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Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Diocese of Sandakan organizes 2nd Staff Recollection ~ 2013

Article by DSst
Photos by Bell
Sandakan : 33 Diocesan and Parish staff from across the four parishes gathered at the Diocesan Retreat Centre, Ulu Dusun some 50 km from the town for the 2-day 2nd annual staff recollection on 15th and 16th September. The aim of which is to boost staff morale in working in a church setting, providing effective service to the people of God. It provided space and a wonderful opportunity for all to strengthen relationship bonds.
The first day, 15th September started with the Opening Mass presided over by Fr Dr Charles Chiew from the Diocese of Keningau. In his homily he shared on the ‘twin parables’ of the lost sheep and the lost coin. The shepherd and the woman set aside everything to look for the one lost sheep and the one lost coin respectively. Likewise the Lord will search for the lost soul until he finds him. He does not forget us and never abandon us. As members of the Body of Christ (1 Cor 12) we are to carry on the mission, to lend our shoulders to the lost to lean on. As members of the Diocesan and Parish staff we are to be living witnesses and win souls to the Lord. If this happens, there would be much rejoicing.
Anna Teresa of the Diocesan Youth Office facilitated the ‘ice breaker’ session with two highly interactive games and songs; ‘I want to know a little of you’ and the ‘ripple effect’. The fun games were engaging and set the environment to one that was conducive with walls broken and bridges built.
Fr Charles spoke on ‘Lay Spirituality’ which is a call to holiness within the context of family life, the neighborhood, work place, community and parish life. ‘Be holy because I, the Lord your God, am holy’ ~ Lev. 19 : 1-2). 
He continued to share on the word ‘Sacrament’ touching on;
  • Jesus ~ the first Sacrament
  • The Church ~ the Sacrament after Jesus death and resurrection
  • The Christian community as a Sacrament
  • Becoming a Sacrament to others and its many challenges
The following day, 16th September was the session on ‘Scatter and Gather’ facilitated by Francis Tan of the Diocesan Pastoral Office. Citing several examples from the Bible, even the closest members of Jesus became an obstacle to others to seek Him. Participants shared on Pope Francis’ homily on 25th May on the Gospel reading from Mark 10 in which the disciples rebuked people who were bringing children to Jesus. The prelate’s preaching appealed to all not to create the 8th Sacrament ~ The Sacrament of ‘Pastoral Customs’. The small group discussion and the sharing session touched on how as Church employees (frontier-man) reach out to make parishioners welcomed when they seek for assistance.
Sr Maria Dipal rgs of the Good Shepherd Sisters facilitated the session on ‘Communication and the Spirit of Team Building’. She started her session with a dynamic team game, ‘Protecting a team member from being lured away by Satan’ and ‘Closing the door to Satan’.

Effective communication is a vehicle to build an efficient team for the provision of good service to all people of God. Her session touched on the recipe for interaction, verbal and body language communication, challenges and hindrances to effective communication and what the Bible says about communication.
The Closing Mass was presided over by Bishop Julius. The prelate in his homily said that the theme for the day’s readings focus on ‘Prayer and Faith’. Faith will grow, increase and be strengthened through prayers. Faith is an inseparable condition for prayers. Jesus works through people of faith. Church employee must relate faith to their work to bring out excellence in performance for the Lord and unto His Glory. The contribution by each employee as ‘hand and feet’ of the pastor is significant in bringing about the fragrance of the Church.
The prelate added, ‘Your 2-day stay in gathering opens the door for self improvement through the input sessions from the facilitators. Your bonding will move you to be a stronger formed team with better understanding for improved and productive service’.
In conclusion, the prelate said, ‘Today is significant for it marks the 50th anniversary of the formation of Malaysia. Let’s pray for our leaders that they be given the wisdom to propel the nation to greater heights where the people will continue to enjoy peace, stability and prosperity.  Pray for the Lord’s blessing for our Diocese. Pray for our Church leaders, especially the priests and myself that we stay healthy and remain faithful in our vocation, shepherding the flock.’

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