Category Archives: Oct 2018

Presenting our Catholic ethos to mission schools

The Board of Governors (BOG) of the five Catholic mission schools in Sandakan paid an official visit to all their schools on Oct 8. They were accompanied by Fr David Garaman, the Rector of St Mary’s Cathedral and Pilis Malim, the Chairman of Parish Pastoral Council (PPC).

Mission schools place great emphasis on holistic education, balancing character development with academic excellence. It promotes the dignity, self-esteem and full development of the person, empowering young girls/boys to become people of integrity, with emphasis on the formation of the heart, so as to be committed to service to their family, nation and the world.

This is in tandem with the aspirations expressed in the Rukun Negara and the National Philosophy of Education. (Sabah Archdiocesan Education Commission)

In welcoming the Rector, the PPC Chairman, the BOG, and School Heads, Rose Solibun, Chairlady of Sandakan Diocesan Education Commission, affirmed the need to preserve the identity and maintain the ethos and special character of the mission schools.

In order to have the sense of ownership of the mission school, the BOG has played a greater part with active participation in the school’s affairs.

For a start, the School Heads were made aware of the importance of the ethos in preserving the Mission schools special character. Through this session, concise handbills on ethos, special character and tradition were presented to all the Headteachers of SM St Mary Secondary, SM St Cecilia Secondary, SK St Mary Convent and SK St Mary Labuk.

In his note of appreciation, Fr David Garaman said that he has been interested to look into the development of the mission schools since being appointed as the Rector of St Mary’s Parish. He acknowledged the need to have that sense of belonging through understanding the ethos, character and traditions of the mission schools. On the same note, he pointed out the importance of cooperation between the BOG, the School Heads and teachers in the Church to work together with one mind and one heart as a big team to realise that the mission schools are really ours.

He was pleased with the session (presenting of the ethos) and the schools’ walkabout as a good start and hoped that the visits to the schools will be held regularly. He thanked the Chairlady of the Diocesan
Education Commission for initiating the session, and the Headteachers of the schools for giving their time, especially in helping the Church to realise that the schools are really mission schools. He hoped that this cooperation and collaboration between the Church, the BOG and school Heads will be maintained so that we can make the mission schools truly belong to us.

The session ended with a luncheon hosted by SK St Mary’s Convent.


Article reproduced from Herald Malaysia online

Putrajaya urged to ratify UN declaration on religious freedom

A DAP parliamentarian urged Malaysia to sign and ratify the United Nations Declaration on the Elimination of All Forms of Intolerance and of Discrimination Based on Religion or Belief, which will allow for religious freedom in the country.

P Kasthuriraani (PH-Batu Kawan) said Malaysia needed to uphold the principles of human rights contained in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, in which Article 18 states that everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion.

This includes freedom to change one’s religion or belief, and freedom, either alone or in community with others and in public or private, to manifest his/her religion or belief in teaching, practice, worship and observance.

“Today, Malaysia is on Tier Two of the US Commission on International Religious Freedom report. A few recommendations have been made to ensure the freedom to practise one’s religion and beliefs will continue to grow, and be respected following the rule of law.

“On the issue of freedom of religion and beliefs, I wish to raise two issues which are yet unresolved, which are the usage of the Kalimah Allah and the ownership of religious materials.

“Even though these are sensitive issues, they need to be addressed. As the minister said, we need to start from home. If reforms to these cannot be done at home, how do we promote, or be defenders or promoters of human rights in other countries?” she questioned in her debate on the motion tabled by Foreign Minister Saifuddin Abdullah in the Dewan Rakyat.

Kasthuriraani said USCIRF had also made recommendations for the abolition of the Sedition Act which has been used as a weapon to intimidate Malaysians who wish to ask about issues deemed sensitive, such as the freedom of religion and beliefs.

“Another recommendation is the need to stop the arrests of individuals who practise Shia, Ahmadiyah and Baha’i (beliefs), in accordance with Article 11 of the Federal Constitution which states that Islam is the religion of the Federation, and that other religions can be practised in peace and harmony anywhere in the Federation.

“The Pakatan Harapan government must give support to public institutions such as the judiciary, the Attorney-General’s Chambers, enforcement, syariah courts, so that all those who live in Malaysia, even if they are not Malaysians, can experience this freedom,” she added.

