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KOTA KINABALU (CS) – In their recently released statement and messages, the Arch/bishops of the Archdiocese/Dioceses of Kota Kinabalu, Keningau and Sandakan expressed their deepest condolence to the families of all the climbers and mountain guides who were killed by falling rocks at Mt Kinabalu during the June 5 earthquake in and around the district of Ranau. The unprecedented calamity has caught many unprepared.
In solidarity with all those affected by the quake, Archbishop John Wong has announced that all parishes in the Archdiocese would be offering special Masses for the victims and their families. The parishes would initiate efforts to assist the affected villagers in cash and kinds. All donations would be channelled through the Archdiocesan Centre to those in need.
The Archbishop affirmed the courageous and selfless spirit of the mountain guides for their heroic acts, as well as the villagers near the foothill of Mt Kinabalu for their patience and endurance in facing the crisis. He cherished the hope that the presence of the priests, religious, catechists and lay leaders would bring comfort to them as they go through the traumatic time.
He also added that the earthquake has reminded us of our vulnerability, and to take it as “a wakeup call for us to re-examine our relationship with God the Creator and with His creation – human and nature. Life can be very fragile, especially at a time when we least expect. But when we are close to God and obey Him, we will not be destabilised even if calamities should befall on us. And we will dare to claim His promise, Though the mountains leave their place and the hills be shaken, My love shall never leave you nor my covenant of peace be shaken…Isaiah 54:10
Meanwhile in his message referring to the sad and frightening tragedy, Bishop Cornelius Piong of Keningau Diocese says that “as people of God who has faith in Christ who gives the assurance that He would be with us until the end of time, we are confident that He was with us when the earthquake struck. Many questions have surfaced in our thoughts. Though we might not understand the whole tragic happening with our human mind, but our confidence in the living Christ – the source, the reason, the purpose of our life – assures us that what had happened would not be in vain. The tragedy has made us realized that nothing is permanent in this world.”
He continued “However, we could also see emerging from the tragedy a unity of spirit in our own people, especially the mountain guides. They have displayed a spirit of self-sacrifice by putting the welfare of others first before self. Their actions sprung from a sincerity of heart in caring for the safety of the stranded climbers and not from merely taking orders, even though their decisions might have put themselves at high risk.”
“We are saddened and we sympathize with the families who have lost their loved ones, yet at the same time we truly believe that their deaths have not been in vain. We are sad yet proud and grateful to the mountain guides for their love and sacrifice in giving their own life in order to save others.”
“As God’s people, let us be united in Him in whatever situation, for He has said in John 16:33 that only in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”
“I offer condolence to the families of all the victims of the earthquake tragedy. May God give you consolation and strength.”
Bishop Julius Gitom of Sandakan Diocese has, in his message on the tragedy of the Sabah Earthquake, been saddened to hear of the 6.0-magnitude earthquake that struck Mt Kinabalu and its surrounding areas Jun 5, and to learn of the loss of lives and damage to properties.
He acknowledged that “the tragedy has brought much grief and pain to the affected families,” and feeling acutely the pain of loss, he says “in this most difficult period of their lives, I extend my deepest condolence and sympathy to the families and friends of the victims. Our thoughts and prayers are with them. May Almighty God give them strength to withstand this tragic moment.”
He felt close to the affected because his home parish at Bundu Tuhan, which is a short distance from Mt Kinabalu, has not been spared.
The bishop added “As we mourn the loss of the victims, we acknowledge the commitment of the members of the Search and Rescue Team, particularly the mountain guides, who have worked selflessly and given their lives to save others. The local community is to be commended for their loving concern in preparing food for those involved in the rescue mission.”
“Let us continue to pray for the affected families and offer whatever assistance possible.”