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Celebrating World Day for Consecrated Life during MCO

KOTA KINABALU – On 2 February 2021, the Mass to mark the World Day for Consecrated Life, which was scheduled to be celebrated at Sacred Heart Cathedral, was cancelled as a consequence of the extension of the Movement Control Order (MCO) imposed by the government. It created sadness and nostalgia for those of us who were looking forward to celebrate as we had done in previous years.

According to Br Thomas Paul, SG, chairperson of the Council of Religious (COR), Archbishop did suggest to have an Online Mass for the religious to celebrate the World Day for Consecrated Life but the COR instead decided to cancel it, thus  giving liberty to religious congregations to celebrate it with and in their own communities.

Since 2007, the various religious communities in the Archdiocese of Kota Kinabalu (Carmelites, Franciscan Sisters, La Salle Brothers, Montfort Brothers, Marist Brothers, Good Shepherd and Daughters of St Paul) had always been celebrating the World day for Consecrated Life together on the Feast of the Lord’s Presentation in the Temple.  The celebration was always preceded by Triduum of prayers as a way of preparation for the feast day.

For the first time in 13 years, our celebration together as religious bodies in the Archdiocese could not take place. To add to our disappointment, this year is also the 25th anniversary of this auspicious day. The pandemic has unfortunately prevented any grand celebration from being organized. Just as many people throughout the world have had their activities curtailed, the religious communities too have not been spared.

The physical distance that the pandemic has imposed on all of us, nevertheless, did not stop our various communities to celebrate the World Day for Consecrated Life (WDCL), though in a simpler and smaller scale but meaningful way.

Below are some interesting information received from various religious communities as to the manner they have celebrated the WDCL this year:

For the Carmelite Sisters, their celebration for WDCL in conjunction with the Feast day of the Lord’s presentation was at 6:30 am Mass presided by Carmelite chaplain Fr Mattheus Luta.

The Franciscan Sisters in various Communities: Loreto Convent, Purak, Stella Maris, Kiulu, Tuaran, Ranau and Bundu Tuhan prepared themselves for WDCL with Triduum prayers from Jan 30-31and on Feb 1.

On the feast day, the FSIC Sisters in Loreto Convent celebrated Holy Mass at 6:30 am by Archbishop John Wong, which was concelebrated by Fathers Russell Lawrine and Gilbert Marcus, followed by breakfast.

For the FSIC Sisters in Purak, they celebrated the Feast Day Mass at the Novitiate at 6:30 am by Fr Rayner Bisius, while the three communities at Stella Maris Convent (Senior Sisters, Pre-Novitiate and Stella Maris Hostel) had Mass at 10:00 am by Fr Andrew Kim, followed by lunch. As for the FSIC Sisters in Kiulu, the two communities (La Foresta and San Damiano) came together for Mass at 11:00 am, celebrated by Fr Erik Jerome and Fr Postinus Kurup, followed by lunch fellowship.

The FSIC Sisters in Tuaran also had their own Mass celebrated by Fr Edward Raymond, while the FSIC Sisters in Bundu Tuhan and Ranau had Holy Mass at 6:30 am at St Peter Claver Ranau, celebrated by Fr Nicholas Stephen and concelebrated by Fr Francis Tsen and Fr Maximilliano, and gathered for lunch fellowship afterwards.

Meanwhile, the FSIC Sisters in St Michael Penampang joined the Montfort Brothers for Holy Mass, which was celebrated by Fr Andrew Kim at 6:00 pm at the Montfort Brothers’ residence in Penampang, followed by a dinner fellowship.

Sr Jossie Sili of Good Shepherd Sisters shared that they celebrated WDCL with an online Mass in the morning.  In the afternoon, together with a few of their mission partners, they gathered for a special prayer blessing for all consecrated persons, followed by a simple yet special meal together. At 5.30 pm, they joined their sisters in the Province of Singapore-Malaysia for Evening Prayer via Zoom.

The Marist Brothers and the Daughters of St Paul reported that they did not have any special celebration in their communities except to follow the Online Mass for the Feast of the Lord’s presentation and spending time in communal and personal prayer. Just like the other congregations, they also reflected on the letter received from the Congregation for Institute of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life. In the meantime, the La Salle Brothers could not be reached for feedback.

The Diocese of Keningau, also had their own celebration for WDCL on Feb 2 in various locations.  Bishop Cornelius Piong celebrated the feast day and WDCL Mass at Retreat Centre Tatal at 6:00 am, which was attended by some representatives of various communities: Order of St Clare, FSIC Sisters, Order of Franciscan Secular (OFS) and Betania Secular Institut (ISKB).

Fr Lazorous Uhin also celebrated a Feast day Mass at 6:00 am at the Cathedral of St Francis Xavier Keningau (KSFX) for ISKB members who renewed their commitment to serve the Church. 

The FSIC Sisters in Nabawan, together with La Salle Brothers, also marked WDCL with Holy Mass celebrated by Fr Gilbert Lasius at 6:00 pm, and renewed their commitment to serve in God’s vineyard, while the FSIC Sisters in Toboh Tambunan had Holy Mass celebrated at 7:00 am by Fr Charles Chew.

At time of writing, we were unable to contact the Diocese of Sandakan about their WDCL celebration, but presumably they too would have celebrated it moderately but significantly.

All the celebrations for WDCL held in various communities of the various congregations were all held in strict compliance with the SOPs.

This year our celebration of the feast was low-key due to the circumstances. The socializing was restricted unlike the previous years. Nevertheless, in union with all our Sisters and Brothers in the Consecrated Life locally and throughout the world, we did not omit expressing our joy and gratitude for the gifts of religious vocation, which characterizes our lives and mission as consecrated religious. – Sr.Bibi,fsp

More photos in Catholic Sabah Facebook page.

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