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Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Easter Vigil Celebration

Sandakan : Easter Vigil was celebrated on 11th April 2009 at 8.00pm at St Mary’s Cathedral. The Cathedral was packed as early as 7.00 pm. The celebration which was celebrated by Bishop Julius Dusin Gitom commenced with the Service of the Light which took place at the open parking space in front of the grotto in total darkness. The fire, blessed by the Bishop symbolizes the radiance of the Risen Christ dispelling the darkness of sin and death. The Paschal candle which was blessed and lit was then carried into the Cathedral with all lights switched off .stopping three times to chant an acclamation ‘Christ Our Light’ to which the congregation responded ‘Thanks be to God.’

The Liturgy of the Word covered three readings taken from the Old Testament and two readings from the New Testament. In his homily, Bishop Julius Dusin Gitom shared that he was trilled to see that from the one Paschal candle the light was passed on from one to another until the whole open space outside was flooded with an ocean of light. It was an amazing sight and the event was a gesture of sharing the light of Jesus with others. He called on the congregation not to be mere spectators but to be active participants in spreading the divine light of Jesus. He went on to appeal to all to let go whatever hinder us towards the path of light / growth. To the catechumens, this is what is said “It is in dying with Christ that we will be able to rise with Him and this is the HOPE of this holy night.’ And to all others gathered, who are to renew their baptismal vows, he called upon them to live in union with the Lord, in a community of love and service.
Bishop Julius then proceeded to the baptismal font where he solemnly blessed the water and thereafter 17 catechumens and three candidates for full communion were initiated into the Church by baptism and confirmation respectively. After the celebration of the sacraments of initiation, the congregation renewed their baptismal vows and receive the sprinkling of the baptismal water. The event provides a reminder that baptism is a symbolic death and rebirth with Christ, just like Christ’s death and Resurrection.

Bishop Julius took the opportunity to extend his appreciation and sincere thanks to all who had worked towards the preparation of the celebration. It was indeed a beautiful and meaningful celebration.

After the celebration, members of the Catholic Women’s Apostolate were at the Church entrance to distribute Easter eggs to children.

Brimming with the light of their new faith, the neophytes reflected on what the Easter Vigil represented for them and what they look forward to as new Catholic Christians. Some shared their thoughts and impressions regarding their conversion.

Susan Ho, the principal of a local private secondary school, a newly baptized, recalled that the seed of faith to be God’s child had been planted in her ever since she was a child. Attending Church with her Catholic husband is something sweet and peaceful and it is through prayer together with the faith community that she found God. She looks forward to serving the Church.

Chris Ho, brother to Susan had been pondering all along the meaning of life. “Why am I here for?” For this reason, he decided to join the RCIA together with her sister in search for an answer to the most provoking question that had been haunting him. Through the sessions, he is now able to surrender himself totally to allow God to lead and guide him.

Martha Chia, a secondary school teacher has this to share, “So, my journey of faith began when I realized that there is a spiritual Father who is always there for us. At times when I am down and there is no one I can turn to, I am glad that I am able to call upon our Father for comfort and guidance. The Lord’s prayer is a source of strength and courage for me.”

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