Mass during the Clergy Retreat at Sacred Heart Cathedral Nov 8-12

Contributed by Fr Joshua Liew

Nov 17 2021

KOTA KINABALU – If I would be able to make an investment today for my future, what would I invest in for my happiness?

This was the very first question posted by Archbishop Julian Leow over Zoom to the clergy of Sabah during their annual retreat. Archbishop Julian is this year’s retreat master for the annual spiritual exercises of the Sabah clergy.

Over the course of five days from 8-12 Nov, 2021, the Archbishop of Kuala Lumpur led the clergy of Sabah through a series of meditations. Unfortunately, due to the pandemic and the difficulty of flying over to Sabah, he had to physically guide the retreat through video call.

In his reflections, the Archbishop led us all to reflect on all the important things we would invest in life, the most important would be relationships. And this was the main theme of the retreat.

Beginning on Monday evening with the introductory meditation, we were asked to evaluate all our relationships individually. He listed out the five important relationships we should have as priests, namely our relationship with God, the self, the presbyterium, with society, and with the environment.

Each day, we attended two meditations, each specifically focusing on two relationships. The archbishop gave many personal and pastoral experiences which many of us could relate to very easily. In each meditation, he also led us to reflect on certain points in each of these relationships in relation to our priesthood.

On the first meditation focusing on our relationship with God, we were asked how close we are to God and if we have drifted far from him during this pandemic, and if we have lost our identity as priests.

During the online retreat session led by Archbishop Julian Leow, Archbishop of Kuala Lumpur 

The second meditation on relationship with the self, we were called to examine our lives and ask “Am I then spurred to question, challenge and be concerned about myself?”

In the third meditation, we were further asked to look at our other relationships, namely our family, friends, and ex-colleagues before we entered seminary.

The fourth meditation centres on our relationship with the presbyterium where we reflected on the status of our relationship with our fellow priests who are our closest collaborators. Archbishop Julian shared in the fifth meditation some of his difficult decisions he had to make as bishop to his presbyterium.

The sixth and seventh meditation on relationship with society, we were asked to look towards the attitude of God towards sinners and emulate him.

The last meditation helped us to reflect on our relationship with the environment and our role as its stewards.

The clergy of the three Sabah dioceses typically would spend five days together in Bundu Tuhan for devotion, prayer, and to participate in the meditations and spiritual exercises. Mass, Lauds and Vespers, and Holy Hour are celebrated together as well, and the sacrament of reconciliation is provided throughout the duration of the retreat.

Unlike previous years however, the clergy of the three dioceses could not gather together in Bundu Tuhan this year due to the pandemic. Only the clergy of the Archdiocese of Kota Kinabalu gathered together at Sacred Heart Cathedral, while those of the Keningau and Sandakan dioceses, just like our retreat master, could only participate through Zoom from their respective parishes.