Secularisation is a set of values that contradict Gospel values. Secularisation is the transformation of a society from one that is closely identified

Jan 26, 2019

Malaysian Catholic Clergy Assembly: DAY 4


What do we mean by secularisation?
Secularisation is a set of values that contradict Gospel values. Secularisation is the transformation of a society from one that is closely identified with religious values to one that is non-religious; to a society where people are more man-centred rather than God-centred.

Signs of secularisation

— Removal of religious sym- bols in schools. 
— In liturgy, the use of modern technology, such as LCD pro- jections, has subtly diverted the real focus on God. 
— Relationships today are su- perficial. People are more indi- vidualistic than communal.

How secularisation affects the quality of priestly ministry

— With the use of modern technology such as the internet, one is overloaded with information, some of which might be fake news or misinformation.
— Technology can also lead to treating people as objects. We have become im- personal and less communicative with others. 
— Use of modern gadgets such as handphones, TV etc can be addictive, leading to less time spent on prayer and ministry. 
— In ministry to young people, we tend to focus on performance rather than real concern for the young person. 
— Secularisation can challenge the Clergy to be more discerning and see social media as real opportunities and possibilities for education and faith for- mation.


Sharing your experiences in evangelisation and mission
Admit that we are still poor at witnessing in our work of evangelisation and mission

— Finding joy in mission work 
— Most of us are able to communicate well with the lay people and ministry 
— Most of the rural parishioners are very involved and welcoming 
—  Collaboration with religious groups and other de- nominations 
— BECs are well established and well accepted in the rural areas too. Evangelise through the Word of God, strengthen the faith 
— RCIA in preparing for the reception of the sacraments 
— Ministry to the home bound, wake ministers ministering to the sick, dying, and intercessory prayers, bringing com- fort and bringing faith back to the family 
— ALPHA programmes benefiting in reaching out to lapsed Catholics 
— Team “Turun Padang” reaching out to the people in the rural areas 
— Migrants ministry, 
— Pilgrimage centres, bringing people of all walks of life and religion together 
— New Evangelisation (kupi – kupi rohani) 
— Ad intra and Ad extra evangelisation emphasising outward mission to facilitate the encounter between men and God


— Very clergy-centred Church: Do as the priest says 
— Difficult to find capable lay leaders ? Need to reach out to the rural areas 
— Need to have frequent celebration of sacra- ments 
— The parish boundaries are so vast that some outstations are not visited frequently 
— Some of the parishes / outstations only have a small number of parishioners 
— In some areas, priests only gather twice a year. There is a need to have more interactions be- tween clergy 
— Migration to the cities / urbanisation 
— Impediments for receiving the Eucharist due to second marriages / mixed marriages / not con- validated marriages 
— Full time catechists needed 
— Difference in culture, language, ideas cause disunity 
— Various levels of commitment of the lay leaders


— Empower the laity. Have full time paid cat- echists, pastoral workers, 
— Centralised catechists’ training 
— Appoint hospital chaplains / schools to re- duce the workload of priests in the city.

Early Missionary Attempts in Borneo
According to early documen- tations, the first mission- ary attempt to reach Borneo was in the 7th century by the Nestorian Missionaries. How- ever, they only landed in Java and Sumatra in Indonesia.

The second attempt was by John of Monte Corvino. In 1289 he was sent by Pope Nicholas IV to lead a group to the Far East. However, only one of John’s members, Odor- ic of Pordenone, a Franciscan friar was successful when he visited the shores near the pre- sent-day Mukah in Sarawak in 1322.

The third attempt was made in the 16th century but out of the many Portuguese merchant fleets, only Anto- nio Pereira, a Jesuit priest, reached Borneo accidentally. In 1608, on his way to Manila, a sudden storm wrecked his ship along the coast of North Borneo. He and his crew land- ed in Tempasuk, Kota Belud but were captured by the Il- lanuns who enslaved them. After four months, the Sultan of Brunei heard about the in- cident and rescued them. They were also allowed to preach the Gospel to the people in Bru- nei. Nothing much is known about the missionary work of Fr Pereira except the fact that the Bruneians appreciated and admired him for his gentle approach. After one year, Fr Pereira was drowned when the ship he was in sank on its way to Manila.

