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Thursday, January 28, 2016

Bidding Farewell and Extending Cordial Welcome

Article by Dalius LL and 
photos by Keith Edward
Sandakan: St. Mary’s Parish Hall was filled with more than 300 parishioners and well-wishers on the evening of 25th January 2016 for the appreciation night in honour of Rev. Fr. Thomas Makajil who will be assigned to Paitan Mission and Fr. Phillip Muji who will be on transfer to Holy Trinity Tawau effective after Chinese New Year. 

The Parish Pastoral Council (PPC) hosted a potluck fellowship dinner, acknowledging the seven and four year services of Fr. Thomas and Fr. Phillip respectively in the parish. The same function was also meant to welcome Bishop Julius Dusin Gitom as the new Rector for St. Mary's Cathedral and Sr. Martina James FSIC recently posted to the parish. 

Also present at the function were the Sandakan Diocesan priests from Tawau, Telupid and Lahad Datu, Diocesan Seminarians and members of the Pastoral Committees of the various sub-parishes of St. Mary's Cathedral Parish.
In his opening remark, the PPC Chairman cum Organizing Chairman, Pilis Malim expressed that the event was both sad and happy. He said, 'We feel sad because we are here to bid farewell to our outgoing priests but at the same time, we are excited to welcome Bishop Julius as the new Rector of the Cathedral Parish.' He dedicated a touching poem from the parishioners to all the priests who attended the event.

The Almighty God has sent you to this place
To lead us in the way
That He would have us work and think
And live from day to day  
No matter the hour, whatever the need
You go the extra mile
Always ready and willing to share
A comforting thought and a smile
We are grateful that we were here with us
To teach us His word
And we try to do our best
In service to our Lord
We thank you for your ministry
Your guidance and your care
Lord greatest blessing for your life
Is our most humble prayer.
Fr. Phillip who will assume duty as assistant parish priest of Holy Trinity Parish Tawau shared, "I am happy in where ever parish I am posted for this is the ministry dedicated to serving the Lord."

He called upon the parishioners to share the responsibility in helping the parish to develop and grow. He encouraged them to be participative as individuals or communities for the betterment of the parish. His only regret was that he was unable to fully participate in the growth of BECs due to his heavy pastoral commitment in the vast parish. 

He hoped to see the many ministries, communities and groupings to play a more  active role to promote faith formation activities in the parish. He noted that the parishioners can work hand in hand with one other, united in diversity; a positive gesture towards building the kingdom of God in the parish. 

In his last note he humbly sought forgiveness for his shortcomings during his service in St. Mary. In a jest he said that the parishioners will not miss him terribly because in two months’ time he will be back in Sandakan for the priests' meeting.
In Fr. Thomas remarks, he asked the parishioners of St. Mary not to bid him farewell. He said, "After all, we are still close in watsapp," which drew laughter from the floor. 

One positive factor to ensure the effectiveness of the mission is to have a full time resident pastoral shepherd station in the missionary area. For this, Bishop Julius has assigned Fr Thomas to take up the challenge for a two-year term to make the mission more effective, re-activating lapsed Catholics and drawing more new members.

According to Fr Thomas, there are 12 chapels scattered throughout the district and another 11 Catholic communities with a sizeable Catholic population.  It is a challenging and an uphill journey in building the catholic community in this part of Sabah. Apart from extending pastoral care to the locals, the mission will also be responsible to the pastoral needs of the Catholic migrant workers in the surrounding estates. 

Fr. Thomas called upon the many communities, ministries and groupings to take up the challenge to support the mission, a mission of the Diocese. He quoted St. Paul, that although we are made of many parts but we belong to one body. He hoped that with the ground work undertaken by the diocese, this mission will one day become a full fledged Parish in the near future. In his closing remark, he asked all the parishioners to give their utmost support to Bishop Julius who will now assume dual tasks, as the rector of St. Mary's Cathedral Parish and as the Bishop of Sandakan.
Sr. Martina James fsic recently assigned to the Diocese of Sandakan from Keningau called upon the parishioners to offer prayers and support for her mission in the Cathedral Parish.
Rt. Rev. Julius Dusin Gitom said that the transfer of priests within the diocese is a normal practice. It is an enriching experience for priests to tend to the flock in different parishes. I am here all this while, only that now I will have to assume two portfolios as a Bishop and as a Rector. 

He explained that Fr. Phillip is transferred to Tawau as the assistant to Msgr. Nicholas Ong because Fr. Johnny Raju will return to the Archdiocese of Kota Kinabalu. He expressed his sincere thanks to Fr. Johnny for his 2 years’ service in Holy Trinity Parish, Tawau and to Fr. Phillip for his four years of dedicated service in the Cathedral Parish.

