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Friday, September 28, 2012


 Julita SOCCOM Tawau

Tawau : The Chinese Pastoral Community of Holy Trinity Church celebrated the Moon Cake or Mid-Autumn celebration on Sunday, 23rd September 2012 at the Parish Hall from 7.00 pm to 9.30 pm. Beside the Chinese New Year celebration, the moon cake event has been going on for some 5 years and acts  as a way to gather members of the Chinese community. The attendance was very encouraging with new faces getting involved.
Pomelo peeling and eating competition
Serenading a song to the audience by the Lady Group
Some 200 Chinese parishioners together with members of other groups came together to enjoy the occasion - a communal time of gathering and sharing. There were games, songs, dances and competitions that lined the night's event.

In his welcoming address, Msgr. Nicholas Ong, the rector said, ' It is always wonderful when we come to fellowship especially with our friends and relatives. And it will be more meaningful if in any gathering we prioritize the spiritual element that relates to the event.'
Msgr Nicholas presenting a gift to the best lantern design winner
He went on to say, 'I would like to urge the Chinese community to seriously consider Basic Ecclesial Community as a way of life, living in communion with one other instead of being individualistic or remain as a Church group. BECs promote community building, a necessity for the growth of the Church.'
The well organized fun-filled activity ended at 9.30 pm with a Closing Prayer led by Fr. David.

Thursday, September 27, 2012


Julita, SOCCOM Tawau

Tawau : Having served the parish and most of all serving the Lord for 40 years, the Catholic Women's Apostolate of Holy Trinity Parish organized a Thanksgiving Mass on Saturday, 22nd September 2012 followed by a special blessing by Msgr. Nicholas Ong, the rector, after the Eucharistic celebration.
40 holds particular significance in the Bible and is a remarkable number for the CWA members who are really devoting themselves in serving the church. They are all busy at home, tending to the family yet they could commit ~ dedicated to their call to serve others.
Reflecting on the Gospel reading Mark 9 : 35, 'If anyone wishes to be first, he shall be the last of all and the servant of all.', Msgr Nicholas urged all CWA members to continue serving others especially those in need. He asked them to keep the spirit of serving glowing at all times, remain joyful and be patient.
During the dinner, attended by some 70 members, Msgr Nicholas extended his appreciation and gratitude to all the CWA members. 'This ministry demands your perseverance and patient, but put your hope and trust in God, then He will grant you peace and joy in serving Him,' he said.
Fr David presenting a gift to Jovinia Jacob, one of the longest serving members
Annie Rokneh, Chairlady of the Diocesan CWA presented with a souvenir by Fr David
Long serving members and the past Chairlady were presented with special mementos recognizing their service to the ministry. Also present in the event were Annie Rokneh and Evelyn Pang, the Chairlady and the Deputy Chairlady of the Catholic Women's Apostolate of the Diocese of Sandakan respectively. The fellowship adjourned at 10.00 pm with a Closing Prayer led by Fr. David.       

Monday, September 24, 2012

Motivational and Spiritual Preparation for PMR Students


"Work as hard to find wisdom as a farmer works to plough and plant his fields; then you can expect a good harvest. You will have to work at it for awhile, but soon you will be enjoying, what you have earned.." - Sirach 6:19

SANDAKAN : 33 Christian students from St. Mary's Secondary School attended a session on motivational development and spiritual preparation for the upcoming PMR exam on 20th September in the audiovisual room . The PMR exam scheduled on the 9th to 16th October 2012 is less than three weeks away. The event was aimed at helping students build up their self-esteem and confidence and trusting God in all they do.
The theme for the motivational sharing was ~ 'No Other Name', facilitated by Miss Anna, a full time youth minister with the Youth Office in the Diocese of Sandakan. The program started with a praise and worship session followed by an energizer song called "Alert, Awake, Alive, Enthusiastic".
During the sharing, Anna shared about the love of God for us and telling the youths that without Christ, we can do nothing and with Him all things are possible. She called on the participants that in all circumstances to trust in the Lord as in Proverb 3 : 5-6, 'Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths.'
Before continuing with the next activity, each participant was given a paper to write down their prayer and to lift up everything that they have within them to God. Our only true power is the power of prayer. When we pray things happen that would not otherwise happen. By prayer all things are possible.
"It is time to let go. It is time to trust God and yourself" - Anna Teresa
In the name of Jesus,  I let go all my fears and I trust in YOU who make all things possible.
Isaiah 41:10  'Fear not, for I am with you;  be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you,  I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.' It is so refreshing to know that we can rest in the strength and comfort that God will provide when facing troubles of many kinds.Surrender to Him today and let the peace that He gives you take over.
"The last but not the least point, pray well before the exam and let your mind be free. Prayer can give immense energy and peace to your mind that will definitely do good for you. And it is much important that you are confident about what you can and will always produce pleasant result." - Sr. Lilian fsic
L-R : Anna receiving a memento from Sr Lilian fsic
In the closing address, Sr. Lilian fsic as the coordinator for this motivational session for the Christian group thanked Miss Anna and all the teachers who had helped in one way or the other. Even though it was a short sharing, everyone was happy and are well prepared to face the PMR exam.

