Updated: Apr 22
Almost two months ago, we planned on meeting parishioners living in the interior areas of Kuantan, but, due to several unforeseen circumstances, our trips to oil palm plantations and Orang Asli settlements were delayed. However, with the assistance of Sr Theresa Petrus and Sr Anita Philip from the Franciscan Sisters of Immaculate Conception Sabah (FSICS) and the Parish Integral Human Development Ministry (PIHDM), we finally managed to visit them and celebrate the Eucharist with these communities.
Last week - together with Sr Theresa and Sr Anita - we visited the Indonesian community living in an oil palm plantation at Sri Jaya (90kms from Kuantan). There were about 20 families and several young people from two different locations (Kampung Luit and Kampung Hobi) who came together for the Eucharistic celebration, which was held under a small tent in an open space. Last Sunday, we celebrated Mass in Batu 10 Gambang (25kms from Kuantan) at St Theresa’s Chapel for the army personnel, and this week we went to an indigenous village in Batu 3, Kuala Rompin (150kms from Kuantan) with two PIHDM members and Sr Maria (FMM). There were approximately 10 families in this village. We couldn’t make it to another kampung at Batu 8, Kuala Rompin, as some of them were placed under quarantine due to COVID-19 infection. Over the course of the next two weeks, we will endeavour to visit more Orang Asli villages and stations in order to celebrate Mass and to get to know these Parishioners.
In every location and in every village, Parishioners welcomed us with great enthusiasm and joy, as they were eager to finally have the opportunity to participate in the Eucharistic celebration. After Holy Week, we plan on visiting these places again to administer Sacraments such as baptism, 1st Holy Communion and marriage, which have been pending or postponed since the start of the pandemic in 2020. We thank God for bringing us all together and may He continue to bestow His abundant gifts on these faithful Parishioners, as we journey together towards Easter.
We are already halfway through Lent and in our preparations for Easter. How have you lived out your Lenten practices? What have you learned about yourself, your faith and God? On the first day of Lent - Ash Wednesday - the Church invited us to arise and return to the Lord, which echoed from Prophet Joel about homecoming – “Come back to Me with all your heart, fasting, weeping, and mourning…” (Joel 2:12-13).
Lent reminds us to return to God. However, we often look at Lent as a season of “giving up something” instead of finding our way back to Him. For the rest of this season of Lent, let us strive each day to search for God deep inside our hearts and surrender to Him. Instead of pulling our lives away from God, let us arise and return to Him by saying, “Not as I will, but as You will.” (Matt 26: 39).