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Monday, July 19, 2010

SANDAKAN DIOCESE CELEBRATES THE CLOSING OF THE YEAR FOR PRIESTS


Sandakan 12th July – The closing of the Year for Priests for the Diocese of Sandakan was celebrated with a Eucharistic Celebration at the St. Mary’s Cathedral at 7.30 pm followed later with a pot-luck dinner fellowship at the parish hall.

Mgr Nicholas Ong was the main celebrant representing Bishop Julius Gitom who was unwell. All other priests from the parishes of Sandakan Diocese namely, Rev. Frs. Thomas Makajil, Simon Kontou, Jassery Gabuk, Philip Muji, Marcellinus Pongking and Deacon David con celebrated the mass with the attendance of about 800 parishioners. At the start of the mass Mgr Nicholas Ong appreciated the encouraging turn-up of parishioners indicating their support.
During the homily, Mgr Nicholas expounded in his fiery homily on the institution of the Eucharist based on 1 Cor. 11:23-26 and with deep conviction elaborated on the three fold role and function of the ordained priest in their priestly ministry that is preaching the Word, dispensing the Sacraments and building community. He especially touched  on the gift of the Eucharist, that only in faith and in the power of the Holy Spirit can we celebrate it meaningfully.
He echoed the words of the Holy Pope that the role of the priests is essential and irreplaceable especially in the celebration of the Eucharist. He also added that the year for priests has brought abundant blessings but at the same time scandal of the past was brought up as we have read in the media. He stressed that this event is viewed by our Church positively as it indicates the grace of God at work in purifying and renewing His Church. Thus, we are all called to deeper repentance and conversion in order to be holy witnesses of God’s grace and His salvific love.

Mgr Ong also shared of his active involvement in the parish pastoral activities especially in areas of BECs and Neo Catechumenal Way. He hoped that in the future the Alpha Program will be implemented in his parish.

Referring to the statue of St. Francis of Assisi that is temporally located outside the Parish Hall, he pointed out that another area to be seriously looked into is on the issue of ecology which according to him is a serious social issue too. We share in the responsibility of caring for the nature and our environment as these are God’s creation. We should exemplify the life of St. Francis of Assisi who honored God and lived a life in peace through the harmony of His creation and humanity.

Finally, he encouraged the faithful to continue to pray for their priests and also for more vocation.
Among the activities during the pot-luck dinner fellowship held later after the mass were a slide show presentation and cake cutting ceremony by all the priests to commemorate the day. As a gesture of appreciation for all the priests and deacon, each was presented with a specially home baked cake by the parishioners of Sandakan. A special cake for the birthday of 3 priests that falls on the month of July, i.e. Rev. Fr. Simon Kontou, Rev. Fr. Marcellinus and Deacon David was also presented at the same time.
Earlier, the PPC Chairman in his welcoming address acknowledged with  deep felicitation to all the priests for all their sacrifices and undivided commitment in their pastoral responsibilities over the huge geographical areas of Sandakan Diocese. He also thanked the organizing committee for steering the celebration as well as the parishioners for their support and participation.

John Baptis and ds

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