The Pastoral visit to Long San Parish Friday 13th-15th October 2017

The Pastoral visit to Long San Parish
Friday 13th-15th  October 2017
Rt Rev Bishop Richard Ng
Diocese of Miri

Photography - Alvin Wong and Dennis Ng
Story compiled by - Ben Chang

A three days missionary trip to Long San by Our Most Rev.  Bishop Richard Ng and his team members. Braving the elements against all odds, recording life, the entire journey from Miri to Long Tebanyi, Long Semiyang, Long San and return registered 605 km travel by 4-wheel drive.

The Kenyah is one of the largest ethnic group in Ulu Baram, Sarawak. Today although many Kenya people have embraced modernization and live in urban settings, a substantial number of them can be found in tradition home grounds along Sarawak rivers. The traditional dwelling of the Kenyah people is the long house, which is usually occupied by a family and their descendants.

Today, Christianity is the predominant religion of Kenyah people, with the majority belonging to the Roman Catholic faith. In the Baram watershed in the 1970s, great changes occurred. The most significant was the conversion to Christianity.  Here as elsewhere conversion is a mysterious process.

During the Brooke Raj era,  longhouse people in the Baram region show no interest in conversion. It is true that missionary activity was modest, in accordance with Charles Brooke's policy of discouraging it. Even Father Jensen, based in Marudi in 1907 made many trips upriver, despite the slow pace of travel before outboard motors.

A particular focus of his attention was the Kenyah Leader Tama Bulan Wan who had played a major part in helping established Brooke control. But Tama Bulan explained to Jensen that the ancestor would be angry if they were not honored as they always had been and that would bring disaster to the community.

Then in 1947, there was a sudden change of heart among the people in the upper Baram. They sent requests down river for a missionary to come and convert them to Adat Sebayang, as they called it - the Pray Way.
Temonggong Oyang Lawai Jau, grand nephew of Tama Bulan  wanted the  Upriver People to share the same religion.

The missionaries heard the call and hastened upriver to finally complete their life's work. From indigenous accounts, it is clear that the Upriver people understood little of Christianity.  To this day, Roman Catholic communities are the ones that Jensen reached first during the hectic race upriver and vice versa.

“In Long San it was the Temenggong (chief) himself who called a meeting of all the families to suggest that they should become Christian. He had met many Australians after the Japanese occupation of Borneo and was greatly impressed by them.

In the 1970s led by the late Bishop AD Galvin , the Assocation of Christian and modernity was neatly illustrated by the large RC mission station established on land given by the Temonggong adjacent to his long house in long San. The resources of the Church provided for the important of the necessary building materials such as concrete and roofing, The rainforest provide timber, cut squared by work parties from all the Kenyah communities in the upper Baram. Long San became a hive of activity, an upriver metropolis of a new Kind. A solid church was built designed to last for generations. School building, a dispensary and accommodation for staff of priests, nuns and lay brothers. The mission was served by regular transportation carrying both freight and passengers.

Today The Journey continue.....

The Pastoral visit to Long San Parish on Friday 13th October 2017 by Right Reverend Bishop Richard Ng reached out to two Catholic Kenyah longhouses at 24 doors Long Tebanyi, Tinjar, Baram and 65 doors Long Semiyang, Ulu, Baram.

The journey began by road 174.7km one way Miri to Kem Kilo 10 Baram Central Base enroute to Long Tebanyi also known as Long Sebatang where Right Reverend Bishop Richard Ng and Parish priest Fr. Joseph Ding celebrated sunset mass at Gereja St Stefanus, Long Tebanyi.  Around 130 parishioners participated in the sunset mass followed by welcome dinner and entertainment hosted by the longhouse community.  Gereja St Stefanus started construction on 15th June 2006 and the chapel was blessed by Long San parish priest Fr. Joseph Ding on 26th December 2014.

The next day Saturday 14th October 2017, Right Reverend Bishop blessed the Kampung land, genset house and the new extension Long Tebanyi before leaving for an agriculture fish ponds near river bank Sungei Kelameh where Right Reverend Bishop blessed the new homestay owned by a local parishioner running the agriculture project.

It took 2 hours 20 mins challenging off road drive from Long San to Long Semiyang through gravel, muddy, slippery, dusty roads and winding steep hills.  Long Semiyang is one of the first Longhouse to have their own mini hydro-electric power generation system supplying the 65 doors longhouse, the church and the other utilities. Right Reverend Bishop Richard Ng and Fr. Joseph Ding celebrated sunset mass at Gereja St Agnes, Kampung Long Semiyang, Ulu, Baram.  Last April, 13 longhouses in Long San Parish joined tbe Easter Celebration at Gereja St Agnes built to accomodate 300+ capacity.

On Sunday 15th October 2017, Right Reverend Bishop Richard Ng administered Sacrament of Confirmation to 40 parishioners at Gereja St Paul, Long San. The church designed for 600 capacity was in 1994 and was completed in 1997 established by one of the pioneers Mill Hill Fr. Albert Jacobse.

13th October - Long Tebanyi and St Stefanus Chapel

14th October 2017
A short visit to the new extension of Long Tebanyi land, genset house and blessing of homestay accommodation near an agriculture fish ponds near river bank at Sungei Kelameh.

14th october - From Long Tebanyi to Long Semiyang and Mass at St Agnes.

15th October - Final leg of Journey at Long San and St Paul's Chapel

New Sop Eff 01May2022 ... Watch here.

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