SANDAKAN – Six hundred parishioners of St Mary’s Cathedral here attended a four-in-one celebration for clergy and religious anniversaries on 9 Nov 2015: the 26th sacerdotal anniversary of Bishop Julius Dusin Gitom (Nov 19), the 37th sacerdotal anniversary of Msgr Nicholas Ong (Oct 3) and Fr Thomas Makajil (Nov 11), and the 40th anniversary of religious life of Sr Veronica Kandaung fsic (Dec 2).
The celebration began with a Thanksgiving Mass celebrated in conjunction with the Solemnity of the Dedication of the Lateran Basilica of Rome, with Bishop Julius Gitom as presider and concelebrated with seven priests from the diocese.
In his homily, the prelate expressed his gratitude to God for the gift of the dedicated priests and the religious sister who have served long in the diocese. He thanked all parishioners who have journeyed with them in faith, support and encouragement. He asked for continuous prayer from them.
After Mass, all adjourned to the parish hall for a dinner fellowship, during which Sr Veronica shared that if someone were to ask her how she managed to persevere for 40 years as a religious, she would answer, “It is the love of God that drives me to continue to serve tirelessly.”
In his turn, Fr Thomas, in appreciation of all the support given to them as priests and religious and for their projects even to the point of making this parish a pilgrimage centre for the diocese, said “It would be impossible to make changes if I were to dream alone but if we were to dream of the same thing together, everything will be possible.”
Msgr Nicholas Ong’s speech had the crowd in stitches. His absence for nearly a year due to medical treatment did not change his old jovial self. He shared that the doctor kept pestering him to gain weight and that now he has to eat to live. He attributed his recovery to the constant prayers of the faithful.
The Marian development committee took the opportunity to launch the raffle ticket for the funding of a Chapel on the Marian Mount with the 14 stations of the cross.
The event was enlivened by a wide range of entertainment. – Dalius LL