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PENAMPANG – In conjunction with the Jubilee Year of Mercy, thirty-four members of the Kota Kinabalu Catholic Archdiocesan Centre (CAC) staff here took time out to make their pilgrimage to St Peter Kudat on 27 June 2016.
They were sent off with a rite of blessing of pilgrims on their departure by Fr Wilfred Atin, Director of the CAC, at the grotto before they left at 7:30 am. On board the bus, they sang hymns, recited the rosary and listened to the narration of the history of the Catholic Mission in Kudat. When they reached St Peter Kudat shortly before noon, they were given catechesis on the meaning and goals of the Extraordinary Year of Mercy called by Pope Francis in 2015 at the Fr de Wit Memorial Parish Hall. The Year of Mercy runs from 8 Dec 2015 through 20 Nov 2016. Four churches in the archdiocese have been designated as the Holy Doors: Sacred Heart Cathedral KK, Holy Rosary Limbabau, St Peter Kudat and St Peter Claver Ranau.
The staff as a group had made their pilgrimage to the cathedral sometime in April. So this pilgrimage to Kudat was their second journey together. After the catechesis, Fr Jack Sigam, assistant parish priest, celebrated the Eucharist with them after the rite of entrance through the Holy Door. They then gathered for a fellowship meal at the hall before they went up Bukit Maria, pausing at each Station of the Way of the Cross, and ending at the Marian grotto. At the end of the trip each pilgrim received a certificate for the completion of their pilgrimage. Before leaving Kudat the pilgrims passed by the Church of Our Lady Immaculate Taipa built by Fr Van Hasselt in 1973.
Since the start of the opening of the Holy Door, the parish has seen close to 2,000 pilgrims from across the three arch/dioceses of Kota Kinabalu, Keningau and Sandakan.
Kudat lies on the northern tip of Borneo Island, 190 km north of Kota Kinabalu. It serves as the administrative center for the Kudat division which includes the towns in Kudat—Pitas, Kota Marudu, as well as some offshore islands. Kudat is inhabited mainly by the Rungus ethnic people—a sub-group of the indigenous Kadazan native.
The town was founded by AH Everett of the British North Borneo Company on 7 December 1881 to be the first capital of British North Borneo due to its strategic geographic location. Kudat is famous for its Rungus longhouses, traditional gong-making villages, and the Tanjung Simpang Mengayau—the northernmost point on the island of Borneo, better known as the Tip of Borneo.
The Catholic Mission started around 1900 as an outstation of Sandakan. The first baptisms were recorded in 1920 by Fr Stotter. Fr Francis Sint was the first resident priest, assisted by Fr McCarthy, in 1931. Under the tenure of Fr Thomas Sham (1950-1963), he was able to buy the 11-acre site at Tanjung Kapor where the church, schools, rectory, convent, teachers’ quarters, and Bukit Maria (grotto and way of the Cross) are presently located.