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Saturday, December 24, 2011

Bringing Joy and Cheer to Neighbours During the Christmas Season

by ds
Sandakan : Some 30 young members of Taman Indah Jaya BEC carolers led by a few senior members started the house to house caroling from 11th to 21st December 2011 except for 14th December where the Catholic Church was assigned as the anchor church for the Member of Parliament Christmas Celebration held at the Sandakan Municipal Council Square.
On average, the carolers were able to visit 10 - 12 houses per night and throughout the caroling period they managed to visit more than 100 families in Taman Indah Jaya housing area, bringing the Good News to neighbours as we approach for the coming of our Saviour.
The carolers spend about a month practicing the carols and in the process were able to establish a strong relationship with one another. Claire Andrew, the youth leader as well as the coordinator for this year's caroling was particularly please to note the high spirit and deep commitment of the carolers, not only being consistent in attendance during practice but throughout the caroling period, reaching out to Catholic families and friends within the neighbourhood.
The members donned in white and black with red scarf brought much cheer and joy to the families as they would normally begin with an Opening Prayer and the Proclamation of the Word followed by the singing of Christmas carols. Such visits made families within the neighbourhood connected and supported, the goodness of the season.
The Christmas carols bring the meaning of Christmas out in a special way as families members joined in the singing. After carols were sung, many families offered food and drinks to the carolers. Their generosity in sharing reflects a deeper meaning of the festive season, a call to care and share with one another.
The committed senior members 

Merry Christmas!!! May the Lord bless us and everyone.

Bishop Paul Tan's Christmas Message

Christmas is a time of peace and joy at the good news brought to us by the angels: the Saviour of the world is born. We should not be ashamed to announce this, as our Pope Benedict XVI told the 20 bishops of New York gathered in Vatican’s Apostolic Palace on Nov 26, 2011 (published in Herald on the Dec 4, 2011 issue, page 9.) Sharing with all peoples the infinite saving love of God in Jesus Christ which brings peace and joy is indeed very good news.
This is the spirit of Christmas. Here, in Malaysia, the excellent tradition of “Open house” should be used by us to share our love of God that brings joy and peace to all who are open to receive Him.
Besides, the Bible constantly reminds us to be open and hospitable to all who come our way, especially to strangers and the less fortunate. Is there anything objectionable in giving to anyone the love of God? If there is someone who objects to receiving God’s love, he or she must be insane.
However, in the midst of our peace and joy, our Pope also said, “Despite attempts to still the Church’s voice in the public square… in spite of false accusations by certain quarters and in the face of a spate of allegations without proof, for example, the accusation to make Malaysia Christian and the Damansara Utama Methodist Centre’s charity party to convert Muslims, etc, we should not be cowed to stop proclaiming Jesus Christ as God’s love made manifest to us humans.
Besides, it is a command directly from Jesus Christ himself before he ascended into Heaven: “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptising them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.” (Matthew 28:19)
Freedom and truth are interlinked. However, freedom without regard to the truth is gross irresponsibility and cannot be considered as true freedom. The Truth of Jesus Christ gives us the freedom to, in the words of Pope Benedict XVI, “speak out, humbly yet insistently, in defence of moral truth” – of justice, of equality before God, of human dignity, etc. In short and in other words, we have to stand up for human rights.
May this Christmas strengthen our faith in Jesus Christ, the Truth, who sets us to be truly free so that in joy we cannot only proclaim Him but also what He has taught us! Every person in his or her dignity as a human being has a right to propose what he or she believes in but has no right to impose it on others. We should tell everyone of the infinite, impartial love of God brought to us by Jesus Christ that brings real peace and joy: in brief, our Christmas joy.
Bishop Paul Tan, Bishop of the Melaka-Johor Diocese
President of Bishops’ Conference
Malaysia, Singapore, Brunei 

Ushering in the Festive Spirit of Christmas

by ds
Sandakan :  St Mary's Cathedral is all set for Christmas celebration with Vigil Mass tonight 24th December 2011 in English at 9.00 pm. The right wing, just  extended with a semi-arch open shed complete with lighting, audio and video system can accommodate more than 300 people. With the shed in place, the Cathedral now has a seating capacity of some 1,500 people.
A 25- foot neon light Christmas tree is placed close at the Cathedral entrance and when lit it glows the brightest The glittering setting of the entire Cathedral ushers in the festive spirit of Christmas.
The garden surrounding the statue of St Francis of Assisi is also creatively decorated.
The neon lights are hung all along the road leading to the Cathedral. It's simply marvelous to see the whole Cathedral area flooded with a sea of colourful and brightly lit lights.
All is bright with the coming of Christmas, bringing along with it much joy and cheer for the occasion.
Members of the Cathedral BEC were all out to decorate the inside of the Cathedral  to ensure that it befits the festive occasion.