The prelate also expressed his gratitude to Fr. Thomas for his willingness to take up the challenge to be the resident priest of the Paitan Mission. He acknowledged that Fr. Thomas will be shouldering a heavy workload but a rewarding one because he is doing God’s work and looking after God’s people in Paitan. 

He thanked him for his invaluable service in the parish and called upon the parishioners to render him their support in the mission and foresee that the mission will become a full fledged parish in the near future. 

He also welcomed Sr. Martina James fsic and wished her a fruitful and fulfilling religious ministry in the Cathedral Parish. The prelate hoped that with him as the rector of St. Mary, he will be able to perform to the very best together with the assistance from Fr. Sunny Chung and Father to be, Deacon Stanley William. 
In between speeches, a few performances were presented to all and tokens of appreciation given to the outgoing priests. The function ended at 9.30 pm with a closing prayer led by Bishop Julius.

Saturday, January 23, 2016


By Julita, SOCCOM Tawau
Tawau : As we journey in the Extraordinary year of Mercy (8th December 2015 - 20th November 2016), Holy Trinity Tawau continues to build communities through the Basic Ecclesial Communities. The concept of BECs was introduced 8 years ago in the parish, sharing and spreading the Good News in the neighborhood as well as other communities in the parish. 
A meeting to evaluate the current status of BECs; understanding the realities, discerning the situation and planning ahead was held on 19th January, between Msgr Nicholas Ong, the Parish Priest, Sr Liza fsic, Andrew Kiat, the PPC Chairman, Gilbert Jack, Chairman of the BEC Core Group and a few other BEC Coordinators. The theme chosen for house visits is 'mercy' in line with the Extraordinary Year of Mercy.
In his word of welcome, Msgr. Nicholas Ong firmly said, "I have faith in the BECs. It’s a way to bring Christ to others through the teaching of the church, and so I believe in the concept, the new way of being Church. We can put our effort together in this wonderful approach in building up small communities."
The BEC Core Group of Holy Trinity Tawau consists of the Parish Priest, Religious Sister of the Franciscan Sisters of the Immaculate Conception and BEC Coordinators and leaders. They are committed to assist BECs in the parish to sustain, develop and grow. They schedule visits to the various BECs, journeying and lending support to the communities.  They help neighbourhood communities to start BECs if they so desire.
Since 2009 up till to date, Msgr. Nicholas Ong, the anchor of the program has accomplished 264 visits to the BECs. He is never alone in his pastoral visits. He is always accompanied by the religious sisters and the BEC Core Group members.    
In the earlier visits, all BEC gatherings focused on the Word of God for the coming week. Later it was changed to the themes based on the Youth Catechism ( Youcat ) in order for members to be familiar with the teaching of the church regarding our faith.
There are about 25 BEC areas that are actively involved in weekly gatherings and sharings.  It was resolved that others that are not so active, need to be motivated and supported by the Core Group.
Programs in the BECs have transformed many families in the neighbourhood. People are more involved in church activities, not as individuals but as families. 
The BEC Core Group of Holy Trinity Parish Tawau are committed in the following;

  • Monitor the progress and activity carried out by each BEC areas
  • To hold Faith formation sessions for members
  • To motivate BECs to get involve in activities/programs organized by the Church or any ministry in the church
  • To cooperate with the Parish Priest, Parish Pastoral Council and the Advisory Team in fulfilling its pastoral goals
Some random responses from families /individuals of BEC areas regularly visited by the BEC Core Group members :

  • It strengthens relationship bonding among family members and families within the neighborhood
  • Lapse Catholics are being renewed and slowly transformed to return to the church
  • Members acquire deeper knowledge about the faith
  • Members serve the Church as one big family with care and trust 
  • The bond between husband and wife is nourished by the sharing from other couples regarding married life
  • Acquire joy and peace through service rendered to the Church
  • Acquire spiritual growth and maturity
  • Children and teenagers are exposed to the church teaching at an earlier age
Holy Trinity Parish Tawau is committed to continue their mission in reaching out to families and new BEC areas this year. May God’s blessing be with all the members and grant them strength, wisdom and guidance in their journey.

Media Statement Issued 21/1 By MCCBCHST On the Matter of Unilateral Conversion.

MCCBCHST :- Cabinet Must Tackle Root Cause of Problem - Conversion of Minors by Single Parent

The Malaysian Consultative Council of Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Sikhism and Taoism (MCCBCHST) refers to the statement by the Health Minister Datuk Seri Dr S Subramaniam that the Cabinet is looking into solving the problem of unilateral child conversion and introducing amendments to related laws. 

MCCBCHST hopes that the root cause of the problem, ie the unilateral conversion of minors by a single parent would be RESOLVED. 

