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Friday, November 8, 2013

Closing of the Year Of Faith

Article by DS
Photos by Bell
Sandakan : The Diocese of Sandakan officially closed the Year of Faith during a Eucharistic celebration on Wednesday, 6th November at St Mary's Cathedral. The event was held earlier as it was not possible to have all clergy present on the actual date, on the Feast of Christ the King, 24th November, the designated date set by the Universal Church. Taking advantage of the presence of all priests for the bi-monthly priests meeting, it would be fitting and convenient to have the event held this day. As for parishes, it is hoped that appropriate program would be arranged to commemorate the said event on the stipulated date.

The Eucharistic celebration was presided over by Rt Rev Julius Dusin Gitom, Bishop of the Diocese of Sandakan concelebrated by Msgr Nicholas Ong and eight other priests, including two new priests from the Archdiocese of Kota Kinabalu, Fr Sunny Chung and Fr Johnny Raju, recently assigned to the Diocese of Sandakan.
In his homily, Bishop Julius recalled the launching ceremony of the Year of Faith held last year at around this time. The prelate cited what the Holy Father had said about the Year Of Faith that it is important to witness to our faith. We cannot accept that the salt has become tasteless or the light lighted but kept hidden as in the Gospel of St Mark. He also cited the Samaritan woman who comes close to Jesus drawing life from the source of the living water as in the Gospel according to John. He believed that the Year Of Faith has been a moment of grace for all, an opportunity to respond to God's grace and made the most of it through faith based / spiritual activities and living our relationship with Jesus Christ.
We profess our faith in Him through baptism. We are to testify and actualize God's love, our faith through charity to society as reflected in the first reading ‘Love your neighbor as yourself. Love cannot do the neighbor any harm; so love fulfils the whole law.’ We may close the Year of Faith but in reality we must not stop practising and spreading our faith. We continue to live our daily life following the Gospel value, continue to practice our faith so as to be living witnesses. We are to live beyond the 'Year Of Faith.'
One example of the many challenges we encountered is the verdict of the word ‘Allah’. Quoting from the recent media statement from the Malaysia Consultative Council for Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Sikhism and Taoism (MCCBCHST) the verdict is not only disappointing but humiliating to all adherents of the faith. The year of faith has strengthened us, our courage has risen in facing the challenge. The response of which reflects our personal relationship with our Lord.
Our initiatives in the Year Of Faith especially with the pilgrimage has in a way enhances our faith. The Cathedral Parish has received more and more pilgrims from other parishes in the arch / diocese of Kota Kinabalu and Keningau. This will make us aware how the early missionaries came to lay the foundation of our faith and how it spread. It has given us opportunities to know our faith and to build our faith.
In relation to the Gospel reading, the close of the Year Of Faith is the beginning of the building process of our faith – building tower of our faith and that calls for proper foundation and planning. The basic of which is communion with the Lord and with one another.       

Right after Mass, parishioners adjourned to the Parish Hall for a dinner fellowship.

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