Category Archives: May 2018

BM Legionaries organise fellowship for senior parishioners

KOTA KINABALU – The Sacred Heart Cathedral BM Legionaries organised their third lunch fellowship for senior parishioners at the right wing of the Sacred Heart Parish Centre here on 27 May 2018.

Over 30 registered members attended the fellowship after the 10:45 am BM Mass. The event was graced by Father Maxmillianno Hontor.

The fellowship, started in August 2017, is organised alternately every two months by the BM Legionaries (LOM) and the Komuniti Tritunggal Mahakudus (KTM).

With the BM community coming into the scene, the three main language communities of the cathedral parish have come full circle in honouring their respective senior members in this simple but meaningful way.


Article reproduced from Catholic Archdiocese of Kota Kinabalu

CMI ends Marian month with rosary procession

BUKIT PADANG – The Church of Mary Immaculate (CMI) here ended the month of May with a rosary procession on 24 May 2018.

Around 50 people attended the bilingual (English, Mandarin) rosary procession, the first in CMI’s history, around the car park with lighted candles.  The devotion ended with a potblessed fellowship at the canteen.

The different groups and ministries took part in praying the rosary in English (Mon, Tue, Thu) and Mandarin (Wed, Fri) at 7:30 pm since May 1.

Throughout the year, the rosary is recited before the 6 pm Mandarin Sunset Mass on Saturdays and before the 9 am English Mass on Sundays.

The Rosary is an important devotion that honours Mary while focusing on the events in the life of Jesus Christ.

There are twenty mysteries reflected upon in the Rosary, and these are divided into the five Joyful Mysteries (said on Monday and Saturday), the five Luminous Mysteries (said on Thursday), the five Sorrowful Mysteries (said on Tuesday and Friday), and the five Glorious Mysteries (said on Wednesday and Sunday).

The question is sometimes asked, why, of all the incidents in our Lord’s life, the Rosary only considers these particular twenty. The mysteries of the Rosary are based on the incidents in the life of Our Lord and His Mother that are celebrated in the Liturgy. There is a parallel between the main feasts honouring our Lord and his Mother in the liturgical year, and the twenty mysteries of the Rosary. Consequently, one who recites the twenty mysteries of the Rosary in one day reflects on the whole liturgical cycle that the Church commemorates during the course of each year. That is why some of the Popes have referred to the Rosary as a compendium of the Gospel. One cannot change the mysteries of the Rosary without losing the indulgences that the Church grants for the recitation of the Rosary. –


Article reproduced from Catholic Archdiocese of Kota Kinabalu

LiFE community members attend silent women’s retreat

The retreatants pose with Sr Josephine Preza RVM (standing middle row, with bouquet) after the retreat, 10-11 Mar 2018, Kokol Prayer Summit Manggatal.

KOKOL, Manggatal – LiFE Community of Sacred Heart Cathedral created a space for Catholic women to quiet down and contemplate on the reflections given in a two-day silent retreat, 10-11 Mar 2018 at Kokol Prayer Summit, with the theme, Beauty for Ashes (Is 61:3, 35).

The retreat was facilitated by Sister Josephine Preza of the Congregation of the Religious Virgin Mary Philippines on her fourth visit to Kota Kinabalu.

Sr Jo, as she is known, presented the story of the prodigal son, inviting everyone to put themselves in the story. Most of the retreatants were able to identify themselves in it and shared their encounters.

Gathered around the cross, Sr Jo invited everyone to hold their pain and to not let it just past as it is an uncomfortable feeling that one usually wants to get rid of.

The gesture of lighting a candle and putting it into a decorated glass jar helped everyone to focus on the ritual. The letting go of pain through the power of the cross, allowing Jesus’ wounds to meet theirs and encounter redemptive suffering was a healing experience for many.

Prior to the weekend retreat, Sr Jo facilitated a five-day Retreat in Daily Life. Two women shared their prayer experience after completing the retreat.

One of them shared on how she hurried prayer time and treated it as another task to be done in her day. Giving time to God in prayer during the weekday retreat brought revelation and healing to her.

