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KIULU – Since the announcement of the establishment of St Joseph Kiulu as a parish in Oct 2014, plans were afoot to inaugurate the new parish on the feast day of its patron, St Joseph, spouse of the Blessed Virgin Mary on March 19.
Archbishop John Wong presided at the Inaugural Mass, joined by 21 priests from the Archdiocese, including Fr Joseph Gapitang from Keningau Diocese. Fr Gapitang was one of the pioneering priests serving the people in Kiulu back in the 80’s.
Some 1000 parishoners witnessed the celebration, coming from Kiulu itself, Sacred Heart Cathedral, Tuaran, Bundu Tuhan and Ranau, a fact that the Archbishop used to drive home to the faithful that they are not journeying alone in their new parish.
In his homily, Archbishop Wong quoted from the Gospel of St Matthew “When Joseph woke up, he did what the angel of the Lord had commanded him” and taking the cue from the Word of God, he exhorted the faithful to see St Joseph as a faithful person always centred on Christ, and bearing a humble character.
St Joseph Parish could draw exceeding hope from the care and patronage of St Joseph as the special patron of their parish. The prelate encouraged them to practise the saint’s virtues of humility, sincerity, faithfulness and being centred on Christ in regards to serving God and His people.
The history of the mission in Kiulu began when Fr Terpstra visited the area in 1958. Fr Terpstra, from the Netherlands, was at that time serving the Tuaran parish, in which Kiulu was under the supervision of that parish. The area was divided into 4 zones; Kiulu, Lokub, Pukak, and Mangkaladom. Seeing the maturity and growth of their Christian faith and way of living, the Kota Kinabalu Archdiocese agreed last year to create Kiulu as a new parish.
Up till 2013, St Joseph’s Church had hosted three priestly ordinations for priests hailing from Kiulu; Fr Marcellinus Pongking from Kg Raganan, Fr Jasery Gabuk from Kg Kotunuan, and Fr Isidore Gilbert from Kg Rumindako, while Fr Wiandigool Runsab was ordained in the Sacred Heart Cathedral. Besides the priestly ordinations, several final professions of the Religious Sisters also originated from Kiulu.
In his speech after the Mass, Archbishop Wong congratulated the Kiulu faithful on their new status and went on to highlight that this new status brings with it a heavy responsibility. “As parishioners, not only you need to ensure that your faith flourishes but you need to perform your role in the mission of the church: which is to bring the good news to those who has no knowledge of Christ,” said the prelate.
Continuing, he underlined that “parishioners also need to form their faith through the developing of the church infrastructures such as the church building, chapels, parish hall, office, study rooms, retreat and seminar places and many more.”
“In the process of building up, I hope that you are united in mind and in spirit, always ready to cooperate with the priests, religious and catechists in every planning and implementation of your programmes.”
He asserted that they ought to learn from St Joseph and take him as an example in their personal and communal lives. “He was the ‘silent’ man, about him Sacred Scripture has little to say other than that he was a just man but he was influential in the earthly life of Jesus Christ.”
Archbishop Wong reminded the people that the responsibility must be carried together humbly as a community, and expressed his confidence in Fr Bruno Yasun, the first parish priest for St Joseph, Fr Daniel Jomilong as assistant priest, the religious sisters, existing catechists and the newly formed parish pastoral council (PPC).
Fr Bruno expressed his gratitude to all contributors and called them on for their continuous support for the effective implementation of pastoral works in the parish, for the necessary expansion of the church building, as well as the construction of a permanent rectory.
During Mass, the PPC, led by Fr Bruno and Fr Daniel, pledged their loyalty and commitment to serve the church under the leadership of Archbishop John Wong.
The Mass concluded with Archbishop Wong launching the new parish as he parted the curtain of the plaque which bears the full name of the parish, St Joseph, Spouse of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Kiulu.
All adjourned to the parish hall for a fitting end to the celebration where traditional food was served, ceremonious cake cutting observed, as well as the evening’s program of entertainment by PPC members and the youths. Another highlight of the evening was the raffles draw, the proceeds of which would go towards the funding of the youths’ participation in the Sabah Youth Day to be held in Tawau in 2016. – Linda Edward