I believe that this session has strengthened the participants, spiritually, emotionally and mentally. I would like to thank the team from the Diocesan Youth Office for lending support to all Christian candidates in the upcoming PMR exam. The most important point towards success is to feel that you can succeed, because all of us can. I wish them all the best and may the blessings of our good Lord be upon each and all. -  Miss Vanessa Ligadu, a teacher of St. Mary's Secondary School.

Friday, September 21, 2012


Dallius LL SOCCOM Sandakan

Sandakan: 17th September 2012 marked a special day for the lay members of BECs (Basic Ecclesial Communities) in St. Mary’s Cathedral Parish when they organized a Family Day for the very first time. The formation of BECs in the Cathedral Parish started some two years ago in response to the pastoral thrust of the Diocese, focusing on the building of communities. These communities are  communion of families who are united to each other by faith (spiritual bonds) and lived in the same local proximity. There are 10 registered BECs in the Cathedral Parish.

The half-day celebration commenced with a Thanksgiving Mass at 8.00 am presided over by Rev. Fr. Anthony Mikat.  In his homily, Fr. Anthony related to more than 300 attendees on how the BECs can emulate faith building as practiced by the early Small Christian Community. They lived in unity and solidarity with one another. He spoke of how the early Christian gathering always centered on the Eucharist (as it was known “agape meal” in those days). He encouraged the BECs to attract more members because BECs will become the foundation of building one's faith through small Christian communities. At the same time it will also act as a channel to reach out to members in times of difficulties and needs. BECs set a vision of a new way of being Church.

After the photo session, members adjourned to the Parish Hall for a luncheon fellowship. The Chairperson of the Parish BEC Core Group, Leonnie Degullacion welcomed the members and shared that it was beyond their expectation that so many families would turn up in support of the occasion. He encouraged the members from the BECs of Chi Hwa, Taman Indah Jaya, Sunny Estate, Cathedral, Merak, Taman Fajar, KKD Batu 10, KKD Sg. Obah and Sri Taman to foster and strengthen their relationship. He was happy to note that the coming together of the various BECs signals the Church as Communion and the Church as Mission. 
After the potluck luncheon, the crowd was then treated to live performances by the BECs  ~ choirs, dances, traditional gong beating and a sketch presentation. It was a day of much laughter, cheering and fun to the children, young and old. Fr. Anthony spent his time mingling with the members from start to the end.
Receiving a gift from Fr Anthony Mikat
Patrick Seah presenting gifts to the lucky winners
In the closing address, the Parish Pastoral Council Chairman, Patrick Seah congratulated the organizing committee for a wonderful job and he hoped that the Family Day will become an annual event in the parish. He hoped that the good time BEC members spend together will strengthen the church through the process of community building. The Family Day concluded at 2.30 pm with everybody doing their part in cleaning up the hall.

