News

CDM Penang Proudly Hosts AACOM 4

13. October, 2018NewsComments Off on CDM Penang Proudly Hosts AACOM 4

After 11 months of planning, the Church of Divine Mercy, Penang (CDM) was proud to successfully host the 4th Asian Apostolic Congress on Mercy (AACOM 4) from 26th – 28th September, 2018. It was held at the SPICE Convention Center and attracted about 1300 participants from 13 countries in Asia. The theme chosen for the Congress was “Experiencing Mercy through the Joy of the Gospel in Asia”. Among the religious who came were 4 Archbishops, 9 Bishops, 5 Monsignors, 106 priests this is not counting the many nuns and seminarians. At the opening ceremony the officials and religious paraded in followed by the flag waving representatives of the Philippines, Indonesia, Guam (USA), Singapore, Thailand, Vietnam, S. Korea, HongKong, Taiwan, Poland, Vatican and Malaysia. The largest contingent of participants came from the Philippines.

In his welcoming speech, His Excellency, Bishop Ruperto Santos, the Episcopal Coordinator of WACOM (World Apostolic Congress on Mercy) – Asia mentioned that the Divine Mercy devotion is the fastest growing evangelizing force in Asia. Fr Martin Arlando, the Overall Coordinator for AACOM 4 in his opening address explained that the theme of the Congress was chosen in response to the call of His Holiness Pope Francis when he exhorted, “… the joy of the gospel fills the hearts and lives of all who encounter Jesus.” He hoped that everyone at the Congress would achieve what the Holy Father had wished, namely they would be set free from sin, sorrow, inner emptiness and loneliness when they accept God’s offer of salvation. The Holy Father also encourages the Christian faithful to embark upon a new chapter of evangelization marked by the joy of the gospel while pointing out new paths for the Church’s journey in the years to come. Fr Martin concluded by relating a story of a conversation of Jesus with the angel Gabriel in heaven after his Ascension regarding his backup plan for spreading His Word. What if his apostles failed in their mission of spreading God’s love. Jesus simply replies that there is none. He is only depending on all of us. So we are asked to speak and live the truth, be peacemakers and sources of hope in times of distress. He explained that a midst all the worries and sufferings of our lives, we are called to listen and counsel with a spirit of mercy guided by truth and doing what God has called us to do. To reflect the presence of God’s love in the world through his mercy. To make God’s mercy an experience of God’s favour and possess a heart of God that is experiencing the joy of God’ presence in our lives and in others.

Over the 3-day Congress, nine talks were scheduled, each accompanied by personal testimonies of the way the Divine Mercy of God had touched each of their lives. The delegates were given heartfelt stories relating the work and power of God’s Mercy over the different cultures and peoples of Asia.

The first three talks on day began with Msgr Krzysztof Marcjanowicz, the Vatican representative from the Pontifical Council for the promotion of the New Evangelization. The topic of his talk was Mercy in the life and writings of St JPII. He related the struggles of the early life Karol Wojtyla with the loss of his father and elder brothers and the effects of World War II leading towards his life as a Pope. He also mentioned the role he played in granting the sainthood to St Faustina and the decree of the Divine Mercy Sunday as the Sunday following Easter. This was followed by a brief testimony by Dr Tony Dayot from the Philippines.

In the second talk, Fr Simon Pereira from Singapore Redemptorist Order spoke on the topic Mercy in the New Evangelization. He spoke on his experiences reaching out to the people in the streets, prisons, hospitals and even in the pubs. He emphasized that these people are hungry for Mercy. He said that we needed to recharge ourselves and the Spirit will speak to us. He reminded us that God wants not just praise and thanksgiving but also works of mercy, prayers and adoration. In her testimony, Mrs Jennifer Yeo related in detail how the Divine Mercy saved her from a life threatening rare sickness and also gave new life to her youngest son who expected to die in early childhood but is now completing his fifth year in medical college.

