BUNDU TUHAN – Bundu Tuhan celebrated 60 years of existence on 14 August 2016.
It was actually its 61st anniversary but the celebration was held a year later due to the earthquake on 5 June 2015 which resulted in a loss of 18 lives and damages in various infrastructure.
The parish marked the occasion with a Mass presided by Archbishop John Wong, concelebrated with Fr Michael Modoit (pastor), Fr Isidore G Gondliou (asst pastor) and Fr Giovanni Sugau CSE. Sugau’s presence was significant in that he was the first vocation from Kg Bundu Tuhan itself.
The prelate conferred the Sacrament of Confirmation on 62 candidates coming from the main parish and its outstations of Bontik, Himbaan, Kiau Nuluh, Kiau Teburi, Kinasaraban, Lobong-Lobong, Nadau, Pekan Nabalu, Simpangan, Sinulihan, Tiong Tomburung and Tomis Lama. The parish has six zones with 30 chapels/churches and a population of 13,000 faithful. This includes an Indonesian community of 400-500 members working in the vegetable farms.
In his speech after the Mass, the prelate paid tribute to the Mill Hill Missionaries who started the parish in 1955. He exhorted the community to reflect on what they would do after the celebration so that it would not remain unfruitful. He challenged the newly confirmed to imitate the 12 Apostles who went out to preach the Gospel after Pentecost. He encouraged all to face the challenges of life with the help and guidance of the Holy Spirit, of the merciful God who is always with them.
After the Mass, the prelate declared open the celebration cum parish feast day (St Pius X whose feast falls on Aug 21) by a ribbon-cutting ceremony followed by the signing on the commemorative plaque. Later, there was the usual cake-cutting at the newly constructed open-air stage below the church. The prelate also made a tour of the 26 variety stalls — food, fruits, vegetables, clothes, games and others — to meet the faithful manning them from the six zones under the parish.
Among the invited guests were Sr Martha fsic who had served the parish for around 10 years, Sr Anita James fsic, and the Daughters of St Paul who held a book mission on the occasion.
On the eve of the celebration, the prelate met with around 60 parish leaders, religious and catechists who reported on four main areas: Mission and Parish school development (Dominic Ghanie), Finance Council (Soudi Samy Andang), Catechist Association (Justin Dinsin) and Parish Pastoral Council (Joseph Akiu). He also listened to their plans to relocate the parish to a new site as the present site is becoming too congested. He advised them to get the land first before any actual planning. He observed that in the past year there were many infant and children baptisms, but he was curious to know the statistics of Catholic families as this was not reported. Overall, the prelate was happy with the progress in the parish and encouraged the lay leaders to move forward with their pastors. He said he was glad that the mini-PAX had been organised in the various zones.
Since his assignment there in 2014, Fr Modoit has brought many changes both physical and spiritual. Aside from the open air stage, there was the construction of the grotto, the repainting of the church, chapel, presbytery and retreat centre, cementing of the pathway/carpark below the church and the reconstruction of the public toilets. The faded framed paintings on the church walls were restored to their original brightness. There was also a mounted poster depicting some details on the life and papacy of St Pius X, the patron saint, on the left wall of the stairs going into the church.
In its 60 years of existence the parish has given several of its children to the service of the local Church. Among them are Fr Giovanni Sugau CSE, Bp Julius Gitom, Fr Bruno Yasun, Fr Benedict Daulis Runsab, Sr Bibianah Dunsia FSP, Sr Mary Sualeh FSP, Sr Aileen Andau FSIC, Sr Calista Saliun FSIC, Sr Juanah Saliun FSIC, Sr Caroline Duli FSIC, Sr Sylvia Imbun FSIC, Sr Anita James FSIC, Sr Julita Joseph FSIC, Sr Hilda Gundolot FSIC and Sr Jane Sandalun FSIC.