Oi tobpinai ngaavi ku id di Tuhan Otumbazaan zou do…
RANAU – “I thank God that you have the courage to say ‘Yes’ to Him, to serve Him as a priest.” These were the words of Archbishop John Wong as he welcomed the newest member, Fr Abel Madisang, into the presbyterium of the Archdiocese of Kota Kinabalu. Fr Abel, 35, was ordained a priest on Monday, 4 May 2015 at his home parish of St Peter Claver Ranau, after eight years of seminary formation and serving as a deacon in Sacred Heart Cathedral.
Archbishop John, who was Fr Abel’s formator during his aspirancy year at the Catholic Diocesan Centre back in 2006, also advised the newly ordained to serve those under his care with love, dedication and commitment, and to allow the Holy Spirit to work in him. “I advise you to always submit yourself to the leading and guidance of the Holy Spirit,” he said, “I believe the Holy Spirit will help you to be a priest after the heart of Jesus.”
Fr Abel, who had previously worked at Perkasa Hotel Kundasang and in AmBank Tuaran before undergoing his priestly formation, has certainly been open to the promptings of the Holy Spirit. Originally, with him were fifteen other batch mates when he entered the aspirancy. At the end of his formation in St Peter’s College Kuching however, he was the only one left from this original group. Being the only one ordained, one could not but acknowledge how the Holy Spirit must have been working in him throughout his formation years.
Indeed, he must have also brought Christ into the lives of the parishioners he journeyed with during his pastoral immersions as they all came in full force to support him. Abel has previously served in Papar, Sacred Heart Cathedral, and Kudat and Kota Marudu before returning to Sacred Heart to serve as a deacon. “Fr Abel’s ordination has really shown us that working in God’s vineyard is a joyful experience,” said Stefan Simun from Sacred Heart Cathedral who was asked on his thoughts in the ordination. “For us youths, this experience has encouraged us to be all the more closer to God.” Indeed, many of the faces showed the pride and joy of seeing someone they had the opportunity to journey with finally becoming a priest. But perhaps the ones who were the most joyful were his family who had come in full force to give him their support.
The rite of ordination itself was filled with many awe-inspiring moments: the examination of the candidate when Fr Abel made his promises in front of everyone present; during the Litany of saints when he prostrated in full humility; during the laying of hands and the prayer of consecration; during the investiture when he emerged fully vested; the anointing of the hands; and the fraternal kiss from all the clergy present.
The reality of Holy Orders really came to fruition in the liturgy of the Eucharist, as Fr Abel joined Archbishop John and the assembled clergy in concelebrating — changing the bread and wine into the Body and Blood of Christ. It was certainly a moving experience for everyone as he raised his hand and joined in the Eucharistic Prayer for the first time. “It is very inspiring to see someone from the people offering himself to become God’s instrument,” said Wilson Francis, a first year theological seminarian who feels encouraged by the ordination to continue on his journey into the priesthood. – Seminarian Joshua Liew
Caption for photo of Abel and his family: May 4 – With Fr Abel are his family members, who have come to celebrate with unrestrained joy and happiness his ordination to the priesthood by Archbishop John Wong at St Peter Claver Church, Ranau. Among the family members are two of his father’s sisters, who are muslims. Fr Abel told Catholic Sabah that he was surprised at the extraordinary attention given to the presence of his muslim relatives at his ordination. To him and his family, it was a normal thing to be there for one another, and they do it out of respect and love for each other.