In Talk 3, Bishop Ruperto Santos spoke on the topic entitled Mercy and the Sacrament of the Eucharist. He explained how St Faustina was drawn towards the Holy Eucharist early in her life and how she drew strength from it. She also deemed it to be the greatest of all gifts. His Grace went on to explain the four elements of the Eucharist in Divine Mercy, namely the Image of Jesus, the Chaplet, the 3 pm Hour of Mercy prayer and finally the Feast of the Divine Mercy. He reminded us to go frequently for confession and that we must Think of Mercy, Speak of Mercy and Perform Mercy in our lives. In his testimony following this talk, Msgr Josefino S. Ramirez mentioned the pivoting role the Eucharist had played in his priestly vocation.

The Papal Nuncio to Malaysia, His Excellency Archbishop Joseph Salvador Marino graced the occasion to celebrate Mass with the delegates on the evening of the first day. In his homily, he reminded the congregation of the words of the Holy Father, Pope Francis in the proclamation of Mercy “Be merciful, even as your Father is merciful”.

The second day began with a talk by Sr Teresa De La Fuente of the order of the Sisters of Our Lady of Mercy (Poland). She spoke on the topic Mercy in the Life of Consecrated Men and Women. She began by saying that “Jesus loves you”. She said that consecrated people are like road signs that we see. Life on the outside is usually driven by power, money and pleasure but a consecrated life is alien to all these things. They live totally for the Lord and are called to be credible witnesses of the Gospel. They live in the world but not of the world. God is love and love is mercy so they leave the worldly affairs to God’s love and mercy. Everyone is called to this invitation to love as Jesus loves, just by gazing on Jesus on the cross. In her testimony, Sr Diana Kuczek also from the same order as Sr Teresa, related the challenges she faced in picking her vocation. She just trusted in Jesus to see her through the objections she faced from her family and a choice of marriage.

In the fifth talk, Archbishop Anicetus Bongsu A. Singa of Indonesia spoke on Mercy and the Sacrament of Reconciliation. He said that Grace is the greatest attribution of God. His Mercy is greater than our sins. We are called to share in God’s Joy of which there are three dimensions. The first is to totally trust in God’s Mercy. The second is to be merciful to others and lastly to spread the Divine Message message to the world. Peter Chang, a very successful businessman from Indonesia gave a most remarkable testimony of how his wife and his devotion to the Divine Mercy had saved his wife, his daughter and his own life in miraculous ways.

In the sixth talk, Bishop Sebastian Francis of the Penang Diocese spoke on the topic Mercy is a Joyful Mission. He explained the four types of mission. Personal, Family/Community, Ecclesiastical and Ecological missions. He went on the quote St Catherine of Genoa that “Renewal without conversion/metanoia is the corruption of the Church”. He spoke about the conversion process and how the Church is fully equipted with the sacraments, theological virtues, the Word of God and the Gifts/Fruits of the Holy Spirit. He also quoted Pope Francis “ … the only tragedy in life is not to become a saint”. He emphasized that Joy and Mercy cannot be separated to be meaningful in our lives. In her testimony, Elizabeth Simon, a retired nurse, mentioned the many times the Divine Mercy had touched her life and helped her through the loss of her child.

On the third day, after returning from a visit to the Church of Divine Mercy, Penang, Archbishop Simon Poh of Malaysia spoke on the topic Mercy in the Youth Ministry. He began with and lively action song which the delegates all joined in. He gave a definition of Youth and spoke on the current characteristics and dynamics of the youth today. He said that the youth are eager to learn and can accept new ideas. They are also cautious about their health and value their privacy. Most are open to entrepreneurial ventures. He also provided suggestions on how to engage the youth to get their involvement and commitment by way of adopting Divine Mercy programs. He also gave the four elements needed in a Church community namely, the Eucharist, Word of God, Fellowship and Service. He emphasized that Service in the ministries is an important way to draw in the youth and inspire them. He even offered a formula for all to adopt. In the testimony given by a student named Paul Julianose, the healing power of the Divine Mercy was given to him after all his family resources were exhausted to finding a cure. He strongly advocated putting complete trust in the mercy of God in all things.