Giving a final touch to the Christmas tree inside the Cathedral, checking and adjusting the ornaments with utmost care and patience.  After four weeks of waiting in the season of Advent, preparing for His coming, the hour has finally come. Wishing all visitors to our site, a  'Blessed and Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year'.
John 1: 14 - 'The Word became flesh and made His dwelling among us'

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Christmas Message from Rt Rev Julius Dusin Gitom DD

Christmas Message from Rt Rev Julius Dusin Gitom DD
Bishop of the Diocese of Sandakan.

‘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.’ This Bible text about peace taken from John 14: 27 is the fundamental inheritance given us by Jesus. It is this ‘peace’ that holds all mankind together, faithful and all others alike.

As we approach the celebration of the birth of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, let each and every one of us express our hope of peace. The Kingdom of God is indeed the Kingdom of peace. May we use every opportunity granted us to share the Lord’s love and blessings in promoting peace within the family, the community and the society at large.

In the earlier part of the year, the impounding of some 35,000 sacred Alkitab and the controversy over the importation and distribution of the Malay Bibles which contained the word ‘Allah’ had caused some ‘uneasiness’ among the faithful. The raid by JAIS enforcers on a church in Damansara Utama over the baseless allegations of proselytizing some Muslims was upsetting. Such pressing issues actually hinder national integration and unity. It is contrary to the much preached concept of 1 Malaysia.

As peace loving people and bearers of hope, we continuously pray that those in authority practice genuine justice and love in resolving such issues. ‘The Lord loves righteousness and justice; the earth is full of His unfailing love.’ Psalm 33 : 5, and if we nurture and build on it, the people will co-exist harmoniously and peacefully in this fertile land, our nation, Malaysia.

All is not lost for in every cloud there is a silver lining. Malaysia has established formal relations with the Vatican paving the way for cultural and inter-religious dialogues for the promotion of peace and justice. It is these peace and justice that will contribute to the promotion of mutual respect, understanding and bridging differences, a pertinent element in nation building.

In this festive season of Christmas, our focus should not only be on the exterior colorful neon light decorations but more so, on the light of Christ. We really need to put Christ in the centre of our celebration and conscious of the many blessings granted us in abundance.  The blessings we share with family members and loved ones should instill in us the desire to reach out and touch the hearts of those in need within our neighborhood, community and across the globe.                                    

We ought to use every opportunity during this season to share the Lord’s love and blessings with those who are in need. ‘Whatever you did unto one of the least brethren of mine, you did it to me’ Matt : 25 : 35, we are called to serve with a humble and loving heart to the poor, marginalized and the oppressed. Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta adopted ‘You Did It to Me’ as the Gospel of the five fingers as her fundamental values and action in reaching out to the poorest of the poor. Another best known saying of Mother Teresa is ‘The fruit of love is service and the fruit of service is peace’, thus we will be able reap the true joy of service and creating peace if we commit to reach out to the poor.

May the blessings of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ be upon all of us this Christmas and through the coming New Year.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

The Fourth Advent - Mary, the Ark of God's Covenant

by ds
Sandakan : The Sunset Eucharistic celebration, Saturday 17th December 2011, the fourth Sunday of Advent at St Mary's Cathedral was presided over by Fr Erik Jerome, a lecturer based in St Peter's College, Major Seminary for East Malaysia, Kuching, Sarawak. He is currently on vacation.
We are now in the fourth and last week in our four-week period of preparing for the celebration of the coming of Christ. The Fourth Sunday of Advent emphasize the nearness of the joyous celebration of the Nativity of Jesus Christ. The fourth and final candle in purple in the Advent wreath is lit symbolizing penance, repentance and above all love. We are all urged to prepare space in our hearts to receive Jesus for we know He is indeed coming.
The Gospel reading taken from Luke 1 : 26-38 tells us that this promise has been fulfilled in the person of Jesus Christ who was to be born of Mary of Nazareth – the unmarried maiden specially chosen by God to be the mother of the Messiah.
In his homily Fr Eric urged parishioners to emulate Mary whose deep faith in God, made her say “yes” to God’s invitation and accepted everything as the will of the Lord as in the Gospel acclamation 'I am the handmaid of the Lord, let what you have said be done to me.'
He went on to say that it is through Mary’s total submission of herself to God that the plan of salvation would be carried out. It is faith and trust in God that she was willing and eager to do God's will even though it was difficult, near impossible and costly.We are blessed to have Mary as the mother of our Savior! She has shown us how it is to be a true and genuine believer for her wish was everything be for the glory of God and that the Son she bore may be a gift of grace to all.

