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Sunday, May 29, 2016

ST MARY'S CATHEDRAL WELCOMES 76 NEOPHYTES INTO THE FOLD

Article by Dalius LL
SOCCOM Sandakan
Sandakan: On the Feast of Pentecost (15th May 2016), St. Mary's Cathedral welcomed 76 neophytes into their fold with a dinner reception at the Parish Hall. This year around, St. Mary's Cathedral received 54 members from the Bahasa speaking community, 16 from the Chinese and 6 from the English speaking community. The occasion set an environment connecting the neophytes and the parishioners. 

Before inquirers are ready to become Catholics, they will have to undergo the Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults (RCIA) for nearly a year. This is a process where the adults or older children who have the interest in the Catholic faith develop their relationship with God and spend their time with the Catholic community in prayer, catechesis and dialogue. During the Easter vigil, those who are ready to embrace the faith are baptized and fully initiated into the Catholic community.
In his welcoming address, the rector of St. Mary's Cathedral Parish, Bishop Julius Dusin Gitom expressed his thankfulness to everyone for coming together in welcoming the neophytes into the Catholic family. He expressed his gratitude to all the RCIA facilitators who have dedicated their service in the ministry and in the same note he reminded the parishioners that the ministry is not solely the responsibility of the facilitators but the responsibility of all to accompany the neophytes in their journey of faith. 

He encouraged more parishioners of the parish to come forward to serve in this noble ministry. As for the neophytes, he challenged them by saying, “I hope that you are not only coming to Church on every Sunday but do participate in the many programs and ministries in the church, and especially in serving as facilitators in the RCIA as well.” 
The prelate went on to say, 'This evening is appropriate to celebrate the welcoming of the neophytes because it coincides with Pentecost Sunday, the day of the coming of the Holy Spirit, the birth of the church.'

He concluded by saying, “Let us emulate the first Christian community, who are eager and empowered by the Holy Spirit to bring good news to other people. Let this be our spirit not only today but throughout our lives in bringing good news to others.”
During the dinner, the neophytes presented a few songs and gave their sharing and personal testimonials. 

Eric Ng Yen Kong – "I am drawn to the verse in John 3 : 16, For God so loved the world that He gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life. This is the promise given to us. My acceptance of the Catholic faith was filled with joy. I was overjoyed when I was baptized during Easter Vigil together with my wife and children. We were born anew.  The beauty of the faith is love and it is love that have changed my life. Love that flows in the family and the community has brought us closer and enhanced unity. I am now a member of the Sri Taman Basic Ecclesial Community. There are still much to learn in my new found faith and my community is giving me the much needed support."
Evayana Palikin – "I am married to a Chinese Catholic some 17 years ago. Together we have 3 children. My husband has never ceased to encourage me to join the RCIA. I have never responded because I held on to my faith. When my mother-in-law passed away recently, I began to ask myself, what if I am called by the Lord, where would I go? The question kept on playing in my mind. It was troubling me. It was last year that I finally said 'YES' and enrolled myself in the RCIA process. I just want to praise and thank our Lord for His grace, my facilitators for their dedication and the community for journeying with me. Today, I feel I am much closer to God and strengthened in my faith life. I am guiding my children to follow Christ. Please pray for me to remain faithful to the Catholic faith and be a genuine witness of Christ.
Ericson Somania – “RCIA has taught me how to live as a Christian, how to turn to God and pray, how to be forgiving and how to love one another. The interactive sessions throughout the process had enlightened me on the many challenges in life.  Now I realized that God is always with me in all situations. I pray that I will be able to go through with life challenges and now I am feeling happier, more calm and at peace. Thank you to all my facilitators.
Alison Liew – “I went to  a few churches in search of God and ended here in the Catholic Church. I believe this is God's plan. This is a calling. I am grateful that I am now in God’s house. In times of trouble, I know whom to turn to and who to trust. God is always around to extend us His hand. I will hold on to Him. That way, I become more energetic and feel lighter as I surrender my problem to Him. He knows and He guides. People around me are happy and my parents are happy too that I have accepted Jesus Christ as my Lord and Saviour.”

Jordan Oh I was extremely happy the day I was baptized. I am a new creation, forgoing the old and adopting the new. I regretted because it has taken me too long to make a decision to embrace the Catholic faith. It was a long journey with many obstacles before the Lord finally chose me. I will rely on Him more and I will always seek His mercy. He is the living God. Whatever difficulties we encounter, all we need is to pray to our Father and He will respond. There is no problem that He cannot solve. My heart is at peace and fill with joy. Praise the Lord!
Daphne Chan – “The greatest gift of my life is the gift of baptism on 26th March 2016 when I turned 18. Opportunities came knocking at the door of my heart to meet the Lord. I turned Him away. It wasn't until last year when I made up my mind to join the RCIA. Things changed for the better. I believe and want to abide to pray always to God, have deep faith in God and never cease to love God. In that way, God will always be with us. He will make everything right. He will always give us the best of the best. The problems we face in life are in fact lessons God gave us so that in solving them relying in His power and mercy, we may grow, mature and become strong. God indeed is great. I am now with the Chinese Youth Ministry, hoping to  share my little talent with the young people."
The reception concluded at 9.30 pm with a Closing Prayer led by Bishop Julius Dusin Gitom.

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