Bishop Julius lays his hands on Seminarian Raymond’s head, and prayed the Prayer of Consecration during his diaconate ordination Nov 15 at St Mary’s Cathedral Parish, Sandakan

By Anathasia Thomas

Nov 24 2021

SANDAKAN – Taking inspiration from Isaiah 41:10 “Do not be afraid, for I am with you; do not be alarmed, for I am your God. I give you strength, truly I help you, truly I hold you firm with my saving right hand”, seminarian Raymond Lee Seng Huat joined the presbyterate as Deacon on 15 November 2021 at St Mary’s Cathedral, Sandakan. 

Deacon Raymond Lee Seng Huat 

The Sandakan Diocese has a great reason to rejoice because the diaconate ordination is indicative that God always provides workers for his vineyard.

In the words of Bishop Julius Gitom, he was the happiest man as he has ordained the seventh Deacon, and a special one at that, because this would be the first Deacon from the Chinese Community since he became Bishop for the Diocese of Sandakan in 2007.

Bishop Julius mentioned that this ordination was also a sign that the faith of the Chinese community, as well as the parish community, as a whole, is active and growing from strength to strength.

Seminarian Raymond’s pastoral formation began in 2016, when he was assigned to serve Holy Trinity Church, Tawau. In 2019, he was assigned to serve in St Martin’s Church, Telupid, and thereafter in 2020, he did his pastoral work with the Paitan Mission. He later served at St Theresa’s Church, Serian, Sarawak, before returning to Sandakan.

The process of the diaconate ordination began a week earlier when seminarian Raymond received the Rite of Admission to Candidacy for Holy Orders on 10 November 2021 at the Cathedral.

The Ordination Mass took place at St Mary’s Cathedral on 15 November 2021 at 4:00 pm.  In attendance were about 200 parishioners, including Archbishop John Wong of the Archdiocese of Kota Kinabalu, priests from various parishes in the diocese, and families and friends of seminarian Raymond.  The Mass was also live-streamed for parishioners who were unable to participate.

During the Rite of Ordination, seminarian Raymond was presented as the candidate to the Order of the Diaconate.  Parish priest Fr David Garaman confirmed that seminarian Raymond was worthy for this ordination and was chosen for the Order of the Diaconate. 

Bishop Julius reminded Raymond that “he should uphold good reputation, filled with wisdom and the Holy Spirit, and that he shall exercise his ministry committed to a life of celibacy”. He then made his promise of obedience before Bishop Julius.

Seminarian Raymond then prostrated himself before the Altar, submitting his total dependence to God, and willingness in offering his life for service to the church as the choir recited The Litany of the Saints. Bishop Julius then laid his hands on his head, and prayed the Prayer of Consecration.

Deacon Raymond Lee Seng Huat prostrated during The Litany of the Saints

The newly ordained, Deacon Raymond, is then vested with the stole and dalmatic, the appropriate vestments to the Order of Deacon. He then approached and knelt before Bishop Julius, who then placed the Book of Gospels in his hands.  This was followed with the sign of peace made by Bishop Julius to Deacon Raymond, and thereafter Deacon Raymond to Archbishop John Wong and the other priests. He then took his seat next to Bishop Julius and assisted in the Liturgy of the Eucharist.

Before dismissal, Deacon Raymond was given the opportunity to share. He shared that his journey in the seminary formation was met with many challenges, and that the Diaconate Ordination was not a means to an end but the beginning of another new journey.  He urged the parishioners to continue to pray for him and to support him so that he would be a humble servant of God, serving His church and the community.