Contributed by Tracy Lim and Joan Pang
RANAU: A total of 121 pilgrims gained new insights and aspirations on their Catholic faith after taking part in the Jubilee Year of Mercy (JYM) pilgrimage to St Peter Claver Church, here, on Aug 27 .
Besides entering the Door of Mercy, the pilgrims, led by parish priest Fr Cosmas Lee, also climbed a steep hill for the Stations of the Cross and feasted on local fruits, among others.
It was the second Door of Mercy visit since the previous trip, organised by the JYM committee, to the St Peter Church Kudat, last July 31.
For pilgrim Tracy Lim, the pilgrimage here was a grace-filled experience.
“There are many things that keep us from entering the Door of Mercy. This jubilee is a time to put all of that behind,” she said. “The pilgrimage is not just to receive mercy, which we all need, but to also offer mercy.”
“Personally, this spiritual journey was a much needed stress reliever. Prayer is always the best answer to the many concerns and issues we have in life.
“The pilgrimage to the Holy Door has been an extraordinary experience for me and I believe that it was not a coincidence, but God’s will.
“I experienced peace in my heart and felt the love of God through His mercy. I believe my fellow pilgrims experienced the same, if not more,” Tracy said.
Another pilgrim, Theresa Ham, said entering the Door of Mercy gave her a sense of peace and reconciliation.
“His mercy is for people from all walks of life, especially the rejected, the great sinners,” she said.
“Jesus was the first pilgrim. His entire pilgrimage was focused on being obedient to His Father. As pilgrims, we never journey alone. Jesus was first accompanied by His Mother.
“Praying the Angelus and the Holy Rosary as part of our daily pilgrimage draw us to humility like the Blessed Virgin Mary.”
During the two and a half hours’ journey to Ranau, the pilgrims recited the Rosary and were briefed on the trip by their respective leaders in the three buses.
The group reached Ranau before noon and were welcomed by representatives of the parish and its priest Fr Nicholas Stephen.
Fr Nicholas briefed the pilgrims on the significance of the Extraordinary Year of Mercy.
“We are so blessed because we were chosen (to have the Door of Mercy). This is a great opportunity,” Fr Nicholas said on his parish being selected as a pilgrimage site for the Holy Year.
The procession into the Door of Mercy was led by Fr Cosmas as he recited the Litany of Saints and echoed by the pilgrims.
The pilgrims later went to St Peter Claver Chapel for prayer, personal reflection and Mass.
During Mass, which was also St Monica’s Feast Day, Fr Cosmas reminded the pilgrims on the importance of prayer.
Theresa said she was moved when Fr Cosmas told the story of St Monica who prayed for the conversion of her wayward son who later went on to become a saint.
“Fr Cosmas gave a brief account on the life of St Augustine before he gave his life to Jesus and how his mother prayed for him laboriously until his conversion,” Theresa said, recalling part of the sermon that left an impression on her.
Before the Stations of the Cross, the pilgrims were invited for a fellowship at the St Peter Claver Church canteen.
During the Stations of the Cross, the pilgrims prayed the Lord’s Prayer, Hail Mary, Glory Be at each station and concluded with the Year of Mercy hymn.
“It was not an easy walk as it involved climbing up the steep hills, among others, but it was nevertheless a wonder-filled journey,” said Tracy.
She said they also visited the St Philip the Apostle Catholic Church (Gereja Katolik St Philip) in Tamparuli.
“We were able to bond with other members of the Church during a fellowship before leaving for Kota Kinabalu.”
At the end of the trip, each pilgrim received a certificate of completion of the pilgrimage.