KOTA KINABALU – The celebration of the Solemnity of the Feast of Christ the King on Nov 24 was also the celebration of the 37th Anniversary of the Dedication of the Sacred Heart Cathedral. Twelve consecration crosses carved on stone, which were installed on the Cathedral walls, were lit up by candles.
The consecration crosses and candles mark the 12 points where the walls of the church were anointed with sacred chrism, and lit for the first time when it was dedicated thirty-seven years ago as the new Mother Church of the Diocese in a special Mass celebrated by Bishop Simon Fung.
As explained by parish priest, Fr Paul Lo prior to Mass, the 12 candles stem from the symbolic use of this number in biblical tradition. The 12 stones used by Moses to build the altar of the covenant represented the 12 tribes of Israel. Likewise, there are the 12 apostles. When we say the Creed we confess that “We believe in one holy catholic and apostolic Church.” Our faith is “apostolic” because it is based on the teachings of Jesus, carried on by the apostles, the direct successors of whom are our bishops, guided by the Holy Spirit.
At the same time, Fr Lo informed the parishioners that the celebration coincided with the pastoral visit of Archbishop John Wong to the Cathedral. Traditionally, he added, the pastoral visit of the archbishop to any parish would constitute a big event for the respective parishioners with one special Mass.
But in the case of the Cathedral parish, Fr Lo said “We have several Masses over the weekend, and we see the Archbishop ever so often as he presides over Masses here regularly being the Mother Church. So after Mass, the Archbishop will only have a session over a meal with parish leaders only.”
In his speech at the simple parish dinner, Archbishop Wong seized the opportune moment to remind the parish leaders of the recent PPC Formation where they discussed their aspirations and dreams for the parish as follow: 1) their commitment to focus on the youth, reaching out to them, in particular to the Sunday School; 2) their commitment to Faith Formation in the deepening and making more relevant their faith; 3) their commitment to evangelizing through the Parish Family Pastoral Network (PFPN); and 4) their commitment to be more personal, both clergy and leaders, to create more warmth and friendliness towards parishioners. He concluded on the hopeful note that the parish leaders would work together to realize their dreams and aspirations, rather than outdoing one another.
Parish Pastoral Council chairman Jason Joenoi, besides touching on the pledge of the Council to realize their aspirations to serve the parish, updated the leaders that the parish has almost achieved their commitment to the Catholic Centre. He added “As we have almost achieved our pledge to raise RM2.5K for the Catholic Centre, I don’t see why we cannot do the same for the Cathedral which is now 37 years old and in need of maintenance. I am hopeful that we can do likewise when the time comes.”
In his turn, Fr Lo welcomed Archbishop Wong to the parish dinner and on an apologetic note said “It’s a small dinner,” while promising the following year to be better planned with more participation of parishioners. He opined that this would be a way to help the faithful to realize that they are on a journey together, and not merely just church-goers.
Notably present was Archbishop Emeritus John Lee, both as a concelebrant at Mass and enjoying a pleasant evening with some of the leaders and other diners. – CS