Another woman shared about the discovery of her anger with God for having an autistic son. Times of prayer and embracing the identity of being blessed by God helped her to see her life differently.

The other retreatants said they were able to relate with their sharings as they too felt like they have been hurrying prayer time and blaming God for the difficulties they are facing.  Beatrice Chong

Below are some of the reflections of the retreatants.

Improving communication with God

The silent retreat has a tremendous effect on me where I’ve learned to improve my communication with God. Apart from coming there to rest, be refreshed and to discover Beauty in Ashes, I’ve had the opportunity to learn the importance of being silent and listen to God as well as how to enter into a relationship with Him which I had been longing and searching for all of my life.

For me, I’ve experienced God’s unconditional and unlimited love, forgiveness, peace, acceptance despite that I’m a terrible sinner and am just like the “Lost Son” coming back to his father as in Luke 15:11-32.

During the communal prayer on Saturday night, it was a very touching experience where I’d been taught how to hold and release, past life, all my anger, hurt, worries, frustration, and sadness to God.

Sister Josephine taught me to put it all in Jesus wounds by presenting my lighted candle (in a glass jar) to Jesus. Upon presenting my lighted candle to Jesus, I felt lightened, released, peace and I saw the image of Jesus inviting me so he can embrace me. It was truly a wonderful moment and experience for me.

I had also learned to do personal reflection in silence through scripture. We were taught to take note of what word or phrase stands out to ourselves and thereafter, come back to that word or phrase throughout the day, being present to its impact and invitation.

In conclusion, this silent retreat has greatly impacted me. Now I can see myself getting closer to God, learning to be silent at the same time listen to Him even in my daily busy life, as a working mother and wife. I started to read the daily readings and bring my Bible to the office to read during my lunch hour. –Susan Liew

The retreat helps me to be silent and still

I went to the retreat with my mom and sister and also with a pain in my heart, hoping and searching that I’ll get an answer. Surely, I got my answer.

This women’s retreat with Sr Jo was indeed fruitful and helpful for a person who is constantly busy with work, hardly having a full focus on “God time.”

It helped me to focus and be silent and still, disconnected with the world and just be connected to God. As I was contemplating on the scriptures given by Sr Jo, God showed me an insight of the answer to my pain as I reflected Jesus on the cross. It’s like he wants me to know that to love is also to understand love in pain and to be willing to suffer for love. – Desiree Laban

The Father embraces me

I would describe my relationship with God and others as a “safe” relationship before I attended the retreat. I love but am not too loving. I care but not too much. In short, my sole purpose of loving was making sure I was not hurt.

During the retreat, God brought many painful memories alive. The past wounds of betrayal and losses felt raw once again. I was in great agony during the whole process and for the first time I ‘saw’ our Heavenly Father was there. He was crying harder than I was. I had never seen Him shed so many tears for me “I am sorry, my child, I know it hurts. I am here. You are made for love,” he said gently.

I continued to feel the pain and cry out to Him. Just when I thought my heart was going to burst from crying, I felt a sense of warmth. He was embracing me like a father would embrace a little baby. I was small, wounded and fragile. Being in His embrace, I felt safe.

My heart finally had the courage to admit I felt hurt by God. He hurts me for allowing losses and betrayals to crush me. I cannot see Him in my darkest moments because I refused to go through the darkness with Him. I now know God can be found in the darkest moments of my life but I have to reveal the darkness to Him.

Vulnerability is letting my true self be seen and admitting that I am afraid. It’s true that being vulnerable is scary but God has shown me the path to love authentically is being vulnerable to people who love and care for me. – Jessica Rine

 Get in touch with my deepest being

This was my first time joining a silent retreat and the experience was extraordinary. It allowed me to get in touch with the deepest, truest part of my being, by spending personal and quality time, one to one with God in silence.

The theme ‘Beauty for Ashes’ together with the chosen scripture of the Prodigal Son for me to contemplate on had made me realise that as human, we may fall into the darkness of sin, as dark as the ashes, but the Light of the beloved Father will never fail to always save us in His warm embrace and make known to us the greatness of His unconditional love.