In the eight talk, Archbishop Michale Jude Byrnes of Guam spoke on the topic Mercy in the Light of Spiritual Considerations. He began by saying that the message in the Bible is that Jesus loves you. He briefly ran through the Old Testament on how we were meant to be partners with God. God made various covenants with man and never gave up on us but continued to work with various individuals to bring us back to him. In the New Testament, Jesus speaks of a new way of living. We need to be merciful, be peacemakers and keep the commandments. Mercy, in the Hebrew translation of that word means an obligation. God takes on an obligation by himself and gives up his life as a cost of it. Mercy is the obligation that Jesus presented to us because of his steadfast love for us. As such we also need to exercise mercy through works of mercy. Fr Joel Delos Reyes then gave testimony of how his recitation of the Divine Mercy chaplet with family helped the recovery of a lady friend in a coma whom doctors had given up all hope of living. He also related how it also helped him to sourced funds to sponsor all the delegates of the Guam Youth Choir to this congress.

The last talk of the congress was done by way of a video feed as Fr Michaelenko Seraphim, the former Rector of the National Shrine of the Divine Mercy in Stockbridge, Massachusetts, USA who was too frail to travel. He gave a lengthy talk on the topic Mercy in the Life and Writings of St Faustina. In the video of the testimony after his talk, a registered nurse by the name of Marie Romagnano spoke of how she was able to allow sick people who need help approach her by wearing a simple badge of the picture of Divine Mercy on the lapel of her uniform. In this way she was able to bring comfort to many of those critically ill and the dying.

In contrast to the other three congresses held before, this congress had planned three unique activities for the delegates. This was to help the delegates experience the Mercy of God and proclaim it through their lives. On the evening of the first day, a candle light procession was held along a kilometer route around the convention center. During this procession led by the Nuncio, the Divine Mercy Chaplet was recited. Eight Malaysian Bishops also joined in the mass and procession as they took time off from their Bishops’ Conference held at this same time in Penang.

On the second day a penitential rite was held. This was done to help delegates receive a plenary indulgence specially granted by the Holy Father for them participating at the Eucharistic celebration, going for Confession and praying for the Holy Father’s intentions. Each delegate was given a certificate in recognition of completing these works.

On the morning of the third day, a trip was organized to CDM to experience a Walk of Mercy around the church. In this Walk of Mercy, the delegates were given the opportunity to reflect on how they could incorporate the Corporal and Spiritual works of mercy in their lives. After that they participated in mass and were able to offer up all their special intentions to the Divine Mercy. Bishop Ruperto Santos presided the mass concelebrating together with a hundred over priests in attendance. The Guam Youth choir performed brilliantly and made this occasion an unforgettable one.

In addition, on the two nights of the congress, the delegates were entertained to various cultural performances from the delegate countries. This was an chance for everyone to appreciate the great diversity of the people that were devoted to the Divine Mercy all over Asia.

An Adoration room was also prepared for delegates to spend time with the Blessed Sacrament during the time of breaks for tea and lunch. In addition, a room was also provided for any person falling ill, with nurses and a medical doctor in attendance. Many of the participants were full of praise at the efficient level of organization that went on with minor delays due to long speeches and enthusiastic testimonies given. Lost items such as a wallet, rosaries, a room key and jackets were found and returned to grateful people. Delegates were also given the opportunity to purchase religious souvenirs and books at the convention center in between talks. Added to this were two large posters were set up at the entrance to the conference hall. The first was of the Image of the Divine Mercy with St Faustina and JPII and the other of famous local places in Penang. The latter booth was also accompanied with an actual trishaw. This served as photo booths for delegates to remember their stay in Penang.

Organizers took every effort to help all delegates have a truly faith uplifting experience. Each day, sessions were paused at 3 pm for the recitation of the Holy Hour of Mercy Prayer followed by the Chaplet. In appreciation of the participation of priests in the distribution of the holy Eucharist during three masses and also in carrying out Confessions, they were each given a specially designed stole bearing the images of St Faustina and JPII. This stole was such a prized item that many priests even purchased more of them for their fellow priests who were unable to attend this congress.

The Organizing Committee which had more that 200 volunteers helping out for the duration received much praise for this “best Congress ever”. The Vatican officials marveled at the level of cooperation and camaraderie among volunteers going about their duties. A bishop from Thailand admitted that organizing this congress was not an easy task as they had organized AACOM 2. They were pleased to see that the organizers were brave to deviate from the norm and include experiences focusing on current needs. Fr Paul Zawadski, a priest from Poland but now serving in Korea express “jealousy” at the efficient and smooth running of the Congress in despite of earlier setbacks. He was kept busy video tapping the proceeds of the congress for his faithful back in Korea. A comment from a young member of the Guam Youth choir was that the Congress was “great fun”.

