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SANDAKAN – On 20 Apr 2014, about 1,200 Catholic lay faithful residing within the vicinity of St Paul’s Church Ulu Dusun have every reason to celebrate Easter with joy and happiness. For, on that day they also witnessed the solemn blessing and official opening of St Paul’s Multi-Purpose Hall. The newly constructed hall is another land mark for St Paul’s Church which is a sub-parish of St Mary’s Cathedral, located some 50km away from town. It is situated beside the Church itself, up on a hill with magnificent view of the surrounding palm oil plantations.
The hall measures 30 ft by 80 ft, and accommodates two badminton courts, and another extension of 10 ft by 30 ft for an elevated stage and a basement room for meeting cum changing. It has a seating capacity of some 500 people.
The event commenced with the rite of blessing by Bishop Julius Gitom, assisted by Fr Thomas Makajil, the rector of St Mary’s Cathedral Sandakan. The official opening ceremony was graced by Bishop Julius with ribbon cutting followed by three beatings of the gong. Bishop Julius, accompanied by Fr Thomas, released the hot-air tanglungs to mark the occasion.
The guests of honour, invited guests and parishioners then adjourned to the hall for a 50-table subscribed dinner. Among the guests of honour were Fr Phillip Muji and Fr Sunny Chung, religious sisters from the FSIC and RGS, Chairmen of Parish Pastoral Council/Committee of the Cathedral, St Paul of Ulu Dusun and Our Lady of Fatima, Beluran and the Chairman of the Cathedral Parish Finance and Property Committee.
In the opening remark, the Chairman of the Building Committee, Michael Ibau shared that the local Catholic community had waited some 14 years for their very own Church’s hall which could only be realized this year. He acknowledged Fr Thomas for his fervent support, guidance and persistence that had made their dream possible.
The cost of the building alone amounted to some RM350,000 of which RM250,000 was allocated by St Mary’s Cathedral and the balance of RM100,000 was funded by John Tan, the contractor. According to Tan, there is a need of more funds to complete Phase 2 which include a by-pass road to the hall, toilets, concrete parking space at the back portion of the hall and a proper drainage system. Michael Ibau shared that for a start the proceeds from the subscribed dinner would go towards the 2nd Phase fund. He was grateful that some parishioners have made pledges towards the cause.
In his turn, Fr Thomas conveyed his appreciation for the support and commitment of all parties towards realizing the aspiration of the local community. On a lighter note, he quipped that the hall is not only beautiful but also the biggest in the Cathedral parish. He hoped that the Multi-Purpose hall is not only seen as a centre for physical activities but also serve as a centre for spiritual and community development.
In between courses of the dinner, guests and attendees were entertained to a host of activities. The local youth performed two community dances; ‘Igal-Igal’, a traditional dance of the Bajau community and ‘Sayau Labuk’, another traditional dance of the Labuk-Sugut Dusun community.
The priests and the religious sisters took to the stage to serenade some favourites to the delight of the audience. John Tan, the contractor also presented an oldie. All songs were sponsored and the proceeds went to the coffer of the 2nd Phase fund.
The event wrapped up with presentation of prizes to lucky draw winners followed by Fr Sunny Chung leading the closing prayer. – Dalius LL, DOSPO