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Thursday, May 5, 2016

LOCAL PILGRIMAGE : ENTERING THE HOLY DOOR OF MERCY

BY JULITA KANTOD
Sandakan : The practice of pilgrimage has a special place in the Holy Year of Mercy, because it represents the journey each of us makes in this life. ( Misericodiae Vultus #14) In response to the call of the Holy Father, some 30 members of the Sandakan Diocesan Family Life Commission and Parish Family Life Ministry of St Mary's Cathedral Parish Sandakan, St Martin's Parish Telupid and Holy Trinity Parish, Tawau embarked on a local pilgrimage to St Mary's Cathedral on 29th and 30th April 2016. 

The Pilgrimage was aimed at :

  • Creating an impetus for self conversion to embrace God's mercy (MS #14)
  • Promoting and enhancing relationship bond between members of the commission and ministry
  • Providing an opportunity for members to gain spiritual exposure and experience of the pilgrimage in the local setting
On the evening, 29th April, Pilis Malim, Chairman of the Cathedral Parish Pastoral Council presented an insight into the early history and background of the Catholic mission in Sandakan. The history covers the pre and post war era. He also briefed on the development of the Marian Rosary Corridor and the proposed Stations of the Cross. The two projects when fully completed will be the added features of the Cathedral as a pilgrimage centre. The slide presentation was informative and inspiring.
The main event of the pilgrimage began at 7.00 am, 30th April, where some 70 pilgrims inclusive of local parishioners gathered at the frontage of St. Mary's Cathedral, preparing to cross the threshold of the Holy Door. Fr Stanley William Matakim led the prayer service followed with the solemn entrance to the Cathedral through the Holy Door.

It was a touching moment where pilgrims reflected on the mercy of God and in hunger for forgiveness of sin. It was also an opportunity to be with the Lord in deep silence, nourishing the soul, calming the mind and reflecting on one's life journey.
The next part of the pilgrimage was the climb to the summit of the Marian Hill ( Marian Rosary Corridor). Before the walk-up, Dominic Sintar, the Chairman of the Marian Hill briefed the pilgrims on the safety precautions along the way to the top of the Hill at the front of the Diocesan Worship Centre. A few nurses from St. Joseph's Divine Mercy group participated in the walk.
It was indeed an amazing and wonderful experience. The recitation of the Holy Rosary amidst the natural forest environment accompanied by the sounds of insects and birds made the climb peaceful, refreshing and solemn. Each one of the participants reached the summit with joy.
Fr Stanley,  presided over the Eucharistic celebration at the summit of the hill. In his homily, Fr Stanley touched on the beauty of being concerned towards others as one Diocese as well as one parish. He said, 'we need to be more tolerant, cooperative and assist one another as brothers and sisters in the one big family in order to build up our parish.'
Julita Kantod, the Chairperson of the Family Life Commission took the opportunity to encourage each participant to be aware of the family mission. She said, 'We cannot live by our own self. As family we have an important mission to bring other families to Christ. Being indifferent is not what we should be but rather, to be involved in the journey as one big family so that we can protect and sustain our faith, share it with others. Salvation is not for one person but as a whole we are to help each other, pray for each other.'

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