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Sabah Clergy Gathering 2020 focuses on topic of ‘Family’

BUNDU TUHAN – Sabah clergy from the Arch/dioceses of Kota Kinabalu, Keningau and Sandakan once again looked forward to their annual clergy gathering at the Retreat Centre here Jan 13-16. These gatherings take place twice yearly, once at the beginning of the year and one during mid-year.

The gatherings have since become a tradition where the bishops, priests and seminarians gathered for fellowship meals, and exchange views on topics relating to priestly and seminary life.

This first gathering for 2020 saw a Study Day which focused on the topic of Family. Msgr Gilbert Engan began the first session with introduction and recap of MCCA  (Malaysian catholic Clergy 2018), followed by a video presentation by Fr Thomas Madanan on Catholic Mission in Borneo.

Fr Charles Chiew facilitated the second session on Family, focusing on Marriage, Divorce and Vocation. This was followed by group discussion on (1) Vocation and Priesthood (2) Faith Formation (3) Youth and Secularisation, using the ERP method (Experience, Reflection and Plan of Action)

Six groups of clergy and three groups of seminarians with respective bishops provided valuable insights from the discussions:

1) Vocation and Priesthood: Experience – lacking support from parents that resulted in seminarians giving up their vocation; Reflection – the need for ongoing formation; Plan in action – creating a support group such as Sabah Young/Junior/Senior Clergy.

2) Faith Formation: Experience – mix-marriages between Catholic and other religions have become a great challenge for faith formation. Reflection – Hedonism, secularism and apathy identified as real problems; Plan in action – to revise the pre-marriage course, ongoing formation and evangelization.

(3) Youth and Secularisation: Experience – misuse of gadget, lack quality time with family; Reflection – Prodigal- son  syndrome that is lacking of faith formation after Sacrament of Confirmation; Plan in Action – solid faith formation and accompaniment program for the youth.

On the third day, Sandakan clergy returned to their respective parishes while Keningau clergy held their priests’ meeting before returning to their parishes.

For KK Archdiocese, the priests stayed back for one more day which was filled by sessions for morning prayer, Holy Hour, Bible Sharing, and priests’ meeting in the afternoon. The day was concluded with evening Mass.

The KK priests’ meeting resumed the following morning, and concluded with Mass, after which lunch was served before the priests departed for home. – Fr Mattheus Luta

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