Thursday, November 6, 2014

Church by the river 河畔的教堂




From Kanowit, the next destination is Church By The River, Dalat.

I had visited Datlat 17 years ago. Fr. Masang, a Redemptorist, was then the Parish Priest . He was posted there to serve the Melanau community.

He produced his first album titled “Church by the river” to raise fund for development projects of St. Bernard Church.

With 2 more albums followed, he managed to raise more than RM1.5 million and in the process, through concert and promotion tours, making famous St. Bernard Church as The Church By The River.

It was an arduous five to six hours by the bumpy and potholes-filled un-tarred road from Sibu to Dalat in 1997.

On Friday 24/10/2014,  Philip Kong, Hee Tong and I boarded a speed boat in Sibu for the 2 hours tiring ride to Dalat.

Hee Tong is a Legionary assigned to teach Catechism to Dalat Chinese-speaking children on weekly basis. A team of six rotates to go there two by two.

It was a small boat supposed to seat 12 passengers but was always over-crowded. There were about 15 of us on board that day, and along the way, more were picked up. Passengers had to sit upright throughout the journey with no stretching room.

I admired the legionaries who made frequent trips to Dalat.

After more than 2 hours tiring ride, we finally arrived at the Church at about 4:40 pm.

Fr. Simon Lau, a young priest ordained 3 years ago, is the Parish Priest and welcomed us to stay at the parochial house.

The church changed not much from 16 years ago but with more beautiful landscaping of matured trees and plants. However, the cafe by the river bank (Relax Corner) has been improved tremendously.

In the evening, we had Mass and a fellowship gathering with the small Mandarin-speaking community in Dalat.

The next day, Hii Tong and Philip conducted classes for children from standard one to six at a Chinese school nearby.

They are mostly Iban children with a few of mixed parentage of Iban and Chinese.

We bid farewell to Fr. Simon after classes. He too has to go to outstation Iban longhouses for Mass. 

Hii Tong was driving on the return leg from Dalat to Sibu. (Car belongs to Fr. Simon's parent) 

En route, we traveled an hour to  Mukah to visit an enterprising young man who runs an IT center, a café and a capsule-room hotel which is believed to be first in East Malaysia.

From Mukah, we made another stopover at St. Charles Church in Selangau to visit Fr. Mathews. We met Bishop Joseph Hi who was there to administer Sacrament of Confirmation to more than 100  youngster during the morning Mass earlier on. 

Fr. Mathews from Kenya is also a Mill Hill Missionary priest serving in Sarawak. We met Fr. Rex, a missionary priest from The Philippines who arrived here 3 months ago. 

In Sarawak, the state government allowed foreign missionary priests to serve in the state on special permit. 

Fr. Mathews treated us to a light meal at a nearby coffee shop with dishes of …… wild boar, zzzz and xxxx ( not to be disclosed).

From Selangau, it took another hour and half to reach Sibu, thus concluded a wonderful journey to Dalat and the Church By The River.
从加拿逸,我的下一个目的地于达剌的『河畔的教堂』(圣伯纳德教堂)。

我在16年前到过达剌,当时赎主会玛尙神父是该堂的主任神父。他被修会调派到该地为当地的玛兰瑙土著社群服务(当地的主要族群)。

玛尙神父有着音乐天赋,有着优美的歌声。他曾创作了数张歌唱专集,第一张名为“河畔的教堂”最为著名。随着他努力的促销及演唱,他筹到了超过一百五十万令吉,作为堂区建设费用,也因此使到“河畔的教堂”远近驰名。

十七年前,我们是从陆路来到达剌。当时的马路状况非常的差,凹凸不平,许多段都是没有铺上萡油的粗石路,单程也需要六七个小时完成。那时水路还是不很方便。

24/10/2014 星期五,昌春、希通和我三人,在下午两点 ,乘搭了快艇,前往达剌。

希通是一位圣母军,他被指派到达剌教导华文主日学。他们的团队共有六人,每个星期二人一组的到该地教导一年级到六年级的华小学生要理。

我们乘搭的所谓快艇,是一艘装载12人的小艇,但通常都是超载。当天从诗巫就有约15个乘客,沿途还接载一些沿河小站乘客。我们都得坐的挺直的,因为没有空间,脚也得缩起,因为中间就放着行李与货物。

我敬佩那些每个星期都需要乘搭这快艇来回两点的圣母军军友。

经过了两个多小时后,我们终于抵达了达剌,在教堂前面的码头上岸。 堂区主任刘成武神父欢迎我们,进住在神父楼。

教堂没有重大的改变,不过整个范围的树木及园艺设计非常的美丽舒适。河边的食堂则是改善了很多。

傍晚,我们参加了弥撒,过后与当地的小华文教友团体集会及交流。

隔天早上,希通与昌春到邻近的华小教室,教导华语儿童要理。参加者是华小一年级到六年级的学生,他们大部分都是伊班籍,但有数位是华人、伊班人通婚的孩子。

完成了要理班,我们也向刘神父告别,要回诗巫了。刘神父当时也忙着要出去,到伊班长屋庆祭弥撒。

我们的回程是使用汽车,有希通驾驶。

一个小时后,我们抵达沐胶,去探望一位年轻但非常有干劲及活力的教友。他在沐胶开了电脑店、咖啡座及一个相信是东马唯一的太空舱酒店。

离开沐胶,也是大有一个半小时后,我们来到了Selangau 雪兰奥小镇。

我们来到圣查尔斯教堂,探访主任玛窦斯神父。玛窦斯神父来自肯亚,是位米尔山传教会士。我们也会见了他的助理来自菲律宾的李斯神父,他刚来这三个月而已。

在砂劳越,州政府准许外国传教士进入,但必须申请特别准证。到目前为止,州政府仍然持着开放到态度,发出每年都需更新的特别签证。

我们也遇见了诗巫许主教。他是到来主祭早上的坚振弥撒。超过一百位青年领受了坚振圣事。

玛窦斯神父带我们到一家咖啡店,叫了几道当地著名的野味招待我们。山猪肉是其中一项,其他还有zzzz、xxxx (不便透露)。

告别了玛窦斯与李斯神父,我们取道回诗巫。雪兰奥到诗巫,大约是一个半小时车程。

随着这段旅程的结束,愉快的河畔的教堂之旅也告圆满的完成。阿肋路亚。

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(录影  Youtube) 

2 comments:

Unknown said...

My home town; we have nothing there, yet we have everything! :) And how I miss having mass in St Bernards, where the mass is presided in Melanau.

Simon Phun said...

Always keep your parish/hometown in your mind and prayer. Do not loose touch with your root, a beautiful heritage!