SANDAKAN – Sandakan Diocese organised its annual three-in-one celebration on 14-15 Oct 2016 here.
The event commemorated the ninth anniversary of its erection as a diocese as well as the ninth episcopal ordination anniversary of Bishop Julius Dusin Gitom and his 59th birthday (Oct 14).
The event commenced with the anniversary dinner at the Hakka Hall at Mile 6 Oct 14. Over a thousand people gathered for the dinner including Apostolic Nuncio Abp Joseph Marino, Abp John Wong of Kota Kinabalu, and Msgr Gilbertus Engan of Keningau. The invited dignitaries cut the ribbon and cake to mark the occasion. Video clips on the progress of diocese and parishes were screened. Notable songs and dances were presented by different groups and invited guest performer.
Earlier in the day the nuncio had a formation session with around 106 attendees on Pope Francis’ Joy of Love (Amoris Laetitia), the apostolic exhortation on the family issued on 8 April 2016.
The thanksgiving Mass was concelebrated at St Mary’s Cathedral Oct 15, the actual day of the ordination itself nine years ago.
In his address after Mass, Abp Marino delighted the congregation by telling them how the Malaysia got its first cardinal. He commended the diocese for choosing its theme “Together Rejoicing in God’s Compassionate Love and Mercy” which resonated with the Jubilee of Mercy.
He recommended the diocese to take as its “primary pastoral activity to bring people back to the Church, or better yet to welcome people back to their home.”
In his turn, Bishop Julius touched on the progress and development of the diocese in the past nine years. He expressed his hope that the diocesan vision and mission will be launched next year, on its tenth anniversary. The host will be Holy Trinity Tawau.
This year has been an eventful year for the diocese. A fifth parish has been erected: Our Lady of Fatima Beluran on Oct 3 under the pastoral administration of St Mary’s Cathedral; it hosted the 4th Sabah Youth Day in Tawau in June as well as the 3rd Sabah Women’s Conference in September.
The diocese was erected on 16 July 2007 with Rev Julius as its first bishop. The twofold event has been commemorated annually with each of the four parishes (St Mary Sandakan, St Dominic Lahad Datu, Holy Trinity Tawau, and St Martin Telupid) taking turns to host it.