SIBU, June 15 ― Sarawakian and Sabahan Catholics residing in the peninsula have brought new life to the churches there, said Cardinal Datuk Seri Sebastian Francis.

He conveyed this to the residents of Rumah Anjat Angkah in Nibong Tada when leading a 36-member delegation from Episcopal Regional Commission of Social Communication (ERCSC) of Malaysia, Singapore and Brunei to visit the longhouse on Thursday.

“Thank you for sending so many of your people to the colleges and universities as well as to those working in the armed forces, navy and police. You have flooded the peninsula with the spirit of Sabah and Sarawak, and we are very grateful that you are a part of us.

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“The tens of thousands of Sarawakians and Sabahans in the peninsula have brought new life to the church there; without them, the church would not be the same,” he said.

Sebastian added Sarawak in particular is showing Malaysians the way forward by living in harmony and teaching the meaning of equality.

The delegates were here from June 11 to 13 for the ERCSC’s annual general meeting and formation programme.

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The visit to the longhouse, hosted by Hilbert Untam Unam and wife Roselind Latipah Angkah, was for the delegates to experience the culture of Sarawak.

“It was an honour to host the gathering with the delegates and to welcome the cardinal to the longhouse as part of the cultural visit.

“It was a new experience for me to have a very high-ranking figure in the Catholic church along with priests from other places to come over to my home, and I was very happy to welcome members from the social communication.

“I would like to thank our church members for helping me and my wife prepare the food and the programme, as well as Tuai Rumah (longhouse chieftain) Anjat for being supportive and positive of the visit,” Hilbert said.

He hoped that through the visit, the delegation would have an understanding of the Gawai Dayak celebration, which includes the sharing of meals.

Meanwhile, Anjat in a brief address said despite having 20 doors, the longhouse is often quiet because most of the residents work outside of Sibu.

“This longhouse is beautiful and brand-new. Our old longhouse could not be extended due to limited space at the previous site,” he said.

He added the majority of folks in the longhouse, including himself, are members of the Methodist church. ― The Borneo Post