The usage of Kalimah Allah and the ownership of religious materials remain a contentious and unresolved issue. It was reported that the High Court had deferred its ruling three times on whether Christians can use the word “Allah” in publications for the purpose of religious education within their own community.

A decision is, however, expected to be delivered at the end of this month, on Oct 29.

Ten years ago, customs officials seized eight CDs, titled Cara Hidup Dalam Kerajaan Allah, Hidup Benar
Dalam Kerajaan Allah and Ibadah Yang Benar Dalam Kerajaan Allah upon Sarawakian Jill Ireland’s arrival at the then Low-Cost Carrier Terminal (LCCT) in Sepang.

The Melanau Christian subsequently filed for a judicial review to reclaim the CDs and seek several declaratory reliefs.

In 2014, the High Court ordered the home ministry to return the CDs to Ireland, but declined to issue the declarations as it was bound by a Federal Court ruling.

The following year, the Court of Appeal upheld the ruling but ordered the High Court to hear Ireland’s application for the relief sought.

She is now seeking a declaration that her constitutional right to practise her religion was violated by the imposition of a restriction or ban on the import of educational materials.

In another case, the Federal Court ruled in 2014 that the HERALD could not use “Allah”, the Arabic word for God, in its Bahasa Malaysia section.

Chief Justice Tun Arifin Zakaria, chairing a seven-member panel, delivered a 4-3 majority decision against the church.

The HERALD had sought legal action after the Home Ministry prohibited it from using the word “Allah” and threatened to revoke its publishing permit.


Article reproduced from Herald Malaysia online

How religious institutions can unite the multi racial youth in Malaysia

Who would have expected that a simple meal of bubur lambuk porridge for the breaking of fast would sow the grains that would bloom further exchanges between the masjid and gereja, kuil-kuil and gurdwara? In the New Malaysia, efforts at interreligious encounters should not cease at just celebratory festivities. Continuous interactions should be enhanced.

On Oct 13, at Masjid Jamek Sultan Abdul Aziz, a dialogue themed Roles of Religious Institutions in Uniting Multi-Racial Youth in Malaysia was held with representatives from Assumption Church, Petaling Jaya, Chinese Methodist Church, St Paul’s Anglican Church, Gurdwara Sahib Petaling Jaya, Sri Sithi Vinayagar, and the International Forum on Buddhist-Muslim Relations.

The message, as encapsulated in remarks by Datuk Prof. Dr Azizan binti Baharuddin, Director General of Institut Kefahamam Islam Malaysia (IKIM), was for people to get to know each other, to humanise religion, to stay strong above intolerance and apprehension.

Key to establishing interfaith harmony are not issues that are religious in nature or harping on the superiority of one race/religion above another, but finding solutions to secular issues. Dr Azizan urged youths and adults alike to address universal issues like the environment, climate change, corruption and others which do not discriminate based on faith but affect everyone.

She also expressed that the dialogue should be a forerunner for combined activities in villages to comprehend the hardships of impoverished rural communities. Therefore, the day’s dialogue should not be a one-off event but the roots for healing for a better Malaysia.

In outlining how youths in Assumption had organised Fathers’/Mothers’/Grandparents’Day events, Fr Gregory Chan not only revealed the handing of leadership roles to youths, but also indicated the involvement of teenagers and young adults would be the next booster for people coming together for interreligious activities. He also voiced that Assumption aims to hold more functions to celebrate each other.

Bryston Chai spoke about the common interests of Malaysian youths that can unite, namely makan and sports.

Fr Chan then continued about how youths can improve the community and uplift the lives of others e.g. “in line with Laudato Si on caring for the environment ie organising gotong royong as PJ is getting dirtier.” He also informed that simple gestures like reaching out to the aging, regardless of race or religion, just to hold their hands means plenty. Additionally, on migrants, he reflected on how we should regard the Filipina, Indonesian or Myanmar migrant worker as our neighbours as they too have needs.

The other Christian denominations and religions shared about the outreach activities of their respective bodies, the challenges faced and the learning process in dealing with religious sensitivities, besides their intentions for more interfaith activities.