Thursday, September 20, 2012


Julita, SOCCOM Tawau   
Tawau : Holy Trinity Parish, Tawau organized a one-day seminar on Motivation and Spiritual Preparation  for  students, sitting for their PMR, SPM and STPM examinations this year. Preparation, either academically or spiritually is an important ingredient for success. Such uplifting activity,  run up to the exams is very helpful to students.
The seminar, held on Saturday 15th September 2012 at the Church Basement Room was jointly organized by the Catholic Students Association ( CSA ) and the Parish Youth Apostolate ( PYA )  from 8.00 am to 3.30 pm.  Some 116 students from Form One to Form Six participated in the seminar.
The session began with the enthronement of the Bible. Sr. Rusiah fsic facilitated the first session with a spiritual input. She began by inviting all students to focus their attention to the Lord by observing silence, in solitude and in the presence of God.  She called upon the participants to be loyal and faithful to God, remain faithful as  children of God and to take full responsibility of their future. They should not be distracted by other on-goings but to learn and at the same time to pray.
The theme of the seminar is 'Learn and Pray, Key to Success' The objectives of the seminar;
# to assist the students to deepen their faith in facing the earthly challenges
# to bring out the diamond hidden within them and
# to expose them to the various ministries and services which they may participate in accordance to their gifts.
Mario Domingo, the PPC Chairman in his welcoming speech gave a word of encouragement to the students to always uphold Christian values. He said, 'No matter how we are being persecuted, despised or hated by others, do remember to hold on to our faith. We shall remain Catholic in all circumstances till the end of time. We are blessed to be Catholic, the faithful Children of God.'
Sr. Liza fsic shared on the realities as a students ~ the many challenges and struggles confronting them. Each and everyone has a dream. A student needs to put in much effort without which our dream will remain merely a dream. Nothing can be achieved without struggles, pains and sufferings. You need to embrace your cross, for after the cross comes resurrection. 
'Set your priority in all you do as a student, first thing first. Love God, neighbors and yourselves, Love and honor your parents . Love yourselves. You must dare to dream and struggles to achieve your dream by staying faithful to God, Treasure every moment of your lives as students,' she said.
'The most important component of this seminar is the process of spiritual preparation before taking the upcoming exam. The foundation of our success is not based solely on our effort or struggle but most of all, our spiritual practice,'  added Sr. Liza.
Francis Kamuntah
Among the key elements to strengthen and motivate themselves as students;
  • Pray for peace of mind
  • Seek your parents' blessing in all you do
  • Pray for God's protection and guidance
  • Seek for the light of God and stay away from the influence of darkness
  • Read and reflect on the Word of God daily
Topics shared covers the following;
  • Challenges in schools
  • Challenges as a Christian in Institutes of higher learning
  • Our contribution to the Church
  • The importance of spiritual preparaton
The session ended at 3.30 pm.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012


St. Mary's Cathedral's English section of the Sunday School held their first recollection of 2012. This was a full day event held on the 17-09-2012 at the Fr. Mulders Catechetical Centre.

Around fifty students of the confirmation class took part in the activity. This is meant to prepare the students for their confirmation which will be held on the 06-10-2012 at the St. Mary's Cathedral. Among the activities planned include a practice session held at the Blessed Sacrament Chapel. The participants were also briefed to observe the right decorum while in Church.


In a simple yet meaningful ceremony, the commissioning of the St.Mary's Cathedral Catechetical Committee was held on the 22-09-2012. Facilitators, animators and the Sunday School facilitators of the English section participated in the ceremony. Members of the community lend their support in the prayer offered by Rev.Fr. Anthony Mikat.

1st Sandakan Diocesan and Parish Staff Recollection

article by ds / st
photos by bell

Sandakan : The Diocese of Sandakan organized a two-day recollection for 33 diocesan and parish staff, 16th and 17th September 2012 at the Diocesan Retreat Centre, Ulu Dusun, close to 45 km from Sandakan town. The recollection was opened to all office as well as non-office employee. It was the first attempt by the Diocese to gather all staff, coming from across the four parishes. Apart from boosting their morale in their job performance, it was also aimed at fostering a closer relationship among the staff in the Diocese and the parishes. The main facilitator was Mr. Charles Bertile, former Director of the Institute of Formation Fondacio Asia (IFFAsia), Philippines.
"May this recollection, deepen our faith and help us see that working in the diocese/church is not simply a job but rather a ministry. We serve not merely for the priests, but the whole people of God. Jesus Christ will guide us in our journey and enlighten us in carrying out the tasks entrusted  to us." - Bishop Julius Dusin Gitom
The Opening Mass, at Holy Cross Chapel was presided over by Bishop Julius Dusin Gitom. The prelate in his homily said that in order that the ministry we dwell in flourish and radiate the light of Christ, we need good relationship with one another and God. We are to serve all who come to us with the spirit of commitment of service, rendering pastoral care. Faith relates to action, therefore we are to be aware always to serve with the faith built in us. He said, 'You will face many challenges and that is the consequences in serving Christ. Look upon the Cross not just as a sign of pain and suffering rather a sign of love and hope.'
The first session was the energizer, 'Knowing you, knowing me' a light and cozy moment facilitated by Anna Amandus, the Diocesan Youth Director. The 40-minute activity created a relaxed and friendly atmosphere. It started with an action song, YEPO YEPO followed by a 'DIE GAME' where all participated with much zeal . It brought the staff from the diocese and the various parishes closer setting the tone for the session proper.
The second session, facilitated by Charles Bertile, was on Understanding of Church, its meaning, its membership and its mission. The session also touched on images of Church, marks as attributes of the Church, models of Church and the changes at Vatican II. 
The third session was on 'The Particular Church and Parishes' also facilitated by Charles. He gave a clear definition of both terms, that particular church and parishes. It was a very informative session for it covered a brief sketch of parish in Church history, the theology of the local church and the priciples of working together.

