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Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Christmas Fellowship with Bishop Julius

 Sandakan : St Mary's Cathedral organized a Christmas Fellowship with the Bishop Sunday December 26 2010 immediately after the Bahasa Malaysia Mass at 10.30 am at the Parish Hall, attended by some three hundred people. 
L-R : Datuk Peter Pang, Bishop Julius and Fr Thomas Chong
The theme for the celebration; 'One Family ~ Christmas, a time to love' was chosen in line with the Solemnity of the Holy Family which highlighted the qualities of a good family having Jesus Christ as the centre of the family. Also present at the function were Datuk Peter Pang, Deputy Chief Minister of Sabah cum Minister of Youth and Sports and Fr Thomas Chong SJ from the Melaka-Johor Diocese who was at the Cathedral Parish to help out during the festive season particularly to the Chinese speaking community.
In his welcoming address, John Baptis the Chairman of the Parish Pastoral Council extended his appreciation to all those involved in ensuring  the function be implemented as planned. He went on to say that as Church, the people need to journey and witness as a community, as a family involving everyone for the glory of God.
Bishop Julius in his speech, said 'This is our celebration and because of this we come together to celebrate as one family. Christmas is a time to share our God given gifts, be it talents, time or treasure. Let us be generous to one another, inculcating in us the spirit of oneness'.

Members of the Star of Yahweh Covenant Community, English Prayer Group and the Bahasa Malaysia Pastoral Committee entertained the crowd with Christmas carols.

Datuk Peter Pang presented a Christmas hamper to Bishop Julius and together they presented Christmas goodies to the children, teenagers and the youth of the parish.

Enjoying the food and the company of one another

ds and photos by Michael Wong

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Good Shepherd Sisters bring joy and hope to the migrants

Sandakan : The Indonesian Catholic Community in collaboration with the Good Shepherd Sisters organized a Christmas gathering for the children of the just established learning program Sunday December 19, 2010 at St Mark's Church with a theme on 'Emmanuel - God with Us.'
The said community mostly from Flores Island, Indonesia living within the vicinity of St Mark are mainly engaged in the agricultural, poultry, industrial and service sectors. Their children have no access to education in government run schools. A dialogue held sometime in September this year with representatives of the Indonesian Embassy and Consul had given rise to the possibility of setting up a 'Community Learning Centre' for the children. The setting up of such a centre might take some time.
Sr Maria Dipal RGS, the in-charge of the Sandakan Seri Murni Crisis Centre, staff members and volunteers of 'Pusat Kebajikan Good Shepherd' in the persons of  Jellferlyne Joseph, Jessica Wong, Namoi Naih and Weerin started a 'Learning Program' for the children on November 1, 2010. The children are taught the very basic of reading, writing and arithmetic every Monday to Thursday. Since then, the team had been journeying with them.
Sr Maria RGS in her welcoming speech to more than 100 people, said that she was deeply touched by the support shown by the community. She said that children, if given the right opportunity can grow and develop their God given talents to their fullest potential.

She called on the members of the 'Keluarga Besar Katolik Indonesia' to stay united in all circumstances so that they may journey together as a strongly knitted community, serving one another.

She extended her appreciation to the volunteers who had responded to make the program a reality and ongoing. She hoped that the light of Christ will shine in every Christian during this Christmas festive season

The stage decorated with the traditional woven coconut leave craft called  'Janur'

The children and the parents alike had been practicing hard for the last two weeks to bring alive the spirit of Christmas and to spread the Christmas joy among the community. They prepared the venue, decorated the stage and put up children's work for display.

The children presented Christmas carols, the Nativity sketch, poetry recitation and dance. Parents were not left out. They also performed their traditional community dance called 'dolo-dolo'
Performing the traditional dance, the dolo-dolo
Participating in the community game
Children and parents participated in the community game, 'dancing on newspaper'. They danced in groups of five and need to hold on to one another to stand within the unfolded double page of the newspaper once the music stop. The process repeat, each time with the newspaper folded into half of its original size. The message  of the game is clear that as a community / family, each need to hold on to each other in all circumstances.

The highlight of the event was the presentation of a self-made 'gift box' which they learnt during the art and craft lesson, to their parents. Parents were all smiles as they made their way on stage to receive the little gift from their children. 

The event ended with Santa Claus giving away presents to the little children and after which they adjourned to a fellowship with food prepared by the community.


Anna's Amazing Days in IFFA (Phillipines)

Dear Bishop Julius,

How are you? I hope this mail will find you in the best of health. I’m fine here and all the students are having Christmas holiday with our respective foster family for twelve days (21st December 2010 to 2nd January 2011). I will be staying with Aunty Ferdee’s relative here in Tandang Sora, Quezon City and Nueva Viscaya, North of Luzon, Philippines. 

It has been quite a long time since my last report to you. Okay then, allow me to share with you my new learning and experience here in IFFA. We have just completed the Social Module early this December and now we come to the last module for our formation year; the Pastoral Module. It is part of our preparation for the Mission Project to be held in Sabah this coming January 2011. The Social Module is actually an awakening for me to realize that I am not just a youth leader and a church. I am more than just part of the church.

“The great social encyclical from Popes John XIII to Pope John Paul II, the church now has a clear mandate to be involved in promotion of justice in civil society” Christians’ Social Mission by Micheal McCabe 

WOW! Just imagine how big my mouth was as I read through this article. I ask myself who is the church? Is it only the youth that I have to take care of or those people coming to church? How about the poor and the marginalized, those of other religions, other tribes and races? Is the church also the society around me? Aha so many questions which reminded me of Fr. Danny (Christian Anthropology Lecturer). He said the more I have questions, the more I will understand the existence of my being in this world. I was born for a purpose! 

