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Wednesday, October 5, 2016

3RD SABAH CATHOLIC WOMEN’S CONVENTION

“This Convention is a platform to bring Catholic women from all three arch/dioceses to build stronger bonding, united to be a strong voice for the poor...”


Catholic Women and Evangelization
SANDAKAN - More than 200 Catholic women from across the arch/dioceses of Sabah came together for four days from Sep19-23 “to rediscover, reconnect and renew” their faith as Catholic women together so as to “show the face of God’s mercy” to the poor, marginalized and those who are close to the heart of God, especially in this Year of Mercy.
Organizing Head Cecelia D’Souza’s opening words to the women of the Catholic Church here lent credence to the purpose of the women’s conference, its 3rd edition since inception in 2010.
The Catholic Women Apostolate of Sandakan Diocese hosted this year’s triennial event, which was held at Borneo Cove Hotel. Notably present were Bishop Julius Gitom, Bishop Cornelius Piong, and Archbishop John Wong. Among the clergy, were Msgr Nicholas Ong, Fr Claudius Andrew, Fr Rhobby Mojolou, and several Franciscan Sisters.
The hosting bishop, Bishop Gitom, presided over the celebration of the Eucharist on the first evening, followed by the launching ceremony, which was jointly officiated by Archbishop Wong who hit the gong three times, and Bishop Gitom who cut the streamer and unveiled the 3rd Convention Logo, which incidentally was designed by Fr Sunny Chung, and concluded with welcoming speeches by Cecelia D’Souza and Bishop Gitom. The cake cutting ceremony and fellowship dinner completed the program for the opening night.
To coincide with the Year of Mercy, the inputs for the sessions in the following days were fittingly chosen to focus on mercy and its works, with the aim of transforming the delegates into ‘witnesses of mercy’. The inputs were delivered by Spiritual Director of Catholic Women for South East Asia & Sabah, Archbishop John Wong, Bishop Julius Gitom, Bishop Cornelius, Msgr Nicholas Ong, Fr Rhobby Mojolou and Eva Siruno from Family Life Ministry of Sandakan Diocese.
Delivering his keynote address, Bishop Julius praised God and expressed his appreciation to the delegates for their ‘sacrifice in terms of time and money’ in order to be part of making this important event a success.
Referring to their theme ‘Catholic Women and Evangelization’, the prelate noted that it resonated with the call to always remember our responsibility as baptized Catholics, and expressed the hope that “all initiatives taken in this program are to give hope to Catholic women in order to share and spread His Word, especially in this Year of Mercy”.
“This hope is a real hope,” said the bishop, especially to those in most need, the lost, the poor, the lonely, and the marginalized.
“I am confident that through this Convention, we can do more for these people,” said Bishop Julius.
To strengthen this ‘hope’, he exhorted the delegates to allow this five-day program to “impel them towards the future with new zeal and hope, that this Convention be a platform to bring the Catholic women from the dioceses to build stronger bonding, united to be a strong voice for the poor, the marginalized, and those who are close to the heart of God.
“If we are united as one in heart and with God, we can bring the Gospel farther than our minds could imagine.
“Until the lay people take up their part in the Mission of the Church, we are not matured yet. 
“This is the 3rd Convention. I am confident that you are already ‘matured’ to be effective agents of transformation, inspired and encouraged to be more active in your serving and contribution to the well-being of God’s Kingdom,” concluded the bishop.
Aside from the inputs, time was allocated for the Rosary recitation at the Marian Mount, entering the Holy Door of St Mary’s Cathedral, and a closed-door meeting of the three arch/dioceses chief coordinators (Cecelia D’Souza/Sandakan, Anita Tunggolou/Kota Kinabalu, and Helena Koh/Keningau) with their Spiritual Director. 
At the closing ceremony, the Convention Banner was handed over to the next host, Kota Kinabalu Archdiocese, for the 4th Sabah Catholic Women’s Convention in 2019.

Source: Catholic Sabah
Photos by Catholic Women's Apostolate (Main Organizing Team)

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