On top of all that, this experience continues to strengthen my trust in His unfailing love, to always believe and never give up on Him. – Sarah Michael

The Father waits for my return

The retreat was a truly amazing experience for me. I was at a point of my spiritual journey, where I looked back and wondered how I have drifted away from the close relationship I once enjoyed with Jesus. From spending an hour in prayer each day in my youth, I had slowly allowed it to become shorter with time.

When I became a mother, I had to be satisfied with a quick 10 minutes here, and 5 minutes there! And now, the babies had grown up, and I had grown apart from God. So, my personal aim of the retreat was to reignite my personal prayer time with the Lord again.

From the beginning of the retreat, Sr Josephine was encouraging and clear in her instructions and guidance as we prayed with scripture. The Prodigal Son was the passage that moved, yet troubled me most. Having associated myself often with the character of the dissatisfied and unforgiving elder brother, it scared me while I was in prayer, and saw myself as the beaten prodigal son, lost and dirty in the dark pig-sty…. paralysed in misery as I realised my past mistakes. Worse still I felt unable to return to God! I was so unworthy to return to my Father. I felt so ashamed. It was my fault, so I had to suffer the consequences.

Then, Sr Josephine’s words reminding me that God gave up His only son for me. He is waiting for my return, imagine the agony He goes through while waiting….so how could I continue to cause Him pain by not returning to His loving embrace?

I needed to forgive myself and return to my Father’s loving embrace…not because I deserved it, but because not doing so would continue to wound His loving heart! Thanks be to God! I concluded my retreat with the resolution to begin spending an hour a day with my beloved Jesus…once again! Amen. -CChang


Article reproduced from Catholic Archdiocese of Kota Kinabalu

Aspirants and seminarians take Easter break at Kg Notoruss

A pose from the aspirants and seminarians after the Easter break at Kg Notoruss Penampang, 2-5 Apr 2018.

PENAMPANG – The Easter break for archdiocesan aspirants and seminarians took place in Bamboo House Riverside at Kg Notoruss here on 2-5 April 2018.

They were joined by their respective directors, Father Mattheus Luta and Father Joshua Liew, as well as Deacon Russell Lawrine.

The objective was to strengthen the relationships among themselves and also with God through spiritual and other activities.

On the first day, they visited the local villagers with Fr Mattheus and Deacon Russell blessing their houses.

During the fellowship, seminarian Brywindaren Gordon shared the story of his reception of Confirmation during Easter Vigil at Sacred Heart Cathedral.

The group also celebrated the birthday of Asp Stephen Suhaili.

In his homily at Mass the next day, Fr Joshua explained the passage taken from John 20:15-18 where Jesus asked Mary Magdalene, “Why are you crying? Who do you look for?” He said, “Often, we see many past events that made us upset and scared, so we forget that Jesus has taught us to help one another and become a witness of the resurrection of Jesus.”

He added that the task to help one another will be achieved by the close relationships among members of the community which they live in. He then shared with them his experience as a seminarian at St Peter’s College Kuching.

At the concluding Mass on the last day, Fr Mattheus exhorted the attendees not to emulate what Judas Iscariot did in selling Jesus to the chief priests (cf Mt 26:25).

Deacon Russell led the closing prayer before the group left for home. – Evanz Kolo


Article reproduced from Catholic Archdiocese of Kota Kinabalu

IY students share vocation stories with neophytes

The neophytes pose with Sr Margaret Shak FSIC (with blue veil) and the four seminarians who shared their vocation stories with them on Vocation Sunday, 22 Apr 2018, Sacred Heart Parish Centre Karamunsing.

KOTA KINABALU – In conjunction with Vocation Sunday, 22 Apr 2018, four Initiation Year students from St Peter’s College here, shared their vocation stories with 26 neophytes from English RCIA class of 2017/2018 at the Sacred Heart Parish Centre Karamunsing.

The seminarians were Brywinedren Godon and Timothy Galisin of Keningau Diocese, Jonathan Seah Kang Wai of Sandakan Diocese and Gary Aquinas anak Boniface of Sibu Diocese.

