HAVING consulted the College of Consultors, His Grace Most Reverend…
Archbishop John Wong presided at the Mass at the Sacred Heart Cathedral here. Joining him at the altar were Fr Wilfred Atin and Fr Rhobby Mojolou, and assisted by Deacon Abel Madisang.
International Women’s Day (IWD) was for the first time celebrated on a grand scale in the Archdiocese in 2014, involving close to 2,000 Catholic women across the parishes of the Archdiocese. This year’s celebration, with its theme “Make It Happen”, invites all women to reflect on their faith as Women of God. Archbishop Wong said in his statement as he introduced the auspicious presence of so many women for the event at the conclusion of the Mass by referring to the theme, “If you know how to ‘live and behave’ as Women of God, you would make it happen in your life every day.”
History of International Women’s Day
International Women’s Day (IWD) is celebrated on March 8 every year. In different regions the focus of the celebrations ranges from general celebration of respect, appreciation, and love towards women to a celebration for women’s economic, political, and social achievements. Started as a Socialist political event, the event blended the culture of many countries, primarily in Europe, especially those in the Soviet Bloc. In some regions, the day lost its political flavour, and became simply an occasion for people to express their love for women in a way somewhat similar to a mixture of Mother’s Day and Valentine’s Day. In other regions, however, the political and human rights theme designated by the United Nations runs strong, and political and social awareness of the struggles of women worldwide are brought out and examined in a hopeful manner. Some people celebrate the day by wearing purple. (www.internationalwomen’sday.com and other relevant websites)
The global theme of IWD this year is Make It Happen. Individual groups celebrating IWD set their own themes specific to their local context and interests. For years, the United Nations theme has been centered around equality, and this year is no different.
Anita Tunggolou, Head of Women’s Commission of the Archdiocese of Kota Kinabalu, dwelt on the same essence, as reflected earlier at Mass by the Archbishop, in her dinner’s speech, “We call ourselves ‘Women of God’ or ‘Women of Faith’, but is it a reality in action or mere lip service? Do we outwardly portray ourselves as women filled with faith but actually lacking it in our inner self?” She called on all women to highly honour the dignity of being a woman through our everyday speeches, in our personal attire and in airing our views.
The Commission has picked up the same global theme to call upon all Catholic women in the Archdiocese to strive to be, as well as to help each other, to be strong Women of Faith, founded on Jesus’ teachings and the Teachings and Traditions of our Catholic faith.
Archbishop Wong elaborated on eight characteristics that make for a Godly Woman to some 2,000 people who attended the dinner celebration at the Cathedral’s hall. He said, “If you can only get one point tonight, it is enough for you to live the whole year in celebrating the International Women’s Day theme: Make it Happen.”
He underlined that for a Woman that Make it Happen, she would be the woman who would seek God first and reject the lie that anything or anyone else could satisfy her; who would speak the Truth always and find her heart at peace; who would show true inner beauty; who would stay humble by thinking less of herself; who would serve the Lord only to please Him; who would fulfil the role of being a woman as intended by her Creator; who would be after God’s own heart and be in unity with Him by deeming whatever important for God will also be important to her; and who would mirror God’s own image as one totally besotted with Him in love, in thoughts and in speech.
Reminding his audience that God is not far away, the prelate recalled with them that God is constantly writing us love letters through His Word, constantly showing Himself to us through the sacraments and through the Church.
He concluded by way of affirming the women that the call of womanhood is unique and invited them to ask for God’s grace in order to live up to the vocation.
At the dinner too, the Women Commission acknowledged and honoured seven most senior women, aged 80 and above, in the Archdiocese with tokens of appreciation. – Linda Edward