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KOTA KINABALU – The Archdiocese of Kota Kinabalu is geared to implement a special programme at parish level that is in line with the theme for this year’s 50th World Communication Day, “Communication and Mercy: A Fruitful Encounter”.
Planned and organised by its Commission on Social Communications (SOCCOM), this programme is aimed at helping Catholics in the Archdiocese to gain knowledge and understanding on the meaning and purpose of the Jubilee Year of Mercy.
This action is designed to bring this message of mercy right to the personal level, particularly in the healing of broken relationships within a Catholic family. This is in tune with what Pope Francis says in his WCD message, that communication has the power to build bridges and that words can build bridges between individuals and within families, social groups and peoples.
This year’s theme for the celebration was decided in order to coincide with the Jubilee of Mercy, the Holy Year called by Pope Francis to announce the mercy of God.
The choice of the theme is most appropriate. It is clearly determined by the celebration of the extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy, and the Holy Father undoubtedly wants to see that the World Communications Day would provide the appropriate occasion to reflect on the deep synergy between communication and mercy.
It should be recalled that in the ‘Bull of Indiction’ of the Jubilee Year, the Pope had affirmed that: “The Church is commissioned to announce the mercy of God, the beating heart of the Gospel, which in its own way must penetrate the heart and mind of every person.”
He adds: “Her language and her gestures must transmit mercy, so as to touch the hearts of all people and inspire them once more to find the road that leads to the Father. It is helpful, in this regard, to remember that our reflection is situated in the context of an awareness that communication is a key element for the promotion of a culture of encounter.”
The Pope, on this occasion, refers to the language and gestures of the Church but the context makes it clear that all men and women in their own communications, in their reaching out to meet others, ought to be motivated by a deep expression of welcome, availability and forgiveness.
The theme for WCD, therefore, highlights the capacity of good communication to open up a space for dialogue, mutual understanding and reconciliation, thereby allowing fruitful human encounters to flourish.
It was pointed out, when the theme was picked, that at a time when our attention is often drawn to the polarised and judgmental nature of much commentary on the social networks, the theme invokes the power of words and gestures to overcome misunderstandings, to heal memories and to build peace and harmony.
Once again, Pope Francis is reminding us that, in its essence, communication is a profoundly human achievement. Good communication is never merely the product of the latest or most developed technology, but is realised within the context of a deep interpersonal relationship.
SOCCOM in Kota Kinabalu has also lined up other activities to mark the 50th anniversary of the WCD, maintaining its tradition to celebrate the occasion each year without fail. The day is celebrated universally each year on the Sunday before Pentecost, which this year falls on May 8.
It is the practice in the Kota Kinabalu Archdiocese to allow parishes to volunteer the hosting of the annual World Communication Day celebration.
The venue for this year’s celebration takes a rural setting, at St Philip Neri, Pekan Nabalu, an outstation chapel under the parish of St Pius X Bundu Tuhan, with a Holy Mass at 10.30 am that Sunday.
Last year, the SOCCOM of the Archdiocese of Kota Kinabalu celebrated the 49th WCD at the Church of the Assumption Sugud, hosted by the youth from three parishes – St Michael Penampang, Holy Trinity Inobong and Holy Nativity Terawi. It was attended by over 300 youth from those parishes.
Fr Thomas Madanan, the Spiritual Adviser of SOCCOM, presided over the Mass in Bahasa Malaysia that focused on the “Family.” He stressed that the family that prays together stays together, from cradle to grave, adding that the family is a resource and should not be viewed as burdensome.
Last year, the Catholic Sabah also observed its 3rd Catholic Sabah Day in conjunction with the 49th WCD on May 16, 2015. A forum was organised as a follow up to the Catholic Sabah Readership Survey two years ago.
At a thanksgiving dinner that day, Msgr Primus Jouil, the Editor of Catholic Sabah, highlighted the aims of World Communications Day, reminding Catholics of their responsibilities in communication and media consumption, their obligation to contribute funds, to pray and support those engaged in social communications of the church.
On that occasion, Archbishop John Wong spoke about the challenges faced by Catholic Sabah and the competitive nature of the media world.
“Everybody wants to be the first to tell a story. Everybody wants to share something new, something that’s the latest. This is the challenge people in the media world are facing. How then would Catholic Sabah face such challenges?” he asked.
Giving a clue to the direction the archdiocesan paper should take, the head of the archdiocese proposed that “as long as we aim to communicate truth, communicate love and communicate mercy and forgiveness to our readers, or in other words, communicate the Good News of Jesus who is the Way, the Truth, and the Life, I believe our readers being distracted by so many things in life will find the contents of our paper appealing and relevant to their deeper yearnings.”
Each year on the Sunday that marks the WCD, parishes throughout the archdiocese would make a collection at the Masses as a means to contribute funds for social communications and the media apostolate.
The Catholic Sabah is a fortnightly publication that serves the Archdiocese of Kota Kinabalu, the Diocese of Keningau and the Diocese of Sandakan, covering the entire state. – SOCCOM, Archdiocese of Kota Kinabalu