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Thousands attend open Christmas celebration at Ranau church

Members  of an outstation youth group perform at the open Christmas celebration, St Peter Claver Ranau, 30 Dec 2016.

RANAU – Saint Peter Claver Church here held an open  Christmas celebration that was visited by thousands of people from various background at the church’s compound  on 30 Dec 2016.

The event attracted people from all walks of life, including  well-wishers  like Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister, Datuk Hj Masidi Manjun;  former Kota Kinabalu Mayor, Datuk Abidin Madingkir; President of Sabah and Labuan Hakka Association, Datuk Jimmy Tham Yuk Leong; and Community Development Leader (PPM) Paginatan, Georgina George Leong.

Officiating the event,  Father Nicholas Stephen the pastor said it was the first time the parish has ever held an Open Christmas Celebration there since he was posted there in 2014.

“For the two years I am here, we have experienced the earthquake, and recently Ranau was also chosen as a pilgrimage site for people from across the state when about 20,000 people from elsewhere came and flooded the town area,” he said.

The priest felt that they were fortunate to experience those events because so many people around the world were not able to live through Dec 25 and go to church because of illnesses, sufferings, and other misfortunes.

“When I ponder on this, I told Father Francis Tsen and Father Florian Marcus, why not this year we organise a Christmas Open House? For the three of us can’t reach out to everyone during Christmas.   That is why we are asking everyone to come here for this special celebration,” he said.

Fr Nicholas took the opportunity to commend the people of Ranau because they have done their very best to care for peace within the community here, as well as helping one another especially during the times people underwent various kinds of natural disaster.

“For the year 2017, let us all cross the new year together in faith, hope and love, and while not knowing what are there ahead of us to see, we can be confident because when God is in our heart,  there will be a tomorrow for us,” he said. – Clarence G Dol

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