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Thursday, February 26, 2015

Official Launching of the 4th Sabah Youth Day (SYD4)

BY DS / st
TAMBUNAN : After the Youth Jubilee in 2000, the Youth Commission of the Archdiocese of Kota Kinabalu and the Youth Apostolate of the Diocese of Keningau agreed to hold a youth festival together once in every four years. Since 2004, Sabah Youth Day (SYD) has become an inter-diocesan event with the youth and for the youth. The fourth SYD will be held for the first time in the Diocese of Sandakan at Holy Trinity Church, Tawau in 2016.
Some 140 youths from the three arch/dioceses in Sabah convened at Holy Cross, Toboh, Tambunan to undergo a one-day leadership formation session on Saturday 14th February and participated the official launching event of SYD4 the following day, Sunday 15th February.
SYD4 was jointly launched by Bishop Julius Dusin Gitom of Sandakan, Bishop Cornelius Piong of Keningau and Archbishop John Wong of Kota Kinabalu. 

During the launching mass, Bishop Cornelius in his homily reminded everyone to remain united with Christ and not take our baptism and the Holy Spirit for granted. He also mentioned that the young people should stand up for the Catholic faith and be authentic believers as in Luke 9 : 23, 'Then he said to them all; 'Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me.' 

The prelate stressed on the importance of community, a place to sow seeds of unity, solidarity, love and concern. Community spirit must be nurtured and promoted at all levels in order to build up a strong Church. Last but not least, he reminded the young people to make use of modern media technology to spread the Good News of God to all corners of the world, fulfilling the evangelical mission of the Church.

After the Eucharistic celebration, the Main Organizing Team announced the winner of designing the SYD4 logo and composing the theme song. Both the talented young people hail  from the Diocese of Sandakan. The logo was designed by Nancy Pain of St. Peter's Church, Kunak, an outstation of St Dominic's Parish, Lahad Datu while the theme song was composed by  Roland Henry of  Holy Trinity Parish, Tawau. 
With the launching officially graced, the Youth Cross will begin its journey throughout Sabah and is expected to arrive at Holy Trinity Church, Tawau, the venue for SYD4 on 2nd April 2016.
Dynna Leong from Papar sharing her experience for
 joining the formation session and SYD4 launching event

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

'Shepherds Living With The Smell of the Sheep' ~ Pope Francis and The 7 Pillars of Priesthood

Tawau : The Chinese community of Holy Trinity Parish Tawau experienced double blessings for the Year of the Goat. Rt. Rev. Datuk Julius Dusin Gitom, the Bishop of Sandakan presided over the CNY Thanksgiving Mass on 19th February 2015 and thereafter visited homes of a few Chinese parishioners. 
Bishop Julius seated centre
It was indeed a privilege and a great cause for joy for the Chinese community to be visited by Bishop Julius D. Gitom, accompanied by Fr. Johnny Raju, the Religious Sisters, PPC Chairman, Seminarian Walter and lay leaders. The visit is a gift of love and care, a way of reaching out to members of the church, building communion and above all enhancing solidarity.   
The prelate's presence together with his entourage is a sign of staying close to the people he serves, likened to 'shepherds living with the smell of the sheep.' - (Pope Francis and the Seven Pillars of Priesthood). The visitation is a source of blessing for the people and is an integral part of the church's evangelical mission.
The families were inspired and touched by Bishop Julius' humility, concern and openness. They felt the fragrance of Christ has come upon them with unconditional love, concern and care.
A parishioner took the opportunity to kindly request Bishop Julius to bless his residence and thereafter adjourned to a dinner fellowship on the last day of his pastoral visit to Tawau, 22nd February 2015. 

Tuesday, February 24, 2015


Tawau : The Chinese community of  Holy Trinity Parish Tawau gathered to celebrate the Chinese New Year Thanksgiving Mass on 19th February 2015, the first day of Chinese New Year at 8.30 am. Some 600 Chinese parishioners together with other communities attended this occasion in thanking God for the many blessings beside to stay in communion with others.
It was indeed a privilege for the parish, especially the Chinese community to have His Lordship Rt. Rev. Datuk Julius Dusin Gitom, the  Bishop of the Diocese  of Sandakan presiding over both the English and Mandarin language CNY thanksgiving masses. Fr. Johnny Raju, the assistant rector con celebrated both the masses. 
In his homily, the Bishop said, “As we observe the characteristic of the goats which is restful and contented, let us look at ourselves. At times we are trapped with worldly needs. This leads us to seek more thus making us moving forward to simply accumulate. In our greed, we are always kept busy leaving us limited time for rest.'

