Greetings to all of you and a warm welcome to our humble Parish of St Thomas, the Apostle, Kuantan. I welcome you in Jesus' name!
We have been waiting for this moment for a long time, and we want to express our gratitude to God for His guidance and blessings and, most of all, an opportunity to meet each other to exchange our gifts and fruits of the Holy Spirit in this Retreat.
Thank you for participating in this Lenten Retreat 2023. We have 338 participants have registered for this Retreat– 190 are from our own Parish, and 148 are from various Parishes throughout Peninsular Malaysia.
We would like to welcome Fr Michael Payapilly and Fr Joseph Kalampally, and brother Vincent (Musician) for accepting our invitation to conduct our Lenten Retreat in our Parish. Both of them are from Vincentian Congregation. Fr Michael is a director of the Divine Retreat Center, Colombo, Sri Lanka whereas Fr Joseph is from Hyderabad. Both are priests for 17 years. Fr Michael is a celebrity priest and almost every English-speaking Catholic in Malaysia knows of him. He has captured the hearts of these people since the early pandemic. Fr Michael and Fr Joseph, we pray that you will grow and glow in the Spirit through your preaching and healing ministry.
The chairpersons, Sheila Fernandez and Anna Thong, and all the committee members have been doing the groundwork and preparation since April 2022. Hats off to my committee members for working around the clock to make this Lenten Retreat possible for all of us today.
The theme we have chosen for this retreat is – “Arise and Shine.” We hope and pray that this retreat will make you arise from your spiritual slumber and His light shine on your face and in your life. We are to stand up, get out of our comfort zone and radiate the light to those in darkness.
The Holy Father, Pope Francis, in his message for this year's Lent, reflected on the story of the Transfiguration of the Lord, inviting us to listen to the voice of Jesus and not to be afraid to arise and witness Christ in our lives. Do listen attentively to the speakers and pay attention to the working of the Holy Spirit.
My best wishes and prayers go with you for these three days retreat (3-5 March) that you will be transformed and transfigured in Christ. Be open to the voice of the Holy Spirit, and I am sure all the impossibilities will be made possible by Jesus.
God bless you with a new heart, new spirit, new hope, and new enthusiasm as you arise and shine forth.