Seminarian Jonathan started with an opening prayer and brief explanation about vocation. He said one should not be scared but to respond because it may be God who is calling.

Seminarian Timothy shared the story of a shepherd and his sheep. He said, “The shepherd broke the legs of the sheep and then carries it. The sheep will remember that moment.”

He continued, “Are we good sheep? Are we trying our best to follow Jesus? Listen to the Shepherd. Ask yourself. Does God wants me to follow this way?”

Seminarian Brywine then shared his vocation story. He said, “Deep in my heart, I know it was God who called me. It took me one and a half years to see why I refused to enter the seminary. I was waiting for the right moment. This worry became an obstacle to see God’s grace.” He regretted the lost years but added, “Life is about going forward. Make peace with your regrets.”

In his turn, David Tan, RCIA facilitator, asked the neophytes, “As Catholics, are we serious with our vocation?’

There was another vocation sharing before the concluding prayer by this writer. – Gary Aquinas


Article reproduced from Catholic Archdiocese of Kota Kinabalu

New UMS-CSG officials attend preparatory SPC

Serve and Preparation Campers pose for the camera.  The camp at Beatitude Retreat House Tamparuli took place 6-8 Apr 2018.

TAMPARULI – Catholic Student Group (CSG) from Universiti Malaysia Sabah brought its newly appointed members of Exco-Biro and Board of Directors and other members to Beatitude Retreat House in Kg Minangkop Tamparuli to attend a programme called Serve and Preparation Camp (SPC) on 6-8 Apr 2018.

The programme aimed to help the members to prepare themselves to serve young Catholics in the institute and to further open themselves to serve the outside community.

It also brought the participants to know and acknowledge Jesus Christ as their foundation in serving one another.

The theme for the programme was taken from Luke 2:35 “…and a sword will pierce your soul too…” while St Teresa of Calcutta was chosen as the patron saint for the programme.

Highlights of SPC were the implementation of Semi-Silence and Grand Silence, sessions of Examen, The Joy of Serving, LDK (Latihan Dalam Kumpulan), The Greatest Weakness Pride, Games, and Pre- Liturgy.

Grand Silence was to deepen the reflection and discernment of serving God in CSG-UMS. Semi Silence was implemented on the second night. One of the advantages of these exercises was preserving the silence of the night so that other people around the retreat house could rest and sleep.

The Examen was to help the participants a) to become aware of God’s Presence, b) to review the day which includes all emotions experienced that day for e.g. joy, sorrow, disappointment, melancholy, wrath, fear, c) to give thanks for everything that occured that day regardless of whether it was happy or disappointing because it was His plan, d) to face your shortcomings by looking at the weaknesses or sins throughout the day, and e) to look towards tomorrow by asking His forgiveness, repenting and preparing oneself for tomorrow.

In the session, The Joy of Serving, groups of six members discussed the main attributes of a leader and came up with humility, trustworthy, courage, good communication, able to bring out the best in others, and Jesus-centered.

In LDK session, participants were asked to list down five strengths, weaknesses, and improvements that affect them as a community.

Among the strengths identified were open-mindedness, having an open heart, forgiving easily, committed, responsible and asking help from the Holy Spirit.

Among weaknesses identified were laziness in serving, lack of knowledge of the Catholic Church, being judgmental and others.

To aid them in their discussions, the participants were asked how “to be aware in order not to judge” to they answered that reflection on behaviour is needed.

To the question on how to overcome fear in serving, they said prayer should be at the forefront before going out to serve.

In the session, ‘The Greatest Weakness: Pride,’ Samuel Bernard, the facilitator, emphasised on having good communication in order for the CSG to grow.

Samuel illustrated it with the fall of Adam and Eve who blamed others instead of themselves in their pride.

He said, “Saying ‘I’m sorry, I’m wrong, please give me another chance’ is always better but it’s not an excuse to run away from responsibility. – Alvin Cassidy Lajangang

Article reproduced from Catholic Archdiocese of Kota Kinabalu

UCSG organises welcoming juniors party

The participants of the Welcoming Juniors Party pose for remembrance, 21 Apr 2018, Sacred Heart Parish Centre Karamunsing.

