The construction of Our Lady’s grotto has the hallmark of Our Blessed Mother’s hand from the very beginning.
How it all began …
Fr Lawrence Chua was then the rector of the Holy Trinity Church, Kenyalang, Kuching, as well as the priest-in-charge of the Blessed Sacrament Parish, BDC.
From his account of how the grotto to Our Lady was conceived and built, it became obvious that his devotion to Mother Mary was a prime factor. He had encountered too many ‘signs’ for him to wonder if they were mere coincidences.
At the end of the Rosary month of October 1993, Fr Chua was invited by a friend to join him on a business trip to Manila, Philippines. Although it was an unplanned trip, circumstances that led Fr Chua to visit various shrines of Our Lady, and attending the Rosary Exhibition as well as the International Marian Conference, were extraordinary.
In trying to discern what some of these instances and ‘images’ meant, he came to the conclusion that the number ‘13’ for example, stood for the date of the monthly apparitions of Our Lady of Fatima. His ordination to the priesthood also took place on the 13 of the month.
In addition to that, a parishioner approached Fr Chua one day at Holy Trinity Church, to donate funds for the construction of a grotto to be built at Blessed Sacrament Parish…even before Fr Lawrence Chua had mooted the idea!
Shortly after that, he had an epiphany that maybe, Mother Mary wanted him to build a grotto consecrated to Her. He had seen too many photos of himself with the Virgin Mary, for them to be coincidental.
To quote Fr Chua: ‘When Mother Mary wants something, everything will happen very fast’. Needless to say, the chain of events for building the grotto just fell into place like clockwork.
Within one week of his return from Manila, Fr Chua released his Letter of Appeal for funds to the Christian community. It was 1 November, 1993…the Feast of All Saints: Coronation of Mary and the glory of all the saints.
By 8 December, 1993, a new picture of Our Lady was installed at the Day Chapel of Holy Trinity Church. It was the Feast of the Immaculate Conception.
1 January, 1994 was World Day of Peace. It was also the Feast of Mary, Mother of God. One of the messages of Mary to the world is to pray for peace. So, this was the date chosen to start honouring the pledges made to Mary for Her grotto.
The Archbishop then, Datuk Peter Chung, performed the blessing of the site of Our Lady of Lourdes Grotto on 28 March 1994, while the official opening and blessing took place on 14 August, 1996, at the vigil of the Feast of the Assumption of Our Blessed Lady.