PENAMPANG – In the midst of renovation, St Michael Parish here exhumed the remains of the late Datuk Peter Mojuntin for reburial at its cemetery behind the church building on 19 Dec 2016.
The remains of the deceased had been buried outside at the southern wing of the church beside those of Father Paulmichl.
A prominent Catholic politician, Mojuntin was born on 10 Oct 1939 at Kg Hungab Penampang. He was killed along with ten others in a plane crash at Sembulan on 6 June 1976, a tragedy that was never explained.
On the other hand, Father Paulmichl was one of the 13 Mill Hill Missionaries and lay workers taken by the Japanese on 20 May 1945, who died of malaria in Tenom on 20 June 1945 and was buried there while still under Japanese custody.
In December 1957, Father Wilibrord Smit brought his remians to be buried in St Michael. However, when the church workers dug his grave for his remains to be relocated on 20 Dec 2016, they found nothing but a marble slab made by Singapore Casket with just the date and place of death on it.
St Michael is the oldest church in the district of Penampang and the second oldest stone church in Sabah, after St Michael and All Angels Church in Sandakan.
The church has been undergoing renovation since 2015. The southern wing, named “Paul and Peter Square” after the two deceased buried there, was completed by Easter 2016. The two-storey priest’s house (first floor) cum parish office (ground floor) was renovated in December 2015. Similarly, the church’s roofing was done before Christmas 2015.
The belfry is relocated to the site between the parish hall and the Marian grotto. Named after Monsignor Wachter, it is scheduled to be completed before Christmas 2016. The three large bells were donated by the Wachter family in 1934. When completed, the statue of St Michael the Archangel will sit atop the belfry.
A new exit route after the grotto is currently being constructed to decongest traffic.