07 Oct, APC- Approximately 80 parishioners who serve as the coordinators and the executive committee members of various ministries in our parish attended the annual parish pastoral assembly. Contrary to the normal process of the assembly as done in the past, this year the parish assembly was carried out in a way that the leaders were informed on the direction The Church is taking this year with the Year of Faith and what are the efforts as well as aspirations of the leaders to the church in regards to the year of faith. This being the first parish pastoral assembly that I attended, indeed it was a valuable experience.

To quote catholic newspaper, The Herald dated September 30, 2012, Year of Faith was launched this year by His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI to commemorate the fifty years of the Vatican II council and the Catechism of Catholic Church (CCC). His Holiness has dedicated this Year of Faith (11 Oct 2012 – 24 Nov 2013), a year to come back to being in relationship with God and to renew our faith.

After the opening prayer, His Grace Archbishop Murphy Pakiam addressed the parishioners by informing the four core theme that the church is looking at in conjunction with the Year of Faith. These four core themes are to be carried out in terms of actions at B.E.C levels as well as parish levels. The four themes are unity-communion, formation-ongoing renewal, dialogue- catholic (embracing all in love) and poor – apostolic (reaching out to all in love). His Grace voiced out his concern about the now growing issue of lacking the holiness and spirituality among churches in Malaysia. “Ministries in churches have become club like whereby they do activities for their own pleasure. We lack in reaching out to people out there. Our joy must be in serving others, and then we are children of God”.

After the introductory speech, the attendees were then divided into groups according to their B.E.Cs. 4 questions that focus on the four themes were discussed among the group and later a representative from each group presented the outcome of the discussion. Parishioners also had the opportunity to state their expected program from the church. Among the programs that were asked was liturgy formation, youth camps and talks.

At the end of the discussion, Archbishop stressed that we as Catholics should reach out not only to people of our own race but to all especially the migrants who are here in Malaysia. During this Year of Faith, we are called to organize events like camp for East Malaysians, migrants and housewives. Reaching out to those in need will be the core of the Year of Faith. At the end of the assembly, the St. Anthony’s PPC chairman, Mr. Christopher thanked His Grace and parish priest as well as everyone who attended the assembly. He promised that the ideas and suggestions will be discussed in the PPC meeting, keeping in mind His Grace’s advice. Rev. Terrence Thomas blessed the attendees and the parish pastoral assembly ended at about 6pm. Delicious muffins and tea were served as refreshments.

On special note, the writer truly regards this assembly as an enlightening experience as it provides an idea of what is expected on every able Catholics throughout this Year of Faith on personal level, B.E.C. level as well as parish level. Let us be children of God by serving the needy. “For I was hungry and you fed me, I was thirsty and you gave me drink. I was a stranger and you welcomed me into your house. I was naked and you clothed me. I was sick and you visited me. I was in prison and you came to see me. Truly I say to you: whenever you did this to one of the least, of these my brothers, you did it to me”. (Matthew 25: 35 – 36, 40).