Bishop Julius Dusin Gitom ordained Andy Borine Tingadon and Arthur John, to the Diaconate Jan 24 at St Mary’s Cathedral

By Evelyn Jock (Photos by Soccom/Marian Live Streaming Crew)

Jan 27 2021

SANDAKAN – A significant occasion took place at St Mary’s Cathedral, the mother Church of the Diocese of Sandakan on 24 January 2021 at 9.30 am.

That day the whole diocese witnessed the ordination of two seminarians, Andy Borine Tingadon and Arthur John, to the Diaconate. The transition to the Diaconate is a journey a seminarian takes towards priesthood.

The Sandakan Diocese, under the leadership of Bishop Julius Dusin Gitom, celebrated the 6th Diaconate Ordination of the diocese, when two young men from the local community were ordained as Deacons.

Since the establishment of the Diocese of Sandakan in 2007, there have been five Diaconate Ordinations, the first being held in 2010, and again in 2015, 2016, 2019 (twice) and this day in 2021.

The prelate was assisted by parish priest Fr David Garaman and deacon Stephen Esquerra,

A week prior to the Ordination, on Jan 17, the two seminarians celebrated the Rite of Admission to Candidacy for Holy Orders.

Due to the pandemic, the Ordination Mass was celebrated with restrictions. According to the Standard Operation Procedure (SOP) for church celebrations during lockdown, the Diaconate Ordination Mass could only be watched by families and parishioners via live streaming.

During the ordination rite, the candidates were called by their name, to which they confirmed their attendance. Fr David addressed Bishop Julius, confirming to him that the candidates have been found worthy to be ordained.

Bishop Julius responded by declaring “Relying on the hope of our Lord God and Saviour Jesus Christ, you are chosen for the order of the diaconate”. 

The Bishop went on to list the responsibilities of a deacon to the candidates seated before him, who were asked if they would carry out these responsibilities, believe in and proclaim the mystery of faith, remain celibate, pray every day for the people of God and for the whole world, and if they would conform their lives to the example of Christ. 

The prelate then put his hands together and placed them on the candidates’ hands, asking them if they would promise to respect and obey him, as their bishop, and his successors, to which they made a promise to obey by putting their joined hands in between the Bishop’s hands.

The diaconal candidates then prostrated themselves as a sign of their willingness to offer their lives for service to the church and to abandon their lives for Christ.

The Litany of the Saints was next chanted by deacon Stephen Esguerra, calling upon the saints to help the candidates to live the promises they had just made. After the litany, Bishop again laid hands on them, and began the prayer of consecration.

After being vested, the newly ordained deacons knelt before the Bishop, who placed the Book of Gospels in their hands, saying “Receive the Gospel of Christ, whose herald you have become. Believe what you read, preach what you believe, and practice what you teach.” They then joined the Bishop at the Altar and assisted him for the rest of the Mass.

By God’s grace, the Diaconate Ordination in spite of the COVID-10 restrictions was celebrated meaningfully and smoothly. The live streamed Mass was not only watched by parishioners from various parishes within and outside the Diocese of Sandakan, but also followed by families and friends of Deacons Andy and Arthur from Keningau, Beluran and Telupid.

Congratulations to the newly ordained Deacons Andy and Arthur! The diocese thanked them for their services and for witnessing to us how to draw closer to Jesus and to be servants of the poor. “We also thank their families for their support to them in answering God’s calling. We wish the Deacons all the best and may the Lord use them to reach many in the Diocese and beyond.” 

‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind’ (Matthew 22:37)

Deacon Andy Borine Tingadon, 39, comes from the town of Beluran. He was born in Kampung Bingkor, Keningau on 6 April 1982 and is the 3rd child in a family of 8, his parents and 6 siblings. His father, a retiree was a Supervisor for trainee nurse in Beluran in 2011 while his mother is a housewife. Most of Andy’s childhood days were spent in Beluran. He studied at Sekolah Rendah Pekan Beluran (1989-1994), Sekolah Menengah Pekan Beluran (1995-1999) and completed Form 6 at the Seventh Day Adventist Secondary School, Tamparuli (2002-2003).

Andy has the same ambitions and needs as everyone, however, the need to answer God’s call was strong. He noticed that there was less priest coming from Beluran as not many youths were brave enough to take up this vocation and moreover, the parishioners were not frequent mass goers. He finally decided to follow up on his vocation in 2012. His family and friends strongly supported his vocation and he felt his strength comes from God himself.

