Article by Dalius LL
SANDAKAN: St. Mary's Cathedral Parish celebrated the 6th Sandakan Diocesan Anniversary and the Episcopal Ordination of Rt Rev Julius Dusin Gitom as its first Bishop on 12th October 2013 at 7.30pm with a potluck fellowship dinner at the Parish hall. Some 600 parishioners and religious from the Franciscan Sisters of the Immaculate Conception, Good Shepherd Sisters and the Montfort Brothers came in support of the commemoration of its erection. Holy Trinity Church, Tawau will host the 2-day occasion at Diocesan level on 14th and 15th October 2013
The parishioners had every reason to celebrate the joyful occasion as the event also saw the presence of Fr Sunny Chung recently transferred to St Mary's Cathedral. Prior to his transfer to the Diocese of Sandakan, he served in St. Catherine's Church Inanam as the assistant rector. Fr. Sunny in his 30s is a Sino-Kadazan from Papar who speaks Chinese, Bahasa Malaysia, English and Kadazan. He was ordained some two years ago. With his presence, there are now three priests serving in the Cathedral Parish; Fr Thomas Makajil as rector, Fr Philip Muji and Fr Sunny as assistant rectors.
In his opening address, the rector Fr. Thomas Makajil congratulated Bishop Julius on the 6th Sandakan Diocesan Anniversary and his Episcopal Ordination as well as his birthday which falls on the same month. He also took the opportunity to extend his warm welcome to Fr. Sunny Chung to Sandakan. He shared that, "This is the first time that the Diocesan Anniversary is celebrated at the parish level. This occasion is an opportunity for all parishioners from the many communities, groupings and ministries who may be unable to join the Diocesan level celebration in Tawau to gather as one big family to celebrate with Bishop Julius on this auspicious occasion."
The cutting of the anniversary cake by Bishop Julius marked the 3-in-1 celebration followed with some presentations from the various communities. The potluck dinner offered an avenue for parishioners to enjoy one another's company and with that of their Bishop, Priests, Religious and leaders of the various communities in the Parish. The SOCCOM took the opportunity to interview Fr. Sunny Chung on how he felt serving in Sandakan Diocese. He admitted that serving in Sandakan will be much more challenging compared to Kota Kinabalu Archdiocese. Nevertheless he is well prepared because he has gone through his pastoral exposure in Lahad Datu before. He expressed his happiness to be able to have the opportunity to serve the faithful here. When asked on how he felt to have another priest in this parish, Patrick Seah the PPC Chairman has this to say, “Thank God, our prayer for a Chinese priest is answered. Thank God that at least now we have a priest to cater to our Chinese community”.
The fellowship concluded at 8.45 pm with a closing prayer by Fr. Sunny.