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Monday, March 30, 2009

Workshop session for the selection of Cathedral Parish Pastoral Council

Sandakan: St Mary’s Cathedral of Sandakan has entered into its third phase of selecting its Cathedral Parish Pastoral Council. In early February, catechesis on the overall set-up, roles and functions of the Pastoral Council were given in the Cathedral as well as all sub-parishes and outstations. On the 28th February a Parish Assembly graced by his Lordship Bishop Julius Gitom was held to further disseminate information on the topic. 250 parishioners participated in the assembly of which 45 nominees were received.

Out of the 45 nominees, 24 responded to the invitation and attended the half day workshop session held on 28th March 2009 at the Catechetical Room. The session began with the enthronement of the Bible followed by the proclamation of the word from John 10: 1 -18 by Fr Paul Lo, the assistant Parish Priest who then started the session by reflecting on the Word. He touched on the parable of the Shepherd and what it actually meant to be a Good Shepherd like Jesus. He looks after his flock, leads them, provides them love, compassion and mercy and He heals. He is in fact pasturing to His people. He urged the new Pastoral Council members to put in more effort to pasture to the people of God together with the Clergy and religious.

Fr Thomas Makajil, the rector of the Cathedral in the second session considered that the gathering as an important milestone for the Cathedral Parish as upon them lies the future direction of the Parish. He invited everyone to pool their various gifts and share them for the renewal of the Parish. He spoke on the roles of the Pastoral Council and its concept based on the Sabahan context where the laity actively participates in the mission of the Church enhanced by the bitter experience of the local Church in the 70’s with the removal of foreign priests. He elaborated on Canon 536 which provided direction to the diocesan bishops with regard to the establishment of a Pastoral Council in each parish.Fr Thomas viewed that the members of the new PPC will serve as the ‘think-tank’ of the Parish and being thinkers, planners and organizers they will need to coordinate and review parish pastoral matters.

In the last session, Henry Solibun from the Diocesan Pastoral Working Group talked on the purpose and functions of the PPC which is to enhance the process of pastoral planning, develop and to improve on pastoral programs and services and above all to evaluate its effectiveness from time to time.

There was a question and answer session where doubts were clarified followed by a quiet moment for reflection where 18 nominees responded and signed the ‘Declaration of Intent’ form. For the final phase of the selection procedures, the Parish Priest will invite those who had committed to serve for an interview. The new PPC will be announced and commissioned during Easter.


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