Archbishop Wong launches the Labuan Parish Memoir during his pastoral visit Nov 26-28, parish priest Fr Thomas Madanan in the middle

By Collins Wong

Dec 13 2021

LABUAN – The long-awaited pastoral visit, rescheduled twice during the height of COVID-19 travel restriction was finally realized on Nov 26-28 when Archbishop John Wong visited Labuan parish.

Accompanied by eleven seminarians, the Archbishop’s weekend visit was program- packed with the Sacrament of Confirmation, launching the Parish Memoir and Parish Hymn, site visit to our incomplete spiritual garden, and finally a guided tour to an array of exhibits.

During Sunset Mass on Nov 27, Labuan parishioners were treated to a rare occasion of having the Archbishop blessed the Advent wreath and lighting the first advent candle, the candle of Hope. The parish has much to be hopeful for as we await the coming of Christ and the completion of our new Church building.

The new liturgical year also marked a new beginning for 72 candidates who received the Sacrament of Confirmation after over a year of waiting during the Sunset and BM Masses. It remained a captivating yet solemn sight, seeing candidates attired in their best white, flanked by their sponsors.

Sacrament of Confirmation 

After the BM Holy Mass on Sunday, 28 Nov, the historic events took place. The sound of bell gathered the crowd for Angelus, followed by speeches. Led by the Parish Pastoral Council chairperson, Jocelyn Yeo welcomed Archbishop John Wong delivered word of thanks to all present.

Parish priest Fr Thomas Madanan emphasized on the need and importance of the father figure in the family. Reflecting on the Year of St Joseph, he appealed to all fathers to take up their role courageously and effectively. He also thanked the fathers for their contributions towards the spiritual garden, and for their supportive role in the parish.

The formality concluded with the Archbishop’s address. He thanked all parishioners especially those who have worked tirelessly to make this significant event a reality. He stressed on the need to work together in building up the Church, not just in the physical sense but also the Church as the Body of Christ. He believed that with what have been done so far, the parish can and will be able to achieve even more.

The Parish Hymn “We will serve the Lord” was launched after the speeches. Sung in parts, the hymn was melodious and harmonizing with a good sense of relevance and piety.

Archbishop Wong then launched the Parish Memoir, a colorful 163-page memoir which records parish events of celebrating our faith and maturity, as well as our journey in building the Kingdom of God. Memoirs were also autographed by the Archbishop, who then proceeded to the exhibition hall to officiate the Parish Exhibition.

Fr Thomas Madanan (left) escorted Archbishop John Wong in the exhibition hall

The theme of the exhibition, “To Remember, To Celebrate, To Become” signifies the Past, Present and Future path of this parish. The plentiful booth exhibits captured the rich history of our parish origins including our First Prefect Apostolic, Mgsr Don Carlos Cuarteron, past and present priests who served in Labuan, the establishment of Mission Schools and formation of various Apostolates and Ministries.

The second booth, “To Celebrate”, highlighted the various activities the parish undertook prior and in particular during the COVID-19 pandemic: the preparation and moving to the Multi-Purpose Hall converted to Church, clearing of the dense jungle to pave way for the spiritual garden, the demolition of the existing Church, drive-through distribution of oranges after Chinese New Year Mass, and ashes on Ash Wednesday, to name a few. Though during a more somber pandemic environment, it nevertheless manifested a living parish.

The last booth, “To Become”, served to aspire our parish what we are to become i.e. in serving the Lord, the completion of a more dignified Church and spiritual garden. Artist impression on both and a self-made replica of the tomb of Jesus were prominently exhibited. On the last display, parishioners would reflect on three soul searching questions: “Where am I in all these events? What can I do more or better for my parish? What legacy am I leaving behind?”

The melting pot of nostalgia, joy and hope fused with enthusiasm conveyed by this journey was deeply felt within the parishioners.