Sandakan : October 26, 2012. The Sandakan Diocese was able to complete a “checked” mark on their “to do list” today. The ceremonial erection of the Diocese and the Episcopal Ordination of Rt Rev Datuk Julius Dusin Gitom on the 15th October 2007 was the beginning of a journey, which culminates with today’s celebration ~ the Official Opening and Solemn Blessing of the Diocesan Pastoral Centre. The Official Opening was graced by YB Datuk Edward Khoo, the Assistant Minister to the Chief Minister of Sabah while Bishop Datuk Julius solemnly blessed the Centre. More than 600 parishioners coming from across the four parishes attended the event.
They have not reached their destination yet, for the journey is a process but it is definitely a happy interlude. For more than five years the Bishop’s Office has been the renovated former kindergarten of the St. Mary’s Parish. One of the main items on the list was a Diocesan Pastoral Centre which started with the signing of the contract and ground breaking ceremony on 13th September 2010.
Many of those who attended the ground breaking ceremony would know that this has been an eventful journey. Though scheduled to complete on the 15th October 2011, it was only attained today due many unforeseen circumstances. It is therefore with deep gratitude to God that the Diocese could finally have the building completed.
Mr. John Pang the Building Committee Chairman recalled how the task started with great expectation was completed with what he described as “co-responsibility” and “collaboration”. “The process of getting the building in place was to him a journey of faith, believing and trusting God as provider.”
The total construction costs of the building including external works was approximately RM2.9 million. Inclusive allowance for furniture and fittings and other miscellaneous the total cost would eventually be RM3.5 million. Government grants and other sources contributed to one quarter of the cost whilst he was proud to report that the balance of more than three quarter of the costs has been from the parishioners of the four parishes in the diocese.
He extended his sincere appreciation to the following for free consultation and technical services viz: KK Lee Consulting Engineers, Jurukur Kuantiti Konsultant, Sabah Interdesign, Chan Design, Perunding SF Sdn Bhd, M&E NTM (S) Sdn Bhd, Jurukur Tanah Sdn Bhd and Mr. Paul Lee. Others who had chipped in to assist at cost were STL Drilling, Suntronic and Kinabalu Air-Con. Some of these consultants had been assisting the Church in previous projects. The main contractor, Mr Charles Lau of City Construction Company entrusted to construct and complete the Diocesan Pastoral Centre was the same company, then managed by his father Mr Y. C. Lau that built St Mary's Church some 52 years ago.
YB Datuk Edward Khoo, the guest of honor quipped that it was the first time for him attending an official opening of a building where all the consultants were present. Whilst reiterating the State Government’s practice that religion, other than the official religion of the country, continues to receive aid and assistance where possible. He further pointed out that it is an inalienable right to freedom of worship and existence as enshrined in our constitution in spite of the country having an official religion. He hoped that all religions in the country and especially in Sabah continue to propagate a progressive and spirit of tolerance among the communities of the country. He was proud to note that Sabah stood apart from other states where the spirit of tolerance is the highest.
In his speech during the opening ceremony, just before the rite of blessing, the Rt. Rev Datuk Julius Dusin Gitom expressed his humility and gratefulness to God for this historic and joyous occasion. He said that it took more than two years for the Building Committee headed by Mr.John Pang to plan and complete the construction of the building. The building would now housed among other things, the Bishop’s office, Catechetical, Youth, Finance and Resource Centre including an auditorium that can accommodate approximately two hundred people. 'If the Lord does not build the house, the work of the builders shall be in vain.' - Psalm 17 : 1
Bishop Julius thanked all those responsible and the sponsors for their contributions and dedication in making the project and event of the day a reality. He also expressed his gratefulness to the Assistant Minister to the Chief Minister, YB Datuk Edward Khoo for gracing the occasion. He further remarked that the State Government has also given grant for the construction of the building as well as repairs and maintenance of Churches and Chapels. This demonstrated the Government of the day’s liberality and does not neglect the needs of other religion.
|Bishop Datuk Julius handing a souvenir to Msgr Marek|
In attendance to witness the occasion included Bishops from the Catholic Bishops Conference of Malaysia, Singapore and Brunei, Diocesan Priests from Sandakan, Keningau and Kota Kinabalu, Religious Brothers and Sisters, members of the Sandakan Inter Church, Pastors, Heads of State and Federal Departments as well as the Charge D’Affaires of the Apostolic Nuntiature in Malaysia, Monsignor Marek Zalewski, well wishers and members from the four main Parishes from the Diocese. After the solemn blessing a tea reception was held in the auditorium of the building and many took the informal setting to mingle around as well as making a tour to the new building.
|Our young Emcees|
|Patrick Seah, the PPC Chairman in his welcoming speech|
|Fr Thomas ~ Grace before meal|
|A toast to our beloved Diocese|
In the evening, a Banquet Dinner was held in the Yu Yuan Hall celebrating the fifth Anniversary of the Erection of the Diocese of Sandakan and the Episcopal Ordination of Bishop Datuk Julius Dusin Gitom. More than one thousand two hundred parishioners and well-wishers attended the function. The four parishes; Sandakan, Tawau, Telupid and Lahad Datu contributed performances for the evening's entertainment.