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Friends of St John Vianney a boon to priest formation

IMG_7654KOTA KINABALU – The 2nd fundraising dinner of 122 tables organized by Friends of St John Vianney (FSJV) at Putera Theatre Ballroom Feb 1 saw a successful gathering of priests, religious, seminarians and aspirants, benefactors, supporters and parishioners of Kota Kinabalu Archdiocese.  Archbishop Emeritus John Lee and Archbishop John Wong graced the occasion.

The idea of forming a group of friends to help aspirants residing in the Formation House at the Catholic Archdiocesan Centre (CAC) in terms of material needs was initially inspired by Fr Wilfred Atin, Rector of the English Year for Aspirants, in February 2011, aided by Peter Suking and his wife Meilin.  It was first named Rakan Aspiran dan Seminarian or simply RASS.

RASS, under the chairmanship of Peter Suking, was formed to support the Formation House in CAC because it is not directly under St Peter’s College Seminary.  In the past three years, the group has helped in looking for sponsors to change beds, utensils, books, dictionaries and other material needs.  Since it is compulsory for aspirants to pass MUET to proceed to Initiation Year, the group has helped to provide the teachers needed.

“The year 2014 was a transformation period for RASS where several sub-committees were formed to expand its activities in the aspect of spirituality and recreational, and not just for fundraising,” explained Fr Atin in his speech. One of the suggestions made in July 2014, proposed by Archbishop John Wong, was to change the name RASS to Friends of St John Vianney, the patron saint of priests (FSJV).  This was accepted and FSJV officially came under the care of the Archdiocese.

Efforts to introduce FSJV to the laity was further boosted with the organizing of a fishing carnival in the later part of 2014.  FSJV continues to grow towards better administration, membership and funds management.

Attendees to the fundraising dinner got to witness the official rebranding of RASS to Friends of St John Vianney, followed by the launching of its official logo by Archbishop John Wong. The dinner further introduced FSJV, not only to benefactors and friends, but also to priests under the Archdiocese.

Fr Atin briefly elaborated the need of FSJV through his slide presentation. Formation process to priesthood is divided into 3 levels where the aspirants will spend their 1st year (English Year) in the Aspirants Formation House at CAC. Upon passing the English exams, they will enter as seminarian for one year of spiritual formation at St Peter’s College Initiation Year, Kota Kinabalu. A seminarian further spends minimum six years in St Peter’s College in Kuching to study Philosophy (2 years) and Theology (4 years). An account of expenditure for one seminarian is recorded at RM14,000.00 per year, which  necessitates the establishment of FSJV to sustain priesthood formation in the Archdiocese. “May this charity dinner open your mind and heart to consider the need to lend a hand to help in the formation of future priests in our Archdiocese”, urged Fr Atin.

FSJV 2nd fundraising dinner succeeded in raising RM38,064.00. “A ticket is sold at RM80, automatically each of you would have donated RM32 out of the ticket price to the FSJV fund”, enlightened Paula Christianus, project director of FSJV Charity Dinner and Lucky Draw 2015. It was their first Lucky Draw organized simultaneously with the dinner for the same purpose of fundraising as well as to encourage service by parishioners for the seminarian fund. Selling of lucky draw tickets was conducted during the dinner by the seminarians and aspirants. As a latest update, the committee has decided to postpone the lucky draw event to April 12, 2015 due to unsettled sale of tickets in some parishes, which would be held at the same designated venue at Sacred Heart Parish Centre.

The dinner featured singing and choir performances by members of FSJV and a special performance by Sabah local artist, Peter Dicky Lee. – Paula Christianus/Linda Edward 

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