While the dialogue’s theme was intended for the roles of youth, the Hindu representative Ashok Kandiah drew a pertinent point that “it is not so much the role of youth but of adults in how to shape young minds.” Likewise earlier, Fr Chan urged that “veterans must give encouragement to youth. Parents have important roles to cultivate in youths to be considerate.” Indeed, children know no prejudices. Irrespective of the Scripture any adherent holds, what adults do, how adults react and teach, will impart indelible lessons to young, impressionable minds.

Fr Gregory,said that it is noteworthy that Ashok, a lawyer, as well as Vidyananda KV Soon representing the Buddhist body, all attributed their enjoyable childhood with multiracial friends at La Salle school PJ or neighbours where race and religion never factored in playing or sharing meals with one another. Such memories evoke the La Sallean spirit and ethos that have long been a driving force for national unity even before “1Malaysia” or “New Malaysia” were ever conceived.


Article reproduced from Herald Malaysia online

Migrant communities celebrate integration in a concrete

Heeding Pope Francis’ message for the 104th World Day of Migrants and Refugees with the theme “Welcoming, protecting, promoting and integrating migrants and refugees”, the Human Development Committee (HDC) of Sacred Heart Cathedral Parish organized an “international bazaar” on Sep 16 to express solidarity with the migrant brothers and sisters of our parish in celebrating the 104th World Day of Migrants and Refugees.

The event was a concrete gesture of welcome extended to the three migrant communities existing in the parish: the Koreans, Filipinos and Indonesians.  The running of the stalls by the migrant communities was a recognition and putting value to the abilities and gifts that they bring with them to the parish.

This year’s bazaar was the second edition, after the first which was successfully organized in 2017. Besides the migrant stalls, other supporters also opened three additional stalls.

Showcasing their traditional recipes, the communities made available an array of enticing food for everyone to savor, such as the lechon which needs no introduction, potu, adobo, grilled bangus (milk fish), star bun, pandisal, bubol, pudding, jeon (Korean vegetables pancake), and others.

The event launched off with a prayer and blessing by parish priest, Fr Paul Lo. In honour of the 55th Malaysia Day, a cake was cut by Fr Paul, together with Korean priest Fr Lawrence and other community leaders.

The crowd who patronized the bazaar was seen as a positive response from the parishioners who took up the opportunity to meet and greet the migrants present in the parish, and at the same time to appreciate their gifts and abilities in the delicacies sold.


Article reproduced from Herald Malaysia online

Praying the rosary as an outpouring of our love

As we pray the Rosary during the month of October, seeking Our Lady’s assistance, we are reminded about the conversations between Jesus Christ and St. Peter, the Apostle, after the Resurrection of Jesus (John 21: 15-17). Jesus asks him, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” Jesus asks this question three times and Peter’s answer was, “Lord, you know that I love you.” By asking Peter three times, Jesus emphasised the importance of Peter’s love and obedience to Jesus, as it was necessary for his future ministry.

St. Pope John Paul II, the great modern saint, in his Apostolic Letter, Rosarium Virginis Mariae (Rosary of the Virgin Mary – RVM), which was promulgated on 16 October 2002, emphasised that a prayer and devotion to the Holy Rosary is necessary and important, because it has changed the lives of many. As Peter repeated three times to Jesus’ question, ”Do you love Me?” – we too should not fail in the simple repetition of praying the Rosary, “to understand the Rosary, one has to enter into the psychological dynamic proper to love” and the Rosary is an outpouring of that love. Thus, we are encouraged to recite the Rosary repeatedly and courageously, giving ourselves to Christ, out of love for Him (RVM, no. 26).

In this Apostolic Letter, St. Pope John Paul II strongly encourages us to practice and devote ourselves to the Most Holy Rosary because it is a “genuine training in holiness” that guides us in our contemplation of the great mysteries of our faith (RVM, no. 5). As we pray daily during the month of Rosary, we will be prompted by the Holy Spirit to form and reform our lives much closer to Christ’s heart.

Our lives are challenged by all kinds of temptations and trials, and our personal struggles tire us. Saint Pope John Paul II recommends that we adopt the habit of rolling the small rosary beads through our fingers, and go into the depth of Christ’s mysteries (cf. RVM, no. 36). We may not have immediate answers to our problems or solutions to defeat the devil, but it will give us the “confidence of knowing that God looks with favour on his lowly servants.” Praying the Rosary increases our faith and gives us courage to say “Yes” to our Lord. With the intercession and maternal care of Mother Mary, may we find consolation and peace, discovering a path to life eternal.

