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Pastores Dabo Vobis [PDV] (I shall give you shepherds) a document by Pope John Paul II in 1992 on the Formation of Priests has guided our seminaries in forming priests these past 22 years. I can vouch for its comprehensiveness (as it looks into aspects of the Human, Spiritual, Intellectual, Communitarian and Pastoral Formation). I am a product of PDV.
While the broad areas of formation are still relevant, I think we have been slow to anticipate and provide training for our priests to face the fast changing world and its new demands on our priests. The changing social and political landscape of our nation requires that our future priests understand and are able to respond to new challenges. The question of “What type of priests do we need now and in the future, 8-10 years from now, when they are ordained? Is their training and formation preparing them to face the real world, the society and dioceses which they will be serving? Are we providing our future priests with the skills and tools they will need to shepherd the flock after the heart of Jesus?”
I wish to see more collaboration among the seminaries of the region, especially with Sabah and Sarawak. Seminarians on both sides of the South China Sea must know each other. There must be more opportunities of exchange among the clergy too. I am glad that we have 5 of our theologians in St Peter’s College in Kuching while 6 Sabahans and Sarawakians are in College General Penang. This augurs well for the Church in Malaysia and I look forward to even greater criss-crossing of clergy, religious and laity as they collaborate at all levels in the Church.
FSIC thank God for the gift of Consecrated Life
TANJUNG ARU (CS) – “It’s a time to give thanks to God and to implore Him to make you even more holy and more humble in life! It is not a time to gratify and say that I have done this or that, but really a time to sanctify!” said Msgr Primus Jouil, giving an apt reminder to the four Franciscan Sisters of Immaculate Conception who celebrated their golden and silver jubilees of religious profession at the Thanksgiving Mass in Stella Maris Church Oct 6.
The jubilarians were Sr Alphonsus Low (50 yrs), Sr Dorothy Aron, Sr Cecilia Wong and Sr Appollonia Gumpa (all 25 yrs), putting in a total of 125 years of service in the local Church.
Joining Msr Primus, the main celebrant, were Fr Erik Jerome, Fr Rayner Bisius, Fr Paul Lo, Fr Daniel Jomilong, Fr Jalius Sading, Fr Maxmilliano Benhor, and Fr Boniface Kimsin from Keningau Diocese.
In his homily, Msgr Primus acknowledged that it was an important occasion to celebrate because it was a joy not only to the jubilarians but also a joy for the congregation.
He stressed it was important for the Sisters to pause to reflect to see whether they have a sense of satisfaction or a sense of emptiness after having put in the length of years of service.
With the help of the Gospel reflection on the Good Samaritan, he challenged them to ponder whether they were in fact the priest or the levite, or the samaritan in living out their calling.
The church was packed with parishioners, friends, well-wishers as well as family members from far and near.
Golden Jubilarian Sr Alphonsus was born in Singapore on 29 Sep 1938 as Daisy Low Cheng Neo.
She entered Postulancy on 5 Aug 1961, and received the habit and the religious name of Sr M Alphonsus when she entered the novitiate on 11 Feb 1962. After taking her first vow on 11 Feb 1964, she went for formal teachers’ training.
In her 50 years, she had been fully involved in education and caring for boarders, while at the same time giving much of her time in service to the Stella Maris parish in the Communion Ministry and LOM and the intercessory groups.
She also played a proactive role as Secretary General of the Congregation in 1981 and as Councilor for two terms in 1987 and 1993 during which time she was entrusted in securing grants from the state government for various projects of the Congregation.
Silver Jubilarian Sr Cecilia Wong was born in Penampang on 5 Feb 1951.
Her vocation has been inspired by the ‘White Sisters’ in mission as well as the frequent pastoral visits to her home by priests.
As a typical young girl, she aspired for worldly dreams and goals, but found nothing fulfilling enough. Listening to her friends who wanted to become doctors, lawyers and scientists, she began to reflect how wonderful it must be to keep bodies healthy as a professional doctor, but yet more wonderful to keep souls healthy. As a religious, she could be a ‘doctor of souls’!
She found courage at 36 and entered Postulancy on 6 Jan 1987, and was very grateful to God for not giving up on her. He had sought her out in spite of her shortcomings and imperfections. “The Lord has called me years back but late have I answered His call in my life!”
Silver Jubilarian Sr Dorothy Aron was born in Penampang on 27 Aug 1963.
She was sure that God chose her to be a religious even before she was created! Having had no desire to be one, and even begging God not to call her to be a religious, and yet finding herself as one and now celebrating her silver jubilee, she was more and more convinced that she was meant to be a religious. ”No one can acquire this vocation if it is not given to him or her. Those who are called would only have to respond to it and cannot lay claim to it!”
God called her to religious life just before her 21st birthday in 1984 when he attracted her with His mercy and consolations through answered prayers. At the end of a Franciscan Seminar in June 1984, she was accepted as a lay Franciscan. By year end, she received the assurance for her vocation at a vocation seminar in Bundu Tuhan.
As she grows older, she realizes that her vocation is to have an intimate relationship with the Holy Trinity and not so much focusing on ‘doing’ but ‘being’. “My realization deepens as one who is called of my unworthiness and inability to fulfill the mission entrusted to me. I need the strength that comes through prayer and intimacy with God.”
Silver Jubilarian Sr Appollonia Gumpu was born in Tamparuli on 25 Jun 1964.
Sr Appollonia is grateful to God for the blessing of the gift of her vocation.
“The past twenty five years as a religious has its ups and downs. But God has been always faithful, staying beside me, watching and guiding me. He walks with me as I journey in His vineyard.”
She is grateful to her mother Cathrina Koro Linggu and her late father, Gumpu James Gontoung for their unwavering support throughout her journey, more so for nurturing her faith by planting Christian values and seeds of love for God by their example.
Even though there was no guidance for religious calling in the early years of her youth because of the absence of religious sisters in her village, God has his plan in place for her.
Through events during her boarding time in school, through the people He put in place in her life at the precise moment, she was led to attend several vocation seminars. With encouragement from her family and the help of the Holy Spirit, she found courage and she was accepted as an aspirant.
“Looking back the last 25 years, there is a sense of fulfillment in my vocation because of the unfailing help of the Holy Spirit who is with me in all the struggles of my life.”