He summed up his homily by calling upon the parishioners to be ready to sacrifice , courageous and be not afraid, like Mother Mary in doing God's will.

Monday, December 19, 2011


by: DaliusLL
Sandakan : Sunday 18th December, the Parish Delegate Assembly (PDA) Task Force of St Mary's Cathedral organized the year end mini assembly for the on going process of formulating the Diocesan vision and mission statement. The one day mini-assembly was attended by 35 people representing the Catholic Women's Apostolate, Secular Franciscan Order, Catholic Nurses' Guild and the Catholic Teachers Guild. 
The day's event started with the enthronement of the Bible followed by the proclamation of the Word taken from the Gospel according to Luke 1 : 26-38, themed 'Mary, the Ark of God's Covenant.' Siony Fiel, the chief facilitator for the assembly, informed that the session would be the last for the year 2011 and will resume early next year. The mini assembly saw an all women participants which started from 8.30am at the parish hall. The session was made lively by the presence of Ferdee Mariano (CWA) as the emcee. 
The participants were divided into five groups of seven people each and the discussion generated lots of views based on their observation especially on the subject on the reality of the current scenario of the local church. When it came to the topic on the ideal or future image of the local church, the participants who came from the various groups with different backgrounds brought up creative ideas and suggestions based on their experiences and from overseas visits.
Each group's findings, ideas and proposals were presented to the floor on flip charts. The presentations were beneficial and enriching. The feedback collected will be evaluated, documented and shall form the basis / core business for the parish assembly in the formulation of the Vision and Mission Statement for the Diocese of Sandakan, scheduled sometime in June next year .
The PPC Chairman, Patrick Seah was on hand to assist in ensuring that the mini assembly achieved its purpose. The session ended with a song 'Give Thanks' followed by hi-tea at the Parish Canteen.


The CCR Carolers' Group
Tawau : Twelve central and fifteen BEC carolers' groups commissioned Saturday, 10th December started the house to house caroling the following evening, 11th December in each assigned area for six consecutive nights .
 Muhibah BEC Carolers' Group
Chinese Carolers' Group
A recollection on the week before given by Mario Domingo as the Chairman of the Home Caroling 2011 was aimed to prepare all the Caroling Groups ( Central Group and BEC Groups) spiritually. The input sessions included the  meaning and message of Advent / Christmas and also the purpose of doing caroling from house to house.
Jessica leading the Filipino Carolers' Group
Most of the caroling groups have been involved in this blessed assignment for more than eight years, yet the happiness and joy never for once faded. With newcomers in each group especially in the BECs, their wonderful involvement is a response to the call to holiness and service, sharing the Good News with others.
Hotspring BEC Carolers' Group
Proclaiming the Good News is part of our witness that Jesus is our Lord, King and Savior. Bringing this joyous news to all lapsed, aged, sick, lonely and the distressed  parishioners and families gives hope , peace and encouragement for them to continue their spiritual live in the Light of Christ.                          


Saturday, December 17, 2011


Tawau : Some 400 children and their parents gathered at the Parish Hall on Sunday morning 11th December, after the Bahasa Malaysia Mass, for the annual Children's Christmas party organized by the Catholic Women's Apostolate (CWA) of Holy Trinity Church.
Since its inception some 40 years ago, CWA as a caring group, has been tasked to bring and share Christmas joy to the children who may not have the opportunity to celebrate such event at home. Such joy will be dearly treasured by the little children for a long time to come.
Committed and faithful CWA members
Apart from organizing the Christmas Party at the main Church, CWA members made every effort to distribute Christmas goodies to the children in the outstations who were not able to make it to the event.
The event was opened to children of 12 years and below. They have enlisted the Parish Youth Apostolate and some parents to assist in organizing the event. 
Santa Claus, the main attraction of the day, brought much delight to the children when he went round the hall to distribute goodies to the children. It was indeed heartening to see smiles in the children when they received gifts from Santa Claus.

Msgr. Nicholas Ong, the rector of HTC was present to lend support to the children , their parents and the organizers. He had a great time interacting with the children. 

The Parish Youth Apostolate led by Felsa May together with her members helped to organize some interesting games for the children. The children had such great time and fun, enjoying every moment of the event and above all they interacted well with one another.



New Advent