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KOTA KINABALU (CS) – The Council of the Religious (COR) in the Archdiocese of Kota Kinabalu, with the blessing of Archbishop John Wong, celebrated the World Day for Consecrated Life (WDCL) 2014, beginning Feb 5 and ending Feb 10 instead of Feb 2, originally declared by the Universal Church to be observed on the Feast of the Presentation of the Lord.
As in the years past, this year’s WDCL celebration also began with a 3-night round of Triduum prayers together with a witnessing of consecrated life at Stella Maris Church Tanjung Aru, the Carmelite Chapel and St Michael’s Church Penampang, animated by the religious congregations of the Good Shepherd Sisters, the Daughters of St Paul and the Brothers of St Gabriel respectively.
The celebration culminated with a Eucharistic Celebration in Sacred Heart Cathedral, Karamunsing Feb 10, presided by Archbishop John Wong and concelebrated with Arcbbishop Emeritus John Lee, Archbishop John Ha of Kuching Archdiocese and 14 other clergy and 1 deacon. (Archbishop John Ha was on his way to the Sandakan Diocese the next day.)
This year’s celebration was made more meaningful with the presence of the Prelates and the large number of clergy and faithful, which impresses on the Church the importance of Religious Vocations in spreading the Good News through their actions, charisms and mission, as pointed out by Sr Christine Sundin fsp, Chair of COR.
In his homily, Archbishop John Wong recalled the faithful to the significance of the Feast of the Presentation of the Lord in the meeting of God with His faithful people in the person of His Son, Jesus Christ..
Today, God, too, continues to present Himself to each of us in the Eucharist. Do we have the faith of Simeon to recognize Him? Do we, like Simeon and Anna, expect to see His coming, expect to see “the glory of Israel”?
He went on to reflect on the lighting of candles at the beginning of the evening’s celebration that Jesus is the true light, and that we are to accept Him as the light of the world and of our life. When that happens, the light burns bright in our heart and others will be drawn to see God’s Presence and to know that He has come to redeem all through Jesus.
Echoing Pope Francis who addressed the Religious in his Feb 2 Angelus message, the Prelate spoke emphatically on the following:
Ö That every consecrated person is a gift for the People of God on a journey.
Ö That there is much need of their presence which strengthens and renews the commitment to spread the gospel, to Christian education, to charity for the most needy, to contemplative prayer, to a human and spiritual formation of young people and of families, to justice and peace in the human family.
Ö That consecrated persons are a sign of God in diverse environments of life, that they are leaven for the growth of a more just and fraternal society, that they are prophecy of sharing with the weak and the poor.
Although the Religious would face challenges in their chosen vocations, the Prelate exhorted them to go on offering themselves to God and to one another in living out their vocation with the charisms and spiritualities given them, and with the wisdom of God and the in-filling of the Holy Spirit.
At the conclusion of the Mass, Sr Christine Sundin in her short message, reiterated the Pope’s message to the Religious to “wake up the world” and pointed to the Holy Father who has himself given an example on how to live as Religious. As Religious, she echoed the Pope that they are called to make a difference and to touch lives where they are being sent.
She however highlighted that at the centre of Consecrated Life, there is Jesus, in answer to the many who have questioned on what the celebration of Consecrated Life was all about.
A fellowship meal, prepared by members of the Catholic Women’s League, followed at the parish hall. A meaningful depiction of service in the song entitled “I give my hands” was presented in movement and dance by the Sisters. The Gabrielite Brothers presented a video clip of the various vocations, capturing the diversity of vocations in our region.
The evening ended meaningfully on a bright note, with candles lit and a song on their lips “Go, light the candle” to call on all to continue to light up the world with the Good News of Jesus Christ.