Saint Pope John Paul II quoted the late Father Patrick Peyton (1909-1992), who was an Irish Catholic priest, internationally known as the ‘Rosary Priest’. He said “the family that prays together, stays together” and insisted Catholic families pray the Rosary for the sake of their families – which were under attack and in crisis. We have seen and heard of the growing number of separations and divorces in our families and communities. Praying the family Rosary is a way for us to bring these troubled married couples closer to Jesus, and to unite them in difficult times.

Earlier this month, the Holy Father, Pope Francis stated that the devil is trying to divide and attack the Catholic Church with a series of sexual abuse scandals within the clergy. He invited Catholics around the world to pray a special prayer every day during the month of October, for the Church to succeed through the devil’s assault. The clergy should also be men of prayer, and pray for themselves and for the people of God.

Our devotion to Our Lady and the family Rosary can serve the Universal Church, its clergy, married couples as well as our children. Mary, Mother of God, pray for us in our time of sorrow and frustration, and be our comfort, joy and strength.


Article reproduced from Herald Malaysia online

Minister: Putrajaya to abolish death penalty

The Cabinet has decided to abolish the death penalty, and it will be tabled in the next Parliament sitting, which began on October 15, said Datuk Liew Vui Keong.

The minister in charge of law in the Prime Minister’s Department said that while the government is studying certain cases, as of now, all executions have been halted.

“All death penalties will be abolished. Full stop.

“We are studying certain issues… we need to look into it and hear the views of all, but as it stands today, the decision is to abolish the death penalty,” he told the media after the Law Reform Talk at Universiti Malaya here, on October 10.

Liew said that with Putrajaya intending to abolish the death penalty, the Pardons Board will be tasked with looking into the applications of death row inmates.

“Our view is that executions should not be carried out. We will inform the Pardons Board to look into the various applications for all the death row inmates, to either commute or release them.

“When commuted, they would have to face life imprisonment because there had been several deaths that were caused by the offender and so they were sentenced to death by the court,” he said.

Liew added that all the paperwork for the abolishment of the law is in its final stages, and that the Attorney General (AG) had given the green light for it to be tabled in Parliament.

“All the papers are in the final stage. The AG has also indicated to us that it is ready to be tabled, hopefully in this (Parliamentary) session,” he said.

Earlier in his opening speech, Liew said the Pakatan Harapan government is also mulling a repeal of the Sedition Act 1948 and other draconian laws. 


Article reproduced from Herald Malaysia online

More than 1,300 attend AACOM 4

PENANG: After 11 months of planning, the Church of Divine Mercy (CDM) successfully hosted the 4th Asian Apostolic Congress on Mercy (AACOM 4) from Sept 26-28. It was held at the SPICE Convention Centre and attracted about 1,300 participants from 13 countries in Asia with the theme Experiencing Mercy through the Joy of the Gospel in Asia. At the opening ceremony, the officials and religious paraded in followed by the flag waving representatives of the Philippines, Indonesia, Guam (USA), Singapore, Thailand, Vietnam, S. Korea, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Poland, Vatican and Malaysia. The largest contingent of participants came from the Philippines.

In his welcoming speech, His Excellency, Bishop Ruperto Santos, the Episcopal Coordinator of WACOM (World Apostolic Congress on Mercy) Asia mentioned that the Divine Mercy devotion is the fastest growing evangelising force in Asia.

Fr Martin Arlando, the Overall Coordinator for AACOM 4, explained that the theme of the Congress was chosen in response to the call of His Holiness Pope Francis when he exhorted, “… the joy of the gospel fills the hearts and lives of all who encounter Jesus.” He hoped that everyone at the Congress would achieve what the Holy Father had wished, namely they would be set free from sin, sorrow, inner emptiness and loneliness when they accept God’s offer of salvation. The Holy Father also encourages the Christian faithful to embark upon a new chapter of evangelisation, marked by the joy of the gospel while pointing out new paths for the Church’s journey in the years to come.

