Participants of the recollection with Fr Raymond (seated middle)

By Evelyn Jock

Mar 28 2024

SANDAKAN – Fr Raymond Lee of St Mary’s Cathedral, Sandakan engaged with the parishioners and brought them for a journey through the Holy Week, beginning with Palm Sunday, and then the Triduum and Easter Sunday.

As Fr Raymond is fluent in three languages, the recollection was conducted in Bahasa Malaysia on Feb 27, English on Mar 3 and Chinese on Mar 10 respectively. More than 150 parishioners participated in this Holy Week recollection. Fr Raymond brought the faithful to have a deeper understanding of Lenten Season and celebration of Palm Sunday which marks the final Sunday of Lent and the onset of Holy Week.

Palm Sunday commemorates the arrival of Jesus, the King of Kings, into Jerusalem who was welcomed by the people waving palms and shouting ‘Hosanna, Hosanna’. Fr Raymond conversed with the parishioners on the meaning of the palms, the procession and the proceeding of the liturgy of Palm Sunday Mass.

He also explained on the Chrism Mass which would normally take place on the morning of Holy Thursday but due to pastoral reasons, the Chrism Mass was held early on Mar 14 after the priests’ periodic meeting.

Parishioners should attend the Chrism Mass as it brings together all the priests from all parishes of the Diocese of Sandakan; and witnessed the Renewal of Priestly Promises of the priests to the Bishop, head of the Diocese. The Mass also celebrated the blessing of the Oil of the Sick, Chrism Oil and the Oil of Catechumen.

Fr Raymond, ordained as a priest on 16 May 2022, was hilarious with his take on experiences as a seminarian and later as a priest during the Holy week celebration. From Jesus’ triumphant entry into Jerusalem, he explained the Triduum which is solemn, denoting Holy Thursday, Good Friday and Easter Vigil.

Highlights of Holy Thursday is the institution of the Eucharist at the Last Supper, the washing of the feet, the consecration of extra hosts for used on Good Friday for there will be no Mass celebrated then. Holy Thursday Mass concludes with the procession of the Blessed Sacrament and the vigil by parishioners.

Good Friday, a day of fasting and abstinence as we recalled Jesus’ death on the cross for our sins. The liturgical ceremony on Good Friday is a communion service only and not a Mass. Consecrated hosts from Holy Thursday were distributed to the parishioners. The service witnessed the silent entry, priest prostrating in front of the altar, Gospel Narrative on the passion of Christ and the veneration of the Cross. Since the recent pandemic, there is no more kissing of the cross by the faithful but only bowing and kneeling before the Cross.

All parishioners must attend the celebration of the Triduum to fulfil the attendance of a one full mass celebration. Easter Vigil started early in the Sandakan Diocese at 7.30 pm. This celebration ceremony is more dramatic and one of solemn expectation as we anticipate the resurrection of our Lord Jesus. During this vigil, we witnessed the Service of Light, the Liturgy of the Word, the Liturgy of Baptism and the Liturgy of the Eucharist. We experienced the RCIA catechumens being baptised and confirmed.

Fr Raymond explained that to celebrate Easter fully, parishioners have to attend Easter Sunday Mass which commemorates and celebrates Jesus resurrection. – Dospo