Daily Archives:November 7th, 2017

Limbanak transforms ancient graveyard with columbarium

The group poses in front of the columbarium after the blessing rite by Abp John Wong, 4 Oct 2017.

LIMBANAK – St Aloysius here transformed its ancient graveyard with a columbarium.

Community leaders and parishioners turned up to witness the blessing of the columbarium by Archbishop John Wong on 4 Oct 2017 at the Limbanak cemetery.

The idea of a columbarium was mooted when space for tombs became critical, leaving only a small patch of steep hill at the roadside. The pastoral, finance and property committee sought advice from the archbishop and the late pastor Father Fundes Motiung, and proposed to build a columbarium.  It was accepted and completed in September 2017.

The columbarium can accommodate 136 units for bones that could be exhumed from 400 old graves and 128 units for ashes. The cost of these units ranges from RM1,000 to RM1,200.

The acquisition of the present grounds for use as a cemetery dates back to the time of Father August Watcher in 1910 when he built a school on a small hill overlooking Kampung Limbanak.

The parcel of land on which the school and the church stand today was bought by Msgr Wachter from Madam Molini Tongginal and Motiung Matalang. In recent years the adjoining land from Peter Jaua and Johnson Sua were also purchased by the Archdiocese of Kota Kinabalu.

The school cum church was a one-classroom shed with roof made of sago palm leaves and was partially walled with hand sawn planks sourced from the neighbouring hills. The shed was 120 feet long and 50 feet wide and its floor was bare earth. The school was named after St Aloysius Gonzaga, the patron saint of youth.

Another piece of hilly land of about an acre behind the church was subsequently acquired. Villagers seldom ventured into this jungle, not because of the thick foliage therein but because of the existence of several ancient graves with claims of strange sightings.

Over the years the jungle was cleared and became a burial ground. The cemetery became popular and terraces were made in the late 1970s with the intention to maximise utilization of the land. Within a span of 20 years, there was hardly any space left. The caretakers then, Bestan John and Benedict Puvok, declared that the cemetery was full except for the steep part of the hill.

A landslide occurred in 2014 which affected over 10 graves. The PFPC activated a cemetery committee headed by Winston Sibinil. Guided by Fr Fundes, permission from the Archdiocese of Kota Kinabalu was obtained to restore the affected graves.

The landslide prompted the church elders to consider the possibility of building concrete tombs along the steep hill. The cemetery committee worked very hard to promote burial in concrete tombs, a totally new concept in Limbanak. The initial lukewarm response was very challenging. There was literally no fund and the project suddenly appeared to be massive with no previous experience in building concrete tombs.

With prayers and moral support from Fr Fundes and the PFPC, by late 2015 the number of potential bookings indicated that the project was viable. Over 100 concrete tombs were constructed and offered to the parishioners residing around Kg Limbanak. Funds generated covered the cost of construction and the tombs were snapped up in no time.

Sibinil in his briefing said, “We have been receiving bookings for the tombs and we are planning to build more in the second phase in the same area.”  He added that in order to make way for the next phase of concrete tombs his committee plans to contact the relatives of those buried in the 30-year old graves to use the columbarium for the bones exhumed.

Also present among others to witness the transformation of an ancient graveyard to that of a friendly and graceful park were Father Wilfred Atin, pastor of St Michael’s Parish, and Luvita Koisun of the District Office Penampang.

Abp Wong commended the committee for their commitment and hard work in managing and developing the cemetery.

Fr Atin also thanked all generous donors and parishioners for supporting the cemetery and columbarium project in Limbanak. He added that being new in the Penampang parish, he hoped to be able to immerse with the people to learn more about their needs and to enable him to serve more effectively in the parish. – Blasius Binjua

Site visit reveals marked progress in Putatan church construction works

PUTATAN  – The 11 Oct 2017 site visit by Archbishop John Wong revealed a marked progress in the construction works of the new St Catherine Laboure Church here.

