St. John’s Church in Kuala Belait of westernmost Brunei carries the legacy of two Spanish Franciscan missionaries – Francesco de Santa Maria and Miguel Juan de Plasencia – who reached the shores of Borneo Island in 1587 and evangelized among local people.
To keep the memories of great missionaries alive, when the church in Kuala Belait was constructed in 1953, it was named after St. John the Evangelist. The name of the church reminds about zeal for evangelization of the missionaries, in contrast to situation of religious freedom in Brunei.
1972 – The newly completed St. John’s Church
In 1954, Brunei adopted Islam as the official religion and introduced restrictions on public expression and propagation of other faiths.Thus, church activities are required to be limited within the boundaries of the church as per the law of the land.
The Islamic Sultanate came under intense criticism after it enacted sharia law in 2019. However, Catholics maintained their reservation, didn’t join the chorus of defiance and continued their practice of faith as usual.
The cross above St. John’s Church catches eyes of the visitors from far and the name in bold capital letters: ST. JOHN’S CHURCH has an enchanting attraction for the faithful.
St. John’s Church stands upright in a spacious campus against the backdrop of a Bruneian blue sky with scattered patches of white clouds, and proudly declares the presence of Catholicism in the periphery.
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