Church of St Joseph Sandakan ‘restored’ and rededicated

The restoration works for the Church of St Joseph was lengthier than planned due to the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020.

Jan 14, 2022

Ang Chun Hock of Richfield Properties Sdn Bhd and Chairman of the St Joseph’s Church Upgrading and Extension Project, Isaac Pang hands over the key to Bishop Julius Dusin Gitom.


By Hazzel Kong & Evelyn Jock, SOCCOM,
 The restoration works for the Church of St Joseph was lengthier than planned due to the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020. The transformation however, is amazing.

On December 19, 2021, a Mass of Rededication of the altar and church was celebrated by His Lordship, Rt Rev Bishop Julius Dusin Gitom, DD, Bishop of the Diocese of Sandakan, who is also the patron of the building project. Concelebrating with him were parish priest, Fr David A. Garaman, and assistant parish priest, Fr Stephen Esguerra.

The Church of St Joseph was built in 1971 and has undergone minor repairs and maintenance over the years. After half a century, the church was due for a complete refurbishment. The completed church has a fresh look in both its interior and exterior. It is the first church in the Diocese of Sandakan to be fully air conditioned.

The church now has new timber pews, a marble altar, tabernacle, lighting, sound system, and a chapel. This refurbishment was made possible by the support of all the faithful of the Cathedral of St Mary and well-wishers (both Catholic and non-Catholic) from the local community.

The Rite of Dedication of the altar and church is considered among the most solemn liturgical services. The Rededication Mass started at 4.00pm on Dec 19, with the unveiling of the dedication plague at the front of the church.

This was followed by the handing over of the keys to St Joseph’s Church by the contractor, Ang Chun Hock of Richfield Properties Sdn Bhd and chairman of the St Joseph’s Church Upgrading and Extension Project, Isaac Pang.

In his homily, Bishop Julius stated that it was a day made by the Lord, a day of rejoicing and thanksgiving as we rededicate St. Joseph’s Church. We are reminded of the important role of St Joseph, chosen by God himself to be the protector of Jesus, Son of God, and Mary, the Mother of our Lord. Bishop Julius reminded all that we put St Joseph at the periphery of our faith and very rarely do we mention St Joseph in our prayer. This new church depicts the stature of St Joseph, who really provided for, and protected, the Holy Family of Nazareth. We are also thankful to St Joseph that he continues to be the protector of his people.

Bishop Julius said that two years ago, St Joseph’s church was an old, unrecognisable, crumbling building. He could not help but wonder at the new church which really stands out. It symbolises the image of St Joseph, God’s presence in the midst of everything around us and that it also symbolises God as Emmanuel, God is with us. It is here, in this church, that we can experience Jesus’ holy presence in the celebration of the Eucharist, and that our faith continues to be nourished by his body in Holy Communion. It is in this church that we continue to be inspired by the word of God and in turn we can say, thanks be to God.

Bishop Julius reminded all that it is a challenge, the same challenge St Joseph received from God at the beginning of his mission when he said yes to God, just as Mary said yes to God, and faithfully held on to that mission that God had given him. We are challenged to imitate the faith of St Joseph, to bring his presence to the world, to our family and to our community. No matter the obstacles we face, our mission to bring God’s love, peace and hope to our world today remains incumbent on us. And we rely on the power of God, the power of the Holy Spirit, in order for us to fulfil the mission given to us.

The smooth celebration was made possible by the unfailing support of the members of the building committee and the many church volunteers who helped to make the church what it is today. The Rededication Mass was also broadcast live to parishioners who were unable to participate. --Catholic Sabah

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