Diocese of Miri, Malaysia
A lot has been happening in the Diocese of Miri this year. There are a number of initiatives and projects that are ongoing, all of them falling under three main headings: The Jubilee year of Mercy instituted by Pope Francis, the diocesan St Joseph Project (called here the “Wisma St Joseph” project), and the 40th anniversary of the Diocese. The Mill Hill man most directly involved with all of these projects is Fr. Guido Gockel mhm. Fr. Guido is the parish priest of St. Dominic’s parish in Miri. Last year Bishop Richard (the Bishop of Miri diocese) made him the chairman for all three projects.
Fr Guido Gockel mhm with parishioners
The “Wisma St Joseph” project involves the raising of around $30,000,000 Malaysian (roughly = $7,500,000 U.S.) to build a new Cathedral, a new primary school, a new Pastoral Centre, a second new Church, the renovation of the old Bishop’s house to make it once more fit for purpose and one or two other smaller things. Since the project began the new Primary School part of the project has been postponed and will be looked at again only after everything else has been completed. Among Fr. Guido’s first tasks was the need to set up an office with professional staff, make sure all the necessary equipment required for the task (e.g. an internet connection) was in place, and the opening of a new “Wisma St Joseph” bank account. All of these tasks have been completed. To date roughly a third of the money needed has been raised either in cash or in pledges.
Raising money is just one side of the project. There is also a Spiritual side, which Fr. Guido wishes to emphasise just as much as the money side of things. The spiritual side of the project involves building up the “People of God” in Miri diocese. A big component of the campaign is teaching people what it means to be a “People of God” in the diocese of Miri. The idea is to help them understand what the significance of a Cathedral and a Bishop is, and to teach them to support their church throughout the diocese (presently, only 3 out of the 15 parishes can support themselves).
There is an effort to get everyone involved not only with raising money, but with prayers, fasting and works of mercy.
The project wishes to promote the devotion of our families to St. Joseph, the patron of the diocese, cathedral and primary school. Fr. Guido wishes to create a “Friends of St. Joseph club”, which would spiritually support the wealthy of the diocese. The basic premise of this particular spirituality is that no one truly owns anything and that we are all beggars before God. The desire of the project is help them, and all the faithful, to surrender their lives to God in a good and responsible way. The ultimate goal of the project is that the diocese of Miri has a proper “ongoing" fundraising infrastructure that is able to sustain the diocese’s needs, as well as increased prayer and spiritual devotion among the faithful.
St Domimic's at Taman Tunku
St Dominic’s parish is also one of the pilgrimage centres for the Jubilee Year of Mercy. As part of this the parish has been involved in setting up a shrine for people to come to for prayer and meditation. There has also been an ongoing effort to beautify the parish church. Formerly the sanctuary was covered by huge, impossible to wash curtains, these have been replaced by a much more ascetically pleasing wood panelling backdrop. The main altar cross was also replaced by a much more proportional one and lowered so as to make much more easy to reach should in the future repairs are needed or someone wishes to replace it. Not all of the parishes have made their pilgrimage to the shrine yet but it is hoped they all will before the end of the year.
John McAulay mhm