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Monday, January 17, 2011

Official Opening and Solemn Blessing of St Francis of Assisi's Chapel, Sukang, Paitan

Sandakan : Paitan, some 230 kilometers from Sandakan, under the jurisdiction of St Mary's Cathedral Parish is the only mission area of the Diocese of Sandakan. Established some 25 years ago, it now has more than 1,000 baptised Catholics scattered around 12 kampongs.

Yesterday, Sunday January 16 2011 was a milestone in the history of the mission.  More than 250 people from across the Paitan missionary area covering a land size of some 2,499 square kilometers gathered at Kg Sukang to witness the offical opening and solemn blessing of the newly constructed pre-fabricated Chapel of St Francis of Assisi.
The Chapel, sponsored by Datuk and Datin Victor S Paul and family, measures some 20' by 30' has a concrete floor complete with lightings and fans powered by a new generator set contributed by an anonymous parishioner from the Cathedral. It has a sitting capacity of some 90 people. and ample parking space. Adjacent to the Chapel and sited on a little hill is the rectory and the catechist's house.
The Opening Ceremony


Mr Nicu unveiling the plaque
Rt Rev Julius Dusin Gitom DD, the Bishop of the Diocese of Sandakan, together with Rev Thomas Makajil, rector of St Mary's Cathedral, Mr Nicu, the representative of Datuk Victor Paul and Henry Wong, Chairman of the Paitan Mission Committee graced the official opening of the chapel. It was then solemnly blessed by  Bishop Julius.
Fr Thomas proclaiming the Good News

The Eucharistic celebration, the 2nd Sunday in ordinary time was presided over by Bishop Julius, con celebrated by Rev Thomas Makajil. The prelate in his homily likened the growth of faith to that of the process of good agricultural practice. Yielding good crop, one needs to have quality seedlings, availability of land, fine preparation of the ground, right planting techniques and  consistent nurturing. Likewise, for faith to grow, we need to sow the seeds of faith. We need a house of worship and we need to be well formed through formation program. We need to nurture our faith that it may be enhanced and shared with others.
Bishop Julius
He said, 'This beautiful chapel will remain a structure, if the faith passed on to you remains as it is. It will be a sign of strong unity and a symbol of oneness only if there is growth in your faith.'
After the prayer of intercessions, the prelate solemnly blessed the newly installed altar.
Peter Saimin
Peter Saimin, the catechist for Sukang and the Organizing Chairman for the event extended his appreciation to all who had made the effort to be present. He gave a brief account of the challenges of the mission in the early years. He cited a painful experience of the local faithful where in 2005, the Catholic's chapel across the road was taken down for other purposes.

He said, 'I saw opportunities in the setback faced by the people and true enough today, united and remaining steadfast in faith, we have a bigger and better chapel. That bitter incident made us more united. Thank and praise God.'
John Baptist
John Baptis, the Chairman of the Cathedral's PPC who led a delegation of ten PPC members  in his address  said that the people of St Mary's Cathedral truly shared the joy of the people of Paitan on the historic day. He assured the people that the Cathedral's PPC will endeavor to assist in pastoral related matters in the said mission.
Rev Thomas in his speech extended his heartfelt thanks to the people of Paitan and the parishioners from the Cathderal who had come to give support to the event. He thanked the family members of the late Joseph Nadu who had contributed the land for the construction of the chapel and Datuk Victor Paul for his generosity in building the chapel.

He said, 'It is my hope that the local parishioners will gather every Sunday for worship and gathering in this nice chapel. Maximize the use of this place to build up your faith.'

Bishop Julius presenting a memento to Mr Nicu
Henry Wong presenting a memento to Bishop Julius
The prelate in his closing address personally thanked Mr Nicu for his kind attendance on behalf of Datuk Victor Paul, the kind donor and all other individuals who had contributed generously towards the  occasion .He advised the people to look after the chapel as they would to their faith.

After the ceremony, the people adjourned to the adjacent rectory for a luncheon fellowship prepared by members of the Parish Catholic Women's Apostolate. Members of the BEC of Taman Indah Jaya arranged some community games for the children, the teenagers and adults followed by lucky draws.
Alpheus Loisang
Alpheus Loinsang, currently with the Rungus community in Kota Murudu, had journeyed with the people of Paitan in 1987 for many years, was also present at the event. 

When interviewed, he said, 'I am really happy to see the change. So many had embraced the faith. So many had been baptized. I hope the Good News will be made known to all people of all nations as commissioned by Christ.'


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