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Thursday, December 24, 2015

Sandakan Christmas Celebration 2015 ~ 'Peace On Earth'

By DS and photos 
courtesy of G.Bell
The crowd that thronged Piazza Harbour Mall
Sandakan : The Sandakan Christmas Celebration is yet another attraction to the people of Sandakan. The district-level event, jointly organized by the Karamunting ADUN's Office, the Sandakan Municipal Council and the Sandakan Inter-Church was held at the Piazza Harbour Mall on Sunday 20th December 2015. More than 1,500 people thronged the said venue to witness the big and colourful celebration.
Yang Berbahagia Datuk Ir James Wong, the President of the Municipal Council, congratulated the Organizing Committee for their commitment in realizing the event for the people of Sandakan. In his address to the people, he said, 'Do not take for granted the peace, stability and prosperity of the nation built over the years. Continue to nurture it so that the generations to come will be people of goodwill, sowing peace and upholding tolerance. This joint event is a clear indication that NGOs are playing their roles in maintaining and improving national unity, giving rise to harmonious relations among people of diverse cultures, backgrounds, religions and race.'
YB Tuan Charles Pang, the assemblyman for Karamunting, in gracing the occasion said that the Christmas season is a time for family members to spend quality time together enjoying the company of each other. However, he reminded the people that in moments of the festive joy, let us not forget the plight of the less fortunate, living in the periphery of society. Let us share our love with them, reaching out and touching them. He called on the people to renew their commitment to grow as a united people for the glory of our beloved nation, Malaysia.
Accompanied by the MPS President, the Chairman of the Organizing Committee, Church Leaders and local dignitaries, YB Tuan Charles lighted the Christmas tree, marking the start of the celebration, themed 'Peace On Earth.'
Energetic yet colourful dances by the young members of 
the Anglican Church at the start of the event

Rev. Canon Yong in his Christmas message cited the three criteria for a successful nation viz; excellent health care services, strong and solid economy and security. However, to maintain and sustain that 'success, ' we need to be grounded firmly in spirituality. Failing which, we may lose our peace within us, in the community, society and nation. The Prince of Peace came to grant us peace, a priceless gift for all mankind as in John 14:27, 'Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.'' Canon Yong called on the people to build peace, peace with God, peace with oneself, peace with others as we celebrate Christmas and prepare to move towards yet another year, 2016.
Rt Rev Julius Dusin Gitom, the Bishop of  the Catholic Diocese of  Sandakan in his thanksgiving speech said that Christmas is not purely feasting and merry making. He called on the people to gaze more attentively to the mercy of God by reaching out to those living in the fringes of society, the poor and the marginalized. As followers of Christ, we are constantly reminded to act in accordance with Luke 6 : 36, ‘Be merciful just as your Father is merciful.’ 
During this Christmas season, may we reflect and rediscover the works of mercy; feed the hungry, give drink to the thirsty, clothe the naked, welcome the stranger, heal the sick and visit the imprisoned. By doing all these, we would have done it to the Lord for in each of these ‘little ones,’ Christ himself is present. Our gift might not mean much, but to those in need, it makes a great difference. Make this season a meaningful one for us and those who are less fortunate. Do not keep the Christmas joy within but share it with our brothers and sisters who yearn for the light of Christ.
Irene Johnny, the MC from the Catholic Church
Presentations by members of the 
St Mary's Catholic Cathedral, Sandakan
Presentations of souvenirs to participating churches

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

CWA Brings Christmas Cheer and Joy to the Children

Publicity and Documentation Team,
Catholic Women's Apostolate,
St Mary's Cathedral, Sandakan
Sandakan : Each year and without fail, the Catholic Women's Apostolate of St Mary's Cathedral, Sandakan would hold the Children's Christmas Party. This year around, the annual celebration was held on 13th December 2015 with more than 100 children taking part in the event at the Parish Hall.
The Christmas Party was fully supported by some 50 CWA members, engaged in initial planning, preparation and implementation of the event. The CWA Chairladyof St Mary's Cathedral, Ferdee Mariano extended her appreciation to generous sponsors who provide food, beverages and Christmas gifts for the children.
Ferdee shared, 'the annual Children's Christmas Party is to share the Christmas joy with the children. It is an opportunity for kids to be kids with Christmas gifts, entertainment, games, treats and snacks. It is also an occasion for family bonding as most are accompanied by their parents.' 
More than 250 people attended the occasion; the children, parents and CWA members. Also in attendance were Bishop Julius, Pilis Malim, the PPC Chairman Sr Appollonia fsic, the CWA Spiritual Adviser and Cecilia D'Souza, the Chairlady of the Diocesan CWA.
The highlight of the event was the pantomime of the 'Nativity' by the children. The presentation was colourful, entertaining and above all meaningful. It has enlightened the kids on the Nativity Story, the coming of Jesus Christ into the world befitting the theme, 'A Saviour Is Born.'
There were three games for the children, 'Calamansi Race' for children aged 3 - 5 years old, the 'three-legged race' for those aged 6 - 8 years and the 'Clothes Pin' for those 9 - 12 years. There were more than 50 lucky draws, giving the children ample opportunity to win. All children received their Christmas gifts from Santa Claus.  

There were performances to entertain the children and presentation of Christmas carols by young performers from the various groups. The Miss and Master Christmas stole the show with their colourful costumes. The occasion ended with a luncheon fellowship followed by a closing prayer led by Sr Appollonia fsic. 

