By Ivy Chai
BUNAN — The Gethsemane Pilgrimage Centre is located in the midst of 12 acres or more of secondary forests. Pilgrims travel there to pray the Stations of the Cross or visit the Rosary Garden and Divine Mercy Chapel.
The pilgrimage centre that was officially opened on 26 May 2019 was built as a ‘gotong royong’ project by St Jude’s parishioners from 46 outstations in Bunan-Tebedu. It has since attracted some 20,000 Catholic pilgrims from all over Sarawak.
The construction of Bethany Home started in the middle of February 2020. It is a hostel to accommodate visitors attending renewal programmes, seminars, recollections, retreats, or special group activities, and can house up to 160-180 people.
Bethany Home is equipped with facilities that include single rooms, family rooms, dormitories, auditorium, library, kitchen, dining hall and a laundry zone.
At a ceremony to bless the newly built hostel at the St Claret Auditorium on 27 December 2020, Kuching Archbishop Simon Poh told the small group of community leaders, sponsors and benefactors that Bethany Home is more than just a building.
He said the project is “a blessing for the community, for their labour of love for the community and for the glory of God.” Archbishop Simon Poh thanked everyone who had contributed in one way or another towards the building of the retreat house.
Bethany Home is also an avenue for a pilot community resilience project. It aims to cultivate the land for community sustenance through transfer of skill and technology, which can become a lifeline for future generations.
Based on the Christian doctrine to give back to God through the 3Ts…Time, Talent and Treasure, Archbishop Simon called on the community to “build the kingdom of God here in this Parish.”
Currently there are two fishponds and the Archbishop released some fish fries into one of them after the blessing ceremony. There will be cultivation of herbs, ginger, pineapples, coconut trees, horticulture and other agricultural products when the project to farm the land gets underway.
Archbishop Emeritus John Ha gave a brief history of how the Claretian priests from India ended up in Bunan to run the mission. He gave glory to the Lord, saying the success of St Jude’s Parish under the rectorship of Fr Berkmans Rayar, is testimony that “God was at work.”
At the same ceremony, Fr Berkmans also invited the Archbishop and the Emeritus to launch four (4) books that had been translated into Bidayuh Serian, one of which contains past homilies of the Emeritus. They are:
- Pingilajar adat Kristen (Catechism book for Christians)
- Buk pinegih merut Kristen (Rites of Christian initiation for adults)
- Buk Sermon- Sewa B (Homily book – Cycle B)
- Uri biguna pimudip (Daily quote for life)
In his closing speech, Fr Berkmans Rayar thanked Archbishop Simon Poh, Archbishop Emeritus John Ha, guests, sponsors, benefactors, parish councillors and community leaders for their presence. He apologised to St Jude’s parishioners for limiting the number of people to the blessing of Bethany Home because of compliance to the SOP for COVID-19.