HISTORY OF ST. MICHAEL'S PARISH PENAMPANG

HOW ST. MICHAEL CHURCH & SCHOOL GOT ITS NAME

Read and Learn about our history through the years. From our humble beginning to our first ever Kadazan priest. Click on any of the button below to start.

HOW ST. MICHAEL CHURCH & SCHOOL GOT ITS NAME

In 1886, the Mill Hill Missionaries came to the District of Penampang and set up their base in Kampung Inobong, where the present church (Sacred Heart Inobong or formerly called St. Theresa’s Church) is now located. The mode of transportation then was the Moyog river. The first local was baptized in 1887.

Later, the Missionaries decided to set up their base in Kg. Dabak, Penampang, which is nearer to the sea and is situated in a plain with paddy fields with a low hill which is ideally suited to build a church. This location is rather strategic considering that it is close enough to locals who used the Moyog river as a mode of transportation would alight at Kasigui which was then the only and first town in the District of Penampang from the coast en route to the interior. Therefore, the present site of the St. Michael’s Church was very convenient and strategic to the priests.

Unfortunately, the hill was infested with territorial spirits as the natives during those times were mainly pagans. The local priestesses or ‘Bobohizan’ practiced traditional healing and necromancy as well as appeasing the spirits which they believe roamed the area and which caused sickness and misfortune.

Besides that, many natives also practiced black magic. According to oral tradition, the Missionaries were oppressed by the local territorial spirits. They would then say the rosary and call upon the Archangel Michael to defend and protect them. It was then that the priests decided to name the church as St. Michael’s Church because the church was under the protection of St. Michael.

Later on, the priests saw the need to build a school to educate the natives in Penampang. The school was registered in 1888, making it the oldest Catholic School in Sabah. The oldest school in Sabah is the St. Michael’s School in Sandakan which was registered in 1886, making St. Michael’s School Penampang the second oldest school. The first school building was built from bamboo and rumbia palms. The school then was built at the foot of the hill and it was also called St. Michael’s School.

It was due to the far-sighted vision and efforts of Rev. Fr. Verhoeven that the first two-storey wooden school was built in 1924. This building was multi-functional as it was used as a Church, a school, a hostel for the students as well as the priests’ residence. This wooden structure served as a school until 1966.

The present old block in SMK St. Michael was built in 1958 by Rev. Fr. Michael Henselmans.

Therefore, the name ‘St. Michael’s School’ means that it is under the protection of the Archangel Michael. It was sometimes in the 1980s that the name of the school was changed to ‘St. Michael School’. Recently, the school was renamed ‘SMK St. Michael Penampang’.