In early January 2020, the Parish Pastoral Council (PPC) and the Parish Coordinating Council (PCC) came together to prepare the Year 2020 Planner. For the past three years (2018-2020) our Parish Vision has been “Committing Ourselves into New Evangelisation”. In addition to this, we set a mission statement each year, as our pastoral priority. Our Vision’s third-year mission is – “We, as Parishioners of St Joseph, are sent forth joyfully to embrace, care for and to heal the Lost, the Last, the Least, the Little and the Lonely – 5Ls.”
While preparing the 2020 Planner, I mentioned to our committee members and to Parishioners that we would not have any major activities or events on a large scale like in previous years, but instead, I highlighted that our focus would be more on spiritual formation. I started my ministry here at this Parish in the middle of 2014 and I can proudly say that I have done my very best and that I have taken our Parish to new heights. I don’t have any regrets working with all of you thus far, and I am still going strong, serving this Parish with a lively and cheerful spirit.
Initially, when we started planning for our Parish feast day for this year– the Feast of St Joseph, the Worker, some of you suggested that we should have a low-key celebration, ie; just a 3-day Novena and Thanksgiving Mass, without the usual procession along the streets in the surrounding neighbourhood of our Parish, as we did in the past few years. As fate would have it, the Coronavirus Pandemic and the Movement Control Order (MCO) – (phase one, two, three and now four) – have prevented us from gathering in Church for worship and other pastoral activities. As a result, we decided to carry out the Novena online, and on 1 May 2020, being the Feast of St. Joseph the Worker, we celebrated the Thanksgiving Mass which was live streamed so the faithful could follow Mass from the confines of their homes. Initially, I just wanted to have an online Thanksgiving Mass on 1st May, but eventually I decided to include the nine-day Novena to St Joseph as well, which started on Wednesday, 22 April 2020.
Although I may appear to be a workaholic, but in actual fact, I am very much with the spirit of St Joseph – “Ora et Labora” – Pray and Work. My spirit is cheered-up whenever I have a task to commit to. I do it whole-heartedly and I would always push Parishioners to get involved in Parish activities, formations, etc. I want everyone to move together with our Parish’s Vision and Mission. That is why during this MCO my heart was prompted to do the Novena in preparation for the Feast of St Joseph and I am glad that, with the help of a committed team, it turned out very well. I am truly grateful to Shaun Paiva and Augustine Sinbad for assisting us in the live streaming of the Novenas and Thanksgiving Mass. Together with their team – which also comprised, Leonard Paiva and Deeveyan Selvakumaran – they worked tirelessly to make the daily live streaming possible, so the faithful could follow these from home.
St Joseph was a carpenter and He did all his carpentry work whole-heartedly, in the presence of God, the Child Jesus “who was growing in wisdom and maturity in age,” (Lk 2: 52). Today, St Joseph teaches us to love our work, and to do everything whole-heartedly and with conviction. God will bring all things to fulfilment and happiness. Do our work with “justice and honesty” – and every task that is done successfully with justice and honesty, is done with “an expression of love for God.” God sees things from above He will bring all the blessings to us.
Today the world celebrates Labour Day. A majority of the workforce is on lockdown and many are just waiting anxiously to get back to work – with the intent of adopting a more efficient work attitude and being more productive, as things slowly turn into a new normal after the MCO. However, a survey has found that following COVID-19 and the Movements Control Order (MCO), 46.6% of all self-employed respondents, as well as workers in the agriculture and services sectors, will see the highest percentage of job losses in Malaysia, (New Straight Times, 9 April 2020). You may find yourselves feeling upset, hurt, anxious, angry and depressed thinking about your future. It may also cause financial strain and stress as this is a challenging time for many.
Today’s Psalm, “Give success to the work of our hands” is one of my favourite Psalms which I often pray, asking the Lord, be it any occasion or in my daily work. In fact, in the second reading today, St Paul says, “Whatever your work is, put your heart into it,” (Col 3:23), knowing that the Lord will repay or reward our work. I realise that the Lord has shown me His way and brought success to the work of my hands, on many occassions. Of course, we trust that our work is in God’s hands and He will make all things beautiful and He promises to reward the work of our hands.
The Holy Father Pope Francis, urges all of us to pray the Rosary as a family or as individuals, during the month of May, for an end to the COVID-19 pandemic. Since the Coronavirus started spreading throughout the world, and the MCO implemented, he composed a simple prayer pertaining to Covid-19 which is also for the people who are directly or indirectly affected by the COVID pandemic. I was really amazed when the Holy Father invited every Catholic to pray the Rosary throughout the month of May for “all those who are experiencing the greatest suffering” and to pray to “overcome this time of trial.”
Since the MCO was implemented, I often send prayers pertaining to this global crisis to my daily parish group chats and also to my personal friends chat groups. I shall continue to forward prayers on COVID-19 till the end of the Month of Rosary and you could always include them in your rosary prayers and intercessions, while you pray the Rosary with your family or as an individual.
We have learnt many valuable lessons and gained many treasured memories through these moments of trial, brought upon by the Coronavirus pandemic. Let us continue to stay at home, stay safe and stay healthy.
Happy Feast of St Joseph to all of you!
By Rev. Fr. George P.