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KOTA KINABALU – In conjunction with the Year of Mercy, over 600 Chinese-speaking faithful took part in the first of three organised pilgrimages to local sites on 6 and 13 March 2016.
Led by Archbishop John Wong, 640 pilgrims from across the archdiocese assembled at the parish centre and made their way to the Holy Door at Sacred Heart Cathedral while chanting the Litany of the Saints on March 6. An hour earlier they attended a briefing and catechesis on the meaning of the Jubilee Year of Mercy, the Holy Door and pilgrimage by catechist Martina Voo at the parish centre.
Standing before the Holy Door, the faithful listened as the prelate proclaimed a gospel passage on one of the parables of mercy. After the reading they all knelt in silence before the Holy Door to reflect on the biblical text just proclaimed. Then the prelate invited all to pass through the Holy Door in silence. The Blessed Sacrament was exposed for adoration. The prelate again proclaimed another gospel passage and then gave a short reflection on it, linking it to the Year of Mercy. After a short period of silent adoration, the prelate led the prayers of intercession based on the corporal and spiritual works of mercy. This was followed by the recitation of the Holy Year Prayer. After the Benediction, the assembly sang the YOM theme song Misericordes sicut Pater (Be Merciful, As Your Father Is) based on John 6:36, by composer Paul Inwood.
A week later, the pilgrims re-assembled for their pilgrimage to St Patrick Membakut in the Keningau Diocese and to Holy Rosary Limbahau. Membakut is a town about 80 KM away from Kota Kinabalu and near to Beaufort. St Patrick Membakut has been designated as the Holy Door for the interior diocese opened by Bishop Cornelius Piong on Jan 22.
Parish priest Fr Paul Mikin exclaimed that it was the first time he has seen such a large number of Chinese-speaking pilgrims coming to the interior diocesan pilgrimage site. However he could not stay for the event as he had to go to an outstation for Mass.
The pilgrims gathered at the parish hall and made their way to the Holy Door while chanting the Litany of the Saints. The ceremony for the entrance and passing through the Holy Door was re-enacted with the proclamation of a different biblical text. However, Mass was celebrated instead of the adoration of the Blessed Sacrament. A collection was made for the parish. After the Mass, Abp Wong received a commemorative stole from the Parish Pastoral Council Chairman Osmund Osmin Benati.
Then the pilgrims left in 15 buses for Holy Rosary Limbahau, about 32 km from Kota Kinabalu.. The church, formerly known as St Mary, is one of the oldest churches in Sabah as it was established on Himbaau Hill in 1888 by Fr Bernard Kurz mhm (1832-1895). He served in Limbahau from 1888 until his death in 1895. The present church, built and renamed as Holy Rosary by Fr Aloysius Tung (1973-1980), sits on almost the same site as the original. Since the landslip in 2010, the parish has done a good job in beautifying the church and its environs The hill had been flattened to make way for the grotto, the canteen, and the Fr Augustine Amandus Hall. The graves of the early missionaries have been relocated to a permanent memorial site.
The pilgrims received a warm welcome from the parish priest Fr Thomas Yip. He was happy to see so many Chinese-speaking faithful visiting his Kadazan parish on this special occasion and expressed his hope to see them again.
The pilgrims had their lunch at the parish hall. After lunch they made their way to the Holy Door from the grotto while chanting the Litany of the Saints. They went through the same ceremony as in the previous two Holy Doors. This time there was exposition and adoration of the Blessed Sacrament which ended with Benediction. A collection was also made for this parish.
Aside from Sacred Heart Cathedral and Holy Rosary Limbahau, the other two Holy Doors in KK Archdiocese are St Peter Kudat and St Peter Claver Ranau; St Patrick Membakut in Keningau Diocese and St Mary’s Cathedral in Sandakan Diocese.
Plans are afoot to make a pilgrimage to St Peter Claver Ranau and St Mary Sandakan on July 6-7 and to St Peter Kudat on October 2-3.