Kuching Archdiocese holds first online Joint Recollection Day

Kuching Archdiocese holds Joint Recollection Day with Priests, Religious & Laity with focus to build a Synodal Church.

Oct 22, 2021

Holy Family Chapel, ACCPC from where the procession and opening prayers were live-streamed so participants could take part. 16 Oct 2021. (Photo: Archdiocese of Kuching)

By Ivy Chai
The Archdiocese of Kuching held its first online Joint Day of Recollection on 16 October 2021 via Zoom, attended by about 300 participants comprising members of the Archdiocesan Pastoral Council (APC) commissions and committees, priests, religious, seminarians, parish councillors and church leaders.

In her opening address, APC Chairperson Christina Eng pointed out that the main event to focus on for the next two years would be the Synod of Bishops, called by Pope Francis. She expressed her desire for everyone to “get on with living with the virus in our midst and with our agenda – that is to be a Church with a Mission to bring Jesus Christ to the ends of the earth.” We are “Church: Disciples of the Word in Communion for Mission”, she added.

In a poignant tribute to all priests, Christina said: “Dear Reverend Fathers, how we need you! For the sacraments, for confession, for the Eucharist, when we are sick or just to be reminded that there is a loving and merciful God in your homilies every Sunday.”

Archbishop Simon Poh on the other hand, noted how blessed he felt to have two bodies to assist him in the pastoral care of the People of God. He has the Priests’ Council comprising 40 priests incardinated in the Kuching Archdiocese, and the support of the Archdiocesan Pastoral Council which includes the 12 Parish Pastoral Councillors from the whole Archdiocese, working in close collaboration with their respective parish rectors and priests.

Archdiocese of Kuching
The prelate touched briefly on the history of the Catholic Church, starting with the day the first Mill Hill Missionaries stepped foot on Kuching soil on 10 July 1881 (140 years ago) to the establishment of the Archdiocese of Kuching on 31 May 1976, making it just over 45 years old.

The Vatican Council II in 1962-1965 presented a new model of the Church, one that was highly pre-vatican institutional and hierarchical, to one that focused on Communion. This is Vatican II renewed vision of the Church as the People of God, called to be the Light of the World “Lumen Gentium”.

The Archdiocesan Pastoral Council that was later formed, now includes the Commissions for Bible & Faith Formation, Christian Family Life, Youth & Campus, Mission & Human Development and Committees for Vocation, Counselling and Social Communications.

Archbishop Simon singled out some notable events that had been organised:

--Archdiocesan Eucharistic Congress (1989-1990)

--Archdiocesan Bible Congress (1991-1993)

--3-year focus on the Trinity in preparation for Jubilee Year 2000

As these events involved the grassroots in the villages and parishes, it gave impetus to the formation and building up of the whole church in the Archdiocese of Kuching. He referred to this as “a process of synodality”.

1st Kuching Archdiocesan Pastoral Assembly
The Archbishop summed up the process of coming up with the theme: “WE ARE the CHURCH: DISCIPLES of the Word, in COMMUNION for MISSION,” for the 1st Kuching Archdiocesan Pastoral Assembly (1st KAPA) in 2017, as a sort of synodal experience for the Church.

The theme, now embraced by bishops, priests, religious and lay leaders in the Church, was coined by combining both his predecessors, Archbishops Emeriti Peter Chung and John Ha’s visions of “We are the Church” and “The Church – Disciples of the Word, in Communion for Mission”.

Archbishop Simon said the Holy Spirit had brought about greater realisation that evangelisation is not only the responsibility of bishops, priests or religious. The Assembly discerned that the lay faithful too, is called to be part of the Church on this mission.

To prepare for the 2nd KAPA in 2022, the Church’s task now is to review the performance and challenges faced since 2017.

For a Synodal Church: Communion, Participation and Mission
In Rome on Sunday 10 October, Pope Francis launched the Synod of Bishops 2021-2023 with the theme: “For a Synodal Church: Communion, Participation and Mission”.

The word Synod is a Greek word sunodos which means ‘assembly’ or ‘meeting’. It comes from sun– ‘together’ + hodos ‘way’. Hence, we are coming together as a synodal church to seek the way to move forward in communion, participation, and mission.

What is the Synod of Bishops?
In the Catholic Church, through the Synod of Bishops, the Pope calls bishops from different regions of the world to an ASSEMBLY. This fosters closer COMMUNION between the Pope and Dioceses and invites dioceses to PARTICIPATE in the growth of faith, morals, and MISSION of the Church. The Synod of Bishops 2021-2023 will culminate in Rome in 2023.

Archbishop Simon opined, “Our Archdiocesan experience has given us some background experience of being a Synodal Church – Communion, Participation and Mission. Accordingly, we will align the 2nd KAPA road map with the Synodal Road Map,” he added, concluding with some pertinent questions to reflect on communion, participation and mission for a post pandemic Church. He also provided a selection of recommended guiding principles.

The Journey towards the Synod of Bishops and the Pan Malaysian Pastoral Convention (PMPC) 2026

Fr Patrick Heng, tasked to head the journey towards the Synod in 2023 and the Pan Malaysian Pastoral Convention in 2026, gave an overview of how and when the vision and mission of the Archdiocese, “WE ARE the CHURCH: DISCIPLES of the Word, in COMMUNION for MISSION,” was formulated. He then gave a breakdown of the journey towards PMPC 2026, mapping out the dates and process of the various Assemblies to be held, leading up to the PMPC.

The Vision for PMPC 2026 is: “The Catholic Church of Malaysia coming together as clergy, religious and laity to celebrate, listen and walk in the light of the Lord (cf. Isaiah 2:2-5).”  The taskforce will adopt a See-Act-Judge methodology with a set of questionnaires to be distributed to all parishes in January – March 2022.

Fr Galvin Richard Ngumbang supported the unveiling of the roadmap by revealing the Aim of the Synod and expounding on the Diocesan phase of the Synod.

Sr Rose Wong SSFS, representing the Religious Orders/ Congregations in Sarawak, reported she has a working committee of 11 representatives from different orders for the Malaysian Catholic Religious Assembly 2023. She said: “As a communion of missionary disciples, we become more the salt of the earth and light of the world. Blessed with the different talents and gifts, we continue this missionary journey. Our vowed life must reflect counter cultural witness or gospel values in society.”

Fr Ramon Borja concluded the roadmap towards the 2026 Pan Malaysian Pastoral Convention with the vision, objectives, and plans of the Kuching Archdiocesan Youth Commission, for the Malaysian Catholic Youth Assembly 2025, and beyond.

Let the journey to PMPC 2026 begin…towards a truly Malaysian Church.--Today's Catholic

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