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Johor-Melaka hosts 4th regional commission on family, laity and life meeting

PLENTONG – Melaka-Johor Diocese hosted the 4th Episcopal Regional Commission for Family, Laity and Life (ERCFLL) at the Majodi Centre here on 23-26 Apr 2017.

It began with a welcome address by Bishop Bernard Paul to the delegates and observers from Malaysia, Singapore and Brunei.

Archbishop John Wong, the episcopal chairman of ERCFLL, thanked the delegates for coming as it encourages others to journey together to build up the family, adding that “your presence is seen as a sign of hope.”

He said even though in life we face a lot of challenges, we know that we have to take up these challenge wherever we are.

The meeting proceeded to discuss pertinent issues arising from the arch/ dioceses reports on the family ministry commission.

Deacon Leslie Petrus of Melaka- Johor diocese said a number of programmes had been conducted in the diocese: Marriage Preparation Weekend, Marriage Preparation Update Training Session, Seminar on Family, Forum on Divorce, Separation and Annulment and Natural Fertility Awareness Programme.

He said the response to these sessions was encouraging but due to the distance and two different weekends in Melaka and Johor, and the situation in South Johor where more than 65 per cent of Catholics work in Singapore, conducting family life formation programmes was a challenge.

Peter Wong of Kuching spoke on Marital First Responders Workshop. He said this workshop is meant to impart basic skills to help individuals with marital issues, adding that “It is also a great tool to create healthier, happier and more stable relationships.”

Fred Judin of Keningau said the Marriage Enrichment Encounter Programme in his diocese is a renewal of the marriage commitment which helps to refresh the husband-wife relationship.

Paul Lau of Sibu touched on the Marriage Discernment Weekend which aroused much debate and deliberation.

Father Edwin Peter of Kuala Lumpur made a strong statement when he said, “Most often, we want to meet pastoral concerns with doctrines and dogmas.” He gave an example of the LGBT where we cannot use doctrines and dogmas but we could use a holistic approach.

Other matters deliberated at the meeting included Amoris Laetitia that touched on marriage preparation towards helping couples to discern whether a Catholic marriage is for them, or whether they understood the implications of God’s plan of marriage and family and their willingness to take on this responsibility.

The delegates also agreed that they have to step up informal marriage preparation through programmes dealing with current issues.

Archbishop John Wong in his closing address said he would report on this session at the upcoming Catholic Bishops’ Conference (CBC) in July.

Archbishop Wong said he looks forward to attending the next ERCFLL Regional Commission Meeting in Penang on 22 – 25 April next year. – www.heraldmalaysia.com

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