Sandakan : Some 398 catechumens from across the Diocese of Sandakan observed the death and resurrection of Christ during Holy Week and Easter, were baptized or confirmed Catholics during Easter Vigil and Easter Sunday Masses. The breakdown of catechumens according to parishes is as follows;
- Holy Trinity Church Tawau - 116
- St Mary's Cathedral Sandakan - 95
- St Dominic's Church Lahad Datu - 94
- St Martin's Church Telupid - 93
Testimonies by Neophytes from St Mary's Cathedral, Sandakan.
I am Austin Van and I have been in the RCIA process since April 2010. I cannot express enough what a wonderful experience it was.
In the past, I attended masses at different churches as a non-Catholic. In Sandakan, I was invited by a friend, Jenny, born to a Roman Catholic family to attend sunset mass every Saturday. GOD has arranged our life and we were married in 2009. Praise the Lord! In the sunset mass, I did not really understand the rite performed in the church. I met Father Paul Lo and he has given me a good impression as a Christian and treated me as a fellow brother in Christ.
Jenny talked to me about the history of the Catholic Church and the significance of the Bible. GOD had used her as an instrument to show me GOD’s Love, Patient and Peace from her understanding and actions. I was moved by her patience and understanding and she journeyed with me in my faith life . “Love is patient, love is kind. Love does not envy. Love does not boast, it is not proud.” ~ Corinthians 13:4
As time goes by, my spiritual life improved. At Easter last year, I responded to God’s call and joined the RCIA process on a trial basis. It has been in my thought for one year and it was great news to Jenny when I announced that I wanted to become a Catholic.
GOD showered upon us His warmth and love through the RCIA animators during our Saturday sessions. The animators reached out to us with their sharing of their experience and guidance. It did not take long for me to discover a unique perspective and relationship with GOD. We learned by sharing our thoughts and feelings about scriptures and spirituality. Surprisingly, GOD has helped me and answered my prayer which I appreciated the most. I am not a "sharer" by nature. And, at first I was uncomfortable discussing what I believed and doubtful with others. But, the sharing and listening at the weekly sessions had helped me to deepen my understanding of the Catholic faith.
For me, the road to GOD was a tough task especially during the last 40 days (Lenten season). Through the RCIA process, I have developed a spiritual understanding of God which I did not believe I was capable of believing in Him. At this time of the year, I know GOD is the only one who can carry away my bundle of fears and misery in my life. I always reminded myself that in order for GOD to trust and love me, I have to believe HIM at the outset. GOD leads me to HIS way and guide me through HIS path.
I have learned that my faith is ever growing and I have so much to learn from one another that each encounter with someone's faith journey benefits our own. Being there to help someone to pray is an incredibly pleasing experience. I believe this to be true as I have done this to my grandpa.
The biggest blessing for me is that becoming a Catholic has not just brought me closer to GOD, but GOD also send me to love deeper my family especially my parents, wife and friends. And, GOD has also left me His Peace which brings comfort to me in my thoughts and heart whenever I turn to GOD. “Peace I leave with you, my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.” John 14:27. It is a great privilege to share this with everyone. In my perception, I can perceive that GOD had arranged me in many ways for HIS reasons. I have received nothing but abundant blessings from HIM to become a Catholic, and I am eternally grateful to all those who made it possible and pray for us.
Having gone this far on my journey I know that the RCIA process will help members from different background throughout the process from the time of inquiry to the time of being baptized. The animators also listened and respected the points of view in the sharing as they assist each and everyone on this journey through life.
Therefore, I encourage anyone who may just have a hint of a desire to become a Catholic to consider the RCIA process. You will be amazed at what you will receive in return from GOD. Come learn about yourself, GOD will always be your guidance with the angels there with you all the time.
I started my RCIA process in July 2010. I have always wanted to join the RCIA process to get to know and learn about Christianity. Before this, I joined the RCIA process in Holy Trinity Church in Tawau back in 2008. Unfortunately, I was transferred to Kinabatangan and due to work commitment, I had to postpone my class.
Since joining the RCIA process in St. Mary’s Cathedral Sandakan, I have a better and clearer understanding of my life journey. I now have a goal to achieve, that is to follow the way of Christ. I used to think that career and money is the most important thing in life and nothing else, but there is something more than that. We need to have faith in order to improve spiritually to live a better life. Money is not the solution.
I'm very happy that I've been able to attend and participate in the RCIA process. Hopefully, one day I may contribute to this process if the opportunity warrants me.
Last but not least, I would like to thank all the brothers and sisters animators for sharing their wonderful experiences during the process. I would also like to apologize for any of my shortcomings.
May the Lord be with us always.