Fr Sylvester Wong poses with the altar servers in HFC

By Juliana Ringgingon

July 16 2022

TELIPOK – God is always impressive! Especially at a time when the priesthood is hardly a growth industry worldwide, yet we have seen an increase of ordination of local priests in Sabah.

Fr Sylvester Wong was ordained priest after serving as deacon in the Holy Family Church (HFC) for nearly a year.

His ordination has brought tremendous joy to HFC parish with the celebration of his recent Thanksgiving Mass and the first Holy Mass presided by Fr Sylvester at HFC.

The joy of the people could be seen, especially during the Offertory when almost one quarter of the congregation walked up to the front of the altar, bringing their own gifts of love to Fr Sylvester with radiant faces.

In his homily, Fr Sylvester thanked all parishioners of HFC for their support and acceptance of him as part of the holy family of the parish. He expressed his eagerness to learn from the different communities and to love the people through mastering their languages, especially the Dusun language, the largest community here.

Fr Sylvester Wong poses with the Youth Ministry in HFC

Lawrence Kimkuan, chairman of the Parish Pastoral Council of HFC in his speech congratulated Fr Sylvester Wong for his courage and his decision for the priesthood vocation in his recent ordination.  He thanked the newly ordained priest for his willingness to serve in HFC.

He also thanked all the church groups, ministries and communities for their help, services, time, effort, and commitment involved in the preparation of the celebration.

HFC has been without a resident priest since the 70s. Nonetheless, through Fr Sylvester’s ordination and serving in HFC, the parishioners catch a glimpse of hope to see the fulfilment of their dreams of a resident priest.

However, despite the short number of priests, the parish continues to nurture the deep longing for a resident priest to administer directly to the needs of the people.

The parish has seen the growth of the church in terms of increasing numbers of Catholics over the years in HFC. It has also witnessed a growth in the number of men and women interested in participating in the various parish ministries despite the pandemic.

There is one simple and critical message that we often hear repeated over and over from parish priest of St Catherine’s Church Inanam, Fr David Sham, “Pray and ask for more workers to be sent by God to his vineyard”. Thus, in the newly ordained Fr Sylvester is the hope of fulfillment the people have been waiting for.

HFC parishioners have deeply appreciated and loved Fr David, who has made great efforts in learning the languages, and who is fluent in speaking Dusun! At the same time, the various communities in HFC find in him a portrayal of a humble father figure.

The recent 2nd Personal Evangelization Course conducted by the Archdiocese of Kota Kinabalu has presented an opportunity for the people to express their longing for a resident priest during the house visits.

The significant impact of the Course, which was held from February 2022 to June 2022, has revealed through the 84 house visits conducted by the 14 participants from HFC the vast harvest that needs to be done and the dire needs of parishioners living in the vicinity of HFC that require outreach services and ministry.

There is therefore a great need for permanent resident priest leadership to be engaged and be constantly involved in the life of the people more meaningfully and worthily.

Many of the parishioners also hoped that the Basic Christian Community will be established and strengthened in the HFC parish as an effective means of ministering and fulfilling the needs of these faithful. 

These expectations of the faithful remain high for they believe that the newly ordained priest is very much inclined to the concerns of these people and is committed to uphold the priorities of the parish.

For this hopeful dream, Fr Sylvester was greeted by the community’s group performing the sumayau dance, which signifies the honour the community accords for the arrival of a warrior or their leader.

Sumayau dance performed by the Dusun Community

The people of HFC also prayed for their newly ordained priest that he would sustain the trials and difficulties of his priestly ministry, that God would grant him abundant grace, joy, blessings, good health, energy, care, love and courage to reach out to many people in years to come.

 The performances from the Lion dance group and the traditional dancing from the Timorese community added spice to the celebration. A lunch fellowship followed after the performances.

Lion Dance performed by the Chinese Community to signify their guest of honour with expression of joy and happiness