Andy underwent 8 years of formation in a seminary in Kota Kinabalu (2 years), General College in Penang 9 (2 years), and St Peter’s College in Kuching, Sarawak (4 years). During his formation years, he studied sacred scripture, philosophy and theology. His days in the seminary were memorable and he embraced his formation which was full of surprises. It has brought him to places he would never have dreamt of and met with many new friends. He recalled the day he stood in front of the CAC building in Kota Kinabalu, when he entered the seminary for the first time as an aspirant, and asked himself if the steps he had taken was enough. However, he believes that what he had done was for all concerned and not only for him.

His pastoral immersion in various parishes had shaped him in understanding matters of the priesthood. It was necessary to prepare him to serve in the Sandakan Diocese. He felt elated that he was more knowledgeable about pastoral work now. During his visits to each parish in the Sandakan Diocese, he observed its strengths and weaknesses. The diocese comprises of a variety of ethnic groups with different cultures and migrants from other countries. Therefore, there is a great need for more priests, religious sisters, catechists and church leaders to help in the spiritual administration of the church.

Andy felt that the ordination during the pandemic lockdown was indeed a blessing because even in these times of hardship and fear, our Lord God has not abandoned His people. Indeed, we see God answering His people’s hopes and prayers by providing the Sandakan Diocese with 2 more men to be ordained to the Diaconate. His expectations for the future, would be the church reaching out to its parishioners through various media platforms such as, youtube, facebook, twitter, etc. The church should plan to get the parishioners to return to the church after the pandemic, for the parishioners may become too complacent and rely too much on the live streaming of masses.

He encouraged Catholic youths to be open to God’s movement in their lives with a clear mind and open heart. He advised the youth to be committed because of their love for God and not be distracted by worldly materials. He agrees that God’s calling is scary but he recalled that the Apostles of Jesus were afraid and tried to run away, but they were the chosen ones of God to be His witnesses. For the youths, he quoted: 1 Peter 5:6-7 ‘Humble yourselves, then, under God’s mighty hand, so that he will lift you up in his own good time. Leave all your worries with him because he cares for you.’ Finally, Andy prayed and hoped that more youths from the Diocese of Sandakan would be brave to come forward to response to this special calling from God. Amen.

‘But Yahweh replied, ‘Do not say, “I am only a child”, for you must go to all to whom I send you and say whatever I command you’ (Jeremiah 1:7)

Deacon Arthur John, 30, was born on 20 July 1991 in Telupid. Arthur is the 4th child in his family is made up of his parents and 5 siblings. His father, John Kisong of Kuala Sapi is a retiree, while his mother, Nuini Tangkim, a housewife is from Beaufort. He studied at Sekolah Rendah SK Pekan Telupid (1997-2002) and Sekolah Menengah SMK Pekan Telupid (2003-2009).

Arthur has always been active in church activities in his hometown and it was here that he decided to respond to God’s call to serve in the priesthood. He entered the seminary from January 2012 to May 2020, where he studied English, philosophy, theology and sacred scripture at the Catholic Archdiocesan Centre, St Peter’s College, Kota Kinabalu and St Peter’s College Major Seminary, Kuching, Sarawak. He was appointed lector on 3 November 2016 and Acolyte on 3 November 2017. 

Arthur reiterated that his experience during his formative years at the seminary was very valuable. Activities and programmes that were presented challenged him to develop his spiritual, human and intellectual being which was essential so that he remain steadfast firm in his vocation. He learnt to appreciate the hands of God in all his spiritual activities and academic life. 

He shared that during his training and pastoral immersion, he was attached to several parishes in Sabah and Sarawak from 2014 to 2020. The pastoral immersion has helped him to be more aware of all daily pastoral issues. He joined, amongst other ministries, the Charismatic Renewal Movement, Legion of Mary, RCIA, Sarawak Mental house, Cheshire Home for the Disabled, Home for the aged, Youth Ministry Apostolate, Migrant Ministry and was attached to Paitan church. Arthur felt great pride and joy with the Catholic communities who are so united and empowered to help in the growth of the church.

His thoughts on the Ordination during the pandemic were that it is important to comply to the government’s SOP and to always observe cleanliness for the safety of all persons. Although the attendance of parishioners is limited, he felt that the church can still reach out to the people through live streaming. 

Arthur encouraged all Catholic youths to be holy and not be afraid but be inspired by Jesus Christ who is their shepherd. He also advised these youths who are receiving their call to the priesthood to come out of their comfort zone and meet with their parish priest for further counselling. Becoming a priest puts you at a crossroad and is a serious decision and should they feel God’s calling, this may be the path they are meant to take. – DOSPO