A raise of cheer went out at the closing ceremony when Bishop Santos, the Asian Episcopal Coordinator Wacom-Asia announced HongKong as the next venue of the 5th Congress. Fr Martin Arlando, the Overall Coordinator for AACOM 4 remarked that for a small parish like CDM Penang to be able to organize such an international congress in this short space of time, HongKong would, with the help of God’s grace, be able to achieve the same success. All they needed was to Trust in Jesus.

Written by
Dr. Ivan Filmer
8th October, 2018.

CDM Penang Celebrates the Anniversary of the Dedication of the Church and its Establishment as a Parish

13. October, 2018NewsComments Off on CDM Penang Celebrates the Anniversary of the Dedication of the Church and its Establishment as a Parish

The 29th September marked the date when the Church of Divine Mercy (Penang) was dedicated eight years ago as a Church and five years ago its establishment as a parish. The occasion was celebrated with evening Mass and fellowship. It was most opportune as eight religious were there to concelebrate Mass. The main celebrant was the Archbishop of Agana, Guam, His Excellency, Michael Jude Byrnes. Together with him on the altar were Bishop George Rimando from Davao of the Philippines, Msgr Krzysztof Marcjanowicz (Poland) of the Pontifical Council for the promotion of New Evangelization, Fr Amado Arroyo from the Philippines, Fr Carlos Santorce Vila, Fr Joel Gabayan De Los Reyes (also the Youth Choir Master), Fr Birgido Petro Arroyo all from Guam and CDM parish priest, Fr Martin Arlando. There was also Dr Raphaela Pallin from the Vatican in the congregation. The visitors together with some of their parishioners were on stop over on their way to the airport leaving for home after attending AACOM 4 that concluded the day earlier.

Eight Religious Concelebrating Anniversary Mass

In his homily, his Excellency recapped the gospel readings of the previous Sunday (Mark 9:30-37), on the question which Jesus had asked regarding who he was. Peter had got the answer right. Jesus is the Son of God. Jesus was establishing a new kingdom on earth and they were also arguing who was the greatest among them. He tells them that the greatest is the one who is the servant of all. Jesus was now focusing on what it is to live in this new kingdom of God. Jesus tells them that they have to be child-like to enter his new kingdom. He uses the child who has no social standing, no power and essentially a slave who is dependent on others and one who is most vulnerable. These are the type of people they have to serve in order to get to heaven.

Turning to the day’s gospel (Mark 9:38-43, 45, 47-48), his Excellency related that Jesus turns to John who complains there are others casting out demons in Jesus’ name. Jesus says that anyone who is not against us is for us. This is not the way John understands how leadership works, as there should be just only one person leading the way. But Jesus is passing on the message that anyone who uses the name of Jesus should not be turned away. He is preparing us to adjust our minds and normal daily living to this new way. Jesus is also very harsh on those taking advantage of others and exploiting others to their advantage. Christianity is not about just praying and attending church but it is about our practices to live the way God is calling us. To be thrown away into the Valley of Gehenna is to be thrown into the city’s trash dump. Those who are living outside the kingdom of God are thrown away like trash. If our eyes watch wrongful things, throw it away. If our hands do bad businesses that exploit others then it is better gain less profit than to be treated as trash. Similarly, if our feet cause us to travel to sinful places then it is not worth it. We become credible witnesses at a cost. This is our opportunity to join in His sacrifice of obedience.

Guam Youth Choir Performing at Fellowship

At the end of Mass, the congregation celebrated the cutting of an anniversary cake followed by a fellowship dinner in the church basement. The parishioners were given a rare treat when the Guam Youth Choir decided to sing two songs at that time. Everyone present praised the great harmony they showed in song. A comment by Fr Birgido was that this fellowship dinner was indeed a good way of celebration. After the intense three days of AACOM 4, he had woken up that morning feeling lost. The evening’s mass and celebration gave him an uplifting of spirits. Shortly after that the visitors were given a sent off as they boarded the bus to the airport. It was an extraordinary feeling of being blessed to be able to share the joy of our celebrations with our fellow Catholics from other countries.

