TOBOH – “Taking from the theme for Year of Consecrated Life “WAKE UP THE WORLD”, how do you bring awareness to your surroundings, your family, your KKD and your community? How do you bring them awareness if you yourself are not yet aware of your duty nor understand your role in your calling? Therefore, the first and most important thing is to go back to basics which is AWARENESS, PRAISE OF GOD, and LIVING YOUR CALL. This applies to all because the calling is not only to the religious or priest, but also to parents to be witnesses for Christ.”
Speaking with passion, Bishop Cornelius Piong exhorted the clergy, religious and laity as he presided over the Eucharist to celebrate the World Day for Consecrated Life at Holy Cross Church, Toboh Feb 7. Concelebrating with him at the altar were 12 priests from the various parishes and outstations.
The event, which began with an exhibition, was hosted by Holy Cross Toboh this year. The purpose of the exhibition was to showcase the various local congregations that come under the care of the Keningau Diocese so as to bring awareness to the faithful an esteem for the consecrated life, to be one with the consecrated persons in celebrating together the marvels which God has accomplished in them, and to praise and thank God for the great gift of consecrated life in the local Church. The local congregations that come under the Keningau Diocese are the Franciscan Sisters of the Immaculate Conception, the Infant Jesus Sisters, the Putri Karmel Sisters, the La Salle Brothers and the Carmelitae Sancti Eliae Brothers. Besides the religious, the members of the Betania Community, the Secular Franciscan Order, Holy Trinity Community and other lay communities also took part in the celebration.
The prelate continued to elaborate on the need for AWARENESS with the help of two key points. He underlined that a calling is a matter of foundation. If you are baptized but not aware of your call as a baptized and not knowing what your duty calls you to, how can you act or what kind of action would you take. Thus, awareness is necessary so that you could raise up, arouse and bring awareness to your surroundings.
The second important key is the dynamic enthusiastic missionary spirit displayed by the Jesus, the Good Shepherd. When Jesus gathered a special people such as the religious who have responded, they learn and draw examples from the Shepherd Himself. They see Jesus who is moved with compassion whenever he meets a crowd. The heart of the Shepherd is one of compassion and deep concern to meet the needs of all He meets.
In similar ways, in the diocese of Keningau, as well as throughout Sabah, we are to bear the same compassionate and caring heart of the Shepherd especially for your children, in the light of situations that affect their faith through the influence of media such as WhatsApp as well as the facebook. Unfortunately, it is often the case in our experience that those of us who are called and tasked do not act like the Shepherd who lays down his life for his sheep. We often put ourselves and our own needs first. We feel it is too burdensome and we are not willing to labour in the Lord’s vineyard. We are not ready to make a commitment to serve selflessly. What is happening in Sabah and Malaysia, as a whole, is a sign of time spoken about in the Scriptures. What is our response? Why are we silent? We should obey and respond to our calling, not as a lone voice, but as a team, so that together as a larger community we would be effective in our proclamation in the way of the Gospel and in our witness. This is indeed an important matter that needs to happen now and then.
Taking the opportunity I wish to remind parents of the needs of the Diocese. The call to priesthood and religious needs a response but such response is but a trickle. We praise God that this year two of our seminarians have graduated and before long they would be ordained as deacons. After these two, the void has yet to be filled. The same goes with the religious.
Parents are therefore reminded that the first calling is with you. If you are not aware, and you do not live out your responsibility as parents and promote vocations awareness in the family, how would there be anything to give rise to a generation who would heed the call to the consecrated life. You must therefore bring up your children to know God, to love God, until they are willing to answer His call for them. Your children need you to help them put God and family first, over and above the influence of media, and the temptations of materialism. – Aldrin Benedict/CS