In the next two hundred years, there were other mis- sionaries from Europe who tried to set foot on Borneo. Nevertheless, it has to be not- ed that missionary activities during this period were merely exploratory in nature. It was only toward the turn of the late 19th century that the Borneo Mission underwent a complete new start.

Blessed Odoric of Pordenone
A little-known Italian mis- sioner, Bless- ed Odoric of Pordenone OFM, visited Asia long be- fore St Fran- cis Xavier ar- rived in 1541. The missioner is believed to have landed on Borneo island sometime be- tween 1323 and 1324.

However, this was only a stopover, for his mission was to reach China to assist Franciscan Archbishop John of Monte Cor- vino of Peking (Beijing).

Odoric’s trip to China began in 1322, traversing the Persian Gulf with stops at Thana, near Bombay, Sumatra, Java and Borneo, according to Church sources.

He is the first European, after Marco Polo, who distinctly men- tions the name of Sumatra. The cannibalism and community of wives which he attributes to cer- tain races of that island do cer- tainly belong to it, or to islands closely adjoining.


What is faith formation?

–It is facilitating an encounter with the Lord that is prac-tical, with a proper objective and goal.
— It has to take into account the challenges and needs ofthe local Church.
— It needs to be connected with the people’s experiencesat each stage of their faith journey.
— It needs to be holistic, and point towards Christ.
— It needs to be relevant. The content of faith formationwill not change, but the way it is delivered has to be rel-evant to the current generation.

Strategies (systematic plans) for faith formation

— Faith formation is necessary for both the laity and theclergy.
— As clergy, we have to have a diligent life of prayer, as iwill affect how we are forming people. Clergy ourselveshave to be convinced about our faith.
— In the seminaries, the gap between the formators andseminarians needs to be bridged.
— At the level of the laity, Catholics need to be guidedto encounter, be empowered, be enlightened and live asevangelising people.
— Focus should be on bringing people into a relationshipwith the living God by meeting Him in the Scriptures andin the Eucharist. Homilies should inspire witnessing.
— Catechists need on-going formations.
— Faith formation should awaken people’s awareness tosocial issues.
— The standard catechetical syllabus does not have flex-ibility. There has to be a curriculum and presentation thatis inculturated for the various language groups.
— RCIA is an initial stage of faith formation for those en-tering the Church. It can be an inspiring journey when itis done well.
— In West Malaysia, we need some concrete plans to pro-vide faith formation that is specifically catered to the EastMalaysian people here.
— Clergy need to be available and present on simple occa-sions such as family gatherings and youth outings.
— Faith formation must come after listening to the needsof the people.


a. Cultural

— Those in the East are more culturally connected with theMalays, especially in the language used and the environmentlived in.
— Those in the East are more close knit in their relationshipwith one another.

b. Economy

— Prices of goods and the cost of living is higher in the East.
— Infrastructure such as roads, varsities, hospitals are moreadvanced in the West.
— In the West, salaries and job opportunities are greater thanin the East.

c. Politics
— Those in the East are now more ready to demand greaterautonomy and power.
— There is a better working relationship between State andthe Church in the East.

d. Education
— The standard of education is higher in West Malaysia.
— The people in the West are more knowledgeable and moreexposed to globalisation, migration and conflicts.

e. Mindset, Conduct and Attitudes
— There is a sense of superiority and a patronising attitude inthe West towards those in the East.
— In East Malaysia, the parents are fearful that their childrenwill be converted when they go to the West for education orwork.
— There is greater harmony in the East than in the West.f. Church
— There are greater challenges in the East for pastoralministry because of inferior infrastructure such as roads andgreater geographical distances to cover.
— There is greater freedom of expression and the usage ofreligious terminology such as ‘Allah” in the East.
— There is easier availability and approval for lands for burialgrounds, buildings in the East
— There are more opportunities for missionary works in theEast.
— Catechesis and faith formation opportunities are moreavailable in the West.


