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Saturday, October 17, 2015

The 8th Diocesan Anniversary Speech by Bishop Julius Dusin Gitom

Compiled by DS and
photos by G. Bell L.
Let me first thank the Lord for this day that He has made. I thank the Organizing Committee under the guidance of Fr Jasery for the commitment in organizing this 2-day 8th Annual Diocesan Anniversary Celebration. This annual celebration is an opportunity for the faithful from across the Diocese to come and share the joy of this happy and auspicious occasion.

Rt Rev Julus Dusin Gitom, Bishop of Sandakan
On behalf of the faithful of the Diocese of Sandakan, I bid Archbishop Joseph Marino, the Apostolic Nuncio to Malaysia, a warm welcome to the Diocese, ‘Selamat Datang.’ This is your first official visit and your presence is an inspiration to all of us. Your presence indeed has brought us closer to the Holy Father, Pope Francis. We extend our gratitude to Your Grace for accepting our invitation. Please convey our prayerful wishes to the Holy Father Pope Francis and assure him of our continuous prayer.
The prelate was glad that the new St Martin's Parish Pastoral Centre at a cost of RM800,000 has eventually been completed through government grants, subsidy from Rome and the contributions of the local community. Within the year two new chapels, one each in Madai, Lahad Datu and Kg Lumou, Telupid were blessed and official open. Another new chapel in Tawau will be blessed towards the end of the month. Physical development is also a sign of growth which is only possible with the combined efforts and support of the people.
He continued to say, 'It is clear that we experience a shortage of priests. Since the inception, we have witnessed one priestly and one diaconate ordination. The good news, however, is that we have 15 seminarians in various stages of priestly formation. Let us continue to pray for more vocations in priestly and consecrated life. We need more shepherds to tend and feed the flocks.
I am of the opinion that members of all the 12 commissions shall assemble to discuss on ways on how to collaborate, making known to each other their plans. This way, with a combined effort, I guess the church could move forth more effectively.
The recent concluded 3-day seminar for BEC leaders, will allow BEC practitioners to explore on ways to move forward. Indeed we have learned, inspired and encouraged one another in this pastoral work which is of great importance for the church. 
The Extraordinary Jubilee Year of Mercy reminds us of God’s mercy, love and redemption to all. With intense spiritual activities in conjunction with the Year of Mercy, it will help us to build a personal relationship with the Lord. Be merciful just as your Father is merciful. (Luke 6 : 36). In his Year of Mercy, we will witness the ‘Opening of the Holy Door of Mercy’ in St Mary’s Cathedral Sandakan, in line with the mission of the Church. As pilgrims, let us journey towards this Holy Door that we may experience personal conversion leading us close to the Lord.
Next week, we will host the 4th Pastoral Meeting on Migration involving 8 dioceses; 4 dioceses from Flores, Indonesia, 1 diocese from Kalimantan, Indonesia and 3 dioceses from Sabah. The assembly involves some 120 people concerned with migration, viewed as necessary and beneficial. It is a meaningful event for we speak as one Church, united to explore approaches to alleviate the plights of the migrants. 
I take this occasion to thank all ministries, all commissions and all offices for their commitment in reaching out to the people entrusted to them. They have been vibrant in their individual scope and together they have projected the Church as a caring and loving community. This is only possible for they were focused on individuals, on people as in Pope Francis’ language on personal encounter, the going out is at the heart of St Paul. We all need to strike a balance as ministries in fulfilling the gathering and the sending mission. It has been a fruitful year for the diocese.
I wish everyone ‘Happy 8th Anniversary!’ 

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