Maiden visit to rural Pitas chapel

PITAS: The St Simon Catholic Church Likas outreach team visited St Stephanus Chapel as part of its rural outreach programme in Kg Bilangau Kecil, here, July 22.

St Stephanus is one of the many outlying chapels under the Kota Marudu Parish, about an hour’s drive from Kota Marudu. The chapel was selected after initial visits and discussion with the local community and parish.

On hand to welcome them were local Parish Council Deputy Chairman Dr Velus Junius, catechists Alpheus Loinsang and Ambrose Moribin, among others.

The 20-member delegation left Likas at about 7.45am, bringing with them a truckload of rice, dried food and essential household goods.

The handing over of donated goods to the local representatives.

The initial estimated time on the road was three hours but due to unforeseen traffic, it took the team about four hours to reach their destination.

Kg Bilangau Kecil is accessible preferably by 4WD along the 2km gravel road to the chapel. The condition of the road can get challenging when it rains. It was 12pm when they finally reached the chapel.

Ambrose led them to the chapel located about 200m from the gravel road. On the way, they noticed the muddy path along the undergrowth needs culverts.

The area has about 28 Catholic families comprising some 98 people who are mainly ethnic Dusun Kimaragang. The families live quite far apart from each other. Most are poor farmers and rubber tappers who are in urgent need of food necessities. The chapel is also in need of repair.

The outreach team listening to a briefing with the local community.

Alpheus, meanwhile, briefed the visitors on the needs of the local community such as the material to repair the chapel, construction of a culvert road to the chapel, materials to complete the community kitchen and food to feed the volunteers for the project.

The hilly area, despite not far from town, has no proper road, public transportation, or water supply. The soil is not fertile enough for farming activities. It takes about one to two hours’ walk to reach the chapel.

Due to their utter poverty, they were not able to even own bicycles or motorcycles. Yet, they welcomed the visitors warmly and took them through the 200m journey through a trail of undergrowth.

Nothing but greens: The path to the chapel.

The devoted Catholics also sang hymns which the team prepared including a community prayer service. The team shared soft drinks, cakes and buns with their Pitas host.

The community here seemed happy and contented in their way of life — not pampered or dependent on modern technology such as electronic gadgets and man-made conveniences.

The Legion of Mary of St Simon Church Likas presented 30 Rosaries with prayer cards to these families. The visitors also donated food, drinks as well as gifts for the children.

The St Simon team thanked God for giving them yet another experience of both His grandeur and closeness with their fellow brothers and sisters in St Stephanus.

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