KOTA KINABALU – Thirty new students attended the Welcoming Juniors Party (WJP) organised by the United Catholic Students Group (UCSG) at the Sacred Heart Parish Centre here on 21 Apr 2018.

The organisers were from CUCMS Sabah, UniTAR International University Sabah Regional Campus and Sidma College Sabah.

WJP is an event held every semester and it is one of the most important events in UCSG’s calendar where they welcome and show appreciation to new members. Alumni members were also present at the event.

The participants came from different places and backgrounds. The theme for the gathering was taken from Acts 2:44, “And all that believed were together, and had all things common.”   Games, praise and worship, sharing of faith and other activities were conducted.

An alumnus, Amylyn Bihin, was invited to give a talk on faith and shared her experience of following Christ. She was a former member of the Youth Ministry Office. She was not afraid to tell how God’s love changed her life.

It was Nester Duncan Tai’s first WJP and he said that studying and serving God are the two most essential things for Catholic students to do. He said, “Joining UCSG is really a blessing as it allows me to further strengthen my faith. There were lots of fun and helpful activities in the WJP which taught me how to pray as well as praising and worshipping God.”

Evita Delmundo, another participant,  felt the Holy Spirit guiding her throughout the event as she gained a lot of insights. What she anticipated in the Christian youth event was meeting new friends and being one family in Christ.

She said, “Such an event is a place for us to worship God. Furthermore, we should not enjoy and indulge ourselves in worldly things. We should give more space for God and remember Him all the time as He remembers us all the time too, without fail.” – Jason Christie Jimmy


Article reproduced from Catholic Archdiocese of Kota Kinabalu

Veteran Stellarians honoured at school’s golden jubilee

Datuk Edward Yong hits the gong to open the golden jubilee dinner celebration of SM Stella Maris, Hakka Hall Likas, 28 Apr 2018.

LIKAS  – Four veteran Stellarians were honoured at the golden jubilee dinner of SM Stella Maris Tanjung Aru at the Hakka Hall here on 28 Apr 2018.

Fifty years ago, in 1968, 31 young girls aged around 12 made up the one and only class of Form One in the newly established SM Stella Maris in Tanjung Aru.

Of the 31, four went on stage to be honoured as the “seniors” at the Glorious Golden Years Dinner Event to mark the 50th anniversary of SM Stella Maris.

Joining them on stage were another 41 “seniors” from the various batches of the 70’s. A very emotional and proud moment for them and for their alma mater, to be sure!

Mary Kinti (1st batch) recalled with gratitude how she was guided, and had a love for reading cultivated in her by her first principal, Sister Stella Chin FSIC, which led her to volunteer and help in the school library and eventually to the career path of a librarian in the Sabah State Library.

Lina Cheung of Class 77-79 attributed their becoming such amazing and unique individuals to their teachers who were their “shining stars.”  These educators worked with dedication to mould them towards becoming who they are today.  To them, she added, they (students) owed a debt of gratitude.

The school has come a long way.  “To have made it this far proves that the school is one of the most prestigious schools in the state, and the country as a whole,” underlined Datuk Edward Yong, the guest of honour for the dinner event.

He commended SM Stella Maris (SMSM) for their achievements, both in the academic and co-curriculum, and have produced numerous role models who are now serving the community and the country.

He also complimented the PTA, the school Alumni and the organising committee for the successful organisation of the anniversary festivities, which culminated in the grand dinner, to commemorate the school’s golden jubilee.

In conjunction with the jubilee, the organisers have also seized the opportunity to raise funds for the school to realise a new block for the implementation of a single session facility.

In her speech, Alumni president Irene George acknowledged that the aged school is in dire conditions and that there is a serious need of a new structure to offer safe and conducive amenities for the students.

She recalled in 2015, the then principal, Gertrude Jock turned to former students and challenged them to come back to help their alma mater in dire need.

