DS / DALIUS LL
Sandakan : The Eucharistic Celebration for the 5th Anniversary of the Diocese of Sandakan and the Episcopal Ordination of Rt Rev Datuk Julius Dusin Gitom was held on Saturday 27th October 2012 at 9.00 am at St Mary's Cathedral. Bishop Datuk Julius presided over the Mass con celebrated by Msgr Marek Zalewski, the Charge D' Affairs of the Apostolic Nunciature in Malaysia, six Arch / Bishops from the Catholic Bishops' Conference of Malaysia, Singapore and Brunei, twelve Diocesan Priests from Sandakan, Kota Kinabalu, Keningau and Kuala Lumpur.
The Celebration began with the procession of priests and arch / bishops from the Catechectical Room behind the Cathedral led by the tambourine dancers dressed in well blended colored costumes and in the most orderly manner befitting a great feast for the Lord ~ Psalm 150 : 4 'Praise Him with tambourine and dance.'
The trumpets sound, the angels sing
The feast is ready to begin
The gates of heaven are open wide
And Jesus welcomes you inside
The Opening hymn 'The Feast' led by the Parish Choir, joined by more than 1,500 parishioners coming from across the four parishes and the Paitan Mission, the Religious Sisters of Franciscan Sisters of the Immaculate Conception, Good Shepherd Sisters and D' La Salle Brothers heralded the start of Holy Mass. After the Opening Rite, the first and second reading were proclaimed in Bahasa Malaysia and Chinese respectively. The Parish Priest Fr Thomas Makajil proclaimed the Gospel taken from Luke 10 : 1 -9.
In his homily, Bishop Datuk Julius said that the anniversary is an important day for all faithful in the Diocese for it is a celebration of God's love, a time to acknowledge the blessings that God has showered upon us. He called on the people to reflect on how they have worked together moving forward as a local Church and to improve on areas that had hindered them.
As the celebration coincides with the Year of Faith launched on 11th October 2012 by the Holy Father, he shared that the year long event is an opportune occasion to rediscover Jesus, the Lord and Savior. 'Faith hidden and not shared is not faith at all. Before we could share our faith, we need to know the content of the faith. The Holy Father proposed that there should be concerted effort by all to study the fundamental contents of our faith. This could be done in BECs and Spiritual Groups Gatherings'
The prelate went on to say that he was pleased that all parishes have responded to the thrust of building communities through BECs, the grass root Christ-like Ecclecial communities. BECs are not merely human gathering communities but with the Lord animating his faithful through his Word, evangelizing his people and in turn they become evangelizers. The study on the Catechism of the Catholic Church and documents of Vatican Council II are to be given special attention during their gatherings.
Touching on the Gospel reading, he said, like the seventy-two disciples we also are commissioned to go forth and make disciples of all nations. We are given specific instruction to be totally dependent on God's providence, abiding to His Word, the source of peace and joy ~ the door to salvation. We may face challenges in sharing our faith with others but with the power of the Risen Lord, we are given strength to overcome in patience and love, the mystery of our Lord until it is manifested in full light.
Fr Thomas expressed his appreciation to all who came to lend support to the celebration. He said, 'I am strictly grateful to God just as Mary exclaimed 'My soul glorifies the Lord' because today's celebration marks the culmination of a long preparation by so many dedicated people sharing their various gifts to make this day an eventful and momentous occasion attended by so many of the faithful from far and near.'
'Yesterday's occasion is a historical milestone of the Diocese ~ the Official Opening and Solemn Blessing of the Diocesan Pastoral And Worship Centre, the nerve centre of the Diocese. He took the opportunity to congratulate Bishop Datuk Julius on his recent conferrment of the state PGDK award that carries the title 'Datuk'. He went on to say that the award is indeed a recognition of the Church of its role played in helping to build a better society. 'May the award spur us on to be faithful and responsible citizens of the country.'
Msgr Marek in extending his cordial greetings to Bishop Datuk Julius and the faithful of Sandakan recalled some historical facts on the setting up of the Diocese, carved out from the then Diocese of Kota Kinabalu. The inauguration of the new Diocese and the ordination of its first Bishop on 15th October 2007 is a clear expression of the paternal love and pastoral solicitude of the Holy Father towards Bishop Datuk Julius and the faithful in Sandakan and for the general welfare of the Country.
Citing that the anniversary takes place during the Year of Faith, it provides us allocation to thank God for strengthening us and building us up, the spirit of love and reconciliation. He referred to the Apostolic letter 'Porta Fidei' that the door of faith is always open for us, inviting us into the life of communion with God and offering us entry into his Church. It is possible to cross the threshold when the Word of God is proclaimed and the heart allowed itself to be shaped by transforming grace. The fruit of this Year of Faith is the love to God and to one another. The Bishop's motto, 'Serve one another with God's love' in the context of washing the disciples feet is a call to serve others. Reaching out to the needy is bearing witness to the life of Christ.
Bishop Datuk Julius in his speech said, 'Recalling its initial years, I must acknowledge that we encountered many difficulties and crosses. But from the Cross come Resurrection. The Diocese is what it is today because the clergy, the religious and the laity had resolved to work together in moving forward the Church.' The prelate disclosed that there are some 130 BECs across the four parishes, an indication that the people are committed to community living.
The prelate hoped that the Vision and Mission Statement of the Diocese set out some two years ago could be formulated and launched during the 6th Anniversary. Touching on the new Diocesan Pastoral Centre, the prelate said that it was made possible by the people and therefore it shall be used for the people, providing the best possible service to the people. In conclusion, the prelate called on each and all, 'Let us rededicate and recommit ourselves for our beloved Diocese especially during this Year of Faith.'
Holy Trinity Parish, Tawau will host the 6th Diocesan Anniversay in October 2013.
After the photo session, parishioners adjourned to the Parish Hall for a luncheon fellowship with a host of presentations from the four parishes and the mission area of Paitan.
Alex Tai, Franko Amigo, G. Bell
Alex Tai, Franko Amigo, G. Bell