Parish priest Fr Paul Lo during the adoration of the Blessed Sacrament before the Rosary Relay

By Aline Lim

June 24 2020

“PRACTISING devotion to the Sacred Heart of Christ therefore means adoring that Heart which, after having loved us to the end, was pierced by a spear and from high on the Cross poured out blood and water, an inexhaustible source of new life.” (Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI)

How true, the words of Benedict XVI. There is no greater way to celebrate the Feast of Sacred Heart of Jesus than to show devotion by adoration.

For us, a true sense of celebration was felt deep within while we adored the Heart that so loved us. We went home, filled to the brim with the love of the Sacred Heart of Jesus.

Sacred Heart Cathedral (SHC) Parish youth shared with Catholic Sabah of their love encounter with the Sacred Heart of Jesus while organizing the Global Rosary Relay to join the Universal Church in praying for priests on the occasion of the World Day of Prayer for the Sanctification of Priests.

During the Global Rosary Relay

The relay took place on Jun 19 at Sacred Heart Cathedral, which was live streamed from the Blessed Sacrament Chapel. The event, which was joined by over 85 countries, inadvertently launched Kota Kinabalu into the global map.

The relay also coincided with the Feast of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, the patronal feast of the Sacred Heart Cathedral Parish.

The first-ever initiative by the SHC Youth to honour the Sacred Heart of Jesus by giving Him what He deserves was the fruit of their prayer seeking to discern an alternative to celebrate the parish patronal feast day during the lockdown imposed to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.

The parish youth revealed that in volunteering to organize the parish feast day celebration this year, they were hardly prepared for the surprised lockdown sprung by the pandemic. “Everything came to a halt in the parish,” they shared. What could be done that does not entail movement?

With encouragement from their parish priest Fr Paul Lo, they began to look for a more simple and prayerful way to commemorate the parish feast day.

They shared, a few of us came across Worldpriest, an apostolate established by a group of lay people to ‘affirm the dignity, beauty and gift of the Priesthood of Jesus Christ to humanity’. The apostolate has been organizing the annual Global Rosary Relay on the Feast of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, which is also a day of prayer for the Sanctification of Priests established by Pope St John Paul II in 2002.

“What greater way to honour the Sacred Heart of Jesus than to pray for the priesthood, which is the love of His Heart. Taking to heart the words of Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, we appropriated the global initiative and invited the parish to recite the Rosary before the Blessed Sacrament, and honouring the Most Sacred Heart with Adoration.” Thus, the initiative proposed by the SHC Youth for the parish has unwittingly launched Malaysia to participate for the first time in the global prayer for priests.

The historic event began with the exposition of the Blessed Sacrament, followed by vespers and recitation of the Rosary. The audience received more blessings as they got to hear seminarian Sylvester Wong’s sharing on his priesthood formation journey, and a short reflection on the immense love of God poured out through the Sacred Heart of Jesus by Fr Lo. The parish priest could not help but impressed on the audience the crucial need to pray for priests who are after the Heart of Jesus, the Good Shepherd. The meaningful event concluded with Mass presided by Fr Saimon William.

Coming out of the reflective event, the youth saw how the pandemic has taught them to get down to the essentials. What is the essential here? “We need only to do the essential – which is to give our hearts and unite with the Sacred Heart of Jesus in prayer and adoration,” underlined the youth.

They reasoned, it should not be just about programs and making the parish busy for the sake of doing something for the feast day. In the past years, the parish has embarked on week-long celebrations with lined-up activities such as Triduum, sports, dinner, carnival, movie night and Mass for the sick.

At the end of the day, they countered, shouldn’t it boil down to what pleases our Lord, and how we can give the praise and honour He so deserves?  Like so many Catholics around the world, our hope is to be able to return to Church for the Eucharist soonest. It is not just something that we miss, but that it is the essential of all essentials.