Unless you learn to be contented with what you have at present, you will then realize that God always provide in all circumstances. As we observe the characteristic of the goat, once they get enough of eating they will rest for a while. You will regain your energy, refresh from your physical tiredness and strengthen your spiritual zeal once you get enough rest.
As we enter this Season of Lent, let us be generous to our own body. Give ourselves a break, spent time with your loves one and most of all be contented with what you have. Let us share the blessings of God with the unfortunate within your family members, friends, neighbour or community.
In conclusion, the prelate called upon parishioners that through the meaningful occasion, with good meals and fellowship, family reunion will be strengthened. Make it the moment to express our love and care, forgiveness and acceptance among family members. He wished everyone a Blessed and Happy Chinese New Year.
Edward Koh of the Chinese Pastoral Community shared the Chinese translated version of the homily.
Bishop Julius and Fr Johnny Raju gave away the blessed mandarin oranges to all parishioners as a sign of much blessings to come for the year. This was followed by Lion Dance performance at the front of the church witnessed by parishioners and the clergy.

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Ash Wednesday Mass ~ Fast, Pray and Give

Photos: Helda, Bell and Helen
Sandakan : Due to pastoral reason, Ash Wednesday was celebrated on Tuesday, 17th February in the Diocese of Sandakan. More than 2,000 parishioners attended the Eucharistic celebration, presided over by Fr Thomas Makajil, the rector, at St Mary's Cathedral. 

In his homily, Fr Thomas cited from the old testament on how Moses led the Israelites out of Egypt to Canaan, the 'Promised Land.' The journey in the wilderness lasted for 40 years before the Israelites reached their destination. It is a miraculous event, one that requires much on faith, prayer, repentance, perseverance and God's providence.

In the new testament, he said that the 40-day period that Jesus spent in the wilderness was not only important to the journey of Christ but is equally important to us as followers. Jesus wrestled with uncertainty, temptations overcoming Satan. He was ready for His ministry.

Likewise, we are also tempted while in the wilderness of our lives. We need to withdraw into solitude to build a closer relationship with God, to repent of our sins, seek forgiveness and return to Him.

He reminded the people that 'Ash Wednesday' marks the beginning of the 40-day period of Lent. He touched on the three pillars of Lent; Prayer, Fasting and Alms-giving. We are called to live out our Christian values especially during the Lenten season so that we could be living witnesses as ambassadors of Jesus.
Imposing ashes on the forehead
'Remember, man, you are dust, and unto dust you shall return'

Ash Wednesday at St Mark's Church
More than 1,000 faithful living around the Mile 12 North Road area thronged St Mark's Church to attend 'Ash Wednesday' celebrated in Bahasa Malaysia on 17th February 2015 at 6.30 pm.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

IFFAsia Launching Mass and Fellowship

Group Photo after Fellowship
Quezon City : Fifteen students of IFFAsia Batch 9, coming from across Asia attended the Launching Mass for the School Year 2015 at the Chapel, Radio Varitas Asia on Saturday, 14th February 2015. The new batch consists of students from eight countries; China, Laos, Malaysia, Mongolia, Myanmar, Philippines, Thailand and Vietnam. On this day, we made our Rite of Commitments to the Lord witnessed by more than 50 people who came to lend support.
Participants from Sabah
L-R : Imelda, Amylyn Bihin and Jellferlyne Joseph 
The theme for the Launching is 'Live Christ! Share Christ.' It is the call from the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) Pastoral Exhortation on the Era of New Evangelization for the Year of the Poor, 2015.
By participating in the Launching Mass with friends from different parts of Asia, I felt much blessed, so loved by the Lord for He has chosen me to be part of the 9th batch. 
Apart from that, I was touched, moved and inspired by Pope Francis during the Youth Encounter in University Santo Thomas, Philippines, Jan 18 2015. I believed, in this time of my journey, Jesus is inviting me to find answers to these questions that Pope Francis posed during his visit;
1.      Have I learned how to weep?
2.      You and your friends help others but do you allow yourselves to receive?
3.      Have I learned how to beg? Or am I self-sufficient?
4.      Do you know your own poverty and your need to receive?
5.      Do you ask the poor to give you the wisdom they have?
“The most important subject to learn in university is to learn how to love.” – Pope Francis
Friends from Vietnam, China, Mongolia and Philippines
This special and precious call has indeed awakened me. The call to spread and share the Father's love will unite all people and bring forth peace.  It prompted me to move forward to share that love. I am beginning to have a different perspective in life, centered on love. I am grateful to God for all the blessings that God has showered upon me. 

