Report by Dalius LL
Photos by Bell and Helen
L-R : Pilis Malim, PPC Chairman, Bishop Julius and Fr Thomas Makajil
Sandakan: Around 600 parishioners of St. Mary's Cathedral Parish and sub-parishes joined in solidarity in celebrating the priesthood anniversaries of their shepherds, Bishop Julius Dusin Gitom on his 25th anniversary on 19th November (1989 – 2014), Msgr. Nicholas Ong on his 36th anniversary on 3rd October (1978 – 2014) and Fr. Thomas Makajil on his 36th anniversary on 11th November (1978 – 2014).
The special occasion was marked with a 3 in 1 Anniversary Thanksgiving Potluck Dinner Fellowship, organised by the Parish Pastoral Council on 16th November 2014 at 7.00pm at the Parish Hall with the Chinese, Kadazandusun, Filipino and Timorese communities bringing their traditional dishes to be shared in a family spirit.
The introduction was filled with a joyous atmosphere with the entrance of Bishop Julius and Fr. Thomas accompanied by the beating of the Kadazan gongs, followed by a song entitled “If We Hold on Together”, presented by the two assistant rectors Fr. Phillip Muji and Fr. Sunny Chung with backup singing from the four masters of ceremony.
In his thanksgiving address, Fr. Thomas conveyed his appreciation to all who had taken the trouble to organize and joining the priests in thanking the Lord for the gift of priesthood bestowed upon the three of them. Unfortunately, Msgr. Nicholas Ong was not able to attend the fellowship as he is in Singapore undergoing medical treatment. He called upon the parishioners to uphold him in their prayers always. In his sharing Fr. Thomas said, “As I reflect on my 36 years as a priest, I did not realize the years would past so fast. It was just like yesterday that I was ordained a priest. With your continuous prayer, support and friendship, it has indeed strengthened me in my service”.
In his address, Bishop Julius conveyed his gratitude to all the parishioners who pray, support, encourage and honour their clergy. He noted that the coming of the parishioners for the fellowship as a big and united family is a reflection of a Christian community without barriers of language, race and custom. He acknowledged that at times he faced trials and challenges in life however he could overcome them because of God's grace. He encouraged the youth who may have the calling for the priesthood or religious life not to be distracted by worldly things but to rely on God's strength and grace. He advice the young people to be more attentive to the voice of God and to respond positively to follow Him.
A wide range of entertainment was presented during the occasion; choirs by the combined Basic Ecclesial Communities, dances from Nurses Guild, traditional dance by the Timorese community, sketches from the Youth Apostolate, slide presentation on the ordination of Bishop Julius and Fr. Thomas by the Kadazan Community Committee and songs by talented individuals. Even the children of the Sunday school took part by presenting a poem recitation in appreciation of the three priests, which captivated the attendees.
The thanksgiving fellowship ended slightly at 10.00pm with parishioners taking the opportunity to congratulate Bishop Julius and Fr. Thomas.
“The priesthood is the love of the heart of Jesus. When you see a priest, think of our Lord Jesus Christ.” – St. John Marie Vianey.