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La Salle Brother Herbertus shares on life as a religious brother

2012oct13-7s1aHow long have you been serving as a Religious Brother?

Took First Profession on 7 April 1981 and Final Profession on 14 December 1987… altogether 14 years.


Are you happy being a Religious Brother?

Definitely.  My happiest moments were living with the poor community in Kg Sonsogon Magandai and Kg Nalapak Kota Marudu in 1997-2007.  The poor taught me a lot about the ‘University of Life’ and whilst living with them, I learned to live as they lived, which was ‘from hand to mouth’.

I recalled a vivid event in the midst of such destitution when I had to ‘dress’ a wound inflicted to the foot of a child who accidentally stepped on a sharp machete at 2 am in the morning.  I had to rely on village herbal cures and successfully stopped the bleeding with 3 types of leaves and cleaning the wound with hot water with salt added in.  It was an amazing learning experience.


Name an occasion or two you keenly felt the deprivation of living with the poor.

When I had to walk the hilly by-way from 2 am in the morning and reach St Rose Convent in Kota Marudu at 9 pm the same day, and on Mar 26, 1999 when I was swept off with two others by the flooding river while attempting to return to Kota Marudu from Kg Nalapak.


What are the happy memories that you have retained living amongst the poor?

Helping them to secure a burial ground of 2 acres; sharing stories from the Old and New Testaments with them because they could not read; teaching the children mathematics, reading and writing; assisting in the clearing of ground for vegetable and fruit planting, and using traditional means to catch fish.

Recently on Feb 15, 2015, while in Kota Marudu, I happened to meet a former ‘student” from Kg Nalapak, whom I have taught how to write, read, and count in 1998.  Her name is Salamiah Kokimbun.  She would be the first native woman who has successfully completed a degree course (in International Marketing), and graduated from University Malaysia Sabah.

The 6km-long treks from St Joseph Church Kg Sungoi to Kg Nalapak and crossing the river Sungai Sungoi 12 times during the period of 1997-2007 has borne fruit:  a UMS graduate, 3 STPM and 5 SPM graduates, thanks to the FSIC Sisters, and the students themselves, who lived in St Theresa Hostel, Kota Marudu.


What are your interests?

Reading, photography, documenting in ‘My Life’s Journal’, cooking with homemade recipes, making a study on the Kadazandusun culture.

Currently, I have completed the manuscript “Bobolian dan Rinait, a novel in Dusun translation from the late Bro Phelan’s manuscript “Snail Medicine” and “Tangon-Tangon dalam bahasa Dusun”.


Favourite food?

Tom Yam Tilapia fish and “babi hutan/sinalau” with cassava leaves.


Favourite books?

Books concerning religion, politics, culture, economy and autobiographies.

Currently I am reading “The Battle for God’, ‘The Case for God’, ‘The Great Transformation:  The beginning of our Religious Traditions’ all written by Karen Armstrong, and ‘Karpal Singh – The Tiger of Jelutong’ by Tim Donoghue.


What is your hope?

We focus on Matthew 28:5, 20 “There is no need for you to be afraid … I am with you always; yes, to the end of time.”  However, I fear that what Jesus said would change to “I am afraid I am no longer with you in Sabah in 2063 when Malaysia is 100 years old as a nation.”  At the same time “we may have to unlearn a great deal about religion before we can move on to new insight.  It is not easy to talk what we call – God!”

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