Over the three-day Congress, nine talks were held, each accompanied by personal testimonies of the way the Divine Mercy of God had touched each of their lives. The delegates were given heartfelt stories relating the work and power of God’s Mercy over the different cultures and peoples of Asia.


Article reproduced from Herald Malaysia online

How this congress was different from the previous ones

In contrast to the other three congresses held before, this congress had three unique planned activities for the delegates to help them experience the Mercy of God and proclaim it through their lives.

On the evening of the first day, a candle light procession was held along a kilometer route around the convention centre. During this procession, led by the Nuncio, the Divine Mercy Chaplet was recited.

On the second day, a penitential rite was held. This was to help delegates receive a plenary indulgence specially granted by the Holy Father for those participating at the Eucharistic celebration, going for Confession, and praying for the Holy Father’s intentions. Each delegate was given a certificate in recognition of completing these works.

On the morning of the third day, a trip was organised to CDM to experience a Walk of Mercy around the church. In this Walk of Mercy, the delegates were given the opportunity to reflect on how they could incorporate the Corporal and Spiritual works of mercy in their lives. After that, they participated in Mass and were able to offer up all their special intentions to the Divine Mercy. Bishop Ruperto Santos presided at the Mass. The Guam Youth choir made this occasion an unforgettable one.

In addition, on the two nights of the congress, the delegates were entertained to various cultural performances from the delegate countries. This was a chance for everyone to appreciate the great diversity of the people that were devoted to the Divine Mercy from all over Asia.

An Adoration room was also prepared for delegates to spend time with the Blessed Sacrament during breaks. In addition, a room was provided for any person falling ill, with nurses and a medical doctor in attendance. Delegates were also given the opportunity to purchase religious souvenirs and books at the convention centre.

Organisers made every effort to help all delegates have a truly faith uplifting experience. Each day, sessions were paused at 3.00pm for the recitation of the Holy Hour of Mercy Prayer followed by the Chaplet. In appreciation of the participation of priests in the distribution of the holy Eucharist during three Masses and confessions, they were each given a specially designed stole bearing the images of St Faustina and JPII.

Bishop Santos, the Asian Episcopal Coordinator of Wacom-Asia announced Hong Kong as the next venue for the 5th Congress.

Fr Martin Arlando, the Overall Coordinator for AACOM 4 remarked that for a small parish like CDM Penang to be able to organise such an international congress in this short space of time, Hong Kong would, with the help of God’s grace, be able to achieve the same success. All they needed was to Trust in Jesus.


Article reproduced from Herald Malaysia online

World Interfaith Harmony Week (WIHW) promotes interaction among faiths

KOTA KINABALU: The National Integration and Unity Department (JPNIN) of the Prime Minister’s Department has been celebrating World Interfaith Harmony Week (WIHW) since 2011.

The inaugural ‘Harmony Visit’ among the different faiths in Sabah was held in 2014, followed by the second in 2015. After a break of two years, JPNIN once again organised the 2018 Harmony Visit and invited delegates from the Muslim, Christian, Buddhist, Hindu, Sikh, Taoist and Baha’i communities to be part of the initiative, which took place on Aug 25. The visit was made to the Buddhist Temple, the Catholic Church, the Hindu Temple and the Mosque within the vicinity of Bukit Padang.

Over 200 people comprising organisers, religious bodies and youth groups participated in the programme.

Neil Mah, representing the Sabah Council of Churches (SCC), led the Christian group which included members of other churches besides the Roman Catholic Church, namely the Protestant Church in Sabah, Grace Chapel, Basel Christian Church of Malaysia and Sidang Injil Borneo.

Church of Mary Immaculate (CMI) was placed second in the list of places of worship to be visited. On arrival, the delegates were welcomed by the parish rector, Fr Paul Lo together with some members of the Parish Pastoral Council (PPC). They were briefed by Neil on the Christian population in Sabah, as well as on the history of CMI, which this year incidentally marks her 25th anniversary. Prior to CMI, the group visited the Buddhist Temple, and then followed CMI to the Hindu Temple where lunch was also served to the visitors.

The Interfaith Programme concluded at the Mosque with a closing ceremony officiated by the Minister of Legal and Native Affairs, Datuk Aidi Mokhtar who delivered a message from the Chief Minister of Sabah, Datuk Seri Mohd Shafie Apdal.