The prelate was accompanied by Father Wilfred Atin, pastor of St Michael Penampang.

Since the visit two months ago, the brick walls have been put up, the beam that needed to be knocked down has been done, the arches and outside columns have been completed, and the columns, beams and brickwork for the bell tower have been cast.

Due to cash constraint, architect  Tan Jun Kwang said that the works have taken a conservative and priority-based approach.

As the priority is to complete the church, works are prioritised according to needs.

Tan added that in terms of structure, all that was needed to be done was done.

The next two immediate priorities would involve the finishing of the brick and glass walls, followed by performance works involving the water gutters, the electrical and mechanical trades.

To a question raised by Abp Wong, Tan gave the assurance that the following would receive his immediate attention: the need to simplify the electrical drawings and to call for tender, and the need to study the roofing structure in order to accommodate the proposal for an uncovered ceiling.

Tan further reported that the beams and brick walls, scheduled to be up in a month’s time, necessitate the wiring works to be in place beforehand.

The architect assured his client that the cash-strapped project, which has taken a long period to reach to the present stage, would be completed regardless of cash difficulty.

Present at the site meeting were Datuk Stephen Sondoh, chairman of the Steering Committee and his team.

Also present were members of Penampang Parish Finance and Property Committee: Ernest Mojikon, Hector Jintoni, Richard Jomiji and Donald Malinggang.

Abp Wong has brought in the Penampang team, led by Fr Atin, to assist the Steering Committee in coordinating the project.

“We are not here to take over, but to help,” Fr Atin told the Steering Committee and asked for communication and cooperation from all quarters. The ultimate aim was to bring to completion the long overdue project.

Matters pertaining to sourcing for donations of church pews, road access, the update on the building of a two-way bridge, and requirement of SESB would be tabled at the next steering committee meeting in October.

Sondoh also told those present that the current fund they have in hand is roughly a million to stretch over the necessary works. – CS

Penampang confirmands undeterred by flash floods

A group of male confirmands pose with the concelebrants after the Mass, St Michael Penampang, 29 Sept 2017.

PENAMPANG – Penampang candidates for confirmation on their way to St Michael here for the ceremony were undeterred by flash floods on 29 Sept 2017.

The 158 candidates came from Kibabaig, Kolopis, Nampasan, Kambau, and Penampang-Dambai including St Michael Secondary School.

One hundred and three candidates had to battle the strong current at Kg Dabak which had reached almost five feet high along the lower level of the 200-metre long Jalan St Michael before going uphill to the church with the help of 4×4 motorists who responded to the situation.


Those who were stranded by the traffic snarl caused by impassable roads and did not make it were, among others, students of SMK Datuk Peter Mojuntin waiting to be transported to the church about three km distant away.  They and others received the sacrament at St Aloysius Church Limbanak on Oct 10.

Archbishop John Wong presided at the Mass, which was concelebrated with Fathers Wilfred Atin and Wiandigool Runsab.

The inclement weather did not dampen the joy of the celebration.  However, the planned  blessing of the  gigantic 15- foot statue of St Michael the Archangel had to be postponed to another date which has yet to be confirmed. – Soccom Penampang

Francis’ mercy-drenched vision

JESUIT Father Antonio Spadaro, editor of La Civiltà Cattolica recently gave a talk at the University of Notre Dame titled “The Diplomacy and Geopolitics of Mercy: The World of Pope Francis.” We tend to think of mercy as a personal quality, and it is, but Spadaro sees it as a theme that also runs through the pope’s vision of politics and society.

“For Francis, mercy is not an abstract concept. It is the action of God within the life of this world: in societies, in human groups, in families and individuals,” he said. “God not only acts through the lives of individual people, but through the historical processes of peoples and nations. Even the most complex and intricate ones.”

Spadaro mentions the fact that the pope’s vision is, ultimately, the only one available to the sincere Christian: “The love typical of the Christian is not only love for the ‘neighbour,’ but also love for the ‘enemy.’ When we look at those doing evil through the eyes of pietas, then what triumphs is something that is humanly inexplicable — and perhaps also ‘scandalous.’ It is the intimate force of the Gospel of Christ: love of our enemies. This is the triumph of mercy.”

