SHC parish priest Fr Paul Lo gave a briefing  to the PPC and group leaders on the parish Synodal journey at the Cathedral Oct 22  

By Catherine Wan

Oct 26 2021

KOTA KINABALU – Sacred Heart Cathedral Parish (SHCP) began her synodal journey in the wake of the Synodal Process launched by Kota Kinabalu prelate, Archbishop John Wong at the Archdiocesan level Oct 17.

The journey kicked off with a briefing by parish priest Fr Paul Lo before celebrating the Mass to launch the synod process parish level at the Cathedral Oct 22.

The parish level process continued with a two-hour physical consultation session for the parish councilors and commission/ministry group leaders on Oct 24 at the parish hall.

Fr Paul was pleased to see a good turnout of 151 for the briefing. During the half-hour briefing, the parish priest touched on the historical background of the Synod of Bishops, that is the Second Vatican Council also called Vatican II (1962–65) announced by Pope John XXIII on January 25, 1959, as the spiritual renewal of the church in our time.

He quoted the late Pope John XXIII “It was time to open the windows [of the Church] and let in some fresh air”. It was opened officially by Pope John XXIII on 11 October 1962, and was closed under Pope Paul VI on 8 December 1965. To implement the spirit of Vatican Council Il, Pope Paul VI started the Synod of Bishops in September 1965. (

The recent call of Pope Francis for Synod of Bishops 2023 emphasized the involvement of the laity, that is all baptized Catholics in the synodal process. As explained by the parish priest, Synod means “walking together”. The church hierarchy will listen to the voice of the laity regarding various aspects of church life guided by the theme of Synod 2023 – For Synodal Church: Communion, Participation and Mission.

Synodal Church is a Church that consults at the grassroots level. She accompanies, listens, dialogues, discerns and forms the grassroots faithful. To this effect, a questionnaire containing four questions has been circulated in google form as part of the process.

However, SHC will only participate in three questions simplified by the parish which would be ‘test run’ during the Oct 24 consultation session. Moving on from there, the group leaders would simulate a similar consultation process among members of their respective groups either physically or virtually. The leaders were reminded that the process of listening to each other, and journeying with each other is more important than the outcome of the consultation.

The parish consultation session was attended by 44 people, comprising Parish Pastoral Councilors, PFPN zone/Taman leaders, ministry group representatives and religious sisters.

It began with the opening prayer Adsumus Sancte Spiritus (Prayer to the Holy Spirit), Bible enthronement with two readings (Acts of Apostle and St Luke) and catechesis given by Fr Paul.

A briefing by organizing chairman, Bernard Liew followed, explaining to the participants on what to do during the group sharing. The participants were divided into five groups of 9-10 people. Fr Paul and Fr Saimon William were available to assist during the sharing session.

The given questionnaire for the group sharing contained three questions relating to three aspects of the Synodal Church: Communion (companions on the journey), Participation (dialogue in church and society) and Mission (sharing responsibility for our common mission).  

The group members were advised to choose a coordinator to ensure that every member would have a chance to speak, and a secretary to record the sharing of the members. After the group discussion, each group coordinator was given six minutes to report the outcome of the group discussion. The group reports are to be sent to Johnny Chong at SHC office.

Fr Paul explained that the purpose of the Sunday evening consultation was to give to the group leaders a foretaste of the consultative process. He advised them to spend at least three hours, or three sessions, to go through the questions with their members for the purpose of meeting everyone, either physically or virtually. They may consult the meeting date with him so that priests can be arranged to accompany them in the consultative process. The given questionnaire was meant for SHC, St Paul Dondoziton, and the sub-parishes of CMI, St John Kopungit and OLQP Kobusak, and it is available in three languages (BM, English and Chinese).

The groups would be given two and half months to complete their consultative process (October till December), after which compilation of the consultation from the parishes would be submitted to the Archdiocese in January 2022.

SHC consultative session on Oct 24