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Over two thousand people were brought into the Catholic Church locally at this year’s Easter Vigil Apr 4. According to reports, over and above these catechumens who were baptized and confirmed, and received First Communion, there were some who were being received into full communion.
In the Sandakan Diocese, it was reported that 397 new members through both RCIA and RCIC were welcomed into the local Church, out of which, 150 were from Sandakan, 138 from Lahad Datu, 71 from Telupid, and 38 from Tawau. In Kota Kinabalu Archdiocese, 1,141 joined the Church, the largest number coming from Sacred Heart Cathedral at 140, followed by St Peter Claver at 131. The Keningau Diocese reports 1,095 catechumens being baptized and welcomed into the local Church this year.
Bishop Julius Gitom who baptized 71 catechumens during the Easter Vigil Mass at St Martin’s Church Telupid, SANDAKAN urged the newly baptized and the faithful to celebrate the Risen Christ by living in His light, by bringing others to know God’s love by first knowing Him in the way that He knows us and knows our heart, and knowing His Love for us. He asserted that if we do not yet know Jesus, we are still in darkness.
Meanwhile at the Easter Vigil Mass in St Francis Xavier Cathedral KENINGAU, Bishop Cornelius Piong rejoiced with God’s people and reiterated that our guarantee in following Jesus has not been in vain because on Easter Vigil night we have the confidence that Jesus has risen from the dead and now lives among us. We do not address Jesus as “the late” but as the RISEN LORD, GOD WHO LIVES for He gives the guarantee “I am with you till the end of time.” He reminded the faithful, with special emphasis to the newly baptized, that only an intimate relationship with Jesus could build a conscious faith that proves to be earnest, lasting and be witness of Christ when face to face with challenges to their faith as Christians. “It is not enough just to be a baptized Christian and to renew one’s baptismal vows yearly, but that we need to unite with Jesus and be committed to Him through prayers, the Word of God, sacraments, and be involved in the building of the Church community.”
Archbishop John Wong, in his homily at the Easter Vigil Mass in Sacred Heart Cathedral KOTA KINABALU, asked of the lay faithful, “What is the difference between this night and other nights?” and “What is the reason for the celebration of the Risen Lord?”
“The only reason” said the prelate, “is to rejoice over what God has done, to rejoice in the victory won for us in Christ having passed from dead to life, giving us new life, life eternal.”
He stressed to the people, particularly the newly baptized, that “in rejoicing over this new life which we receive from Him, we should go out and announce it, and become a bearer of the Light of God in all that we do and say daily.”
“Welcome Him today, as you would welcome a friend, that is, if you have kept Him at a distance, if you have been indifferent. Take the risk, like the women in the Gospel account who took the risk to search for Him, and see if you would not be rewarded!” he challenged the people.
He concluded with the plea “to allow Him to enter, to take hold of our life, and to work marvels in our life.” – CS