In April 2009, the Cabinet had decided that ‘a child must follow the religion practised by the parents at the time of marriage in the event one of them opts to convert. Further a marriage solemnised under civil law can be dissolved under only the civil law ........ Any individual who wanted to convert to another religion must resolve all problems regarding his responsibilities before converting to avoid innocent parties, especially children, becoming victims’ (see The Sun dated 24/04/2009) 

Following this Cabinet decision, MCCBCHST lawyers were invited and were part of a committee headed by the Civil Division of the Attorney General’s Chambers to look into legislation to implement the Cabinet decision and the committee had made rapid progress in resolving the issue. After about 3 months the Committee was taken over by the Syariah Compliant Division and chaired by the Attorney General himself. After a few meetings there was a stalemate as the issue of unilateral conversion of a minor by a single parent was not being addressed.

The amendments proposed by the AG Chambers in 2009 and 2013 were not acceptable as despite the proposed amendments, a single parent could still unilaterally convert a child of the marriage without consent of the other spouse.

Friday, January 22, 2016


By Julita, SOCCOM Tawau
Tawau : Some 800 Filipino parishioners together with other communities gathered to celebrate the yearly event of the Feast of Infant Jesus, Feast of Sto. Nino De Cebu in Holy Trinity Church, Tawau  on 17th January 2016. It marked the 18th year of celebration, themed, Transform us by your Mercy.' The image of the infant Jesus is the symbol of hope and protector.
The Thanksgiving Eucharistic celebration was presided over by Msgr. Nicholas Ong and con celebrated by Fr. Johnny Raju, the assistant rector, at 11.00 am. The event began with a procession of the statue of Child Jesus from the entrance to the Sanctuary.
The homily, themed ‘marriage' according to the Gospel of John 2 : 1-11, the wedding at Cana, reminded the congregation on the purpose and obligation as husband and wife and as parents. Msgr Nicholas continued to say, “You must invite God into your marriage for He is the source of life that strengthens and sustains your love. You are the reflection of Christ's love to the Church. Continue to be fruitful in union between husband and wife just as the Church that has yielded much fruits through the Holy Spirit.'
Christ is present in your marriage. Lean on Him, trust and depend on His grace and mercy. As we celebrate the Feast of the Child Jesus, it reminds all of us that we must be like children, totally dependant on God's guidance and blessing throughout your marriage life.
The Gospel teaches us about how God extends his invitation to us to be in his company as husband and wife. He calls us to stay close to him and to know him personally. God wants us to know and experience his love and forgiveness. By responding to His call, we are serving him.
Members of the Filipino community from St. Mary's Cathedral Sandakan, St. Peter Kunak,  Sacred Heart Kota Kinabalu and from the Persatuan Kababayan Sabah ( PKS )  were present at the event. Their presence made the occasion more meaningful.
After the Holy Mass, parishioners participated in the procession of the Infant Jesus, from the church entrance to the Parish Hall. A luncheon fellowship was held with many more members of the Filipino community joining in the celebration, thus making it merrier .
Rufino Pontilas, the Chairman of the Filipino Pastoral Committee expressed his gratitude to all his organizing committee for their effort and commitment. He said, 'Your continuous support and commitment in this yearly event proved that we are all granted the blessings and grace from the Almighty. He continues to lead, strengthen and care for us.' 
In his short address to the parishioners, Msgr. Nicholas  thanked the community for the effort to celebrate the event yearly for the past eighteen years. He said, "I believe you have been through many challenges in your struggles to unite your community but yet to date you have proven that with God’s grace everything is made possible. Continue to serve one another and live in communion with other communities so that together we will live as one big family." 
The event was made lively with colorful presentations from the various groups of the Filipino community of the parish. Apart from presentations, there was also lucky draws.
The program ended at 2.30 pm with a closing prayer led by Fr. Johnny Raju.

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Rumah Terbuka Krismas 2015 Gereja OLOF Beluran

Oleh Mathew Kiun
Beluran : Pada 10 Januari 2016, Majlis Pastoral Umat Katolik (MPUK) Gereja Our Lady of Fatima, telah mengelolakan Rumah Terbuka Krismas 2015, bertempat di Dewan Gerejanya.
Sebelum itu, Rev. Fr. Thomas telah merayakan Misa Kudus Pesta Pembaptisan Tuhan di Gereja OLOF Beluran. Perayaan ini mengakhiri lingkaran Natal dalam Kalendar Liturgi. Selepas Misa selesai, beliau dijemput hadir sebagai tetamu kehormat sekaligus mewakili Bapa Uskup. Turut hadir ialah Fr. Philip Muji. 
Umat Katolik dari kawasan pekan Beluran, Nativity Chapel Kg. Pelantong, Kg. Ranpek, Kg. Jaya Bakti dan estet Gedau juga dijemput hadir bagi memeriahkan majlis tersebut.

