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KOTA KINABALU – The Christmas Midnight Mass is one of two times in the year when overflowing crowds are seen in churches across the archdiocese. The Sacred Heart Cathedral here has two Masses on Christmas Eve in order to accommodate the faithful: 6:30 pm BM Mass and 9 pm English Mass. The overflowing crowds are seen more at the BM Mass as the parish centre has to be used and the people follow the Mass on large screens set up for the purpose.
The English Mass on 24 Dec 2015 was preceded by a cantata performed by the English Choir themed Rejoice! Celebrate the King under the direction of choirmaster Frederick Wong and organist Nicholas Lee. Archbishop John Wong presided at the Mass. In his homily, he asked the congregation to reflect on their feelings towards the announcement of the good news of the birth of the Saviour. After the Mass he brought Baby Jesus to the manger constructed on the cathedral square, symbolising the Incarnated Word proclaimed by him. However, the rite of blessing of the manger was done only after the Mass. After a short prayer, the prelate blessed the manger with holy water and incensed it. At the end of the blessing he greeted all those present a blessed Christmas.
This was the second time the manger was constructed outside the cathedral. It started in 2014 so that the faithful could pause for prayer or take photographs without disturbing those inside the cathedral who would want to prepare for Mass. In previous years its location was on the right side of the sanctuary. This year’s manger scene was done by Ian Valentinus and his altar servers. One of its unique features was a tiny fish pond inside the manger.