Archbishop John (second right), Fr Nicholas (second left), Fr Ned (right) and Fr Max, during the blessing of the shrine

By Clarence Dol

Dec 20 2021

RANAU – Not only that Mary is the image of the invisible God, but she is also the image and the model of the Church. 

Reflecting on this as he blessed Our Lady of Lourdes, Death March Shrine in St Peter Claver Parish here on Dec 16, Archbishop of the Kota Kinabalu Archdiocese, Archbishop John Wong said, Mary is an example as the Church joyously contemplates all of its desire and hope, which is to be holy. 

“The Church recognizes in Mary the model of par and the practice it must follow to be in complete union with Christ, as a spouse of Christ. The Church raises its eyes to Mary, the example to emulate in carrying out the work of the apostolate, we should try to take part in this service with the greatest intensity and reverenced devotion,” he said.

He said all knows who Mary is, especially to the Church, and the Church has given her a lot of titles. 

“Why does Mary have those titles? What did Mary do in order to win God’s favour? 

“Two virtues, obedience and humility. Obedience and humility to accept this impossible plan of God to bear a Son through the Holy Spirit without relation to man. This is something that has never happened before and never would happen again,” he said.

According to the Archbishop, in order to strengthen one’s faith in the earthly journey, as well as to resist all the temptations in life, one needs the theological virtues of faith, hope and love through the resurrection of Christ from the dead. But apart from that, he or she should also ask for two other virtues, namely obedience and humility.

Quoting St Teresa, he said that humility is the mother of all virtues because without humility, one would not believe in God, hope in God and love God; instead one would believe in oneself, hope in oneself and love oneself.

“Today, in coming together to witness the blessing of the Shrine of Our Lady of Lourdes, we ask our Mother to intercede so that these two virtues will be present in our lives, and that our lives will be a constant praise to the name of the Lord forever,” he said.

Full view of the new shrine

The prelate stated that people coming here, not only to contemplate the beauty of the newly built Shrine, but also to pray to Mary, asking her to intercede for all, especially for the dead souls, just like what Christians do very often, asking the saints to pray and intercede for them. 

“Concerning this, we need to look at one aspect of Mary’s personality, which is, she ponders the Word of God. Allowing the Word of God to guide her life, until the Word of God becomes flesh in her. May we also do that, to allow the Word of God to implant in our hearts, and so move us to do the will of God,” he said.

During the event, the Archbishop also blessed all parishioners gathered here, especially those who have one way or the other, contributed to the building of the Shrine.

On that note, he also challenged everybody to ask themselves what can they contribute in order to build the Kingdom of God, not only in Ranau or the Archdiocese of Kota Kinabalu, but wherever they go.

Also held earlier that day, the blessing of St Francis of Asisi in Kg Kokob Ranau by the Archbishop

Earlier the same day, he also took the opportunity to be with the outstation community of St Bede Chapel in Kg Kokob, and blessed the newly completed St Francis of Assisi statue there. Kg Kokob is located five kilometres away from Ranau town.

Also present were St Peter Claver Ranau parish priest, Fr Nicholas Stephen, assistant priests Fr Maxmilliano Hontor and Fr Ned Columba Moujing, Parish Pastoral Council chairman Verus Pinol, among others.