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Deacon Robin Lomangkok shares his vocation story

lomangkokTANJUNG ARU  – “The glory of God is man (human) fully alive, a quote by St Irenaeus, a 3rd century Church father. I chose this quote as my Sacerdotal Ordination motto to remind me of the awesomeness of God that has attracted me to respond to this vocation. It was beyond my wildest dream even to come close to that desire of becoming a priest or a religious someday. But Someone up there has surprised me in a good way!”

Robin Lomangkok said this in his interview with Catholic Sabah. Come 1 August  2016 the deacon will be ordained priest for the Redemptorist Order by Archbishop John Wong at 6:30 pm at his home parish of Stella Maris here.

Born on 29 Nov 1977, Robin is the seventh child in a brood of five boys and five girls born to George Lomangkok Mojinung and the late Nonong Thakar Singh.  Below is his vocation story:

I come from a mixed family parentage. My father is a Kadazan native from Kg Hungab, Penampang but with some Chinese background, while my late mother was a mixture of Punjabi and Kadazan descent.

I am grateful for what my parents had inculcated in me and my other eight siblings to have that sense of belief in God that slowly shaped our faith since we were young. Our family was challenged when my mother passed on due to asthma.  I was 10 years old at that time, and it became a turning point in my life.  I thank God for the courage and strength He gave me to go through those moments through my family.

My family has become bigger now since my father re-married and my siblings have families of their own now. I thank God for such priceless gift of family for it has become one of the life’s sources for my journey.

My early education started at the Stella Maris kindergarten and primary school in Tanjung Aru.  I continued my secondary school at SM Maktab Sabah for another five years before heading for my Diploma in Banking studies at UiTM Manggatal.  Studying has always been my passion apart from my interest in music, arts and sports. That fueled my determination to  further my Business Degree studies majoring in Finance at UiTM Shah Alam.

My working experiences were mostly involved in financial matters and analysis work. I loved my job and the challenges it rendered. But God seemed to have other plans for me. At one point I began asking about the purpose of my life. I was slowly being “disturbed” by this question. This is how the searching process started.  But God did not just leave me there on my own in my confusion. I saw God’s awesomeness unfolding in my life when He sent the right people to journey with me in encountering Him.  Before joining the seminary, there were times that I questioned Him because my human mind could not comprehend what He was doing in my life.

I realised that God’s “disturbances” could be blessings in disguise. During this discerning period, I felt a slight openness to consider giving myself a try to do something for God. I got involved in the Charismatic Renewal and the RCIA Formation.  I believe it was a little “gift” of Grace from God to inspire me to respond. Witnessing the conversion stories, reconciliation and growth in faith had somehow given me clearer signs that God must have reasons for showing me all these.

I also allowed myself to be in a quiet space. I spent many times asking God in the Blessed Sacrament about what He was trying to tell me.  The silence gave me that sense of peace and familiarity of God’s ways of revealing Himself in my life. Until now personal prayer is one of my recipes to sustain me in my commitment. 

I believe my devotion to the Blessed Mother ever since I was small led me to the Redemptorist congregation.  I didn’t know then that the icon I used to gaze at as a child is the same title of the Blessed Mother the Redemptorist is promoting. Coincidence, or perhaps God has in fact prepared me to be a Redemptorist?  The icon gives me the assurance that I will never be alone in this journey. 

Being a Redemptorist today is something that I could connect with that experience. God could sometimes send us some strange attractions, which could lead us towards the beauty of serving in God’s vineyard. It is part of our main charism to make the devotion of Our Mother of Perpetual Help known to the whole world, apart from preaching the Good News to the most abandoned and poor. That is the Redemptorist’s motto, which our founder St Alphonsus has passed down to us as his sons.  We live as a community and currently I am based in our Redemptorist parish in Ipoh, Perak. I have been enriched living in community in our work as a team and there is wisdom behind this practice and tradition. Ultimately, we edify each other in a constructive way.

For me, to be fully human is to fully commit myself to serving others as a priest. In this way I could give glory to God. We may have different ways to serve others. My way to discover this has not only been through prayer and silence but also through an attitude of openness and deep knowledge of self.  These have helped me shape my choices and eventually led me to decide for a life that would give me joy and fulfilment.

I am reminded of a saying “My Life is Not My Own” which makes me reflect that my life is not just about me but a life that is capable to serve and to make a difference. So, why not share our life if we feel we have what it takes to follow the Lord.  We might have our limitations and shortcomings as we are human.  But the moment we see how the lives of others and ourselves have changed powerfully, we must not hesitate to ask God to give us the courage to delve deeper into that encounter. We have our fears and limitations just like the disciples of Christ, but He has assured us this “My grace is sufficient for you.”   To believe in this means that the Glory of God has been made alive in each of us!”

Robin entered the Congregation of the Most Holy Redeemer (Redemptorist) in Singapore in 2008 and continued his formation in the Philippines in 2010. He made his first profession on 27 May 2011 in his home parish of Stella Maris, Tanjung Aru, and took his final vows on 15 May 2015 in Singapore.

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