To Good Shepherd for their 25 years of mission: SALUTE
EXTRACT OF ARTICLE FROM CATHOLIC SABAH VOLUME 56, NO. 2, SUNDAY 20 OCTOBER 2013
KOTA KINABALU, EAST MALAYSIA
With great job and deep gratitude the Good Shepherd Sisters and lay partners involved in the Good Shepherd Mission marked 25 years of Mission in Sabah with a Thanksgiving Mass at St Simon Catholic Church, Likas on October 5th. Gathered for the joyous occasion were their Mission Partners, benefactors, supporters, colunteers and friends, the religious and guests from Singapore and West Malaysia.
Twenty five years ago, on October 5, 1988, upon the invitation of both the late Bishop Simon Fund and Bishop John Lee (now Emeritus Archbishop), three pioneering Sisters together with their Province Leader set out from Johor to Kota Kinabalu to establish the Good Shepherd Mission in Sabah.
Inspired and motivated by the words of their foundress, St Mary Euphrasia, "Our zeal must embrace the whole world", they came to the "land below the wind" to pitch their tents to teach out to the lost and those in need.
What it this Good Shepherd Mission?
It is a Mission of compassion and reconciliation that embraces people who have experienced injustice, oppression and alienation, especially women and children, awakening in each a sense of uniqueness, worth and inestimable value.
It is the Mission that jesus, the Good Shepherd, has entrusted to the Good Shepherd Congregation through their foundress, St Mary Euphrasia who saw each person as a wonder and work of art that when allowed and enabled to develop further is able to realise their God-given dignity and potential. It is a Mission that believes "one person is of more value than the whole world". Emulating this belief of St Mary Euphrasis, the Mission sets out to ensure that every person they journey with would be ministered to with care and respect.
Looking back the past 25 years
Many lives have been touched by the Shepherd's love through the Mission. These lives include Good Shepherd Mission Partners who have served in the community and ministries of Pusat Kebajikan Good Shepherd (PKGS), volunteers, benefactors, those who gave encouragement and support, and the many children, youth, women and families whose lives have been touched and turned around and through whom the Sisters have been enabled to realised the true meaning and purpose of their being Good Shepherd.
Through the witnessing of their life and service, the Mission has also attracted numerous local vocations to their Congregation, fruits that the local Church is reaping today and for which thanksgiving is offered to God in the celebration of the 25th Anniversary of the Good Shepherd Mission in Sabah.
The Mission expanded and evolved
The Sabah Mission, which is in the Province of Singapore-Malasia is the 6th offshoot from Singapore, while the Province became the 352nd house of the Congregation with the arrival of the Sisters in Singapore in 1939.
Today the Mission is made visible through their ministries. Collaborative ministries with the laity now take on a more formal role. Good Shepherd Mission partners comprising lay associates, staff, volunteers, benefactors and friends mutually share, support and develop the Mission, and take greater responsibilities to continue it.
From Kota Kinabalu, the Good Shepherd has now spread to the dioceses of Sandakan and Keningau in response to the invitations of Bishop Julius Gitom and Bishop Cornelius Piong respectively.
In Singapore and Malaysia, the Good Shepherd Mission includes ministries to women and girls, who are survivors of domestic violence and exploitation including human trafficking, single mothers; refugees and children in disadvantaged households, in both residential and non-residential settings. Other services are those for youth and families, migrant workers, indigenous people, persons infected with HIV/AIDS, and children with special needs. It also provides pastoral and diocesan ministries such as retreats, family life and basic ecclesial communities, early childhood and primary education, and rural community development.
The Good Shepherd Ministries collaborate and network with government and non-governmental organisations, and faith-based organisations to promote justice, peace and unity in a world disturbed by sin and conflict by changing systems and structures which condemn some to live marginal lives.
Gratitutde is the memory of the heart
In her address as Organising Chairperson, Sr Patricia Barasik, the first local community leader appointed in 2007, expressed gratitude to God for guidance and for being the Mission's shepherd companion for the past 25 years, and to all Good Shepherd Sisters, lay partners and associates, corporates and individuals, to whom she attributed the stability and growth of the Mission in Sabah.
In her turn, Sr Joan Lopez, Province Leader of the Province of Singapore and Malaysia said that in fact all are Mission partners but in different ways of partnership and because they share the Good Shepherd charism of Jesus Christ. She acknowledged with gratitude that people are what made the 25 years fruitful for them, as well as gratefulness for their ability to keep searching for new and innovative ways so as to be more effective, efficient and relevant to the changing context and needs of the people they work with.
Archbishop John Wong in articulating his gratefulness, said that he joined his predecessors, especially Emeritus Archbishop John Lee, in thanking the Good Shepherd Sisters for their generous response to the plea of the local Church 25 years ago and for their continued service of compassion and reconciliation to the people of Sabah. He exhorted the Sisters to stay focused on Jesus Christ who is the source of their life and ministry as they continue to build up the people of God and to make Christ and His work of mercy, compassion and reconciliation visible in the world.
25 years ago the three pioneer Sisters were given candles when they were missioned to Sabah. Today Jesus, the Good Shepherd invites each through the Good Shepherd Sisters to continue His Mission in Sabah. Each person would receive a mission candle just as the pioneer Sisters did 25 years ago to take home and as they light it, to pray that Jesus would empower them to spread His Good Shepherd Mission wherever they are.
In a symbolic way, two of the pioneer Sisters, Salomi and Barbara were invited to pass on the Mission to the Youth, Children, the Migrant Community and PKGS. On behalf of all Mission Partners, Chin Poh Choo, Director of PKGS, lit the Mission Candle for the next generation.
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