Friday, December 18, 2015

CFM Media Statement

Address : 26 Jalan Universiti, 46200 Petaling Jaya, Selangor Darul Ehsan, Malaysia
Telephone / Fax : + 60 3 7957 1457 Email: uk

17 December 2015


The Christian Federation of Malaysia (CFM) once again protests strongly the portrayal of Christians and the exercise of their freedom of religion as a "threat" in our multi-religious nation, which took place at a seminar held at the Universiti Teknologi Mara (UiTM) campus in Lendu, Malacca on 12 December 2015.
This is the second time UiTM has conducted such a seminar, the first being in May 2014. The difference on this occasion was the participation of the Royal Malaysian Police (PDRM), which has been defended by the Inspector General of Police himself. The police have unfortunately allowed themselves to be drawn into this display of skewed biasness.
It is wholly unacceptable for a public university, utilising public funds, to undertake activities that demonises a religious minority. This is highly offensive. No government should condone such activity, and we are appalled by the seeming irresponsible inaction on the part of the Government of Malaysia in permitting this to have taken place.
Academic freedom requires objectivity and balance, not a one-sided partisan rant and rave. Should anyone wish to discuss this supposed threat of “Christianisation”, let it take place in the open, with participation from the national Christian community. Let the allegations be supported with proper research and concrete evidence, not wild anecdotes and unverified assertions.
We call on the Government of Malaysia to put an end to the distasteful and disgusting derogatory activities of this nature. Instrumentalities and agencies of the government, such as the PDRM, must refrain from participating and lending legitimacy to frivolous allegations and unsubstantiated claims.
As we enter into the celebration of Christmas, we remind the Government of Malaysia of its constitutional obligation to protect, promote and uphold the freedom of religion and fundamental liberties of ALL Malaysians, and not just of the Muslim majority.

Yours Sincerely,
Rev. Dr. Eu Hong Seng,
Chairman and the Executive Committee, 
Christian Federation of Malaysia

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Bishop Julius Opens Holy Door at St Mary's Cathedral

Article by Dalius L.L. and
photos by Bell and Helda

Sandakan: Around 700 Catholics converged at St. Mary's Cathedral on 14th December at 6.30 pm to witness Bishop Julius Dusin Gitom conducting the rite of the opening of the Holy Door, a symbolic gesture that marks the beginning of the Holy Year of Mercy for the Diocese of Sandakan.

The Jubilee Year of Mercy, 8th December 2015 to 20th November 2016, was officially launched by His Holiness Pope Francis by opening the Holy Door at St. Peter’s Basilica, calling for a church that always puts mercy before judgment. The pontiff has decreed that a Holy Door of Mercy in every local church, at the cathedral in particular area will be opened for the duration of the Holy Year.
The opening of the designated Holy Door at St. Mary's Cathedral began with a solemn procession by the Bishop and the clergy from the rectory to the entrance of the cathedral.  The procession represents the church's pilgrimage, a practice that 'has a special place in the Holy Year, because it represents the journey each of us makes in this life.' (MV, 14)
After the rite, Bishop Julius then opened the Holy Door of Mercy. The prelate bearing the Book of the Gospel, and behind him the priests, religious sisters and lay faithful passed through the Holy Door to celebrate the Eucharistic celebration.
Bishop Julius explained that the Solemn Opening of the Holy Door is done later than the date proclaimed by Pope Francis due pastoral reason and the availability of all the priests in the diocese. St. Mary’s Cathedral is selected as she is the mother church and a pilgrimage center in the diocese. 

In his introductory note, the prelate commended the good turn out of parishioners not only from this parish but also from outstations and other parishes in the diocese. 

Bishop Julius said, 'The passing through the Holy door means that once again we proclaim Jesus as the sole way of salvation. He is the only way to that infinite mercy of the Father, who welcomes everyone and He personally goes out to encounter each one of us.' 
The prelate continued by echoing the pontiff's word, “Let the Father embrace us with His mercy, let us allow Him to meet us, allow Him to reach us and in that way we will experience the real joy of encountering the mercy of God.” 
Pope Francis proclaimed the Holy Year of Mercy as a way for the Church to make more evident its mission to be witness of mercy, urging the church to reach out to the modern world.  We are to bring that mercy to the world, not only to people around us, but even to the environment. The prelate urged parishioners to be renewed, be prayerful, be grateful and practice often works of mercy.

At the conclusion of the mass, the prelate handed over banners of the Extraordinary Jubilee Year of Mercy to be displayed in their respective parishes to Msgr. Nicholas Ong of Holy Trinity Tawau, Fr. Thomas Makajil of St. Mary's Cathedral, Sandakan, Fr. Simon Kontou of St. Dominic's Church, Lahad Datu and Fr. Jasery Gabuk of St. Martin's Church, Telupid.
In commemorating the occasion and in appreciation of the parishioners, the Parish Pastoral Council through its Social Function Ministry organised a potluck dinner for all in the Parish Hall. Among those who attended the event were the seminarians of the diocese. The parishioners took the opportunity to have fellowship with them.

Inspired by a passage from the Gospel of Luke Chapter 6 verse 36, His Holiness Pope Francis declared the theme of the Jubilee Year of Mercy as "Merciful like the Father." The Pontiff said mercy is "the bridge that connects God and man, opening our hearts to a hope of being loved forever despite our sinfulness." During the Jubilee Year, Pope Francis has asked Catholics to emphasize corporal and spiritual works of mercy, such as feeding the hungry, sheltering the homeless, comforting those filled with sorrow and praying for the living and dead.


New Advent