KOTA KINABALU – The Sacred Heart Feast Day at the Cathedral here is fast becoming an event most-looked forward to by parishioners, best described as a ‘unifying factor’ for the various communities that make up the church.
The events arranged for the week long celebrations that culminated on Sunday, Jun 14, was a well balanced potpourri that provide a little of something for everyone. No one was left out of the celebrations so to speak, unless they showed an indifference to church activities and simply refused to take part.
The spontaneity to the various events showed that the parishioners, even the sceptics, are slowly coming to accept that there is more to Sacred Heart Cathedral than coming to church once a week.
“I was very much taken in by the movies screened,” said Lucy. “Getting to know the lives of the Saints is an unforgettable experience. You know, previously, movie was watching what Hollywood churned out at the theatres. Please screen more movies.”
“Our youth are many-talented,” remarked an elderly Joseph. “Sometimes I get irritated when I see them not paying attention and talking during Mass, but on (Musical Night) I saw a different side of our youth. They can be a disciplined lot.”
“The Family Carnival was more than just buying some food and cheap clothes,” chipped in Greg. “I had the chance to meet up with some friends I never knew also came for Mass. Usually, after the final blessing I would make a bee-line to the exits, and that was it for the week.”
“But I was curious to find out more when I was handed a promotional leaflet. I am glad I came.”
Archbishop John Wong, who is also SHC Parish priest, thanked God for giving the parish the opportunity for the people to come together. “We must respond to the callings and the people came and participated throughout the week-long festivity.
“This is a parish family event and if we do not come together to take part in it, then who. There are so many groups and communities within the parish, and there must be some time for togetherness.”
The celebrations began with the Triduum which involved all the church groups. There were also soccer and badminton matches, movies, a thanksgiving dinner and musical night by the youth, a Eucharistic Celebration and the family carnival.
However, Archbishop Wong gave a reminder in his homily on the June 11th Eucharistic that while we celebrate the Sacred Heart we need to be reminded of the love of the Father, through his son Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit.
“Sometimes we cannot experience it; so we must keep ourselves open and be guided and we will certainly experience the love of the Father,” said the prelate.
He also said that he wants the annual programme continued and that more and more parishioners come together for alll events, including Mass on Sundays, daily mass, and even the weekly Adoration which is held every Thursday at the Cathedral.
“We must put the Eucharist at the centre of our lives. It is the source of our life,” the Archbishop added.
Damien Lee, SHC’s parish council chairman said celebrating the feast day of the Sacred Heart is very important. Previously, it was just part of a three-in-one celebration: Feast of Christ the King, Dedication of the Cathedral and Feast Day.
“But we felt, hey no. Our Feast day cannot be overlooked just like that,” said Lee. We cannot dilute the feast day so we came together and planned out a more appropriate celebration. It is catching on.”
“Why did we choose Sacred Heart to be the name of the Cathedral. Why not some other name. So celebrating our feast day is glorious.”
Lee said he was glad to see all groups respond for the Triduum held for three consecutive days from 9.00am to 9.00pm at the Blessed Sacrament Chapel where the Blessed Sacrament was left exposed for adoration during the time.
But it is not all prayer and lectures; the sosial side of the celebrations was brought in, as evangelization takes place through many forms – so there was a football match between the clergy and the parishioners, a badminton competition. There were also games for the young and a talentime show for the kids.
Lee said he was also glad with the impressive turnout at the two movie shows that were held. “We even saw strangers coming,” he said. “That’s a very good sign”.
Overwhelmed by the success this year, Lee said even more activities will be planned for the future. – SHC SOCCOM