By Dalius LL and photos by
George Bell, Rogena, Helda
Sandakan: The night before the 132nd Anniversary of St Mary's Cathedral Parish Day Celebration, 13th August, a Taize Prayer session was held at the Parish Hall as a spiritual preparation for the event. The Prayer, attended by more than 200 parishioners was led by Sr Appollonia Gumpu fsic.
About 200 parishioners availed themselves in attending the blessing ceremony and ground breaking of religious related structures at the Marian corridor on the morning of 14th August 2015. The event is part of a 3-day activity laid out in celebrating the 132nd anniversary of St. Mary's Cathedral Parish Day.
Diocesan Conference Hall
The momentous event was graced by the Bishop of Sandakan, His Lordship Rt. Rev. Datuk Julius Dusin Gitom. Assisting the prelate were Fr. Thomas Makajil, the rector of the Cathedral, Frs. Phillip Muji and Sunny Chung, assistant rectors and Deacon Stanley William. Also in attendance were the Good Shepherd and FSIC Religious Sisters.
The Marian corridor is dedicated to Mother Mary as the patron saint of this parish, located at a nearby hill adjacent to the Cathedral. The hill is known by the name of Marian Mount or popularly known as Bukit Maria among parishioners. The auspicious event began at 9.00 am at the Diocesan Conference Hall where Pilis Malim, the PPC Chairman briefed the members about the flow of the day's event.
Fr Thomas Makajil, the rector, expressed his appreciation to all who had made an effort to attend the occasion. He was impressed with the good turn out, a sign of close collaboration among all strata of the church, the clergy, the religious and the laity. He hoped that the strong communion could be sustained in order that the Church could move forth.
Bishop Julius commended the Project Committee headed by Edward Masigi for the foresight in making Marian Mount an added attraction to St Mary's Cathedral as a Pilgrimage Centre. The many added features will draw people to St Mary's Cathedral, a worthwhile destination, not to be missed. He thanked the wonderful people St Mary's Cathedral led by their rector Fr Thomas Makajil for the strong commitment in moving forward to realize the dream of making it an authentic pilgrimage destination.
Parishioners proceeded to the Marian Rosary Monument, situated at the foothill of Marian Mount with the blessing of a pond built within its compound. The water feature blended well into the landscape.
|Fr. Thomas Makajil|
|The Rosary Monument|
Thereafter the crowd proceeded towards Marian Spring about 300 meters away with the recitation of the Holy Rosary led by Sr. Appollonia fsic. This is where the statue of Blessed Mother Mary was installed some 5 months ago, surrounded by lush greenery similar to that of a mini garden and conducive for those who want to perform contemplative meditation. After the blessing and inauguration of this landmark, the prelate, priests, religious and members of the Catholic Women's Apostolate planted some ornamental trees and flowers.
From there, the crowd was directed by the Mount Marian Development Committee to Marian Dam, another 300 meters away. This is where the committee accidentally came across a historic linked water embankment which they believed was constructed during the Chartered Company era. The committee named this newly discovered dam as Mill Hill Dam in honour of the Mill Hill Mission in St. Mary's Cathedral. The discovery of the dam along the Marian Corridor would eventually be one of the significant landmarks, a historic landscape. The blessing of this area was solemnized by the rector himself and everyone took the opportunity to explore this magnificent 25 feet high by 50 feet wide concrete water embankment.
The subsequent event of the day, the 5th blessing and ground breaking was the proposed first point of the station of the cross near the parish office. Once constructed the 14 Stations of the Cross pathway will be connected to that of the Marian corridor pathway with a total distance of probably some 1.5 – 2 km.
The prelate concluded, “A symbol of religious devotion that together we have erected here and we are going to bless, expressed our faith in various ways. It serves to bring to mind our Lord’s great love for us and to increase our confidence in the power of the Holy Spirit to help us. Blessed is your name Oh Lord, the fount of every blessing, we pray that these servants of yours as we pray this symbols of faith and devotion to Christ may help us to strive to be transformed in the likeness of your son who lives and reigns forever and ever. ”
The final event of the day was the official opening of the exhibition booths, jointly graced by Bishop Julius and Fr Thomas Makajil. The booths were set up by the various ministries of the Church, the Basic Ecclesial Communities and the outstations featuring their background, past and current activities.