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Wednesday, March 23, 2016


Article by Dalius LL
Photos by Leonard

Sandakan: Some 1500 faithful of St. Mary's Cathedral celebrated Palm Sunday during Sunset English Mass 19th March 2016 as a remembrance of Jesus Christ’s victorious entry into the city of Jerusalem. The faithful assembled in front of the Parish Hall at 5.45pm with palm fronds in their hands followed by a procession from the Parish Hall to the Cathedral with everyone proclaiming “Hosanna….Hosanna….in the highest.”
The Palm Sunday Holy Mass was celebrated by Rt Rev Julius Dusin Gitom, the Bishop of Sandakan. In his homily, he reminded the laity, that the celebration marks the beginning of Jesus passion, whereby the Universal church enters into the Holy Week beginning with Palm Sunday. 
The prelate shared that the event of Jesus' passion affects him personally, because of the circumstances of Jesus' death. He explained that we tend to point fingers (blame) at those responsible of Jesus' death; the chief priest Caiaphas, the scribes, Pharisees, Herod and Pilate. He posed a question, if  we ever gave a thought to the friends of Jesus.
What was their reaction when Jesus was captured and interrogated? Are we like Judas or are we like Peter, the rock who has witnessed all the miracles Jesus performed and boasted that he would die with Jesus. Are we like the rest of Jesus' disciples whom He trusted as friends but have forsaken Him and ran away at the sign of danger and standing away in a safe distance, leaving Jesus alone to endure his persecution?

The prelate called upon all to reflect on this. He posed another question to all, 'what has the Passion of Christ has to do with us?' Perhaps it is a story of my life, your life as well, that all the characters mentioned in the Gospel in one way or another resembles all of us. We have sinned in allowing the Lord  to endure all the persecutions and died for us to redeem us and grant us the generous gift of salvation. 

Bishop Julius concluded his homily by asking all to pray to the Lord our Father that He may grant his blessings to all and that the Son's suffering is not in vain but a source of our healing, hope and provision.

Palm Sunday Mass also commemorates the World Youth Day (WYD), an event for young people organized by the Roman Catholic Church. WYD was initiated by Pope John Paul II in 1985 with the first celebration of WYD in 1986, bishops all over the world were invited to schedule an annual youth event to be held every Palm Sunday in their dioceses. It is celebrated at the diocesan level annually, and at the international level every two to three years at different locations. 
Before the final blessing, the prelate also ministered the commissioning of the new line-up for the Diocesan Human Development Commission for the diocese of Sandakan for a three year term 2016 - 2019.

Palm Sunday at St Mark's Church, celebrated by Bishop Julius on Sunday, 20th March 2016  

Wednesday, March 16, 2016


Reported by Susanna Cordova
Sandakan : On Sunday, 6th March 2016, SYCC (Star of Yahweh Covenant Community) of St Mary's Cathedral once again extended their warm welcome to the new batch of MRSM Form 1 and 4 students, the  first intake of Sekolah Seni students of SMK Elopura Sandakan and boarders of St. Mary’s Hostel. Most are from outside of St Mary's Parish.
Group photo with SYCC elders at the end of the program

MRSM students
Rev. Fr. Stanley William Matakim in his welcoming speech

It was a great joy to serve and to know them as members of the one big family of Catholics though we may not actually know them. Jesus said as in Matthew 25 : 35, 'I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me.' SYCC took the opportunity to welcome the new students that they may experience the hospitality of the community, making them aware that the church cares and offers compassion. 'Welcoming the strangers,' through action can be a great relief to people who are new at the parish. The  Year of Mercy calls us to be more concern on corporal and spiritual work of mercy.
Ice Breaker by Mark Lai
Samson, Delilah and Tiger game – Ice Breaker session
The theme, “You are Loved” shows that no matter where we go, as long as Jesus is with us, the love of Christ is always there. This fellowship has indeed given a great impact to the students. Fr.Stanley William Matakim, the assistant parish priest in his welcome speech, thanked SYCC for their love and kindness in organizing this special programme for the students. He also hoped that through this kind of activity the students will have a good rapport with the Catholic community in the parish. 

The ice breaker was a game “Samson, Delilah and Tiger” where students really had good interaction and fun. Lunch was served with yummy home cooked dishes. Most missed their moms' cooking. Meanwhile, SYCC celebrated the birthdays of those students born in January-March. It was a touching moment for them as the organizers celebrated their birthdays away from home, from siblings and parents.
Susanna Cordova shared about the theme, “You’re Loved”
The event continued with a praise and worship session followed with a talk facilitated by one of the SYCC members, Susanna Cordova who shared on the theme, “You are Loved.” She emphasized that in our lives we have to put Jesus first and have a good relationship with the Lord. The talk was also to help the students to strengthen their Catholic faith, thus empowering them to face the obstacles in a non-Christians environment. 
Sharing Jesus' love
Group sharing
After the talk, students were arranged in groups to discuss about the two main questions; When do you feel you are not loved? and How do you experience Jesus’ love in your life? Then, a representative from each group shared their views based on the questions.
The praise and worship session
Action songs
The teachers in–charge for the welfare of the Catholic students in MRSM are Mr. Dominic James and his wife Mrs. Marry Lalim, Miss Monica Loh for the SMK Elopura Sekolah Seni and Mr. Michael Tan for St. Mary’s Hostel. They are the people committed in gathering all these Catholic students ensuring that they attend church every Sunday; indeed they are like the Good Shepherd, Christ tenderly cares for his sheep, tends his flock and guarantees their survival.
Celebrating birthdays for those born in January to March.
Refreshment for the students after attending the BM Mass
Sekolah Seni Students of SMK Elopura Sandakan
Boarders of St. Mary's Hostel
The SYCC Youth leading one of the activities

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Bishop Julius Urges Priests To Go Out To The Streets During Chrism Mass at St. Mary's Cathedral, Sandakan

Article by DS / rrs and photos
by Alex Tai dan Rogena Sining

Sandakan: Bishop Julius Dusin Gitom presided over the tri-lingual Chrism mass, con celebrated by the eight diocesan priests on Thursday 10th March 2016 which was well attended at St Mary's Cathedral. Three seminarians on pastoral exposures were present to assist in the liturgy. At this special Mass, all priests renewed their priestly promises during the Eucharistic celebration.

