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SANDAKAN – In response to the call of the Holy Father, 30 members of the Sandakan Diocesan Family Life Commission and Parish Family Life Ministries of St Mary’s Cathedral Parish Sandakan, St Martin’s Parish Telupid and Holy Trinity Parish, Tawau embarked on a local pilgrimage to St Mary’s Cathedral on 29-30 Apr 2016.
The pilgrimage was aimed at 1) Creating an impetus for self conversion to embrace God’s mercy (MS #14); 2) Promoting and enhancing relationship bond between members of the commission and ministry; and 3) Providing an opportunity for members to gain spiritual exposure and experience of the pilgrimage in the local setting.
Prior to the pilgrimage proper, the pilgrims were given a briefing to give them an insight into the early history and background of the Catholic mission in Sandakan, as well as the development of the pilgrimage site: the Marian Rosary Corridor and the Stations of the Cross.
The pilgrimage began at 7:00 am, April 30, with the pilgrims gathering at the frontage of St Mary’s Cathedral to cross the threshold of the Holy Door. Fr Stanley William Matakim led the prayer service followed by the solemn entrance into the Cathedral through the Holy Door.
The pilgrims reflected on the mercy of God and forgiveness of sin. The reflection was done in deep silence.
They next climbed to the summit of the Marian Hill where the Marian Rosary Corridor is situated. Before the walk-up, chairman of the Marian Hill Dominic Sintar briefed the pilgrims on the safety precautions in front of the Diocesan Worship Centre. A few nurses from St Joseph’s Divine Mercy group also participated in the walk.
The Holy Rosary was recited amidst the natural forest environment accompanied by the sounds of insects and birds.
Fr Stanley presided over the Eucharistic celebration at the summit of the hill. In his homily, he reminded the faithful to be concerned for one another as one diocese, as one parish. He said, “We need to be more tolerant, cooperative and assist one another as brothers and sisters in one big family in order to build up our parish.”
At the conclusion of the pilgrimage, chairperson of Family Life Commission Julita Kantod took the opportunity to encourage participants to be aware of the family mission. She said, “We cannot live by our own selves. As family, we have an important mission to bring other families to Christ. Being indifferent is not what we should be but rather, to be involved in the journey as one big family so that we can protect and sustain our faith, and share it with others.” – Julita Kantod