Shafie cautioned in his message: “We do not want any existence of an ethnocentrism culture and racism nesting in the hearts of the people, which will affect the good relationship among the different races in this state.”

He emphasised, “The State of Sabah, which comprises multi-ethnic groups and religions, is unique and an invaluable treasure that needs to be preserved and protected for generations to come.”

On this premise, he called upon everyone to care for, be sensitive to and respect the various religions that exist in the state with moderation, and be ever ready to extend assistance to the less fortunate.

He concluded that the interfaith programme has enabled the various religions to make room for positive interaction and to work together to preserve the harmony among us.

Certificates of appreciation were then awarded to the representatives of the different faiths. On hand to receive the group on behalf of SCC was its President, Bishop Datuk Rev Melter Jiki Tais.

The World Interfaith Harmony Week was first proposed at the UN General Assembly on Sept 23, 2010 by King Abdullah II of Jordan, and a month later unanimously adopted by the UN.

The initiative provides a focal point from which all peoples of goodwill can recognise that the common values they hold far outweigh the differences they have, and thus provide a strong dosage of peace and harmony to their communities.



Sarawakians demonstrate unity through Harmony Walk

Despite a weather forecast of possible rain, an estimated 1000 plus Sarawakians turned up at the crack of dawn at the Association of Churches (ACS) carpark on September 29. They were there to participate in the annual Harmony Walk, initiated just last year.

Jointly organised by the Association of Churches in Sarawak, the Islamic Information Centre, the Bahai and the Kuching Buddhist, Hindu and Sikh Associations, the event is aimed at expressing the people of Sarawak’s desire for unity, and to live in harmony with each other. It seeks to demonstrate that religions can unite, rather than, divide us.

With the theme Unity Is Our Calling, the spirit of religious freedom and harmonious co-existence was very much alive on that day.

This year’s event was organised by the Kuching Buddhist Society (KBS). Representatives from the various participating faith-based associations were present, including our Catholic Archbishop Simon Poh, and Blessed Sacrament Church’s rector, Fr Felix Au.

Participants of the Harmony Walk were entertained to a colourful welcoming dance routine. They were also invited to participate in a Zumba session to warm-up before the flag-off, which was delayed for about one and half hours because of heavy rain.

The 5-km walk took participants past the many houses of worship. From the ACS carpark, the route covered the BEM Kuching Evangelical Church, Tong Kak Kuang Temple, Malaysian Hindu Sangam Sarawak Council, IIC, Sarawak Sikh Temple and Assembly of the Baha’is of Sarawak, and ended at the KBS building.

Some participants were happy to share what they experienced at the Harmony Walk.

Sharings from Participants

“I really love our country, as it portrays true racial harmony and religious tolerance. Because of the heavy downpour early in the morning, I was able to get acquainted with Dr Shahrul and his family from Kota Samarahan.

“I was amazed to see a Malay couple with 5 kids, aged 12 years old and below, participating in the Harmony Walk. Dr Shahrul, walking with an umbrella, was carrying a 1-year-old baby on his back all the way. The rest of his adorable children were walking in the rain without any cover. It touched me so much that I offered to share my big umbrella with them, and we became friends. Praise The Lord!!! This is what we call ‘Racial Harmony’ and ‘Religious Tolerance’.” — Thomas Ting

“It was a wet morning for the Harmony Walk, but we enjoyed the walk as we were able to meet up with some friends from different religions.” — Julian Chan

“I’m grateful to God for the opportunity to reconnect with old friends of other faiths during the Harmony Walk. The rain was an obstacle, but it didn’t dampen the spirit of many of us on that day. May Malaysians of goodwill truly strive to build our nation to be one of greater harmony, love and respect between all people.” — Fr Felix Au

“Nothing is more beautiful than witnessing people of all religions gathering at a Christian premise and partaking a simple meal at a Buddhist Temple.” — Edwina Tham

“I see that the objective of this walk was truly achieved through peace, love and respect. There were different groups of races playing among themselves, and some youths were having fun. Overall, the atmosphere was one of harmony. This was my first walk and I enjoyed the fresh air and cooling rain.” — Wendy Lam


Article reproduced from Herald Malaysia online
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