another eleven Catholic communities with a sizeable Catholic population. Apart from extending pastoral care to the locals, the Mission will also be responsible for the pastoral care of the Catholic migrant workers in the surrounding estates.
The priest took the opportunity to call on the people present to take the challenge to support the Mission. He expressed his hope that with the ground work undertaken by the diocese, this missionary area will one day become a full-fledged parish in the near future.
In his speech, Bishop Gitom told the people that the transfer of priests within the diocese is a normal practice. It is an enriching experience for priests to tend the flock in different parishes. He said, “I am here all this while. It’s only now that I will have to assume two portfolios as a bishop and as a rector.”
He also explained that Fr Phillip is transferred to Tawau to assist Msgr Nicholas Ong because Fr Johnny Raju will return to the Archdiocese of Kota Kinabalu. He expressed his sincere thanks to Fr Johnny for his two years of service in Tawau and to Fr Phillip for his four years in the cathedral.
In addition, the prelate also expressed his thanks to Fr Thomas for his willingness to take up the challenge of being the resident priest of Paitan Mission. He acknowledged that Fr Thomas will be shouldering a heavy but rewarding workload because he would be doing God’s will in looking after the God’s people in Paitan.
He then welcomed Sr Martina and wished her a fruitful and fulfilling ministry in the cathedral parish. He also assured the people that Fr Sunny Chung and neo-ordained Fr Stanley William will remain with him in the cathedral to serve them. – Dalius LL