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Bishop Julius: Provide space in our hearts for those who have less in life

IMG_0635SANDAKAN – Our faith in Christ, who became poor, and was always close to the poor and the outcast, is the basis of our concern for the integral development of society’s most neglected members. (Evangelii Gaudium #186) God’s heart has a special place for the poor, thus we are called to find Christ in them.

Throughout the four Sundays of Advent, the faithful were reminded to be aware and to stay focus in anticipation of the coming of Christ which is also an anticipation of our spiritual renewal, to be born anew. A way of which to gain newness is to serve others, especially the poor in the community.

During the Sandakan Christmas Celebration at the Piazza Sandakan Harbour Mall Dec 21, Bishop Julius called on all Christians as they approached Christmas to provide space within their hearts for those who have less in life.

The prelate said, ‘Let us share Christ with others. Let His light shine on those in need. Let us go forth to be bearers of hope and light. If we take up the challenge to proclaim Christ, we will experience the genuine spirit of Christmas.’

The event, jointly organized by the Sandakan Municipal Council, Sandakan Harbour Mall and Sandakan Inter-Church attracted close to 2,000 attendees.

Beginning this year, the Diocesan Staff has embarked on the ‘One-Ringgit-A-Day’ project during the 40-day Lenten period, taking the cue from Bishop Julius’ homily, who urged the people of God to extend a hand to people who encounter hardship in life. The money collected was used solely to distribute daily provisions to needy families.  Once again, during this Advent season, the One-Ringgit-A-Day project was adopted for the four Sundays.

Apart from that, the pastoral office through the Human Development Commission started the chilly paste project. The diocese has some 70 chilly plants, planted and nurtured by Joseph the gardener behind the Pastoral Centre. The harvest of the chilly was made into chilly paste by Sr Maria Dipal rgs and members of the commission, which was marketed at the Cathedral and sub-parishes. The proceeds of about RM1,000 from the sales and the amount collected through the ‘One-Ringgit-A-Day’ program, was then used for the poor and needy, the feeding program for the homeless, contributions of daily provisions to needy families and contributions to the Children Learning Program for children of migrant workers.

Twenty-two young people of St Mary’s Cathedral Parish Youth Apostolate were out in the streets to distribute packed dinner to some 30 homeless people Dec 21 (pic).

Sr Veronica Kandaung fsic led a 4-member team from the Diocesan Pastoral Office, and distributed daily provisions of rice, oil, sugar, eggs, biscuits and cereal drinks to 7 families Dec 22 (pic).

Part of the proceeds of RM1,000 was given to the Children Learning Program for the purchase of some learning and teaching aids. (pic)

Our concern for those who have to undergo hardship and suffering during this Advent season moved us to provide space for them in our heart as we talk about love, about compassion and mercy. This is an occasion challenging us to show and do it, practice what we preach, walk the talk.

Let us channel the time and energy into practical love befitting our baptismal calling. If we paused to search our hearts right now, we would find there a person and situation whose poverty cries out for our response. – DOSPO DS 

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