PENAMPANG – Over 1000 parishioners attended the rededication of Penampang church on 18 Aug 2017.
Saint Michael had been closed for renovation since March this year and Masses had been celebrated at the parish hall.
Archbishop John Wong officiated the rite of dedication. Joining him at the altar were Msgr Primus Jouil, Fathers Wilfred Atin (pastor), Fundes Motiung (past pastor), Wiandigool Runsab (asst pastor), Mattheus Luta, Raymond Edward, Abel Madisang, Rayner Bisius, and Max Hontor.
The rite began with the blessing of water at the new baptismal font at the foot of the Our Lady of Perpetual Help Altar.
The prelate then went around the whole building blessing it with holy water including the cemetery compound where the tombstones of former state minister Datuk Peter Mojuntin and Rev Anthony Paulmichl mhm were laid (left side of church building) which had been turned into a seating area for 300 people. He also went up to bless the mezzanine.
The tombs were relocated to the cemetery behind the church. Mojuntin was one of the newly-formed Berjaya Cabinet members who were killed in the Nomad crash on 6 June 1976. Fr Paulmichl died on 20 June 1945 enroute the death march to Sapong Tenom with Msgr August Wachter and other Mill Hill Missionaries and laymen rounded up by the Japanese.
The altar and tabernacle were blessed before Presentation of the Gifts.
In his speech, Ernest Mojikon, parish finance and property council chairman, said the renovations took about six months to complete. The church used to accommodate 800 parishioners but now it has 1,300-seating capacity.
The major face-lift involved all the interiors such as window glasses, altar, sound system, tiles, wall paintings while the pews were repainted.
The total cost of the renovation work was around RM332,852.00 with funds from both the Federal and State Governments.
Businessman Datuk John Lim Pang Seng donated 10 units of air-conditioners while Gerald Chin donated two sets of chandelier lights (near the main entrance). The three-dimension painting of the Last Supper backdrop was done by Samson Gadakui of Kg Babagon.
In turn, Fr Motiung who initiated the project explained the conceptual framework of the ceiling paintings and the altar design of four loaves and two fish.
The church was built in the 1930s by Msgr August Wachter with stones collected from the Dambai River by the villagers headed by Bartholomew Sinsua using buffaloes. It survived World War II. No other church was built the same way except St Michael Sandakan which also survived the war.
Fr Atin, in his speech, encouraged the parishioners to build up their parish community which is more important than the material building itself however beautiful it may be architecturally.
Abp Wong, too, exhorted the faithful to build themselves up through having large families, praying for priestly and religious vocations, and having a strong eucharistic life.
After Mass all adjourned to the parish hall for a late dinner fellowship.