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Thousands mark Ash Wednesday in Sandakan parishes

SANDAKAN – A s h Wednesday was celebrated simultaneously on Mar 6
at St Mary’s Cathedral in English, St Joseph’s Church in Chinese and St Mark’s Church in Bahasa Malaysia, marking the beginning of the Lenten Season.

Bishop Julius Gitom presided the Mass at St Mary’s Cathedral, which
was attended by more than two thousand faithful.
The prelate reminded parishioners that the season of Lent is a time of
prayer, fasting and penance when Catholics try to imitate Jesus’ withdrawal into the wilderness for 40 days to spend in prayer and fasting,
and also in contemplating His suffering, death and resurrection.
The ashes marked on our foreheads symbolize penitence, and is a reminder that God is merciful and gracious.

The season of Lent is also a time to prepare candidates for baptism through intensive instruction. The prelate called on all parishioners to support the candidates in their journey of faith especially in preparation for their baptism at Easter.
Bishop Gitom refreshed the faith communty on the three pillars of Lent: prayer, fasting and almsgiving. He underlined that prayer is our personal relationship with God, our union with Him. It unites us with Jesus and
others in the Church.

Fasting leads to self control and makes us realize the suffering of others.
Almsgiving is our response to God. It is an expression of gratitude for all that God has given us. It is the attitude of the heart, humble, merciful, repentant and compassionate , leading us to works of charity and the promotion of justice, an integral element of Christian life.
Bishop Gitom concluded with excerpts from Pope Francis’ Lenten message for 2019: “Let us not allow this season of grace to pass in vain. Let us ask God to help us set out on the path of true conversion. Let us leave behind our selfishness and self-absorption, and turn to Jesus’ Pasch. Let us stand beside our brothers and sisters in need, sharing our spiritual and material goods with them. In this way, by concretely welcoming Christ’s victory over sin and death into our lives, we will also radiate its transforming power to all of creation.”

At the same time, over a thousand faithful attended the Ash Wednesday Mass at St Mark’s Church presided by Fr Christopher Ireneus – SOCCOM Sandakan

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