The prelate in his homily explained that Chrism Mass is a special time for the clergy to record thanksgiving to the Lord for the gift of priesthood. As the anointed ones, they may in turn anoint God's people especially the poor, the oppressed and those who are the weakest in society.

He said, 'I would like to urge our priests in this Holy Year of Grace to renew our Christian promises. We must remind ourselves to be the anointed light and therefore strive to be the light of Christ. It means we must have that very strong relationship with the Lord and endeavor to imitate him at all times.'
He reminded the priests to strive to be that holy light and remain committed  to live a holy life. The path of a Christian life is a journey to holiness. It doesn’t mean there are no weaknesses. Despite of the weaknesses and the limitations, priests must try to overcome them to seek a life that is in accordance with the life of Jesus. 

Priests, as ministers of the word must discharge faithfully the Sacred Office of Teaching, committed always to the salvation of souls. Priests are to celebrate the Holy Eucharist, not just for themselves but for the whole of God's people. They are committed to be faithful in their prayers.
He said, 'People can recognize us to be a good priests by the way we anoint his people. It means that they are touched by the word of God and that they really have Jesus in their heart through the reception of the sacrament. We must be able to live the gospel value ourselves and that's how we anoint people. That's how we bring the light of Christ to them especially in moments of extreme darkness. When everything seems to be hopeless and there seems no way out, we preach that hope and that's how we anoint people.'
In this Year Of Mercy, the Pope has said on several occasions that ‘the priests must go out into the street, dirty his feet by the dirt of the road and therefore we need to go out in imitation of Christ in order to experience ourselves our own anointing. As we go out we bring that redemptive power of the oil of gladness to where there is suffering, blindness, people imprisoned by their own weaknesses. We bring that redemptive oil of gladness to free them from evil that they may experience God's  Mercy through our ministry of service.' 
The prelate called on the people to support them, to be close to them with affection, and help them in their service through their prayers so that they may always be shepherds according to God's heart. 'Please encourage them, whenever they err but never condemn them.' 
In conclusion, the prelate cited Pope Francis' homily in his first Chrism Mass, 'Dear priests, may God the Father renew in us the Spirit of holiness with whom we have been anointed. May he renew his Spirit in our hearts, that this anointing may spread to everyone, even to those “outskirts” where our faithful people most look for it and most appreciate it. May our people sense that we are the Lord’s disciples; may they feel that their names are written upon our priestly vestments and that we seek no other identity; and may they receive through our words and deeds the oil of gladness which Jesus, the Anointed One, came to bring us. Amen.' 

Friday, March 11, 2016

Bless me Father for I have NO sin!

By DS/eva

“Forgive me Father for I have No sin!”, the boy said to Fr.John Corapi inside the confessional. I have said that many times in my life too. I believe this stems from lack of understanding of what a SIN is. I was told before that only mortal sins need to be confessed. As long as I have not murdered anyone or coveted my neighbour’s spouse or goods, I have no mortal sins. Saved me from prickling formality of mortal sinners queue! Fr.John Corapi in his video talk on Confession proved me wrong.
Once, I have to pay for 2 years a driver’s license. Having used to paying yearly, I argued with the staff and she just simply said “If you pay after your birthday, then you will have to pay for two years”. Relatively, if I may put it, I am paying for the first year as my “payment for using the facility” while the other year I am paying for my Penalty for not knowing the Law.That is the Law and I just have to follow. Likewise, if there is no Law, there is no recognition of what sin is. Sin, according to him, disconnects us from receiving the grace from God. St. Paul’s letter to the Romans also said that having the Law put before us, we recognize that we have sinned.
     Fr.John Corapi mentioned to look at three principles of a mortal sin. One, it is very grave. Again, “grave” smells deadly. Second, I have full knowledge of it. I know and I am aware of it . And lastly, I have my will and consent. I agreed to do it anyway.
Grace is very important to be able to do the things beyond our ability to achieve and the capacity to endure. Grace cannot be acquired through merits or good works. It is a free gift from God. With out grace is like having a cellphone with a battery but no charge. Hence, sin renders me dead - no life, no peace, no joy. God is life and when I choose sin instead of God, my relation with Him is severed. Having committed a mortal sin is a direct ticket to hell! But God, so loving and merciful, afforded us a way in order to be cleansed and be re-charged again, through Confession. With Jesus’ mercy, both payment and penalty are paid.   
      Fr.John Corapi pointed out that The Ten Commandments is a good way to start to help us in the examination of conscience. He challenged us by saying, “If you have not violated the first commandment then there is no need to go down to the third or fourth.” and he went on and on. At the end of the 10 commandments I murmured in my heart “Forgive me Father for I have sinned against all the Ten commandments.”
      That’s it? No! And after the Confession detach oneself from all those sinful activities. As renewal is a process, healing and conversion depends on how sorrowful I was in begging for God’s mercy. After all, who wants to lick back its own vomit?


New Advent