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Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Eucharistic Celebration ~ 4th Anniversary of the Diocese of Sandakan

Telupid : 15th October is a historical date for the Diocese of Sandakan. Four years ago, on this day 2007 saw the erection of the Diocese, carved out from the then Diocese of Kota Kinabalu and the Episcopal Ordination of Rt Rev Julius Dusin Gitom as the first Bishop of the Diocese.


Today's event, the 4th Anniversary of our Diocese and also the 4th Episcopal Ordination of Rt Rev Julius Dusin Gitom  bears a significant milestone as it marks a complete cycle of the anniversary celebrations. St Martin's Parish is the last parish but definitely not the least to host this event. The two-day event commenced with a banquet dinner at the Institut Perhutanan Sabah on the evening, 14th October 2011 with some 400 people attending the function.
The Eucharistic Celebration held at 9.00 am, 15th October at St Martin's Church was presided by Bishop Julius con celebrated by Bishop Datuk Cornelius Piong of Keningau, Msgr Gilbertus Engan Vicar General of Keningau, Msgr Nicholas Ong Vicar General of Sandakan and Fr Thomas Makajil, rector of St Mary's Cathedral Sandakan. Some 1500 faithful from within the Diocese and the Arch / diocese of Kota Kinabalu and Keningau attended the celebration. Also in attendance were 17 priests from the three arch / dioceses, 13 religious sisters from the congregation of Franciscan Sisters of the Immaculate Conception led by its Mother General Sr Grace Deosing, a representative from the Daughters of St Paul, 11 seminarians from the Initial Year of St Peter's College and all Chairmen of the Parish Pastoral Council of the Diocese.
The Opening hymn 'Blessed be thy name of the Lord' sang by the 28-member Parish Choir led by Hildy Albert and joined by the resounding voices of the congregation set an atmosphere of sacredness for the celebration.
In his homily, Bishop Julius called on the people to reflect on how we had worked or failed to work together in our journey in search of God. We need to rely on faith, faith in God, centered in Christ to move forward as a community. As a member of His mystic body through the sacrament of baptism we are to live the virtue of the Gospel.

He urged the people to use their gifts / talents given by God and for God for the growth of the community / parish / diocese. We are to emulate the 70 disciples chosen and sent out to preach, leaning on Christ always and thus bore much fruit. We won't be able to go far if we depend on our own strength and wisdom. We need God in our daily life.
Before the recessional hymn, the new PPC Chairman Herman Soibon extended his sincere appreciation to all who had made it to the celebration. 

'We are happy to see so many people gathered here this morning. The Church is packed and the pews at both wings are fully occupied. It is a memorable and a historical day for St Martin.' 
He thanked the organizing committee headed by Albert Matussin for their commitment,  Fr Jasery the rector for his guidance, all BECs, ministries and individuals for the collaboration in ensuring the success of the event. 
Fr Jasery the rector, took the opportunity to welcome all from far and near who had taken time off to attend the function. 

'Today is a day where we gather to give thanks and praise to the Lord for His abundant blessings, continuous love, guidance and protection. We complete another fruitful year of existence.' 


He called on the people to reflect and evaluate their faith journey as individual, ministry, community and as a parish. He said that the heir-achy, the Bishop, the clergy and religious would not be able to function without the support of the lay faithful. The laity need to participate actively in their own ways and particular situations according to individual's charism in line with Bishop's motto, 'Serve one another with God's love.'


In thanking and praising God, Bishop Julius said four years had rolled by and called on the people to recommit and rededicate themselves preparing to face new challenges ahead. He touched on the progress of the Diocese over the years and how pieces are put in place for it to be operational and functional.

He said, 'BECs are coming around in all parishes. Responses from the people are encouraging. I am really proud to say that to date there are more than 120 BECs spread across the Diocese. People are beginning to see that BECs is a way of life in building communities and the basis for the Parish to grow for it encompasses the life of the people. My wish is that the community building through BECs will continue to flourish.'

He also emphasized on the Vision and Mission Statement for the Diocese which should have begun and reached out widely to the grass root. He hoped it will not take too long to come out with the Vision and Mission statement, supposed to be owned by all.

The construction of the Diocesan Pastoral and Worship Centre launched last October is nearing its completion. The funding of some RM3.5 million is close at hand. He also announced that the new hall for St Martin will commence next year.

Patrick Seah (left) receiving the plaque from Herman witnessed by Bishop Julius
It was officially announced that the 5th anniversary for the Diocese will be hosted by St Mary's Cathedral Parish. The PPC Chairman of the Cathedral Parish, Patrick Seah, received the plaque bearing the logo of the Diocese from Herman witnessed by Bishop Julius.


After the Eucharistic celebration, Bishop Julius blessed the site for the proposed new parish hall located behind the Church.
Bishop Julius  blessing  the site for the new Parish Hall
Free lunch was served at the 11 stalls operated by the various BECs and thereafter the people were entertained to a host of presentations by members of the various communities and groups.


The faithful of St Martin's Parish had done a great job in hosting the 4th Anniversary of the erection of the Diocese and the 4th Episcopal Ordination of Bishop Julius. 
Bishop Julius, Bishop Datuk Cornelius (4th left front row) with clergy and religious
Bishop Julius and all catechists
PPC members of St Martin's Parish with Bishop Julius
Fr Jasery humbly put it, 'It may not be the best of anniversaries but the effort and co-operation of the people is enough proof that we are moving to become matured Catholics. May we bear much fruit through His blessings as a community centred in Christ's love.'
Soccom members in action 

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