Sdra Hendrickus L. Wain, Pengerusi MPUK dalam ucapan alu-aluannya

Fr Thomas Makajil menyampaikan mesej Krismas
Antara pengisian acara ialah persembahan nyanyian dari kanak-kanak PMG, persembahan tarian sumazau dari Kerasulan Wanita Katolik Gereja OLOF, persembahan koir dan tarian dari Kerasulan Belia Katolik Gereja OLOF Beluran, persembahan koir dari PMG Kg. Ranpek, persembahan rampai tari dari Nativity Chapel Kg. Pelantong, persembahan lagu-lagu Krismas dari MPUK Beluran, acara menyumpit kategori lelaki dan wanita serta cabutan nama pengunjung bertuah.

Acara selesai pada jam 6.00 petang.

Monday, January 11, 2016

Majlis Rumah Terbuka Krismas Keluarga Paroki Katedral St. Mary Sandakan

Susanna Cordova
Sandakan- Pada 3 Januari 2016, Katedral St.Mary Sandakan telah mengadakan Majlis Rumah Terbuka Krismas Keluarga di Dewan Paroki selepas sahaja misa kudus gabungan Bahasa Malaysia dan Cina pada jam 11.00 pagi. Lebih kurang 500 umat telah menghadiri acara ini yang dianjurkan oleh Majlis Pastoral Paroki Katedral St.Mary, Sandakan.
Acara dimulakan dengan ucapan Fr. Thomas Makajil. Beliau merasa sangat gembira dan bangga dengan kehadiran umat pada pagi itu. Suasana yang penuh dengan cinta kasih, di mana umat dapat bekerjasama dalam persiapan setiap aktiviti paroki pada musim Krismas adalah amat memberangsangkan. Beliau merakamkan penghargaan kepada Pengerusi penganjur, saudari Valeria Linggok dan AJK Sosial serta Pilgrimage Ministry yang telah bertungkus lumus menjayakan pesta ini.

"Pada masa yang sama pesta Rumah Terbuka Krismas Keluarga Paroki Katedral yang diadakan setiap tahun merupakan satu penghargaan terhadap pelayanan setiap komuniti dalam memperkembang-luaskan gereja kita,” kata Fr.Thomas. Belau memetik dari 1 Kor 12 bahawa kita ini adalah satu tubuh dengan anggota-anggota yang banyak. Maka perlu ada kordinasi rapi dan kesatuan erat agar kita dapat bergerak dengan baik."   
Di dalam ucapannya Fr. Thomas juga memaklumkan tentang penstrukturan baru para paderi paroki Sandakan di mana beliau akan bertugas sepenuh masa di Misi Paitan. Kini terdapat 23 komuniti di Paitan, sebuah daerah yang besar dan luas. Maka adalah amat penting dan mendesak agar seorang paderi ditempatkan sepenuh masa untuk melayani dan membimbing umat setempat. Beliau memohon agar kumpulan dan komuniti Katedral akan sentiasa bermurah hati membantu Misi Paitan. 
Tetamu Terhormat, Bapa Uskup Datuk Julius Dusin Gitom juga merasa gembira dengan kehadiran umat untuk bersama-sama meraikan Majlis Rumah Terbuka Krismas Paroki Katedral St. Mary Sandakan. Prelatus itu juga memperjelaskan tentang pelayanan Fr. Thomas di Misi Paitan agar umat dapat terus memberi sokongan kepada beliau supaya dia dapat menjalankan tugasnya dengan lebih berkesan. Ini adalah disebabkan umat Katolik Misi Paitan memerlukan gembala yang dapat membimbing mereka. 
Sesungguhnya, Fr. Thomas telah lama membuat pelayanan misinya  di Paitan dengan begitu intensif. Beliau juga mengucapkan terima kasih kepada Fr. Thomas kerana sudi menerima tugas di Misi Paitan. Di akhir ucapannya, Bapa Uskup memohon agar umat akan terus mendoakan Misi Paitan agar ia akan sentiasa berkembang di bawah bimbingan dan pimpinan Fr.Thomas. Beliau juga mengucapkan terima kasih kepada para umat kerana dapat menjayakan semua aktiviti gereja pada tahun 2015 yang lalu.

Pemotongan kek oleh Fr. Thomas, para sisters dan AJK penganjur merupakan pembuka tirai aktiviti pada hari itu. Selepas itu, persembahan koir daripada setiap KKD dan AJK komiti penganjur. 
Di samping itu, acara disusuli dengan cabutan tiket bertuah  untuk dana pembanguan Bukit Maria dengan hadiah-hadiah bulanan yang menarik. Acara yang menyeronokkan ialah apabila Bapa Uskup, paderi dan religious sister memberi hadiah Krismas bukan sahaja kepada kanak-kanak tetapi juga kepada golongan warga emas. 
Acara pada hari itu berakhir pada jam 1.30pm dengan doa penutupan oleh Bapa Uskup Datuk Julius Dusin Gitom.


New Advent