The fellowship brings us together regardless of our status, race and languange. We are one in Christ.
In the evening, we had fellowship, bbq and games and it was not only filled with laughter and joy but it had also strengthened our friendship and broke the wall that separated us. In the gathering, the close bond is likened to Roman 10 : 12, 'For there is no difference between Jew and Gentile - the same Lord is Lord of all and richly blesses all who call on Him.'
Basic office Administration

On the second day 17th September 2012, Francis Tan, the Executive Secretary facilitated the session on basic office administration. He reminded the participants that in acquiring whatever office facilities or its usage to always remember the parable as in Mark 12 : 42, 'But a poor widow came and put in two small copper coins, worth only a fraction of a penny.' He touched on the qualities of a good church employee, the expectation of the faithful and the support for all Church ministries. A good structure coupled with a good system and a positive working culture will ensure an effective office that projects the image of Christ. The office is the window to the Church and it is through the staff that whoever walks into it will either encounter the invitation or rejection of Christ. The office ought to be well organized just as in 1 COR 14 : 40, 'Let all things be done decently and in order.'

Financial procedure and Internal Control System.
Sharon Ho of the Diocesan Finance Office facilitated the session on financial procedure and internal control system. As custodian of parish / diocesan finance, it is pertinent to have a strong and efficient system. All transactions must follow the financial procedure adopted by the diocese and must be properly recorded, compiled and filed. We are to be transparent, and accountable in all transactions.
The fourth session was on 'Church Data Information System' presented by Sebastian Francis of St Dominic's Church, Lahad Datu. Parish staff found it to be user friendly and proposed to have a one-day session on the subject so as to be acquainted with the program.
Listening to the sharing of each one - Open Discussion
The last session of the day was the open dialogue moderated by Francis Tan. Everyone was given the opportunity to share their ups and downs while serving full-time in the church. They brought up issues touching on their welfare and job security. Practically most agreed that parishes engage full time pastoral worker catering to the pastoral needs of the people. Most serve in response to God's call and are happy to stay on as they are able to relate to the people of God.
As we lay our hands upon our brothers and sisters we pray for one another 
Charles requested the participants to reflect on the mission of the Church that by God's own generous choice, have been called into the fellowship of His Son, Jesus Christ our Lord (1 Cor 1 : 19) and through them spreads the fragrance of the knowledge of Him everywhere (2 Cor 2 : 14)
The Closing Mass was presided by Bishop Julius. In his homily he said that Jesus is eager to enter into our lives. We hold the key, either we open up or remain closed. If we choose to remain closed, nothing will change. However if we choose to open up and allow Jesus to enter our lives as His humble servant, rest assured that He will strengthen us, lead and guide us, walk beside us and participate in our lives.He called on all participants to walk in one direction, to one destination in accordance to His will.
After Mass, participants from the various parishes shared on their experiences of the recollection.
"I learned how to share with other people even though they are from other parishes. I am beginning to appreciate my work. God called me to continue to serve in my place (Paitan), I want to learn more about time management, financial procedures, controlling my feelings and be an effective pastoral agent." - Sunday Samuel Worok (Catechist, Paitan Missionary Area)
"I believe I am called out of darkness. I am thankful to God to be given the opportunity to serve full time in St Dominic's Church. I pray that I will shine, radiating His light and love to all whom I may encounter" Juliana Hendrikus (St. Dominic's Church, Lahad Datu) 
"I felt appreciated. Even though I am of the lower rung in the Church structure, I am invited to this gathering. I get to know the other staff from the other parishes and the diocese. I am called to serve with commitment, love, humility and wisdom" - Melvin (Holy Trinity Chruch, Tawau) 
"It has strengthened our friendship and we need to change ourselves and to journey as a TEAM. God's invitation for me is to continue to serve the Church because it is a calling from Him" - Sylvester Ho (St. Mary's Cathedral, Sandakan)
"I am happy that I joined this recollection. I am renewed and I want to commit my whole life in serving in the Lord's vineyard' Vedulin A/K Muyang (St. Martin's Church, Telupid) 

A token of appreciation to Charles.
"This recollection is only a guide to show us the way to journey together. The Holy Spirit will guide us in the right way, not our way but His way" Bishop Julius Dusin Gitom.
We gathered together regardless of our status or colors. We were able to mix around because everyone is the same in the eyes of our Lord.
Let us continue to pray for each other and till we meet again next year. God bless.


New Advent