KUCHING – The 17th Annual General Meeting (AGM) of the Archdiocesan Pastoral Council of Kuching was held on 9 August at the Archbishop’s Hall, attended by more than 60 delegates – priests, religious sisters and lay people from the ten parishes of the Archdiocese. The AGM was preceded by a Mass at the Carmelite Chapel.
In his opening address, Chairman Dr Michael Hii, thanked all the priests, religious and parish councils for their close cooperation, particularly for their support of the Archdiocesan Pastoral Focus on the Family. He was confident that the concerted efforts of everyone would eventually make a difference for our families. He called upon all the parish councils to study and implement what was most suitable for their parishes.
Archbishop John Ha, in his keynote address, was happy to observe that the active involvement of all the parishes had borne fruits, especially in the pastoral focus on the family. He recounted some of God’s special blessings in the last one year, and shared his reflection on how these events demonstrated the Church’s Mission, the four marks of the Church, the growth of the Church, and the divine presence and providence:
The Pope’s visit to the United Nations and his presence at the World Youth Day in Sydney clearly showed the Holy Father’s role as the Vicar of Christ, the Chief Shepherd, taking the lead to carry out the Church’s mission to preach the Gospel of Christ. The Archbishop urged all Catholics to participate in this evangelisation.
The Archbishop’s Ad Limina visit (official visit of a Bishop to the Holy Father once every five years) to Rome in June this year showed concretely the communion between the local Church and the universal Church, demonstrating clearly the oneness, catholicity or universality, and apostolicity of the Church. It is apostolic because the Pope is the successor of Peter and the Bishops the successors of the other apostles, in an unbroken line of succession. The Holy Father, as Vicar of Christ, assures us of Christ’s presence, and Christ’s presence makes the Church holy. We must live our vocation as Christians, to be the Church founded by Christ on the apostles.
The growth of the Church in our region was evidenced by the creation of a new Ecclesiastical Province in Sabah, the erection of Kota Kinabalu as an Archdiocese, and the Episcopal ordination of Bishop Julius for Sandakan and Auxiliary Bishop Joseph Hii for Sibu. He was confident that the institution of the new Holy Spirit Parish in Lundu would bring more speedy growth to the Archdiocese of Kuching.
The Mother Mary Home for Retired Priests and the ordination of Deacon Leonard Yap demonstrated the divine presence and providence.
On the Pastoral Focus on the Family, he urged all parishes to be prepared for the mid-term review to be held around September of next year, and repeated his call to all parishes to bring Pope John Paul II’s Apostolic Exhortation, Familiaris Consortio, and Pope Benedict XVI’s Encyclical, Deus Caritas Est, to their respective parishioners. In this Year of St Paul, he urged us to learn from the apostle’s teachings on the family.
The Secretary General, William Chong, presented the report for the year 2007/2008. Many activities were carried out, particularly youth activities.
Some notable achievements at the Archdiocesan level were the Jagoi translation of the Gospels, Bible course for the laity, and the World Youth Day Vocation Celebration.
At the parish level, there were Family Masses with sharings, Family Catechesis for parents, Life in the Spirit seminars and Alpha courses for married couples. Faith formation presented itself in the course of last year as one of the most urgent needs of the families.
The most emotional moment of the day, however, was when the Archbishop announced that William Chong would be stepping down as the Secretary General of the Archdiocesan Pastoral Council. The Archbishop thanked him for his ten years of conscientious service, and for his interest and pastoral zeal in contributing to the growth of the Archdiocese of Kuching.
Michael Junim, the Vice-Chairman of the Archdiocesan Pastoral Council, was appointed as the New Secretary General, while Dr Francis Sia was elected as the new Vice-Chairman of the Council.
Dr Michael Hii