St Ann began as an outstation mission of St Joseph’s Church (at present St Joseph’s Cathedral) in the late 1940s. The Archdiocese of Kuching had not yet existed. The first pioneer to start this mission was Fr Harry Van Erp, a Mill Hill Missionary who began his work of evangelisation to villages such as Semeba, Seratau, Tijirak and Simpok. His initial efforts to these villages have borne much fruit, as they now boast hundreds of Catholic families. Fr Harry also saw to the education of poor children, who became future evangelisers of their own villagers. By then, mission sponsored mission schools were also built.
In 1963, another Mill Hill by the name of Fr Tepstra engineered the idea of building a parish house or a presbytery, based at ‘10th Mile’— a bazaar with a sprinkling of settlements — which would serve as a base for the priests to work. There was no Church built, as the structure would act mainly as a working base. A chapel was constructed within the presbytery, which met with the needs of the priests to pray and conduct small-scaled weddings. Thus, St Ann’s Mission was born.
By the 1970s, 30 outstations had been established, and by the 1980s, the number increased to 40. By the 1990s, the Catholic population around the Mission had grown so rapidly that a hall had to be constructed to cater to Sunday Masses which were celebrated once a month due to the shortage of priests. An open-air prayer hall in the style of a Bidayûh Meeting House was built. Locally known as a ‘Baruk’, it now serves as a make-shift Church to an ever-growing population.
To date, St Ann’s Mission cares for 45 villages, 14 schools and more than 15 housing estates, with a population of 25,000 Catholics. An average attendance at Sunday Masses in the ‘Baruk’ clocks at approximately 1,200 people (over 4 masses on the weekend), squeezed in a hall which was meant to hold about half the number.
The parish of St Ann in Kota Padawan area is growing year by year and therefore the time has come to build her long needed new Church Complex.
In 2014, the church managed to get enough donations to kick-start the construction of a new church building, which is one part of the new church complex.
On 8 December 2017, the new St Ann Church building celebrated it’s very first mass with the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception of Blessed Virgin Mary celebrations also dubbed as the soft-opening of the new church. Constructions on the church continued after that, gearing for the grand blessing ceremony in 2018.
Despite the near completion of the new church, St Ann is still hoping to build their complete church complex, and hopes more donations would come forward to realize this dream.
Join us and become kingdom builders for the new St Ann Church.