I believe this academic year will give me a lot of surprises, like what Pope Francis said, 'God reveal himself through surprises.' I am ready. I am ready and will be more courageous to “Live Christ!” and “Share Christ!”
I thank you for your prayers and support. Let us always unite in prayer for our family and community, ministries, the people we serve, especially the poor.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015


Tawau : Some 300 parishioners gathered at Holy Trinity Parish Hall on Sunday, 15th February at 7.00 pm to bid Sr. Aquinas Voon fsic a fond  farewell and to extend a warm welcome to Sr. Martha Jonik fsic and seminarian Walter Milter Mario.
Andrew Kiat, the PPC  Chairman extended his warm welcome to Sr. Martha fsic and seminarian Walter to Holy Trinity Parish. He expressed confidence that both will journey in unity and collaborate with all other communities and groups in Holy Trinity towards building a stronger community in the Church. In serving the Lord, we do not pick and choose but to serve whoever comes our way. He reminded everyone to lead a life of holiness and be a fruitful witness for God.
He thanked God for the gift of Sr. Aquinas fsic, placing her in the midst of the people in Tawau. He expressed his appreciation to Sr. Aquinas fsic for her wonderful service extended to the community especially on spiritual guidance and accompaniment.
Fr. Johnny Raju, the assistant rector of Holy Trinity Parish once again expressed his gratitude to Sr. Aquinas fsic for her unconditional service rendered to the the local community in the parish. He said, 'Age is not an obstacle in serving the Lord. No matter what we do, as long as we do it for the Lord, it shall always have an impact on others. Sr. Aquinas fsic is soft spoken and gentle. Her character has inspired all of us. Let us continue to pray that God will shower His choicest blessings upon her wherever she may be assigned.'
Sr. Aquinas Voon fsic was assigned to Holy Trinity Parish, Tawau in 2008. Her 7-year stint at HTC has inspired many parishioners through her gentleness, friendliness, being caring and kind-hearted. She has been most active in the Legion of Mary both Chinese and English ( LOM ), Chinese Special Liturgy, Intercessory Group, the Pastoral Care Ministry and the Chinese Pastoral Community. Beside attending to the home bound for Holy Communion, Sr. Aquinas fsic was actively involved in the Senior Citizen Bible Sharing. She will be missed by many  group members and close friends including the youth who came to her for comfort and advice.
In her brief sharing during the dinner, she said, 'I really treasure the moment in this Parish. I have experienced  genuine  love  extended to me from all the communities, groups or individuals. That has made me part of your family. I will always remember all your support, prayer and care towards me. I thanked Sr. Liza fsic and all the sisters in St. Clare for your concern and care.'
She will be leaving the Parish towards the end of February. Sr. Aquinas fsic at 78 will be at the FSIC Retiring House at Stella Maris Kota Kinabalu. She hoped to meet up with those she has encountered while serving in Tawau.
Sr. Martha Jonik fsic  from Papar, was the local animator for  the Convent of Immaculate Conception, Toboh, Tambunan. Thanking everyone for the event, she said, 'Each time we are allocated to a new place, we always hope for acceptance. I have been here for well over a month. I experienced your warm welcome and friendship. Hopefully we will journey together as  a family of God towards spiritual maturity.' Sr. Martha fsic is assigned as the local animator for St. Clare’s Convent apart from rendering pastoral service in the parish.
Seminarian Walter Milter Mario, a second year theology student in St Peter's College, Kuching is assigned to HTC for a 4-month pastoral exposure. He hails from Telupid and is into his 6th year of priestly formation. He was most grateful to the people in Tawau especially the priest and religious in welcoming him to be part of the parish family. He said, 'I wish that I can gain much experience from this exposure, enriching me in my own spiritual life. I need your prayer and guidance especially in my vocation journey. I will try my very best for I believe the rest will depend on God, His providence.'
The simple and meaningful gathering ended at 9.00 pm with a Closing Prayer led by Fr. Johnny Raju.


New Advent