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Bidding farewell to a dear friend and co-worker in God’s vineyard

Farewell, dear friend.
“By the end of this year, we would be completing the highest education for us at St Michael Penampang; so, where shall we go next?” asked my friend, Stephen Mingkong back in 1954.

I answered, “Father (our school principal, a priest), our teacher, advised that whoever is unable to further study at tertiary level will have to look for
a job. However, we should choose a job that we like and a job that would provide support to others.”

“What kind of job do you think would that be?” Stephen further asked me.
And I replied, “Let’s become teachers where we can also support our
generations in ‘body, spirit and soul’. Stephen said, “That’s right! I absolutely agree with your opinion.”

Catechist Stephen Mingkong and I were close friends who went to school
and to Church together, and did the services at the Church as told by Father
through our school years.

After our school years were over in 1954, we dutifully did our responsibilities – helping our families with the harvesting.

A month passed the following year, we met again at St Michael Penampang,
no longer as students but as teachers: ready to impart our knowledge to the next generation. We were very delighted that we met up again, and that our
vision was coming to light –getting to where we worked and most importantly, why we were working there.

We taught at the school (St Michael Primary School) and became the committee who oversaw the various school associations/ committees in the school.

Stephen Mingkong (centre) and Peter Lidadun (2nd frm right) performing Extraordinary Communion Ministers duty

Serving the Church and through the Church, including visiting the
villagers to spread the Good News of the Lord, were part and parcel of our
lives. Involvement in events in our respective villages during our pastimes was our cup of tea. Craving for more, we decided to delve more into the works of Catechists and hence, we obtained a Diploma in Teaching of Christian Religious Knowledge.

Never did we complain of being tired of accomplishing the works, services and whatever was necessary for us to do.

Stephen and I always made it a point that our services in doing the works
for God must be done well with zeal, enthusiasm and perseverance. There
were many of our friends who were also working in the teaching profession and Church – working for our generation – and for the benefits of the body, spirit and soul. Who shall continue all these?

The journey of faith continued till we both reached 80-years. That same zeal and zest never faltered as we kept in our very heart the belief that
‘Once a teacher, always a teacher.’

In his 83 years of a beautiful Christ-centred life, on 8 March 2019, at 4.00 pm, Catechist Stephen Mingkong completed his journey of faith in this temporal place. He left for a new beginning of an eternal life, in Paradise. “Farewell, dear friend, Catechist Stephen Mingkong. Till we meet again.”

To all of us who are still walking this earth, let us treasure the God-given
time to come forward and serve with all our heart, mind and soul in doing all the works that will praise,honour and glorify God forever! – Catechist Peter Lidadun

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