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Tuesday, April 5, 2016

The Diocese of Sandakan welcomes 334 New Members to the Church During Easter Vigil

Article by DaliusLL
Photos by Leonard
Sandakan: Easter Vigil was celebrated on 26th March 2016 at 7.30pm in St. Mary's Cathedral with about 2,000 parishioners attended the final day of the Paschal Triduum. Holy Saturday is the final day of Lent, of Holy week and of the Easter Triduum, the three days (Holy Thursday, Good Friday and Easter Vigil), during which Christians commemorate the Passion and Death of Jesus Christ and prepare for His Resurrection. 
The Easter Vigil was celebrated by Rt. Rev. Julius Dusin Gitom, Bishop of the Sandakan Diocese which began with the blessing of the fire and the lighting of the Easter candle outside the Cathedral's compound. The Easter proclamation or Exsultet was sung by seminarian Christopher Ireneus with the congregation holding their lighted candles which lighted the darkened interior of the Church.
In the liturgy of the word, three readings from the Old Testament with psalms proclaimed in between were read before the congregation in darkness until the Gloria was exclaimed with the bell rung simultaneously on which lights were switched on brightening up the whole Cathedral. This was followed by the proclamation of the word taken from the New Testament.   
“Tonight we joined the whole church throughout the world to celebrate the Passover of the Lord, to celebrate his resurrection. Tonight is the night of the nights and the feast of all feasts. Therefore let us rejoice, let our feelings catch-up with conviction on this holy night. We use fire, and darkness, and waters, readings and songs to mark and to evoke the great event of our salvation,” as expressed joyfully by Bishop Julius in his opening note of the homily.  Touching on the joy of the Risen Lord, the prelate shared that it is our Christian duty and obligation to share this joy of the Risen Lord with others. To the catechumens, the prelate reminded them that baptism is not just a rite that they have to undergo just because they wanted to become members of the Catholic Church, but the rite goes deeper than that, for through baptism they will become children of God. 

Beginning tonight they will journey with the community of faith and journey with the whole church in pilgrimage to God’s heavenly kingdom. The prelate encouraged them to actively participate in the life of the church, live life as a witness to the Good News and sow the seeds of love to others in their daily lives. 

He concluded his homily by saying, “Let us all welcome our new members with open arms and let us continue to journey with them, strengthening their lives in faith in the Risen Lord and together we may become witnesses of God’s love and mercy. Let us pray that the peace of Easter will remain in our heart always and make us the messengers of His good news in the world today.”
After the homily, the prelate proceeded to the baptism font for the Liturgy of Baptism. The catechumens were called forward and presented by their sponsors to be baptized, witnessed by the whole congregation through live closed circuit TV projectors. A total of 135 catechumens were baptized in St Mary's Cathedral Parish; 6 English speaking and 54 Bahasa speaking catechumens were baptised at St Mary's Cathedral, while at the same time 16 Chinese speaking catechumens were baptized at St. Joseph's Church, administered by Fr. Sunny Chung. Similarly at St. Mark’s Church another 57 Bahasa speaking catechumens were baptized by Fr. Stanley William Matakim. Two other catechumens were baptized at Our Lady of Fatimah Church, Beluran. 

This year around, the Diocese of Sandakan welcomed 334 new members to the Church; 135 from St Mary's Cathedral Parish, Sandakan, 108 from St Dominic's Parish, Lahad Datu, 51 from Holy Trinity Parish, Tawau and 40 from  St. Martin's Parish, Telupid. 

The Easter vigil celebration concluded at 11.00 pm with everyone in jovial mood, exchanging Easter greetings. Colourful Easter eggs, contributed by the the many church groupings, communities and ministries were distributed to parishioners.

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