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Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Parish Lenten Recollection: Journeying Together as A Big Family

By Susanna Cordova

St Mary's Cathedral, Sandakan: A Lenten Recollection from 23 to 24 February 2018,  was organized by the Star of Yahweh Covenant Community with the theme "Journeying Together as A Big Family" as the parishioners observed the Season of Lent. The event started with a welcoming speech by the PPC Chairman, Pilis Malim, who emphasized the Diocesan Pastoral Plan towards achieving the Vision and Mission. "This kind of event shows the active participation of parishioners in the church. All the church groups need to participate and work together to fulfill them", he said.
Registration of participants
Pilis Malim gives his welcoming speech
The parish rector, Fr. David Garaman, in his introduction of the Lenten Recollection "Lent is our preparation time to celebrate the greatest feast of our church. Lent is an important season for spiritual renewal because during lent we are journeying with one another in following the Lord in our deepest humanity and focus to mirror Christ. This Lent Season is also a stepping stone to journey together as one community united in Christ, without looking at the differences. Although several groups and communities in this parish, still we have to look at it as one under the same Lord. Each one has to work and accept others regardless of which community or ministry they came from. He also mentioned that each group has to break the 'individualistic wall' that separates one from the other".

In his talk, Fr David quipped "to grow spiritually is the significance of Lent. Having that in mind, one should be energetic and full of enthusiasm. Retreat or recollection bears the three R's meaning Rest, Reflect and Renew. It obviously means, a time to rest, to reflect and renewed".
Fr. David the main speaker during the 2-day recollection
He continued "the word Lent refers to the days of fast preceding, Easter, which is used to mean in Latin term "quadragesima" meaning the "forty days" or more literally, the "fortieth day".  Remarkably, the season of Lent is more to penitential prayer, fasting and alms-giving as taught by the Church. Besides, healing of relationship through the Sacrament of  Reconciliation is made possible by God's grace, even though we do not deserve it. Next is, to  commit to change. Through this gift of God's love, a conversion of heart would eventually bring about a revolutionary decision of doing work differently and putting priorities in everyday life. As a result, Easter becomes meaningful as we too, experience Good Friday for our sins and ‘re-born' to a new life in Christ through the Baptism.
Participants from various groups in the parish listen attentively at the recollection
On the second day, Fr. David explained comprehensively the DPP logo which symbolises all the parishioners journeying together with one common vision and mission. He invited them to develop a Christ-centred community by serving one another with love and to foster unity in the spirit to help achieve the Vision and Mission of the Diocese.
Group discussion based on the questions given
Henry Solibun as one of the participants shared his view on the vision and mission of the diocese
Below were several prepared questions for reflection, followed by group discussion and sharing.
1.Will you die to yourself as a member of the body of Christ?
2.Do you understand that you are called to share in the unity that comes from your union with Him?
We must put Christ in the centre of life as we journey together to achieve our vision and mission.
Miriam Lee said that we have to be like Christ to serve with love and accept one another
On the final day, Fr. David acknowledged that the sharing based on the reflection was uplifting. He encouraged the participants to purchase the Diocesan Pastoral Plan as a guide to understand properly the Vision and Mission. "A sense of belonging, instilled  in every parishioner, will attract more participation. This would develop into humbly serving others, with Christ as the center , to minister like Him. As a body of Christ, there is a need us to unite in order to become "the church",  he concluded.
SYCC elder, Michael Lee gives thanks and gratitude for the participants' attendance as well as to Fr. David Garaman for his great input in this recollection.
The session finished at 12.30 noon with a concluding prayer by Fr David, followed by lunch.

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