Francis recaptures the radicalness of the Gospel. He is so comfortable with the poor and the powerless because he is acquainted with God who is their champion. The poor are not confused by the image of crucified God: They grasp his closeness to them in that image. It is the powerful who should, like the centurion, quake before God’s revelation.

Spadaro spells out Francis’ mercy-drenched vision of a world in which no one and nothing is ever considered beyond hope or love, but as the lived reality to which we Christians are called by our baptism. – michael sean winters, ncronline.org, 13.10.2017

New book reveals details of John Paul I’s death

ROME – A new book discloses details about the death of Pope John Paul I – who died in 1978 after just 33 days in office – and conclusive evidence that his death was the result of a heart attack, as previously thought, the CNA/EWTN News posted on its news portal on 6 Nov 2017.

In the book, called “Papa Luciani: Chronicle of a Death,” Vatican journalist Stefania Falasca presents thoroughly-researched evidence, including previously undisclosed medical reports, witness testimonies and Vatican documents, confirming original reports that the late pontiff died of a heart attack.

Albino Luciani, who was born on 17 Oct 1912 in Italy’s northern Veneto region, was elected Bishop of Rome at the age of 65. He took the name Pope John Paul to honour both of his immediate predecessors, St John XXIII and Bl Paul VI.

His term as pope was short-lived, however, as he died suddenly on 28 Sept 1978, after only 33 days in office. It has been presumed his death was caused by a heart attack, but a lack of published evidence has allowed conspiracy theories to surface, including insinuations of murder.

The book will be released Nov 7, which is said to coincide with the announcement that John Paul I’s cause for sainthood is moving forward. According to Vatican journalist Andrea Tornielli, on Nov 7 or 8 the Vatican may announce Pope Francis’ approval of the “heroic virtue” of Albino Luciani, declaring him “venerable.”

This then opens the path for his beatification, which requires the approval of a miracle attributed to his intercession. Currently, the Vatican is examining two alleged miracles from the late Pope’s intercession.

In her book, Falasca, who also serves as vice-postulator of Luciani’s cause for sainthood, outlines evidence regarding John Paul I’s death, including how the evening before his death he suffered a severe pain in his chest for about five minutes, a symptom of a heart problem.

It occurred while sitting and praying vespers in the chapel with his Irish secretary, Msgr John Magee, before dinner. The pope rejected the suggestion to call for a doctor and the pain went away without treatment. His doctor, Renato Buzzonetti, was only informed of the event after his death.

Contrary to what was first announced by the Vatican, however, it wasn’t the pope’s secretaries who first found him the next morning, but a young sister.

When the elderly Sister Vicenza, who helped care for the pope, noticed that he had not come out of his room to take his morning coffee, she knocked on his door, opening it when he didn’t answer.

She immediately came back out in a state of shock, however, and called for the younger Sister Margherita Marin. In her sworn testimony, Sr Margherita relates that entering the room she “touched his hands, they were cold, and I saw, and was struck by the fact that his nails were a little dark.”

Secretary of State Cardinal Pietro Parolin, who is from the same region as John Paul I, contributed a preface to the book. In it he explains that while serving as Patriarch of Venice in 1975, Cardinal Luciani also suffered from a heart problem and was treated with anti-coagulants appearing to resolve it.

Sr Margherita, now 76 years old, said in her testimony that John Paul I did not seem tired or weighed down by his new responsibilities, but that she always saw him “calm, serene, full of trust, confident.”

Though his papacy was very short, requests to begin John Paul I’s beatification process followed shortly after his death and came from many parts of the world. These requests were formalized in 1990, with a document signed by 226 Brazilian bishops.

On 23 Nov 2003, he was declared a Servant of God by his immediate successor, Pope John Paul II.

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