Is my priesthood / diaconate still a vocationor has it become a job?

— God’s call initiates and sustains our vocation.
— It is vocation when it is sustained and rekindled withthe love for the people.

— Vocation goes beyond fixed time duties but it can endup as a job when it loses its focus.
— Too much work could reduce it to a job if we are notconnected with the people.
— The ministry of the priesthood is a combination of bothsince the priest is a sign of Christ for others.
— Only a vocation can give joy to the mission and minis-try of the priesthood.
— For a permanent Deacon who has a job in the secularworld, this distinction is seen more clearly.

How do I inspire young people towards priestly or religious vocation?

— By being a witness and being available for the young.
— By giving a human face to the priesthood and not a perfect or authoritarian outlook.
— By sharing our mission and vocation stories.
— By accompanying the young and helping them to dis-cover and encounter Christ.
— By spiritual direction.
–By creating appreciation and awareness through voca-tion camps and talks.
— Through the homilies the clergy can inspire the youngto respond to the needs of the times.
— Through affirmation that the young people are doingGod’s work when they serve in the church ministries.
— By promoting vocation through mission projects.

“Odoric ranks high amongstthe world ?s great travellers,not merely for the extentof his journeys, but for theamount of information thathe collected,” wrote historianRobert Nicholl in The BruneiMuseum Journal.

Nicholldescribed him as “…an inde-fatigable seeker after truth,”who “…tirelessly questionedthe inhabitants of the placesthat he visited”.

During his stay in Borneo,Odoric made detailed ob-servations of local customs,such as the natives’ use of areed called “casan” for manypurposes, including sails,rough clothes, huts, andbody armour.Nicholl believed those de-scriptions fit the sago palm,nipa palm, rattan and ipohtree, all of which flourishedin Borneo.In May of that year, Odoriccarefully narrated his expe-riences to fellow Friar Gug-lielmo of Solagno at the Fri-ary of St Anthony at Padua.

His manuscript, known asthe Relation, reportedly be-came a famous travel jour-nal in the Middle Ages.Odoric died on Jan 14,1331 at Udine, Italy, andwas beatified by Pope Ben-edict XIV in 1755. He is ven-erated as the patron of theChinese missions and alsoof long-distance travellers.


SEPT 4, 1855
Erected as the ApostolicPrefecture of Labuan and Borneowith Msgr Don Carlos Cuarteron,a member of the Third Order ofthe Trinitarians, the first Prefect.Fr Thomas Jackson MHM wasappointed as the second PrefectApostolic on March 30, 1881

FEB 14, 1952
Promoted toApostolic Vicariateof Jesselton withBishop James Buis,MHM as the firstApostolic Vicar.

MAY 31, 1976
Elevated to Diocese of KotaKinabalu (suffragan inthe ecclesiastical provinceof the MetropolitanArchdiocese of Kuching)

Diocese of Kota Kinabalulost two territories:Keningau – Dec 17, 1992Sandakan – July 16, 2007

FEB 5, 1927
Renamed the Apostolic Prefectureof Northern Borneo. Lost territoryto form the Apostolic Prefectureof Sarawak with Fr EdmundDunn MHM as the first Prefect.Fr August Watcher MHM wasthe second Prefect.

MAR 22, 1968
Name changed to ApostolicVicariate of Kota Kinabalu withBishop James Buis, MHM asthe first ApostolicVicar. Bishop PeterChung was the secondApostolic Vicar on1970.

MAY 23, 2008
Elevated to MetropolitanArchdiocese.Suffragan Dioceses:Diocese of Keningauand Diocese ofSandakan

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