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Friday, October 27, 2017

CHRIST-CENTERED COMMUNITY, SERVING ONE ANOTHER WITH LOVE

Reported by: Julita Kantod
Photos by: Soccom Tawau

Tawau: 18 October 2017 marked another historical moment for the Diocese of Sandakan, not only that they celebrated their 10th anniversary of the erection of the diocese and the episcopal ordination of His Lordship Bishop Datuk Julius Dusin Gitom, but also the unveiling and launching of their Vision and Mission Statements of the diocese.  These triple joy celebrations were hosted by the Parish of Holy Trinity Church, Tawau.
In light with the launching of the Vision and Mission (V & M) statements, the committee organized a Talk, a day earlier at 2.00pm in the parish hall. The Talk was on Basic Ecclesial Community (BEC) delivered by His Eminence Cardinal Anthony Soter Fernandez and later followed by questions and answers session. Since BEC is the pastoral thrust of this diocese, it is pertinent that it goes in the same direction in fulfilling the vision and mission of the diocese. In view of the importance of understanding and ownership of the V & M, the next session was allocated for a briefing on the V & M and Pastoral Plan of the Diocese of Sandakan by Mr. Pilis Malim, the Chairman Diocesan Focus Committee. In his briefing, he shared that it took them seven tedious years in formulating the V & M and finally seven lettered words summed up the statements which will guide the diocese in the coming years. It is the wish of the diocese that all parishes within its jurisdiction will incorporate the V & M to their pastoral planning. Around three hundred lay leaders, Bishops, Priests and Religious attended the Talk and Briefing.
Mr. Reynaldo De Los Santos
Later in the evening, the organisers headed by Mr. Reynaldo De Los Santos, hosted a dinner reception to commemorate the celebration in one of the leading hotels in town.
The summit of the 10th anniversary celebration was marked by a Thanksgiving Eucharistic Mass presided over by His Lordship Bishop Julius Dusin Gitom and con-celebrated by His Eminence Cardinal Anthony Soter Fernandez, His Grace Archbishop John Wong of Kota Kinabalu Archdiocese, His Lordship Bishop Cornelius Sim of Brunei Vicariate, His Lordship Bishop Cornelius Piong of Keningau Diocese, Rev. Msgr. Nicholas Ong of Holy Trinity Tawau, and all the priests from Sandakan and Keningau Dioceses. Among the 800 attendees, were the Mother General of the FSIC, religious nuns and the Parish Pastoral Chairmen and their councillors, Lay leaders from the five parishes within the Sandakan diocese (Holy Trinity Church Tawau, St. Mary Cathedral Sandakan, St. Dominic Lahad Datu, St. Martin Telupid, Our Lady of Fatima Beluran and St. Francis Assisi Paitan Mission). 
During His Lordship homily, he unveiled the Vision and Mission Statements of the Diocese as, “CHRIST-CENTERED COMMUNITY, SERVING ONE ANOTHER WITH LOVE”.  In his homily, the prelate called upon the congregation to reflect on the character of St. Luke which is also the Saint's Feast Day. He invited all to discern and reflect on the Saint’s characteristics to live in communion with others, encouraging each other and supporting each other, merciful, caring, concern, and committed to building the church of God. He further hoped to see a community that will share their talent, wisdom, knowledge, and energy towards achieving the diocese vision and mission.
After the Eucharistic celebration, Rev. Msgr. Nicholas Ong, the hosting parish, and Rector gave his address to the congregation for their support in making this celebration a success. In his short message, he stressed on a few points through - the BEC program as a platform in achieving the V & M, Eucharist as the priority of life, live in harmony within the community, deepening the faith to the younger generation for a continuity of the mission and, in a lighter jest, an encouragement for the family to multiply more.
While on his brief speech, His Eminence Cardinal Anthony Soter Fernandez stressed on the oneness of all human race as people of God, living as one human race and in the presence of God. His Eminence reminded all that a true Christian only knows one language, that is, the language of “Love” as what the diocese V & M propagated. 
In His Lordship Bishop Julius keynote address, he thanked God for this auspicious event of the 10th Anniversary of the Diocese of Sandakan. He acknowledges that not only the diocese celebrating this three-in-one-event but the diocese was honoured, for the first time in the history of this diocese, to have a Cardinal present to witness this celebration.

His Lordship Bishop Datuk Julius Dusin Gitom concluded the speech by sharing his hope to all the faithful in the Diocese of Sandakan, “10 years of a journey as one Diocese has taught us the importance of understanding, accepting, respecting and consideration within parishes, priests, Religious, lay Leaders and also as parishioners. There are many ups and downs: failures, tiredness, conflicts, but at the same time, we also experienced joy, happiness, peacefulness and spiritual and physical growth in our journey. Formulating the Vision and Mission consider a long and challenging part but to implement it is another challenge that will take longer time through perseverance and patience.” The prelate ends his address by encouraging all the delegates and representatives of the 5 parishes of Diocese Sandakan to dedicate their wisdom, talent, knowledge, to be committed and determine towards the achievement of the Vision and Mission Statements.
Witness by the congregation and the 3 other Dioceses and the Cardinal of Malaysia, His Lordship officially launched the Vision and Mission statement followed by signing the Diocesan Pastoral Plan Documents which were then handed over to the representatives of each Parishes, Paitan Mission and a copy given to the Cardinal and the Arch/Bishops of the visiting 3 Dioceses ( Kota Kinabalu, Keningau and Brunei Darussalam ).

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