Tawau : Migrant Sunday is celebrated in the region of Malaysia, Singapore and Brunei every fourth Sunday of September. Tawau hosted the Diocesan level 100th World Day for Migrants and Refugees, themed 'Towards a Better World' on 27th and 28th September 2014.
The celebration began with a fellowship dinner on Saturday, 27th September 2014 after the Sunset Mass. Msgr Nicholas Ong, the rector on behalf of Rt Rev Julius Dusin Gitom, the Bishop of Sandakan graced the occasion. More than 500 faithful attended the function. Also present at the function were representatives of the Parish Human Development Committee from St Mary's Cathedral, Sandakan and St Dominic's Church, Lahad Datu.
Francis Kamuntah - Chairman, Parish Human Development Committee
Sr Maria Dipal rgs, Chairperson, Diocesan Human Development Commission
Andrew Kiat, Chairman, HTC Parish Pastoral Council
Addressing the audience, were Francis Kamuntah, the Chairman of the Parish Human Development Committee, Sr Maria Dipal rgs, Chairperson of the Diocesan Human Development Commission and Andrew Kiat, Chairman of HTC Parish Pastoral Council. The gist of their speeches anchored on Pope Francis' message for World Day For Migrants And Refugees - 2014. They called on the people to stretch out their hands to welcome them, assisting them in ways possible to alleviate their plight in line with Matthew 25 : 35, 'I was a stranger and you took Me in.' The call to build a better world, must start from self, family and the community at large, living a life solidly grounded in belief and faith.
In between dinner, there were seven presentations, from the four main communities; KadazanDusun, Chinese, Filipino, Indonesian, the Children Learning Centre and the Parish Youth Apostolate. The SOCCOM ministry presented a slide show on migration and activities carried out to reach out to migrants.
The colourful costumes of the Indonesian community
The following day, Sunday 28th September 2014, Msgr Nicholas Ong presided the 26th Ordinary Sunday Eucharistic celebration, also World Day for Migrants and Refugees (CBC-MSB). He said, 'As people of God we must be of one heart and be united, for this we can build a better world, a better community of God and become witnesses of God’s saving action through Jesus Christ'
Prayer of the faithful by representatives from the various communities
'As Jesus humble and empty Himself, let us all be humble towards each other. Accept and respect others and most of all do what the Lord wants us to do which is to repent and believe in the Good News. Do not let pride cause division among us. Let humility prevail for it promotes unity.'
He summarized the Gospel's message by saying, 'In every good man there is evil and every evil man there is goodness in them. Evil brings death and goodness brings life. So the most important thing in life is to repent and believe in the Good News.
He then concluded his homily by delivering Pope Francis' and Bishop Julius' messages for World Day for Migrants and Refugees - 2014.
'Dear migrants and refugees! Never lose the hope that you too are facing a more secure future, that on your journey you will encounter an outstretched hand, and that you can experience fraternal solidarity and the warmth of friendship! To all of you, and to those who have devoted their lives and their efforts to helping you, I give the assurance of my prayers and I cordially impart my Apostolic Blessing.' Pope Francis.
'Jesus fully identifies with the sojourner and to welcome the sojourner is to welcome Jesus himself. Jesus teaches us to show concern for the poor and oppressed who come to our land seeking for a better tomorrow. As we celebrate today’s occasion, let us be mindful that the warmth of welcome and acceptance that flows in this venue should not be confined within the walls and within the moment. Let us continue to reach out generously with an open heart to our brothers and sisters on the move that there is always a better tomorrow, a better world for all.' Bishop Julius Dusin Gitom
Blessing of members of the Parish Human Development Committee
Blessing of couples celebrating anniversaries in the month of October
Msgr Nicholas with members of the migrant community after mass
After the Eucharistic celebration, parishioners adjourned to the basement hall at the Parish Centre for the Food Bazaar and exhibition event.
The Filipino Community serenading a song to visitors
All the main communities, as well as the Children Learning Centre for migrants and SOCCOM set up exhibition booths to display exhibits of their traditions and cultures. They also set up display stands to show their involvement and contribution to the church over the years.