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Thursday, July 9, 2015


Article by Dalius LL, photos
by Helda Japanis and Bell
Sandakan: A Get-Together and belated Harvest Festival event was organised by the Marian Hill Development Committee (MHDC) on 5th July 2015, 7.30pm at the Parish canteen. About 80 people turned up for the event, compromising the members and family of MHDC, Chairpersons of ministries, communities and groupings. Among the attendees to lend support were His Lordship Julius Dusin Gitom, Bishop of Sandakan, Fr. Thomas Makajil, the Rector of St. Mary's Cathedral and Fr. Sunny Chung, the assistant parish priest. 
The informal dinner fellowship, aimed at building relationship bond with each other was also to establish a support system to help one another to realize the project. 
The MHDC formed two years ago, is a group of volunteers from St. Mary's Parish with diverse background and talent pooled together for the project. Their main work is to implement the physical development of Marian Hill to ensure infrastructures are in place for people to pray in solitude. Ever since St. Mary's Cathedral was declared a pilgrimage center in 2013, MHDC has been tirelessly getting the infrastructures done for the convenient of visitors. As a regular activity, they consistently spend their Sunday afternoon engaged in gotong royong to beautify the Marian Hill. 
The PPC Chairman Pilis Malim recalled that the idea of the pilgrimage center transpired over a casual coffee session to discuss the first Rosary Rally way back in 2013. It eventually developed into the subject of Marian Hill which is the brainchild of Bishop Julius then. He shared that, “this task seemed to be impossible at first but we have diligently worked it through and as what St. Francis Assisi said, “that initially we do what is necessary, then we do what is possible but eventually without realizing it that we have done the impossible.”  It was a blessing, when one fine day, Edward Mosigi approached him that he would like to contribute to the Church in whatever means he can. He was assigned to the development of Marian Hill which he spearheaded from zero to what it is now today. He hoped that more individuals will come forward and render their services as he quoted President Kennedy's famous saying (with a slight modification), “Ask not what the church can do for you but asked what you can do for the church.”  
The Rector, Fr Thomas Makajil remembered vividly when Edward came to offer himself to help the church in beautification and landscape work. He was delighted that God sent someone with the right gift to assist the church in making its surrounding more conducive. He and a group of volunteers only needed an “OK” from the rector to get things done. They are the catalyst in realizing Bishop Julius' and the Parish's dream of the Marian Hill as a venue for solitude prayer and an attraction for parishioners and visitors to St. Mary's Cathedral.
Bishop Julius opined that the evening's event is fitting to acknowledge and appreciate the contribution of the volunteers towards making the dream a reality. He is indebted to the team and especially to Pilis Malim, the PPC Chairman who went all out to acquire the approval of the land for a lease of 30 years, designated for the Marian corridor. Since the launching of Marian corridor 2 years ago, the prelate was worried that without the full use, the corridor will turn back into a jungle. "But now," as he shared, “every Sunday afternoon we have groups and communities engaged in contemplative or rosary prayer along the corridor." 
All these happened because of the generous hearts and hands of volunteers who have maintained the corridor as attractive as it is now and available for all to use. The prelate commended them for what they had done. They led by example.
At the moment, Marian Hill offered a 850 meter terrain of Rosary corridor and a Marian spring water (Park). Underway and to be launched soon on August during the 132nd Parish Feast Day are the Marian Water Dam and a 14-Station of the Cross corridor. 
Although the Marian Hill Development Committee is lacking in resources but this does not hinder them to move forward. They welcome more individual volunteers who have a passion in nature and environment to join them. They also welcome any generous assistance in kind, talent, energy and ideas. 
Panoramic view of Sandakan from the top of Marian Hill
In years to come, the initial beginning of the journey of the Marian Hill will go down in history. The volunteers today will be reckoned as the pioneers of the Marian Hill project.

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