Fr Thomas Madanan blessed the garden and named it “Garden of St Joseph” on 19 March 2022 

By the Bapa-bapa Group CBSL

March 25 2022

PARISH Pastoral Council (PPC) of Labuan discerned that, while the construction of the more dignified Church remains the priority, there is a real need to ensure that our communal life is sufficiently addressed, namely, to have a parish canteen.

Hence, in July 2020, given the perceived prolonged suspension/interruption of gatherings in Church, especially the Holy Eucharist and faith formation in Sunday School due to the pandemic, the PPC has decided to renovate our perforated worker’s house into a decent parish canteen.

The canteen will serve as a venue for parishioners to enhance Christian living. Looking at it as a whole came the idea of constructing a spiritual garden to provide an environment for a more formative interaction or even some sort of hermitage, a place where one can find peace and solace.

The aspiration of such a garden can also provide a refuge from the urban sprawl, finding God in nature and admiring His wondrous creation.

The tireless effort of parishioners spearheaded by the Bapa-bapa group has transformed an unkempt, water logged and mosquito infested jungle into a Spiritual Garden.

The garden consists a canteen, tomb of our Jesus, 19 tread rock stairway, a pond and a life size statue of St Joseph on an approximate 1.3 acre of undulating land.

The location of these structures compliments the natural terrain of the area. To add foliage and colour, a combination of plants, flowers, fruit trees and a vegetable plot are planted.

The man-made tomb of Jesus expresses a hope, the hope that does not disappoint because it is the gift of the spirit of life reminding us of our immortality and giving us the assurance of life everlasting with God.

The man-made tomb

It is also to mark the looking forward to the 2000th anniversary of redemption/salvation of humanity in 2033 “…and if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is without substance, and so is your faith” (1 Cor 15:14).

As death is the only certain thing in life, we look towards St Joseph to help us obtain grace for a happy death.

On 19 March 2022 after the Eucharistic Celebration on the Solemnity of St Joseph, husband of the Blessed Virgin Mary, parish priest of Church of the Blessed Sacrament, Fr Thomas Madanan blessed the garden and named it “Garden of St Joseph”, our humble offering to our Spiritual Father on his feast day.

Despite a light drizzle, parishioners gathered and participated in the event. In his homily, the rector reiterated on the timely need to look towards St Joseph for protection and guide.

Looking at the world today and also within the Church, Fr Thomas underscored, “We must call on St Joseph to lead us as he led the Holy Family to safety.”

He added, the father’s absence syndrome is a result of the many broken families that we hear of.

“The men of the family must take up the father’s responsibility more seriously as St Joseph did. He never failed his responsibility as a father,” stressed Fr Thomas.

He hoped that this Garden of St Joseph will serve as a confluence for interactive formation in a relax atmosphere.

Chairman of the Bapa-bapa group, James Simon thanked all who have toiled to make this a reality and call on more bapa-bapa to come forward to lend a hand as there are still much work to be done.

This DIY project is remarkable in manifesting the makeover capabilities of our parishioners. It reveals their many hidden talents amidst exhibiting a sense of belonging and comradeship.

St Joseph statue

While waiting for nature to take its course (plants and grass to mature), the immediate task remains, which is, the scheduled upkeep of lawn and plants.

Temporary wooden crosses are erected for the outdoor Stations of the Cross during this Lent. The 14th station ends at the “Tomb of Jesus”. The tomb serves as a constant reminder of our mortality and the hope it brings. “Unless there is a Good Friday in our lives, there will never be an Easter Sunday.” (Ven. Fulton Sheen)

Much remains to be done but the ideas are in hand to further improve the garden making it a scenic and Godly place.

In his concluding remarks, our parish priest urged everyone to remain steadfast in our devotion to St Joseph. “Yes, though the Year of St Joseph has ended, but for us here in the parish of Labuan, his era has just begun – Just Getting Started! May St Joseph, the vicar of the Holy Spirit, lead this parish, making it a living history where the past is remembered, the present well celebrated and a future to hope for,” said Fr Thomas.

The historical event concluded with a parish composed hymn on St Joseph entitled “St Joseph, the Most Just”.