Written by
Dr. Ivan Filmer
2nd October, 2018.

Welcoming and Appreciating Migrants and Refugees

13. October, 2018NewsComments Off on Welcoming and Appreciating Migrants and Refugees

Migrant Sunday was celebrated at the 9.00 am Mass on September 23 at the Church of Divine Mercy (CDM) in Sg Ara, Penang. The theme for that Sunday was Greatest in the Eyes of the Lord are Those Whose Heart Has Room for Everyone; this was very much in line with Pope Francis’ message for the 104th World day of Migrants and Refugees 2018 entitled Welcoming, Protecting, Promoting and Integrating Migrants and Refugees. In his message, the Holy Father wrote, “Every stranger who knocks at our door is an opportunity for an encounter with Jesus Christ, who identifies with the welcomed and rejected strangers of every age.”. The message put forward an action-oriented initiative and a template for a shared response based on the four key concepts: to welcome, to protect, to promote and to integrate.

In his homily, parish priest, Fr Martin Arlando explained that it is not easy for newcomers to be accepted in a foreign land. He cited the example of the first Christian missionaries in Korea who were mercilessly persecuted and killed for being true to their faith. He reminded us that such persecution continues today and will continue in the future because the forces of evil are at work. Evil needs no reason to make the innocent suffer and the first reading for the day (Wisdom 2:12, 17-20) illustrates this point, giving an insight into how evil works. Similarly, Jesus too was innocent but was cruelly nailed to a cross; he served with love, performing only good deeds, but ended up being put to death. However, Jesus entrusted himself to God, and God, though He did not save Jesus from death, did something far greater: He saved Jesus out of death. Fr Martin then related the true story of an Armenian boy who was trapped under rubble after an earthquake, yet was found alive and well by his father who went on digging for many days. That young boy never lost hope because he trusted his father to keep on searching for him until he was found. In the same way, even in the face of suffering that we do not understand, we need not despair but only trust in our heavenly Father and put our lives in His hands.

Fr Martin then went on to expound the Gospel reading for the day (Mark 9:30-37) in which Jesus said, “If anyone wants to be first, he must make himself last of all and servant of all”. True greatness does not come from undertaking ambitious projects or resorting to ruthless methods to get what we want. Instead, the way to greatness entails serving others and submitting to God’s plan for us. Fr Martin then put this into context with the Pope’s message. We can be of service to migrants and refugees by making them feel welcome. We can protect and promote them by making an effort to help them achieve better lives for themselves. We can integrate them into our shared goal of becoming more like Jesus so that they too may serve others for the glory of God.

During the presentation of gifts, representatives from the migrant community offered up a basket of fruits and an original artwork by a Nigerian parishioner, symbolic of the community’s commitment to their work and the variety of talents that they possess. At the end of Mass, a video prepared by the Episcopal Commission for the Pastoral Care of Migrant and Itinerants in Malaysia, Singapore and Brunei (ECMI-MSB) was shown. Fr Martin then invited all migrants to come forward for a special blessing.
After Mass, our migrant brothers and sisters from various countries – India, Indonesia, Nigeria, Philippines and Vietnam – were ushered to the Faustina Hall to partake of a hearty lunch. The dishes had been lovingly sponsored, cooked and served up by CDM’s local parishioners, some of whom also dropped by just to meet the migrants. A number of them commented on how touched they had been by the Psalm sung in Vietnamese by Martha Oanh Nguyen. The first reading, was proclaimed in the Yoruba language of Nigeria by Adu Emmanuel Ifedayo, and the second reading was proclaimed in Bahasa Batak-Toba by Erni Juntak. These made an impression, as some in the congregation had felt that they were truly hearing the Word of the Lord even as their eyes followed the English translation. Even the ECMI video received the thumbs-up with its heartfelt visuals and the very apt reminder at the end that when we welcome one another, we welcome the Lord.

Written by
Ng Wai Queen
30th September, 2018