HAVING consulted the College of Consultors, His Grace Most Reverend…
SANDAKAN – Around 700 Catholics converged at St Mary’s Cathedral on 14 Dec 2015 to witness Bishop Julius Gitom opening the Holy Door of Mercy, a symbolic gesture that marks the beginning of the Jubilee Year of Mercy for the Diocese of Sandakan.
The opening of the designated Holy Door at St Mary’s Cathedral began with a solemn procession by the bishop and the clergy from the rectory to the entrance of the cathedral. The procession represents the church’s pilgrimage, a practice that ‘has a special place in the Holy Year, because it represents the journey each of us makes in this life.’ (MV, 14)
After the prayer, Bishop Julius opened the Door of Mercy. The prelate bearing the Book of the Gospel, and behind him the priests, religious sisters and lay faithful passed through the Holy Door to celebrate the Mass.
Bishop Julius explained that the Solemn Opening of the Holy Door is done later than the date proclaimed by Pope Francis due to pastoral reason and the availability of all the priests in the diocese. St Mary’s Cathedral is selected as she is the mother church and a pilgrimage centre in the diocese.
Bishop Julius said, “The passing through the Holy door means that once again we proclaim Jesus as the sole way of salvation. He is the only way to that infinite mercy of the Father, who welcomes everyone and He personally goes out to encounter each one of us.”
The prelate continued by echoing the pontiff, “Let the Father embrace us with His mercy, let us allow Him to meet us, allow Him to reach us and in that way we will experience the real joy of encountering the mercy of God.”
Pope Francis proclaimed the Holy Year of Mercy as a way for the Church to make more evident its mission to be witness of mercy, urging the church to reach out to the modern world. We are to bring that mercy to the world, not only to people around us, but even to the environment. The prelate urged parishioners to be renewed, be prayerful, be grateful and practise often works of mercy.
At the conclusion of the Mass, the prelate handed over banners of the Extraordinary Jubilee Year of Mercy to be displayed in their respective parishes to Msgr Nicholas Ong of Holy Trinity Tawau, Fr Thomas Makajil of St Mary’s Cathedral, Sandakan, Fr Simon Kontou of St Dominic’s Church, Lahad Datu and Fr Jasery Gabuk of St Martin’s Church, Telupid. – Dalius LL