By DaliusLL, SOCCOM SandakanSandakan: St. Mary’s Parish Hall was filled with more than 300 parishioners and well-wishers on the evening of 30th June 2013 to bid farewell to Rev. Fr. Anthony Mikat. The parish held a potluck fellowship dinner in his honour after serving this parish for one and a half year. He is re-assigned back to his Keningau Diocese and will serve in St. Theresa's Church, Tambunan.
The evening fellowship started at exactly 7.30p m with a speech from the Pastoral Council Chairman, Patrick Seah. He thanked all those who made it to the evening fellowship dinner and that it has been a pleasure to know Fr. Anthony. He shared the many goodness of Fr. Anthony and one particular experience was that despite being a priest, Fr. Anthony has been humbly and openly asking forgiveness for his shortcomings from the parishioners for the past few weeks during the daily and Sunday Masses. He concluded, “We are grateful that we have such a priest in our midst.”
Fr. Anthony in his farewell speech said, “I feel blessed to be granted the opportunity to serve St. Mary's Parish, and indeed the experience has enriched me in my pastoral pursuit.” He took the opportunity to thank the rector, Fr. Thomas Makajil for his support, advice and kindness rendered to him during his stay in Sandakan. He apologized to the Chinese community for not being able to serve them better due to the language barrier. Fr Anthony concluded by saying, “Although physically I am leaving you all, we will be close to one other in our prayer through the Sacred Eucharist as one body of Christ”
Before gracing the food, Fr. Thomas Makajil in his thankful note, thanked Fr. Anthony personally for his service and pastoral care rendered to the people in the parish. He described him as a gifted priest with many talents. In a lighter mood, he praised Fr. Anthony as being an orthodox priest in his preaching because of his background in dogmatic studies in Rome. He hoped he is willing to come to Sandakan again when requested to share his expertise. Fr. Thomas called upon the parishioners to pray for Fr. Anthony that that he will continue to serve the Lord with his gifts in his new Parish.
Bishop Julius Dusin Gitom also took the opportunity to thank Fr. Anthony for his willingness to serve the Sandakan diocese. Although being here for only a short stint, his contribution is immeasurable. Bishop Julius shared that although Sandakan Diocese would very much wanted Fr. Anthony to serve much longer in the Diocese, but the call to duty and obedience to return to Keningau Diocese is to be respected. He prayed and wished Fr. Anthony the very best in his new Parish. The prelate concluded his speech by calling upon the parishioners in Sandakan to pray for more priestly vocation in this Diocese so that more priests will come from within their own community to serve the Lord and overcome the shortage of priests in this young but vibrant diocese.
Raphael Lindan, a parishioner from Our Lady of Fatima Church, Beluran, remarked that many of the parishioners in Beluran will miss Fr. Anthony’s thought provoking, soul searching and enlightening homilies during masses not only in his sub-parish but also in St. Mary’s Parish as a whole. God bless you Fr. Anthony Mikat.