Pastoral visit to Limbang 21st and 22oct 2017

Pastoral visit to Limbang Parish
on 21st and 22oct 2017
by our  Most Rev. Bishop Richard Ng

Local parish Priest - Rev. Fr. Sylvester Ding

Photography- Dennis Ng
Story compiled by Ben Chang

Limbang Parish - A Brief history.

Limbang means  "swamp". The very first church  in Limbang in the sixties, built with the great miracle of modern engineering was supported by concrete platforms, resting on the swamp . Even so, after about ten year, the church had a huge crack running down the middle aisle, the stations of the Cross on the gospel side was quite clearly lower than those on the opposite side. It looked very dangerous and thankfully before any disaster could occur, they decided to demolish it. The parish was then served by Fr Mcglory, a Mill Hill priest.

The new Limbang church was funded mostly by the Sarawak Government. Parishioners consisted of  the Chinese town people, pupils from the boarding school, the native people from the outlying hamlets who walked or came by jeep and the families from the Field Force camp.

The priest in Limbang in the early days spent much of his time traveling to the long houses of which there were more than 20. His visit had to be outside the planting and harvest time; during these times, the houses were empty of adults.

Nearest to town the Bisayah people lived in houses built on stilts, not unlike a Malays house.  They usually lived bear the road. The Ibans lived along the river banks in the traditional longhouse.

The main occupation was farming. The people especially the Ibans clung to the traditional methods. They practiced what was known as shifting cultivation; this meant every year saw a new search, and one further away from home, for new land.

A typical visit would go as follows. The priest reached the house in the late afternoon. slowly the people would start drifting in from their farming, bone- weary after long hours in the forest, clearing the ground with primitive tools; or the back breaking task of tending or searching for vegetables in the jungle. Cooking took a long time over a slow fire. The meal would consist of rice and some jungle vegetables and sometimes fishes from the river. The people ate sparsely and would share what they had. Usually by about 10 pm, the people were ready for confession.

Mass was always said on the verandah. Afterwards there would be discussions to make arrangements for catechism, about the next visit and sometimes marriage. Remoteness and isolation make visits quite hard to arrange but the priest tried his best to be with the people in their time of need, like a grave illness or death.

With so much traveling to be done, the Limbang Priest found himself away from the mission quite a lot. The priest's house was a traditional simple wooden structure of four rooms, raised on stilts and at one time, the people met there for Mass until the new church was built.

Another part of the Limbang parish mission was reached by speedboard traveling out into Brunei Bay and onwards to Lawas. For some years Lawas had been looked after by Fr Lester J. Lonergan, an American Mill Hill Missionary. After his ten years' of service were complete he had to leave Malaysia and his charge reverted to Limbang.

Lawas had a small but loyal congregation. Lawas was ever more isolated and  smaller than Limbang with only a few Chinese families lived. There was once many  filipino workers working on the timber industry.  The Filipinos always wanted  Mass and the sacraments.  Mass was usually said in a shophouse and the priest stayed overnight in the rest house.

Today the legacy and journey continues.....
On Saturday 21st October 2017 at Limbang Parish, Right Reverend Bishop Richard Ng blessed and declared completion of SK St Edmund School new block.

The project 8 classrooms new block started construction in 2015 and was abandoned after piling work.  Upon intervention and initiative of Right Reverend Bishop Richard Ng, construction work resumed on 14th January 2017.  The blessing of the completion new block 8 classrooms was attended by teachers, parents, students, St Edmund Church members and parishioners.

With the completion of SK St Edmund new block, the school is able to run one session as of 2018 bringing cheers and relief to teachers, students and parents.  There is more facilities for school activities and more classrooms for Catechism classes and other church activities.

On Sunday 22nd October 2017, Right Reverend Bishop Richard Ng administered Sacrament of Confirmation to 60 candidates during mass at St Edmund Church, Limbang.

New Sop Eff 01May2022 ... Watch here.

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