The Lord said “I Chose you before I gave you life and before you were born I selected you to be a prophet to the nations” Jeremiah 1:5. 

The most significant thing I have learned during the “Church and Mission” session is that loving one another is the sign of Jesus’ disciple. Jesus is life and I should look at my mission as a table of fellowship and share it with others without boundaries. There is a mission because there is GOD and HE is the mission. “Bring Life” as God himself love the world so much He handed His only beloved son Jesus so that we might have life through Jesus. This will be a challenging mission for me to love and to serve one another. Yet when bad things happen always remember to look back ‘AD FONTES’ Jesus Christ as the root of my everyday living. 

Apart from that we also have the Catholic Social Teaching (CST). It is our best kept secret and a key to a Catholic identity. The central message is very simple; “Our faith is profoundly social. We cannot be called truly “Catholic” unless we hear the church’s call to serve those in need and work for justice and peace”. The whole theme about Social Act is LOVE! I and you are just part of God’s work and the best part of it is that love of God is revealed in responsibility for others. The whole social module reminded me of Rt Rev. Bishop Julius Dusin Gitom’s motto: “Serve one another with God’s Love”. I guess that’s the right words to summarize the whole thing about the Social Module. 

I also would like to share with you the twelve days immersion I have last October in Mansalay, Oriental Mindoro. Immersion for me is to be like them. Eat and drink whatever is offered. Sleep where they sleep (bamboo bed). I really took off my shoes and put my bare feet into their shoes and be grounded. I still remember how tasty their food was. Simple yet it makes me want more. I try my best to help in the house. I fetch the water from the water pump, I sweep the floor, and I helped my Nanay (mother) preparing the local cakes and I even help her going around and sell the cakes. The first time it was very tiring but it did not let me stop trying again the next day. I have to sweat to eat rice every day. I cannot bear to live there freely as I want while someone is working so hard to put food on the table.

I remembered my days in my own house. At least I still can sleep well on a bed. I do not have to fetch water from the water pump or even cook using charcoal. My parents will always be there for me whenever I am in need.  Everything was provided and most of the time it was not appreciated. Aha look who is the powerless now. One of our group’s missions is to empower the powerless. But it seems that I am the powerless. Seeing and being with my foster family, empowered me to see the beauty of life although there is hardship and difficulties behind those beautiful smiles.

My experience with God throughout my immersion had inspired me and my friend, Carlu (Myanmar) to compose a song “You Amazed Me” and I want to share a piece of our lyrics of journey with you.

“You amazed me with the color of this life, You amazed me with the gentleness of Your touch, You amazed me with Your wonderful creation, and YOU amazed me for who YOU are”

Last but not least Christmas is just a few days away and once again I want to grab this opportunity to wish a Happy Merry Jolly Christmas to Bishop Julius, all staff in the Sandakan Diocesan office, all the priests and  religious sisters, the Diocesan Youth Apostolate (DYA), Parish Youth Apostolate (PYA), my beautiful and lovely parents and siblings and to all the special people wherever you may be. May this Christmas season be a celebration of life – giving to each other.

 Goodbye for now and till we meet again next year!

Merry Christmas 2010
and Happy New year 2011!

 Anna Teresa Peter Amandus
Student of Institute of Formation, Fondacio Asia,
Quezon City, Phillipines

Sandakan Christmas Celebration 2010

Sandakan : The office of the Member of Parliament P 186 Sandakan, the Municipal Council and the Sandakan Inter Church jointly organized the three-day Sandakan Christmas Celebration at the Sandakan MPS Square on Thursday December 16 2010.
The celebration, three years in running attracted a massive crowd of some 1,500 people. All chairs were taken up way before the start of the event. Many had to stand throughout the program. The venue brightly and colorfully lit with a stage against a well-designed backdrop and a huge Christmas tree adorned with flashing neon light befits the occasion. The venue lined with hundreds of hand-made lantern stars submitted by parishioners of member churches for competition projected the theme on "Jesus, the Star of Great Joy.'
Rt Rev Julius Dusin, the Bishop of the Catholic Diocese of Sandakan in his opening address reminded the people of God to remember that Christmas is God's language of love for us. It is indeed a celebration of love and therefore we are called to speak, act and promote this language of love. He urged the people to extend God's love to the less fortunate and thus allow the light and love of Christ to touch their hearts.
Datuk Ir James Wong, President of the Municipal Council who graced the occasion said that Malaysia is richly blessed because of the prevailing peace across the nation making it possible for the multi-racial and multi-religious communities to co-exist in harmony and unity. He called on the people to continue to nurtue and enhance such warm relationship among the people for the well being of the nation. 
Pastor Sia Chairman of SIC presenting a memento to Bishop Julius
St Mary's Roman Catholic Cathedral, hosted the night's program supported by the Calvary Charismatic Church and the event started off with a creative ten-member acoustic guitar presentation to the tune of 'Mary's Boy Child' and ''Oh, Holy Night.'
The night was filled with medley of songs, dances both liturgical and modern as well as drama presented by parishioners of both the Roman Catholic and the Calvary Church.

Patrick Seah, the RC representative to the Sandakan Inter Church when contacted has this to say, 'Such event is a good platform for members from the different churches to interact and promote solidarity among member churches.'



New Advent