These minority groups often project very “soft” voices because of their sheer small numbers in our diocese. They are often unseen, neglected or just totally ignored by most other typical parishioners (although Parish Priests would be very aware of their presence). But they are God’s precious gifts to the Church, and the Church loves and protects them as a Mother. They are our treasure.
However, it wasn’t just that they were invited to come and enjoy a meal with us. There was a beautiful exchange of gifts too, because they too brought us very moving stage presentations such as dances, mimes, and other sorts of performances. These presentations moved more than 1,000 people who were present to put our hearts close to these communities of lovely people. The gathering truly made visible the kingdom of God, lived in a concrete way among us.
Immediately after the event, His Lordship, Bishop Paul Tan of Melaka-Johor, personally sent us a congratulatory message (through me) to say that it was an excellent event and that it was even better than the Partners’ Banquet we had last year! I believe it was because so many people had contributed so sacrifically to this effort throughout the past one year.
On behalf of Bishop Paul Tan, Msgr James Rajendran (Vicar General) and Fr Peter Ng (Vicar Forane of Melaka) together with all the clergy of Melaka-Johor, as well as the Pastoral Institute and our Pastoral Institute Development Team (PIDT), I would like to personally thank the team of organisers (consisting of the Couples for Christ community and various very committed individuals in Melaka) and EVERY cleric, religious and lay person who has contributed your time, effort, money and/or prayer to make this event a beautiful and meaningful one.
We cannot also forget those from outside of our diocese (from Kuala Lumpur, Penang, East Malaysia and even the Philippines) who made such an effort to attend the event at our invitation — they were present only because they are such an important part of our life together as the People of God. Their participation has made present the Universal Church at this event.
Personally, as Director of the MJD Pastoral Institute at the humble service of the Bishop and the Church, it has always been my desire to see collaboration taking place as a COMMUNITY OF DISCIPLES, not just a small handful of individuals. And this event witnessed such a great collaboration from all the pastoral ministries of the diocese and parish ministries, as well as individual priests, deacons and lay faithful. Each one of us brought our little treasures to the event, and together, the great wealth of the Church in the form of her people and their talents and their devotion to God and His Church brought an explosion of beauty. God has been exalted and glorified. This brings such gladness to my heart.
I am proud of all who have participated with one accord in this event. Your presence has made it more than an event… it was a family gathering, all under one roof. You are loved by the Holy Church, and you remain in our prayers each day. For all who labour with our pastoral ministries, you also remain in my daily prayers.
Let this faith take root in your hearts and grow deep within you, as we celebrate A NEW DAWN OF FAITH.
Deacon Sherman Kuek OFS