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KOTA KINABALU – The Religious of the Kota Kinabalu Archdiocese closed the Year of Consecrated Life on 31 Jan 2016 with a Eucharistic celebration followed by a fellowship meal at the Sacred Heart Cathedral here. Over 300 people joined in the celebration.
Archbishop John Wong presided at the Mass, concelebrated with his cathedral assistants, Frs Jeffri Gumu and Abel Madisang. Fr Thomas Madanan of Terawi Parish joined them at the altar. The Mass began with an entrance procession of all the religious present led by the Council of Religious holding their banners depicting their emblems or logo – Gabrielite Brothers, La Salle Brothers, Marist Brothers, Daughters of St Paul, Good Shepherd Sisters, Franciscan Sisters of the Immaculate Conception, and the Carmelite Nuns (represented by the Carmelite Seculars).
At the end of the Mass, Abp Wong read out the message of the Apostolic Nuncio, Abp Joseph Marino, who was not able to be present. In his message, Marino reiterated the message of Pope Francis by reminding the Religious to “rediscover the joy of being a religious by remembering and recounting the ‘glorious history’ of each congregation and by looking to the future realising that a great history is still to be accomplished” and by “embracing more deeply your specific charism by living the present with passion, and by looking to the future with firm hope and enthusiasm.”
The nuncio pointed out that the year was “a special moment in which religious throughout the whole Church were called once again ‘to wake up the world’ by recommitting themselves to the evangelical counsels which are true signs of the prophetic mission of the Church. This year also gave the opportunity for religious to develop and deepen their spirituality of communion leading and teaching the whole Church to become more and more a school and home of communion.”
The Vatican envoy related the Year of Consecrated Life to the Year of Mercy by reminding the Religious again that their religious life is itself a life of encounter: “God has encountered you by calling you to live the evangelical counsels as testimony to your perfect love of him and others, and you, through your specific charism, never cease to encounter people wherever they may be found, precisely to bring to them Jesus, who is ‘the face of the mercy of God'” (Mericordiae vultus, 1).
He lauded the contribution of the religious in the aspect of going to the peripheries – where others “have not, could not or even would not go” – where “so many of our brothers and sisters live forgotten, marginalised or put aside due to indifference, the men and women who have lost all hope, families in difficulty, abandoned children, young people without a future, the elderly, sick and abandoned, those who are rich in the world’s goods but impoverished within, men and women looking for a purpose in life, thirsting for the divine” (Letter II, 4).
In her turn, Council of Religious Chairperson Sr Christine Sundin fsp thanked all those involved in making the celebration possible. She highlighted the common activity the Religious had during the year – that of the monthly visit to the parishes and chapels with the aim of sharing about religious life in general and the services they render to the archdiocese.
These visits, she noted, were appreciated by the people and they had also brought the religious to appreciate each congregation’s charism and mission; an opportunity for them to develop and deepen the spirituality of communion in living the evangelical counsels: chastity the greatest love, poverty the greatest wealth and obedience the greatest freedom.
Both speeches ended with Pope Francis’ hope that the fruits and grace received by the religious during the Year of Consecrated Life may lead them to a renewed missionary enthusiasm of meeting or encountering people who are “hungering and waiting” to experience the unconditional love and mercy of the Father for all.
After Mass, all adjourned to the parish hall for the fellowship meal. During the meal, they were entertained by various presentations: a welcoming choreograph (Wake the World) by the religious themselves, sumazau by the FSICs, a medley of dances by St Hilary Timbang Kota Belud, the Mengunitip by MYTC, a song by St Joseph Kokol and a skit by SH Efata youth group. The event ended with every one singing Kathy Troccoli’s “Go light your world” with lighted candles after the closing prayer and blessing by Abp Wong.