Motivated young Stellarians, herself among them, rose to the challenge and the SM Stella Maris Alumni Association was born and registered.  Today the Alumni boasts a membership of 40.

Under the leadership of PTA president Zahara Ismail, PTA has received a contribution of RM7 million from Liberal Eden Sarawak Sdn Bhd for the construction works, and RM200,000 from Terminal Aman Sarawak Sdn Bhd for the airconditioning system.

The donations were handed over to Zahara at the dinner event, which was witnessed by Datuk Yong, who commented that the school has been able to sustain many years of good performance due largely to the cooperation of the stakeholders which include the PTA, the Alumni, the principal, and the students.

Adding humour to the solemn ceremony, Datuk Yong commended the principal, Goh Kui Liang, who holds the enviable position of being the first male principal for the all-girls school. Though a daunting task, nevertheless, he quoted “Behind every successful man, there is a strong woman”; and to think Goh has almost 800 “strong women” behind him, to the laughter of the crowd!

Among the diners were ex-students coming from Australia, New Zealand, Germany, Kuala Lumpur,  and Penang.


Article reproduced from Catholic Archdiocese of Kota Kinabalu

Family, Laity & Life Commission look into ways of sustaining basic family cell

Meeting in progress for the Family, Laity and Life Commission delegates, 23-25 Apr 2018, Bukit Mertajam.

BUKIT MERTAJAM – Thirty-five Family, Laity and Life Commission delegates were told to open their hearts, spread the love of family and laity, sustain the basic cell of the family, and journey together to build the Kingdom of God.

Archbishop John Wong, President of the Episcopal Regional Commission of Family, Laity and Life (ERCFLL), spelled out the mission of the ERCFLL as they gathered for their 5th annual meet at Domus St Anne here on 23-25 Apr 2018.

ERCFLL has been re-created to merge the Commissions of Family Life and Laity following the creation of the new Dicastery for the Laity, and Family and Life by Pope Francis on 1 Sep 2016 for “the promotion of the life and apostolate of the lay faithful, for the pastoral care of the family and its mission according to God’s plan and for the protection and support of human life.”

The annual gathering, which was hosted by Penang Diocese, were represented by the arch/dioceses of the Bishops’ Conference for Malaysia, Singapore and Brunei comprising of the Arch/dioceses of Kuala Lumpur, Kuching, Kota Kinabalu, Singapore, Penang, Melaka-Johor, Sibu, Miri, Keningau, Sandakan and Brunei Vicariate.

The reports from the delegates revealed that most dioceses have worked hard to bring awareness of the Pope’s Apostolic Exhortation on Family, Amoris Laetitia to the faithful.

Two newly inaugurated programmes in KL Archdiocese and Penang Diocese, namely the Retrouvaille Weekend – A Marriage Lifeline, and the Catholic Singles Dating Hub respectively, have stimulated interest from other delegates who expressed the desire to have them introduced in their dioceses.

Other interesting programmes reported included the Men’s Seminar: The Courageous Man, Marital First Responders Workshop, Marriage Discernment Weekend, HLS Family, Marriage Enrichment Experience, Rosary Rally and Reconciliation, Pastoral Care-From Womb to Tomb, Renewal of Marriage Vows, Promoting God’s Plan for the Family, Being Authentic Gifts (BAGs), Launch of Courage & Encourage, Catholic Divorce Survival Guide, and Family Prayer Packet.

Delegates agreed that in the light of the number of marriages breaking down, proper marriage preparation is of paramount importance. Although the modus operandi for marriage preparation varies, the delegates agreed that the time allocated for marriage preparation is too short.   A remedial proposal to mentor young couples after the Marriage Preparation programme by either those preparing or by senior married couples was suggested.  The delegates were informed that this has already been made compulsory in the Archdiocese of Kuching.

An eye-opening talk themed “Understanding the Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender (LGBT) community” was presented by Bryan Crucis Shen, a former Singapore Airforce pilot and now an accomplished independent Lay Missionary.

