Sibu Diocese to focus on Creation and Sacraments for the next seven years

A decade of Creation Justice for the Diocese of Sibu from 2017 to 2026 has been announced.

Jan 16, 2021

To: Priests, Religious  Brothers and Sisters,  All lay faithful 

–– Sacred Heart Cathedral, Sibu 
–– St Teresa’s Church, Sibu 
–– St Mary’s of the Divine Mercy Church, Sibu        
–– St Anthony’s Church, Sarikei 
–– St Francis Xavier’s Church, Kanowit
–– St Alphonsus’ Church, Julau 
–– Sts Peter and Paul’s Church, Mukah                   
–– St Bernard’s Church, Dalat 
–– St Charles’ Church, Selangau                               
–– St Herbert’s Church, Song 
–– Church of Christ the King, Bintangor 
–– Church of Mary Immaculate Conception, Kapit

Dear Brothers and Sisters In Christ,
A decade of Creation Justice for the Diocese of Sibu from 2017 to 2026 has been announced. 

–– Creation justice – Evangelisation In Union With Creation: Ego-Centred to Eco-Christ Centred in 2017; (Laudato Si mi Signore) 
–– The Joy of Love – Let’s Begin From Home in 2018; (Amoris Laetitia) 
–– Freedom – Rejoice and Be Glad: Call to Holiness through the 8 Beatitudes in 2019; (Gaudete et Exsultate) and 
–– Water and Baptism – Gift to all Creation in 2020 (Christus Vivit)

Greetings of love, joy and peace to each and every one of you and your loved ones. A very grace filled New Year 2021. We have every reason to be grateful and give thanks and praise to our Loving Father for His infinite love and blessings especially in light of the disruptions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic which have greatly affected lives for the past one year. In these times of uncertainty, we have only to put our trust in God who alone is certain.

Now, the using of face masks has become the norm. We realized how much we have taken the air that we breathe for granted. How we long to once again be able to breathe freely without using face masks and the fear  of contracting the virus. What a moment of Grace that this is the Diocese’s plan as this year we embark on the theme:

“Creation Justice, love and Freedom: Air and Confirmation – Breath of Life in all Creation.”

The reading material for this year of Air and Confirmation is the Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation Querida Amazonia – The Beloved Amazon Region (02.02.2020).

Air pollution has greatly impacted the environment that we live in and all living creatures therein. Many countries in the world are constantly enveloped in thick smog and we also experience unhealthy air during the ‘open burning season’ when vast areas of forests are cleared for planting or farming and also from emissions caused by factories and vehicles and usage of fossil fuel, hazardous chemicals and pollutants. All these have negative effects on our health including the risks of death and premature babies. We have been urged to “Go Green” especially by planting more trees as there is only one planet Earth.

Hopefully, we will now begin to appreciate the free gift of the air that our Almighty God has given us. We urgently need to do our own little part to minimise pollution as much as possible. We also work hand-in-hand with the Creation Justice Commission in a concerted effort to Protect Our Earth, Protect our Children through their five-year campaign adopted by all the Dioceses throughout Malaysia which begins from the World Day of Prayer for the Care of Creation on September 1, 2020 with the first year theme to Use Less Electricity and the following year to Eat Less Animal-Based Food.

In the Diocese, we have commenced a decade of Creation Justice by working on the main Gospel values of Justice, Love and Freedom from 2017- 2019. Hereafter, our aim is to correlate the Seven Sacraments of the Church to Creation Justice. We began with the Sacrament of Baptism last year and following the sequence of the Sacraments of Christian Initiation we have the Sacrament of Confirmation. The two go hand in hand.  Just as the water of Baptism initiates us into God’s family, the Sacrament of Confirmation completes the grace of Baptism and we are enriched with the strength of the Holy Spirit. Hence, to witness to Christ by word and deed and to spread and defend the faith.

All of us are called not only to bring Christ but to be Christ for others, having been imbued with the gifts of the Holy Spirit by our Confirmation. Just as the Spirit hovered over the water at the beginning of Creation, the Spirit is now strengthening us with the breath of life and empowering us with the gifts of the Holy Spirit.  As such, we need to appreciate the great gift of Air and Confirmation given to us and be grateful and resolute in our endeavours to be faithful stewards of God’s wonderful Creation and be zealous in bringing and becoming Christ to others, as God intends all of us including the whole of Creation to be united with Him and be with Him forever.

During this pandemic, we have been told repeatedly to ‘Stay Home’ and ‘Stay Safe’. I implore all of you to seize this opportunity as a grace filled moment to also learn to ‘Be still and know that I am GOD’ (Ps 46:10) and  ‘Stay Connected’ with our Heavenly Father. We need first to “rewire” and “reconnect” with God who is ‘at home’ in us as in all of Creation in order to be re-evangelized and to be transformed before being sent out to evangelize and continuously being evangelized to share the treasure of our Catholic faith.

May we stay inter-connected and interdependent with all creation in realising the mission entrusted to us by Christ “That They May All Be ONE” (Jn 17:11,21-23). Thank you for your continuing trust and support for me and all the priests in the Diocese. May our gracious God continue to lavish us with Christ’s infinite merciful love and Freedom in the Holy Spirit through the intercession in this special year of St. Joseph the Patron of the Universal Church (08.12.2020 – 08.12.2021) and his spouse Mary.

Your Humble Servant

Bishop Joseph Hii Teck Kwong
Diocese of Sibu
‘Ecclesia Christi Sponsa’
January 1, 2021

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