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Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Day 1 ~ The 8th Conference Of Catholic Women Of East Malaysia (25th August 2014)

ARTICLE BY BRENDA DE GUZMAN
PHOTOS BY G. BELL AND HELEN
SANDAKAN: 297 participants representing the Archdiocese of Kota Kinabalu, Diocese of Keningau, Diocese of Sandakan, Archdiocese of Kuching, Diocese of Sibu and five observers from the Diocese of Tanjung Selor, Kalimantan Utara, Indonesia convened at a leading hotel in town for a five-day tri-annual conference from 25th - 29th August 2014.

Bishop Julius having a chat with observers from Tanjung Selor
The Conference of Catholic Women of East Malaysia charted its history in 1993 with Kota Kinabalu hosting its first and inaugural conference in Bundu Tuhan. 21 years later, this day, 25th August, the Diocese of Sandakan played host to the 8th Conference, themed 'Women of God' aimed at raising awareness among Catholic women of their womanhood.


The Opening Eucharistic Mass, Monday, 25th August, was presided over by Rt. Rev. Julius Dusin Gitom, Bishop of Sandakan, con-celebrated by Most Rev. John Wong, Archbishop of Kota Kinabalu, Fr. Simon Kontou of St. Dominic's Parish, Lahad Datu, Fr. Claudius Andrew from St. Francis Xavier, Keningau and Fr. Rhobby Mojolou from the Archdiocese of Kota Kinabalu.

In his homily, Bishop Julius reminded the participants that the assembly should be a venue to prove our faith in ways that are effective just like the Thessalonians in their zeal to spread the Gospel. That fire to share should not merely be confined within the conference hall but more so as we return to our home parishes.
The prelate said, 'Faith is proved and shown through love in our life, prompted by the Holy Spirit. It is a language of conviction spoken through love and fidelity. Thus, preaching the Gospel is not merely by words but by complete conviction in life and faith.'
Addressing the participants, he said, 'Dear Women of God, you are indispensable because you are put right in the place where you can evangelize; your families, the community, the parish and the diocese. Together with your spouse, you are the first catechists and teachers to your children.'
In winding up his homily, Bishop Julius said that involvement in any ministry in the church is not simply to be seen, not merely to enhance reputation neither is it to gain trophies for display. We need to carry out our duties as expected of us just like the people of Thessalonia, live and act in ways that prove their faith.
Annie Rokneh, the Chief Coordinator of the Sandakan Diocesan Women's Apostolate in her welcoming address extended her appreciation to all participants and observers from Tanjung Selor, Kalimantan for their response and involvement. She also thanked all speakers for having consented to share their experiences and the organizing team for their commitment and dedication.
She hoped that the conference would inspire the participants to be better Catholic women, responding to the needs of the families and be bearers of light for a better society. She urged everyone to emulate Mother Mary in all undertakings as she is the ultimate role model for women. She concluded that the gathering would provide a platform to build relationship bond among participants. She wished everyone a fruitful and enriching conference.


Archbishop John Wong graced the opening ceremony by beating the gong 8 times signifying the 8th occasion of the conference while Bishop Julius unveiled the 8th Conference’s banner.
The four parishes of the Diocese of Sandakan presented cultural and contemporary dances to the delight of the participants. St. Mary’s Cathedral Parish, Sandakan presented the 'Angelina Dance',  St Martin's Parish, Telupid presented a choir performance in Bahasa Dusun,. Holy Trinity Parish, Tawau with their 'Hawaian Dance' while St. Dominic’s Parish, Lahad Datu. presented the 'Jamilah Dance.'  The event of the day ended with a closing prayer by  Fr. Thomas Makajil, the rector of St Mary's Cathedral.

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