Commission members were taught the correct terms and terminology used in relation to LGBT. Shen explained that gender identity development could be influenced by the interactions and the environment in the family and may be contributory factors to same sex attraction (SSA). He also explained the difference between being Gay and SSA. Awareness was instilled into the delegates on issues impacting the family unit and the Church in relation to the onslaught of LBGT social challenge.

As part of the programme, the delegates were taken on a visit to Penang Island, where they visited the newly refurbished Church of the Assumption and the church museum.  The delegates were also treated to hawker food for which Penang is famous.

ERCFLL Conference 2019 will be hosted by Kuching Archdiocese. – Chris Kostka/Joseph Pragasam


Article reproduced from Catholic Archdiocese of Kota Kinabalu

Lawas hosts 10th ECMI conference

ECMI delegates pose with a migrant community they visited as part of their conference on 23-26 Apr 2018, Lawas Sarawak.

LAWAS – Lawas, a quiet town in the Diocese of Miri in northern Sarawak, hosted the 10th annual conference of the Episcopal Commission for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerants (ECMI) on 23-26 Apr 2018.

Thirty delegates comprising clergy, religious and lay representing all the arch/dioceses of the Bishops’ Conference of Malaysia, Singapore and Brunei spent four days at St Martin’s Church Lawas, receiving inputs and exchanging viewpoints and ideas for the ongoing pastoral care of the migrants and itinerants in their respective dioceses.

Delegates met and interacted with Indonesian and Filipino migrants working in the wood-processing industries. Bishop Bernard Paul, president of the Commission, presided an evening Mass at a lumber sawmill, which saw the active participation of some 200 migrant workers and their children from various lumber camps in the vicinity.

In his homily, Bishop Bernard commended the migrants for their tenacity and fortitude in facing  challenges and working under conditions that are often far from ideal. He encouraged them to look to Christ as the Good Shepherd who does not forget his flock and guides them to truth and freedom.

A visit to the local fishing village also opened the eyes of the delegates to the harsh realities of the fishing industry. Here, both foreigners and locals work to catch fish and smoke them for markets in Miri, Limbang and nearby Sabah and across the border to Brunei. In between sampling delicious smoked fish offered gratuitously, the delegates also enjoyed the warmth and hospitality of the people.

The situations of Indonesian migrants in the Archdiocese of Kuching and Diocese of Sandakan were highlighted by Father Alvin Ng and Father Phillip Muji respectively.

Shirley Joseph from Sandakan Diocese  presented the annual Migrant Sunday Kit, followed by a presentation by ECMI Chairperson, Peter Barnabas of the Diocese of Penang.  He shared on the International Catholic Migrants Commission (ICMC) council meeting in Rome in March and the ICMC meeting in Johor Bahru, Majodi centre in February this year.

The conference also featured Naoko Maruyama, South East Asia and East Asia coordinator of the Migrants and Refugees Section (personally directed by Pope Francis), on the Vatican’s Integral Human Development Office as guest speaker and resource personnel.

Maruyama reiterated the pope’s call to minister to migrants using the four action verbs, namely, to welcome, to promote, to protect and to integrate so as to ensure the integral dignity and humanity of the migrant or refugee. She also explained her role as the liaison between Bishop Conferences and the Vatican while pointing delegates the way to get assistance and support for issues pertaining to migrants and refugees in their own dioceses.

The delegates also took time to sit and discuss the ECMI conference forward moving direction.

Bishop Bernard Paul gave a much needed   recollection for all delegates. Before the exposed Blessed Sacrament, he asked everyone to ponder on the theme of “Oppression”. Participants were invited to ask themselves these questions: Where am I? Oppressed? Oppressing? Freeing? Is there anything oppressing me from setting the oppressed free?

The third day ended with Mass at the new Church of St Martin, with Bishop Richard Ng presiding.

The conference concluded with Mass presided by Fr Alvin Ng.   The delegates returned back to the migrant communities where they serve, recharged and energised to respond even more generously to challenges ahead. In the words of the Franciscan author, Richard Rohr, “We can only give away who we are. We can only offer to others what God has done in us.” – Fr Alvin Ng SJ


Article reproduced from Catholic Archdiocese of Kota Kinabalu
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