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May 2002

Dear Confreres,

Greetings from the R.C. Mission (St. Bernard's) Dalat (Sarawak).

We have just regained our strength from the hectic Lenten-Easter celebrations. The participation was generally good. The highlights of course was Easter Vigil when 75 new converts were formally accepted into the church through being baptized, confirmed and receiving the Eucharist. They were preparing themselves for this night with one full year of catechetical formation (RCIA). An agape meal was then served to all who attended the celebration.

The Marian month of May was launched on the first day with a living rosary celebration. People carrying colored lanterns composed the beads of the rosary. In between decades were finely dressed girls with beautiful fresh flowers which they offered before the icon of our Mother of Perpetual Help at the side altar. The Eucharist  was followed by a procession across the church towards the grotto of our Lady (by the river). Flowers, lighted and prayers were offered there, after which anniversary cake & other "wa kanen" & drinks were shared by everybody. Of course, no better way to celebrate the first of May than with a heavy downpour before the affair! Drizzles continued to bless the rest of the day.

We just finished conducting house-to-house visitations in Kampung Medong (some 10 km away). We visited 200 houses and met 250 families. The attendance of the daily Eucharist celebrated there remarkably increased. There were at least 100  communion every day for a week. We hope to cover more areas through home visits. There were very interesting discoveries we have made that help us to better understand the people, their culture, hopes  and aspirations. 

More to come later.

Fr. Romeo Obach, CSsR

August 2002

Dear Gerry & Confreres,

Kamusta from the ‘‘church by the river’’ St. Alphonsus day was celebrated with visitors from Mukah parish council and some Franciscan sisters from Mukah also. Willy Ngongopala and I led the 5:30 p.m. Mass attended by the parishioners of St. Bernard’s, Dalat. The meal across from the church followed the Eucharist. There were more than 80 people who enjoyed the sumptuous food, Wine and beautiful cake with the reddish yellow scenic Dalat sunset in the background. The Assumption Day Eucharist was followed by a fluvial procession at 7 p.m. Mary’s statue stood under a lighted paper mache-made cave mounted on a Melanau longhoat. It traveled from Thnam (downriver), past central Dalat and moved upriver up to Kampung Kekan. The boat went back to the jetty in front of the church escaping a freak accident when the boat cruising in darkness moved close to the riverside and all overhanging tree branch knocked the cave which fell into the water. Mary’s statue was saved. No person fell, not even the generator. So much for a success story.

Pat Massang had to go to Singapore for a second chapter this year; Fr. Glenn de Cruz replaced Bernard Teo as VP. Pat became the third man in the council, with Paul Kee as vicar.

Willy and I flew to Kuching (capital city of Sarawak) in a twin-otter 18-seater plane to join the Sibu Diocese clergy gathering. We stayed two nights in (Pandan beach) Lundu, a 2-hour car ride southwards to Indonesian Borneo from Kuching. There were six diocesan, one Dutch MillhiiI and two Reds who enjoyed the generosity of a Kuching parishioner who lent their beach house to us (free). The place was beautiful except that the ash from the open burnings fell on the water while we were swimming. A local Malay told me that the haze "was badtwo days before we arrived and he could hardly see beyond 10 meters.

The rains recently helped a lot to clear the sky. We proceeded to Kuching to attend the catechetical seminar conducted by an Indian Salesian, Fr. Cyril John de Souza, who is a professor in Rome. Priests and seminarians from Miri Diocese came. Sabah priests from two dioceses there (Keningau and Kota Kinahalu) also joined the seminar.

Our outstation boat rides are still exciting. On a Sunday’ morning I went to K’lid and saw at different river points four big monitor lizards, locally called alligators (2-3 meters long) crossing the river. The people there respond to prayers and Mass pads with musical notes as they recite them. They are very simple hut sincere.

I was driving the parish Toyota van one morning and my path was interrupted twice by passing I-meter long komodo dragons (halo?) The snakes are also co-habitants here, Pat was crossing from the house to "Relax Corner" for supper — he almost stepped on a 2-meter long cobra that slid beside the first wooden step of the cafe by the river.

Our mission work continues in Kampung Medong with activities planned for three different sub-centers. The people there are so excited to have religions gatherings. They are a social and community conscious people. We hope our work will benefit their growth in faith, especially developing future local and parish committed leaders and catechists.

Is anyone interested to come to Dalat? Please let us know. We always have a room for you here.  God bless.

Fr. Romeo Obach, CSsR