The participants studying the apostolic exhortation document 

By Evelyn Jock

July 27 2022

SANDAKAN – On 22-23 July 2022, St Mary’s Cathedral parish organised a Study Day by bringing together clergy, religious and parish pastoral councillors, in response to Pope Francis’ apostolic exhortation, Evangelii Gaudium – the Joy of the Gospel. Pope Francis urges all Catholics to share the message of the Gospel with joy and mercy.

This 224 page document contains several important topics that relate to the present world, such as evangelization, peace, homiletics, social justice, the family, respect for creation, faith and politics, ecumenism, interreligious dialogue and the role of women and the laity in the Church.

The Holy Father wants the Catholic Church to be more missionary with doors that are always open. It is about new approaches of evangelisation, communicating our relationship with Christ, in word and deed, to others.

He envisions a Church that is poor and for the poor, especially the marginalised, the homeless, the elderly, migrants, victims of unborn children. It is in evangelising others that we ourselves are evangelised.

The study day started with the participants studying the apostolic exhortation document and highlighting the values or points that are raised in this document. The study day also highlighted the Diocesan Pastoral Plan, a criterion in moving forward our mission towards evangelisation.

This Pastoral Plan was first published in 2017 with the concerted effort of the clergy, the religious and parish leaders. There was a delay in realising the plan due to the COVID-19 pandemic which has brought the whole world to a standstill.

Our priority towards the way forward could only be realised if the parish leaders are trained, and place the ‘Eucharist’, which is the source and summit of Christian life (Sandakan Diocesan mission statement), at the forefront.

As the Joy of the Gospel has stated, the Church has to take action in changing the way Christianity is presented to the world and to share that the joy of the faith with the people.

The study of the Joy of the Gospel is part of the program that St Mary’s Cathedral Parish has laid out, which will then culminate in the Pan Malaysia Pastoral Convention in 2026.

This program is related to the Church’s journey as a Synodal Church, which was launched on 17 October 2021, involving the universal church.

Diocese of Sandakan